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Alternative Paths- Ch. 11

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by

Rod Williams

on 1 May 2015

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Transcript of Alternative Paths- Ch. 11

Origins of New Religions
Religions, like all forms of life and culture, are
constantly
changing
.
Change occurs within religions for many
reasons
:
People
move
to another
culture
; religions
mix
(
syncretism
)
Social

problems
may lead to the
emergence
of
new
religious beliefs;
coping
mechanism
Followers of an
older
religion choose to
separate
and form a
new

branch
or entirely new one
Individuals
have life changing
insights
, attract
followers
, & create a
new
religion
There are
similarities
in the way many
religious movements have begun
Sect
- Latin "to
cut
"
Cult
- veneration to
thing
or
individual
Contemporary Paganism
Religious movements that have attempted
to
return
to earlier,
nature-based
religions
Primarily from
early European cultures
Pagan
- Latin term for "
countryside
"; nature; rural
Most commonly look to
Celtic mythology
; some Scandinavian or German
Best known pagan movement is
Wicca
(
the Craft
)
Wiccans
worship both
goddesses
and
gods
whose sacred imagery is rooted in
nature
Some personify the
female
aspect of the
divine
Yoruba
Tradition
Theosophy
Theosophy
means "
divine wisdom
"
in Greek
A
synthesis
of mystically-oriented teachings
from Hinduism, Gnosticism, Jewish Kaballah
Founded by Russian writer
Madame Helena Blavatsky
in 1875
Significant
Indian
thought; karma, reincarnation, yoga, & meditation
Blavatsky
said she learned from "
ascended masters
"
Falun Gong
Very
young
; founded in
China
by
Li Hongzhi
(b. 1951)
Began to practice & teach
Qigong
(
energy force
)
Based on Chinese
martial arts
; increased
health
and
strength
come from it
Also
meditative
practices involved
Contains elements of
Buddhist
meditation,
Daoist
physical exercise, &
Confucian
self-cultivation
Followers practice
five
series of physical
exercises
, done while standing and sitting
Falun Gong
followers believe that they gain not only health and strength but also
paranormal

powers
Physical
invulnerability
Power to
see
and
hear
great distances
Practice currently
banned
in
China
"Law-Wheel-Energy"
Scientology
Has its roots in
Indian

spirituality
Founded in
1954
by
L. Ron Hubbard
Science fiction author
Began as a "
human potential
" movement
Meant to help humans
clarify
their understanding of the
process of knowing
scientia=

knowledge
;
logos=

reason
There is a spiritual
purpose
to life
At our core is
spirit
=
thetan
Thetan
is imprisoned in the material world or
MEST
MEST
= matter, energy, space, time
The
Thetan
in everyone is an
immortal

spiritual
being
that longs for
liberation
A strong focus on the impact of
difficulties
experienced in
previous

lives
Rebirth, karma, reincarnation
The
slave trade
introduced many
West
Africans
into S. America, N. America, & the
Caribbean islands
The most
influential
were the members of the
Yoruba
tribes (
Benin, Nigeria
)
New,
syncretic
religions emerged over time among the
descendents
of these slaves
Santeria
- began in
Cuba
; mixed with
Spanish
colonial Catholicism
Voodoo
- influenced by
French
Catholicism;
Haiti
Candomble
- developed in
Brazil
;
Portuguese
Catholicism influence
Now over
300
years old, these religious
practices have made their way into
the US through
immigration
.
Wicca
teaches that the
divine
manifests itself in
opposites
; similar to
yin
and
yang
- dark/light, male/female, etc.
The
moon
and
sun
are
sacred
symbols;
solar
calendar
Seasonal
turning points celebrated- called
Sabats
solstices
and
equinoxes
; also
lunar
cycle celebrated (
full moon
)
Marked by
gatherings
and
ceremony
Wiccans
recognize
three
stages-
initiation
,
practitioner (2 & 3)
Third
stage
practitioner
can start an independent
coven
Contemporary Wiccans call themselves
Witches
Wiccan
ethical dimensions
Primary commandment is
Wiccan Rede
("
advice
", "
counsel
")
Wiccan Rede
is a rule of
tolerance
; do
no harm
to others
Many are
vegetarians
Strong moral interest in the natural
environment
Law of Triple Return
- good or bad returns to you
threefold

