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Eight Aspects of Religion: Christianity & Buddhism
Transcript of Eight Aspects of Religion: Christianity & Buddhism
Christianity originated in the city of Jerusalem in present-day Israel.
Jesus was born around 5 kilometers from Jerusalem before founding Christianity over 2,000 years ago.
Christians believe that there is only one God. Jesus, his Son, was then sent by God to save us from sin and death.
They also believe in the trinity which is the Father (God), Son and the Holy Spirit. It is the belief that God is three different persons but still a single God.
Life after death is also a strong belief however, the actual nature of the afterlife is unknown. They believe that spiritual experiences that occur in this life help to give them an approximate idea of what eternal life will be like.
The most apparent sacred text that Christians have is the Holy Bible. It is made up of two parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is almost identical to the Jewish Bible whereas the New Testament is a collection of Christian writings which includes biographies of the apostles and Jesus, letters to new churches and apocalyptic work.
Christianity has an abundance of different symbols. These include angels, animals, apostles/disciples, colours, crosses, holidays, numbers, stars, objects and countless more. The most commonly recognised symbol for Christianity is the cross. It represents the great sacrifice, the offer of salvation to all of humanity as well as the promise of resurrection.
Codes of behaviour
• Love God with all your heart and seek to make the most of the talents and abilities that he gave you.
• Love your neighbour as yourself and consider the effects of words and actions on your neighbour’s wellbeing. Avoid stereotyping and be prejudiced toward others of different faiths, races, nationalities, genders, etc.
• Acknowledge the spiritual battle between God and the Devil.
• Recognise the authority of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
• Do not gossip (pass on destructive rumours). Speak the truth as you have personally experienced it.
• Do not crave nor steal what belongs to another.
• Do not seek vengeance against those who wrong you, but instead forgive them.
• Do good to all humankind and seek opportunities to be of service and show the love of God.
Many Christian stories have morals and stories behind them. An example of a Christian story is ‘The Lost Son’. It is a story of a man and his two sons. The youngest son asks for a portion of the family estate for early inheritance. Once received the youngest son sets off on a journey and wastes his fortune. When he runs out of money, he comes to his senses and in humility, returns to his father and asks for forgiveness and mercy. The father welcomes him home with open arms and is overjoyed. He orders the servants to prepare a giant feast in celebration. The eldest son becomes angry when he discovers the feast after working in the fields. The father tries to dissuade the older brother from his jealous rage explaining, "You are always with me, and everything I have is yours."
The most common Christian ritual is attending church on the holy day (Sunday). It generally includes singing and prayer. Most practicing Christians pray regularly and may read the Bible at home.
Baptism and communion are both common rituals as well and are important in Christianity. They are considered sacred rituals instituted by Christ himself (sacraments). Nearly all Christians are baptized as either an infant or an adult.
Christianity is classified into certain groups according to different concepts. Usually however, Christianity is divided into three divisions being Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism.
The Christianity religious hierarchy is:
• Major Archbishops
• Metropolitan bishop
• Diocesan Bishops
Buddhism originated in Northern India during the 5th century B.C. Siddhartha Gautama (The Buddha), the founder of Buddhism, set out to find a solution to the suffering of the world. He found this through meditation and analysis.
Like most religions, Buddhism is divided into a number of different traditions however, most of the traditions share a common set of essential beliefs. One vital belief of Buddhism is reincarnation- the notion that the soul or spirit begin a new life after ‘biological’ death. They also believe that Buddha is not a God but rather an ordinary man whom lived over 2,000 years ago. He saw clearly into the true nature of reality and his teachings are not set rules to follow rather, they are seen as advice to consider. They also believe that there is no essential meaning attached to life however, they do believe it may be to end suffering. Another belief is that the afterlife depends on this life meaning that all actions have consequences- also known as karma.
There are numerous Buddhist scriptures and sacred texts that are often divided into two categories. The two categories are canonical and non-canonical meaning it is either officially a book of the bible or not of the bible.
Some Sacred scriptures include Tripitaka, Mahayana Sutras and Tibetan Book of the Dead.
There are eight ‘auspicious’ symbols that compose the fundamental symbols of Buddhism. The Eight Auspicious Symbols are printed on Tibetan prayer flags, used in forms of ritual art and they are also incorporated into mandalas.
