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APHuG: Religion

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David Burton

on 29 October 2014

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Transcript of APHuG: Religion


"It has been estimated that one-third of our Western civilization bears the marks of its Jewish ancestry.... The real impact of the ancient Jews lies in the extent to which Western civilization took over their angle of vision on the deepest questions life poses."

-- Huston Smith,
The World's Religions
Central belief is in one God
covenant with Abraham, Issac, and Jacob
Moses led Hebrews from Egyptian captivity to the "Promised Land"
Ten Commandments & Torah serve as "the law" and guiding principles
Promise of a "Messiah" to bring era of peace
Monotheism as only "essential" belief
identity from ethnic heritage & following traditions
male circumcision 8 days after birth
Bar Mitsvah (13 y/o boys) & Bat Mitsvah (12 y/o girls)
Passover (prior to "Exodus")
Rosh Hashanah (New Year & Day of Remembrance)
Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)
Hanukkah (Festival of Lights)
Restraint from non-Kosher foods
"When you hear about the Self, meditate upon the Self,
and finally realize the Self...

you come to understand everything in life."

--Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.5
Hindu = Persian word for "river" used to describe Indus River Valley
"sanatama dharma": eternal religion
"varnasramadharma": fulfillment of duties (dharma) appropriate to one's class (varna) and stage of life (asrama)
basis for "caste system":
respect given to Vedas (ancient texts) & Brahmins (priestly class)
Holidays & Festivals
"one for everyday of year"; actually 1000s
purify/renew society, bridge over critical moments, resuscitate vital powers of nature
Diwali: festival of lights--victory of good over evil
Holi: festival of color to welcome Spring
Mahashivaratri: festival of Shiva with meditation & fasting
Four Affirmations within Shinto:
Tradition & the family: family is main mechanism to preserve traditions
Love of nature: nature is sacred & brings the divine close; natural objects are worshiped as sacred spirits.
Seeks tolerance, harmony, & peace
day-to-day life & cultural identity rather than religious conviction
silent prayers/worship at shrines
personal cleansing rituals at home
public festivals (i.e. mud celebration at Warabi shrine)
“To be fully alive is to have an aesthetic perception of life because a major part of the world's goodness lies in its often unspeakable beauty.”

--Yukitaka Yamamoto
"The way that can be spoken of
is not the constant Way;

The name that can be named
is not the constant Name.

The nameless was at the beginning of heaven and earth;

the named was the mother of myriad creatures."

--Tao Te Ching
Focus on individual spiritual life
Tao: mysterious natural order of the universe; "the Way"
Ch'i: energy flow or life force; balanced ch'i brings healthful life
death transforms being to non-being; yang to yin
Immortals: 8 perfect persons to be emulated
Purpose of life: live in accordance with Tao
"In all things success depends on previous preparation, and without such previous preparation there is sure to be failure."

De (virtue) is obtained by:
ren: benevolence toward others
li: following norms or social values
zhong: staying true to one's nature
Ethnic Religions: those which are embraced primarily by one group(s) living within a particular location; membership is increased by normal human growth or outsiders specifically seeking it out for conversion purposes
Universal Religions: those which intentionally seek to be global or wide-spread in scope and have a desire to be appealing to a vast quantity of people regardless of location; intentionally seeks to gain converts
"From the majestic pontifical High Mass in St. Peter's to the quiet simplicity of a Quaker meeting... from the intellectual sophistication of Saint Thomas Aquinas to the moving simplicity of spirituals such as "Lord, I want to be a Christian"... from St. Paul's in London to Mother Teresa in the slums of Calcutta...
all this is Christianity."

--Huston Smith,
The World's Religions
Jesus as the "Messiah" of Judaism
circumstances of birth match Old Testament prophecies
as adult, traveled preaching, healing sick, performing miracles, & forgiving sin
executed for claiming to be son of God
execution & rising from dead provide forgiveness of sin
Common beliefs: divinity of Jesus, Trinity, communion, water baptism, prayer, fellowship of believers, regular worship attendance
"Righteous is he who believes in Allah and the Last Day and the Angels and the Scriptures and the Prophets."

--Qur'an 2:177
Islam is Arabic for "submission" to Allah
covenant with Abraham, passed via Ishmael
Allah reveals his word to Muhammad, the final prophet
Allah's word presented in the Qur'an which must be understood in Arabic
believe Jews & Christians are "people of the book" with an incomplete revelation
Five Pillars of Islam
confession of faith: "There is one God and Mohammad is his messenger."
daily prayers: 5 times & facing Mecca
charity: act of purification & personal growth
fasting during month of Ramadan
Hajj: pilgrimage to Mecca if physically & financially able
Holidays & Festivals:
Eid al-Adha: celebrates Abraham's faith during the attempted sacrifice of his son
Ramadan: month of fasting in honor of Allah's giving of the Qur'an
Eid al-Fitr: celebration to break the fast of Ramadan
Ashura: Shi-ite day of fasting in memory of Husayn (Mohammad's grandson)
"One thing I teach: suffering and the end of suffering.
It is just ill and the ceasing of ill that I proclaim."

--The Buddha
Siddhartha Gautama: via 4 trips an affluent & sheltered prince encountered each the old, sick, poor, & dead (images of human suffering)
meditation brought enlightenment; he became "the Buddha"
preached for 45 years in India & Nepal
Four Noble Truths:
All of life is marked by suffering.
Suffering is caused by desire and attachment.
Suffering can be eliminated ending desire.
Suffering is eliminated (& Nirvana attained) by following the Noble Eightfold Path: rightness in...
beliefs, aspirations, speech, conduct, livelihood, effort, thought, & meditation
belief in reincarnation & karma
Monotheistic polytheism? Brahman (supreme reality) w/ Shiva, Vishnu, etc., as incarnations?
Physical cleanliness: frequent baths, washing of hands, & rinsing out mouths
"Matsuri": worship & honor given to the Kami, ancestral spirits, & emperor
shu: reciprocity in social obligations
xiao: piety/respect for parents & ancestors
This philosophy can be fulfilled within a variety of religions
suffering comes from seeking to satisfy physical needs
enlightenment comes by abandoning greed, hate, & delusion
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