Blavatsky
moved to southern
India
in 1878 and established her world center for
Theosophy
with
Henry Steel Olcott
Olcott
adopted
Buddhism
in 1880, remained in
India
Blavatsky
directed
European Theosophy
from London
Theosophists share a similar view of
reality
All reality is
spiritual
in nature; visible matter is "
condensed spirit
"
Spiritual nature can be
experienced
with training (meditation, trances)
Several increasingly spiritual levels of humans (
astral body
)
Physical reality has spiritual aspects (
auras
that can be seen at times)
Explore little-known powers
hidden
in nonhuman world and human beings (
levitation
,
clairvoyance
)
Blavatsky had
prophesied
that a "
world teacher
" would arise & lead
Identified as
Jiddu Krishnamurti
; trained to take over as leader
Krishnamurti
eventually
abandoned
that role
Created his own following in California;
Krishnamurti Foundation
Alternative Paths- Ch. 11
Some
, but not many
Wiccan
beliefs and practices are rooted in genuinely ancient paganism
Halloween
;
May Day
Anthropologists have found evidence of the practice of
Witchcraft
in
Europe
dating back to
Middle Ages
Some argue that
Wicca
is an
artificial
&
new
construct
Most
rituals and ceremonies were created in
20th c.
Other
forms of paganism are also popular
In England, the
Druid
movement began in 18th c. to
re-introduce
pagan practices to Europe
Romans
(Julius Caesar) documented Druidic practices
Druids were an
elite
group of
professionals
; judges, teachers, counselors, doctors, priests
Up to 20 years of
initiation
Polytheists
who worship about
30
major
deities
of nature and about
300
lesser deities;
sun
&
fire
were
divine
symbols
Druid
services
were conducted in groves of
sacred oak trees
Modern Druids have
little
information about ancient practices
Recognize
three
stages:
bards, ovates, and druids
Also use
solar
calendar; in England,
Stonehenge
is popular site
Santeria
means "
saint-thing
" or "
saint-way
"
Voodoo
comes from
vodun
(Fon tribe) and means "
mysterious power
"
Candomble
means "
dance in honor of the gods
"
These 3 are extremely
difficult
to
describe
&
understand
Mixtures of native African
animistic
practices with numerous elements of
Roman

Catholicism
Slaves were
forcibly

baptized
into Roman Catholic Christianity; African religious practices were
suppressed
To survive, the African religions took on the "
appearance
" of conformity to Catholic belief and practice
Predominantly used images/statues of the Catholic
saints
The saints were actually just images of the
African

gods
Both
systems believed in a
single High God
, supernatural
beings
who
mediate
between God and man, and
spirits
of the
dead
; power of the
ritual
stressed
The Yoruba
High

God
differs; is in essence a
neutral

energy
that has no personal interest in human affairs
God is approached for the purpose of
gaining

power
Must contact
supernatural
beings:
orishas
(
ochas, Iwa, orixas
); sometimes called
gods
Orishas
have individual
humanlike characteristics
They
control
certain aspects of
nature
(oceans, plants, lightning, etc.)
Humans keep
orishas
strong and happy, they extract
favors
from humans
Human contact comes in form of "
mounting
"; person enters
trance-like
state and "
becomes
" the god
Individuals adopt an
orisha
as a
personal
guardian deity
Preists
(
santero/santera
) perform many services
Prayer, drumming, dance, food offerings, descent of
orishas
Animal
sacrifice
in
Santeria
; legally upheld in US
Candomble
is officially recognized religion in
Brazil
Voodoo
has long been a part of
New Orleans
history
Theosophy
has undergone numerous
splits
&
divisions
Rift
between
American
and
International
groups
Anthroposophy
-
Rudolf Steiner
founded; started Theosophist but broke away in 1909
Influenced
by Goethe, Darwin, and Nietzsche
Developed his own "
spiritual evolution
"; achieve human wholeness and spirituality
Began the
Waldorf
school for training of young people; still in existence; interpretive dance called
eurhythmy
taught
Church Universal & Triumphant
- begun by
Elizabeth Claire Prophet
Seeks assistance from
spirits
of great people
Blends
elements of
Catholicism
with
Asian
beliefs
Uses
Bible, rosary, devotion to the saints
Teaches
reincarnation
; includes Buddha, Jesus, & Mary
Theosophy
has had a great influence on
other
movements
New Thought
,
Unity Church
,
Christian Science
Interest in
New Age
movement can be
traced
to
Theosophy
Presents
The Bridge to Total Freedom
, or
The Bridge
Illustrated
chart
representing
upward
steps to
liberation
Scientology offers techniques and books to lead the individual upward
Hubbard's main text-
Dianetics
A person at the
beginning
of the bridge is called
pre-clear
Once you reach a state of mental
liberation
you are called
clear
and are known as an
operating thetan (OT)
Individuals can proceed along the path of mental liberation
By themselves, using Scientology
books
& the help of an
auditor
(spiritual counselor)
Auditor
guides through exercises called
processes
Questions
and mental
images
The intention is to identify
blockages
to growth called
engrams
(earlier painful experiences)
Auditor
may make use of an
e-meter
which reads the galvanic skin response of the
pre-clear
Scientologists
insist that their religion can be practiced along with other religions; doesn't
replace
them
They do not have buildings which look like
churches
Usually look like
office
buildings
Meet on
Sundays
for a service that includes a
reading
from Hubbard's writings
May watch a
video
of one of his speeches
A minister may present a
sermon
on Scientology
Viewpoints
are shared and announcements made
A closing
prayer
written by
Hubbard
March 13
festival
to honor Hubbard's
birthday

