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Eastern Approaches to a United Reality

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Jessica Arcand

on 27 February 2013

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Transcript of Eastern Approaches to a United Reality

to a
United Reality HINDUISM BUDDHISM TAOISM CONFUCIANISM Ultimate Nature of Reality Brahman is a supreme being, it is the soul of the universe. This is where all things come from and where all things return to after death. It is an entity without form and all Hindu's can picture him/her any way they choose, therefore their manifestation of Brahman is different than everyone else's. All of the different gods and goddesses of Hinduism are all parts of Brahman. They all represent and are different forms of this supreme being. They allow people to worship various gods/goddesses so that prayers are directed at at a god/goddess who basically specializes in that area. Essentially, each god/goddess is a specific trait and when all put together make up Brahman. Therefore, the ultimate reality for Hindu's is to be able to reconnect with Brahman after death which is called moksha, the liberation on the soul. When a person's lives are over, they ultimate destination is to rest peacefully with Brahman. What is self? Hindu's self is called the Atman, which is the human soul or spirit. It is the innermost part of one's self and came from Brahman, the soul of the universe, and will eventually return to Brahman. A Hindu's main life goal is to reunite their Atman with Brahman. This does not just happen in one lifetime though. Hindu's believe in reincarnation, meaning their soul does not die with their body, but goes into a new one, starting their life over. Therefore they have multiple lives and this endless cycle is called samsara. Karma is the cause of this endless cycle. Bad karma results in being reborn in a lower level of the caste system, whereas god karma will lead to a higher level. To reach moksha, Hindu's must be in the highest level of the caste system. Therefore, part of the Hindu's belief is to always do good deeds, which is part of their self. Meaning of life The Hindu's meaning of life was to reach moksha, the liberation of the soul and to end samsara. The way to do this was to do good deeds to get good karma. Once good karma is gained, it means that Hindu's can reach the next level in their caste system, allowing them to reach moksha sooner. The caste system is the Hindu hierarchical system that has four levels and another called the untouchables who are not even considered as part of the system. Other parts of a Hindu's meaning of life is to have dharma, artha and kama, meaning virtue, wealth and joy. All Hindu's were encouraged to work to gain these three things as well as trying to reach moksha. Relationship Between
Mind and Matter One way that Hindu's believe that mind and matter are connected is through yoga. They consider this as a form of meditation as they are working with their bodies, but by doing so, they are clearing their mind and reaching peace while connecting to their Atman and in turn with Brahman. Sacred Texts Hinduism has a number of sacred texts. There are the Four Vedas are the oldest, most authoritative scriptures that discuss various topics from religion to education. Two great epics of Hinduism are the Ramayana and the Mahabharta which are popular ways to teach the moral conduct held within the religion to younger children Another sacred scripture is the Puranas which are myths about the many different deities in thirty-six volumes.
The last famous sacred text of the Hindu religion is the Manusmriti, which are the laws of Manu. However, this sacred text is only viewed as authoritative by one of the caste levels. Meaning of life What is self? Ultimate Nature of Reality Relationship Between
Mind and Matter Sacred Texts Tao is the force that existed before everything and from which all things originate from. It is a silent source of harmony and is the flow of the universe. Taoism hopes to teach that the meaning of life is to embrace the journey of life, itself. Their goal is to aline themselves with with Tao through Wu Wei, which is to let nature take its course and to not interfere. Taoists find their self through a process called Keeping The One. In the first stage, they have to bring their energies together to eliminate all imbalances. There are different ways to do this, one way is through meditation. The next stage is chaos. After forming a routine, Taoists have to break it and in turn have to learn and become comfortable to free interaction with just being and the totality of it by embracing the Yin Yang (light and dark / good and bad of life). The last stage is the return. This is the combination of the balance found in the first stage and the chaos of the second. Once this stage is reached, Taoists become one with the world around them and their situations finding their self. The ultimate reality and goal for Taoists is to become one with Tao, the essence from which all things derived from. Once this is reached, people can live a balanced life and be happy as being one with the world around them. Taoists want to live life going with the flow and to not oppose the grand plans, but to accept things as they come and not try to force things to happen. One example of the Taoism's relationship between mind and matter is mastering martial arts. This is because one's mind becomes synchronized with their breath and then with the body creating a perfect balance between the two. Taoism's sacred text is called the Tao Te Ching. It discusses the importance of balance and having virtue in all aspects of life. This is a collection of eighty-one short poems that teaches the religions values and beliefs. This is a very different belief than the norm that today's society has. People always try to force things to happen from their ego and pride, which creates much imbalance in the world. Whereas, Taoism's ultimate reality is to be so balanced while also living in a world of chaos that a person can become one with the world around them and with Tao. The relationship between mind and matter is very close in Taoism as Taoists believe you have open your mind to the nature around you so that you can fully be a part of the physical world. This is something all Taoists believe in, therefore, this relationship if of a huge importance. What is self? Meaning of life Sacred Texts Relationship Between