1. The parasol (umbrella) represents royalty and spiritual power.
2. Golden fishes represent good fortune, fertility and redemption.
3. The treasure vase represents spiritual and material abundance.
4. The lotus represents mental and spiritual purity.
5. Conch shells represent the fame of Buddha's teachings.
6. The endless knot represents Buddha’s infinite wisdom.
7. The victory banner represents the victory of the Buddha's teachings and wisdom over ignorance.
8. The wheel represents the teachings of the Buddha.
Codes of behaviour
1) Undertake training to avoid taking the life of beings. (They believe all beings have a right to their lives not just humans.)
2) Undertake the training to avoid taking things not given. This does not necessarily refer to stealing but instead evading taking anything unless sure it is intended for you.
3) Undertake the training to avoid sensual misconduct. This covers any overindulgence in any sensual pleasure for example greed.
4) Undertake the training to refrain from lying, deceiving, slander as well as speech which is not beneficial to the happiness of others.
5) Undertake the training to refrain from substances which cause intoxication and recklessness.
6) Abstain from eating food at inappropriate times.
7) Abstain from dancing, singing, music and entertainments as well as refraining from the use of perfumes, ornaments and other items used to adorn or beautify the person.
8) Undertake the training to abstain from using high or luxurious beds. (usually only members of the Sangha)
Buddhists have many stories, most of which have a moral or ‘story’ behind them. Some Buddhist stories include:
• The Thief
• A bag of Nails
• The Lost Son
• Angry Buddha
• The Burden
• The Tail
• The Worm
‘The Worm’ for example, was written by Ajahn Brahmavamso. It is a story about two monks whom were great friends and lived together in a monastery for many years. When they died, one was reborn into the heaven realms and the other was reborn as a worm in a dung pile. The monk in heaven searched for the other monk and when he found him as a worm in the dung pile he decided to help him to join him in heaven. However, the worm did not recognize the monk and when offered the opportunity to go to heaven he said, “No thank you, I am quite happy here in my dung pile. Please go away.”
The heavenly monk tried to force the worm to go with him to heaven so that he could see for himself but the harder he tugged, the harder the worm clung to his pile of dung.
The Buddhism rituals and practices are intended to help in the journey to enlightenment. Meditation is a popular ritual which derives directly from the Buddha’s experiences and teachings.
Other rituals include:
• Mantras (Sacred Sounds)
• Mudras (Symbolic hand gestures)
• Prayer Wheels (Reciting mantras whilst turning a wheel)
• Pilgrimage (Visiting sacred sites)
Instead of just a hierarchically ordered structure like other religions, Buddhism is practiced through a wide range of temples and small groups. It often even takes place in the home and involves no congregational meeting. The communities of Buddhism involve both amateur and ordained members.
Although there is very little ordered structure the community of monks (Sangha), has great significance. It promotes the conditions for reaching enlightenment. After first becoming an ‘apprentice’, one is eventually sanctified as a monk or nun.
1. True and real honesty and unity with the one life and all beings.
2. Self-centeredness as an honest and non-judgmental reality of who you really are but at the same time compassion.
3. Joy that originates from the deepest source and naturally comes forth through faith and daily practice.
4. Inner peace and non-violence.
5. New and invigorating life in every moment (every moment is a rebirth and a new opportunity)
7. Humility that ensures the awareness that nothing is owned except the consequences of your actions.
8. Forgiveness to let go of negative things and heal your mind and heart (begin anew every day.)
9. Humour to recognize and accept foolish natures.
10. Spiritual journey.
“A spiritual experience is an encounter with something or someone other than yourself that is not based upon material phenomena.”
A religious experience leaves the person with a sort of epiphany; a new sense of awareness or understanding regarding God. The experience can be either visual, auditory or a sense of the ‘presence’ may occur. For example, the Marion apparitions that were reported by Catholics claimed to see and hear things that were abnormal. There have also been claims of religious experience when people have suddenly known something was going to happen, and it does. There is also said to be the possibility that you can have a spiritual experience without being aware of it. In biblical terms, this could mean encountering angels in the form of people and not know about it.