Scientology has a great deal of controversy which always seems to be swirling around it
Very complex and difficult to explain in a few minutes
Cao Dai
Rastafariansim
Baha'i
A Special Role
Cao Dai
is a title for
God
Literally means "
high palace
"
Begun in
1921
in Vietnam by
Ngo Van Chieu
Chieu
practiced
spiritism
(ritualistic calling on spirits)
Had a
vision
of a large single
eye
in a triangle
Blends elements of
Daoism
,
Confucianism
,
Buddhism
,
Chinese spirit beliefs
, and
Christian

monotheism
Cao Dai
has a
pope
and practices veneration of
saints
; organized structure like
Catholicism
Teaches that
all
religions are a
revelation
of God
Earlier ones suffer from
misunderstanding
God's revelation has come in
3 great phases
Called "
Alliances
"
1st
- distant past; mythic figures
2nd
- during
Axial Period
Third Alliance
came in 19th century; revealed by
writers
who sought
justice
and human
liberation
Third Alliance
revelations continued with
Chieu
and his followers
Divine realms still contacts humans via
revelation
from God and heavenly spirits
Believe in
God

the

Father
(Cao Dai), a celestial Universal
Mother
, heavenly
spirits
, and souls of living and dead
Karma, reincarnation, nirvana-type liberation
Abstain
from drugs and alcohol
Avoid
luxury
Promote
good
speech
Abstain
from
meat
10 days a month; many
vegetarians
Confucian
practices of virtue, self-cultivation, family responsibility, social harmony, duty
Worship at
churches
Prayer, meditation, breathing exercises

Arose in
Jamaica
in the 1930s.
Most important early figure was
Marcus Garvey
Organized the
Universal Negro Improvement
Association
in 1914
Taught
black pride
Espoused pride in
African
origins; rid themselves of
oppression
Garvey
taught of a coming
leader
and
redeemer
In 1930, a nobleman named
Ras Tafari
was crowned
emperor
of
Ethiopia
Renamed
himself
Haile Selassie
(Power of the Trinity)
Jamaicans held reverence for
Ethiopia
as a great black African kingdom
Belief that
Selassie
was descended from
King
Solomon
Jamaicans gave
divine
status to him
Hoped that
Selassie
would
send

ships
to
return
Jamaicans to
Africa

In 1938,
Selassie
granted
500 acres
of land for any African descendent to
re-settle
Selassie
died in 1975;
Rastafarians
believe he
still

lives
in spiritual body
He is a symbol of
liberation
today
No
single organized
church
Believe in
one God
(
Jah
)
Hailie Selassie
was (and still is)
divine
Bible
is word of
God
; contains
hidden

meanings
for
Africans
Unfriendly
to white society (
Babylon
)
Seek
emancipation
from it
Recent years have seen focus on
human unity
and
environmental

harmony
Sacramental
use of
ganja
(
marijuana
)
Holy herb; try to say it’s in the
Bible
Wear
dreadlocks
Avoid
pork
and
shellfish
; many are
vegetarians
Use
4 colors
(black, green, red, gold)
Important Individuals in the Development and Spread of Rastafarianism
Marcus Garvey
Haile Selassie (Ras Tafari)
Bob Marley
Reggae culture
Sprung up around
Siyyid Ali

Muhammad
(1819-1850) in
Persia
Shiite
roots
Claimed to be the awaited
Mahdi
or last
Imam
Took the name
Bab
(
gate or door
)
Preached of another
divine

messenger
to come bringing full
revelation
from
Allah
Muslims
executed
him in 1850
A young Persian named
Mirza Husayn
Ali became leader
Imprisoned; claimed
visions
while in prison
Exiled
and
wandered
from Baghdad to Turkey,
Egypt and Palestine
Took the name
Baha’u’llah
(
glory of Allah
)
In 1863, he
declared
himself the messianic
figure prophesied by the
Bab
Wrote
books about human
harmony

Proposed a
one world government
His
son
and then
grandson
carried on with the message until 1957
Baha’i
means “
follower of Baha’u’llah

Heretical
sect to Muslims
Universal
in nature
Monotheistic
; all religions are partly true; all are
one
Humans are
evolving
in understanding
Strive for
harmony
among all faiths
Believe in
afterlife
although not well defined
Immortal
soul
Reward and punishment
Complete
equality
between men and women
Education
for all
End to
poverty
Support the
United Nations
strongly
Follow
Ramadan
; fasting
No
alcohol
or
tobacco
Approximately 6 million worldwide
Small
groups,
closeness
of members
Strong sense of
intimacy
Importance of
women
as leaders
Theosophy
,
Wicca
Active
devotional
life, frequently
mystical
Music, dance, trancelike states
Clear practices for
self-cultivation
Body & mind
Possibly
fulfill
human needs that may be
unmet
in the older mainstream
religions
Full transcript