Mind and Matter Confucianism is similar to Taoism. They also agree with the idea of harmony and the Yin Yang. Although the religions have some similarities, there are differences as well. The meaning of life for Confucians is to transform themselves into a living example of virtue. They did this as they saw it was their duty to heaven and that perfection was within reach for every individual. Throughout Confucians lives, they were to continuously learn and to be the guardians of heaven's creations. They are taught the Way of Heaven which are the Five Virtues, which include the jen, yi, li, chih and hsin which means goodwill, rightness, right conduct, wisdom and faithfulness. Confucianism's meaning of life is very closely tied to their beliefs of what their self's were. To fully become one's self, Confucians had to follow the Way of Heaven and the Five Virtues to become the guardians of heaven's creations. For Confucians, their first spiritual question to answer is not to understand who and what God is but is the question of "Who am I?" It starts with the people themselves and not with God. They believe that to understand God, first they have to learn who they are and how they fit into the world around them. Once, they realize they are part of the natural world, then the responsibility to protect that comes. When Confucians come to this conclusion, it is when they find their self. Ultimate Nature of Reality Although, throughout Confucians lives they follow the Way of Heaven, they know that as humans they cannot fully understand the afterlife. They believed in Heaven and wanted to live their lives serving heaven as they felt it was their duty. The ultimate goal for Confucians is to always be ethical and follow the Five Virtues and to find balance in all aspects of life. Also, through education people can learn to be good and to keep them on that path. Confucians also respect their elders, ancestors and the dead. The reality is that they all went through the same things that the people of today have went through, therefore, they need to be respected and are looked up to. Key Figures The relationship between mind and matter in Confucianism is close as they have to have the mind to learn the virtues and then they physically have to carry them out. Also, the physical and natural world around them provide the necessary experiences for Confucians to learn the virtues. Moreover, once these virtues are held, then Confucians consider them Heaven's guardians of all of their creations here on Earth. Meaning that the relationship between mind and matter are interconnected. Kong Qui, more famously known as Confucius, is the founder of Confucianism, therefore he is a key figure. He was a Chinese teacher, politician, editor and philosopher. It was his beliefs and theories that came together to create this religion/section of philosophy. As knowledge was important to Confucius, the writings are vast. The most sacred of these are the Five Classics (Wu Jing) and the Four Books (Si Shu). The Five Classics discuss the details of different aspects of ritual, social, political, historic and poetic philosophies. The Four Books are a collection of wise sayings and stories that teach the virtues and the Way of Heaven to Confucius's disciples. Meaning of life What is self? Ultimate Nature of Reality Key Figures Sacred Texts Relationship Between
Mind and Matter The meaning of life for Buddhists is to understand suffering and how it exists. Throughout their life, they want to reach enlightenment and eventually reach nirvana to end their reincarnation. To do so, Buddhists live a life in the middle, between two extremes. Finding this middle is difficult, but it is the key for a happy live. To explain the ultimate nature of reality, Buddhists have the Four Noble Truths that are 1) Suffering Exists, 2) The Origin of Suffering which is negative desire, 3) the Extinction of Suffering through nirvana and 4) the Path Leading to the Extinction of Suffering which is with the Noble Eightfold Path. For Buddhists, there are many ways and beliefs to find one's self. Some of these include: The Noble Eightfold Path, The Five Percepts, The Six Perfections and The Three Refuges. The Noble Eightfold Path is a way to a happier life and is the way to self-improvement. The eight steps to the noble path are: Then, there are The Five Precepts which are: Next, there is The Six Perfections which are:
Wisdom Lastly, there are The Three Refuges (The Triple Jewel) which are:
- the Buddha (the guide)
-the dharma (the path)
-the sangha (companions
and teachers) All of these beliefs and guides are to help Buddhists to find themselves through these characteristics and ways so that their journey to reaching nirvana is easier and that they stay on the right path while getting there. Therefore, the ultimate reality for Buddhists is to reach nirvana, the end of samsara and is essentially a personalized heaven. One can only achieve this after they have no more urges to possess physical things. This is why the Middle Path for Buddhists is so important, so that learn to only take what is necessary and nothing more. Like Hindu's, Buddhists believe in samsara, which is the endless cycle of rebirths- reincarnation. Buddhists believe that if they are reborn it is because they have not learned something in their previous lives. This is a picture of samsara- The Wheel of Life. The main writings of Buddhism are found in the Tripitaka, also known as The Three Baskets, which hold the most accurate accounts of Buddha's teachings. The three baskets are the Basket of Discipline about codes of conduct, the Basket of
Discourses about
Buddha's teachings and
the Basket of Further
Teachings about the
nature of consciousness. The key figure of Buddhism would be Buddha himself. He was born as Siddhatta Gotama, a prince who was sheltered all his life by his father. He decided he wanted to see the world and he witnessed the Four Sights which are: an old man, a sick man, a dead man and a holy man. These sights started Buddha on his path of enlightenment. After seeing these, Buddha left the palace where he came to many conclusions. The most prominent one being that the path to enlightenment and from there to nirvana was with the Middle Way, balancing life between the two extremes. He also gave many teachings such as the Noble Eightfold Path, The Five Precepts, The Three Refuges and The Four Noble Truths. Buddha did not want to be worshiped as a God, just as another person who found enlightenment. Thus, the religion of Buddhism was born. Like the other religions, Buddhism views the relationship between mind and matter as close as they want to separate their mind from their body. which can be seen in the three stages of reaching nirvana. The first stage is meditation, which is a way to detach from reality to get to a place of pure consciousness. The second stage is the further ending of emotional, physical and mental activity. Finally, the third stage is not being attached to the real world and is the beginning of nirvana. Source:
- Quinlan, Don et al. Exploring World Religions: The Canadian Perspective
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