Religion

Each of us connects with the word “religion” very specific ideas. The word religion (“respect for what is sacred, reverence for the gods,” “obligation, the bond between man and the gods”) is mentioned as a description of the religious life for the first time in Cicero’s  “De natura deorum”. Some modern scholars favor the derivation from ligare “bind, connect”.

There are two world traditions, which have formed the cultural and ethical basis of the world, as we know it. Both have an unbroken history going back thousands of years.

1) Abrahamic religions are the monotheistic faiths of Middle East origin, recognizing a spiritual tradition identified with Abraham, the founding father of the Israelites.

Judaism is the oldest Abrahamic religion, originating in the people of ancient Israel and Judea.

Christianity is based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. The Christian faith is essentially faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God and as Savior and Lord.

Islam is based on the Quran, one of the holy books, considered by Muslims to be revealed by God, and on the teachings of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

2) The Vedic tradition, also termed Dharmic tradition, are a family of religions that have originated from the Indian subcontinent. They encompass Hinduism and three other religions that have spawned from it—namely Buddhism, Jainism, an Sikhism.

Hinduism includes Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shrauta among numerous other traditions. Hinduism includes a wide spectrum of laws and prescriptions of “daily morality” based on karma, dharma and societal norms.

Buddhism was founded by Siddhattha Gotama who aimed to help sentient beings to end their suffering by understanding the true nature of phenomena, thereby escaping the cycle of suffering and rebirth that is, achieving Nirvana.

Jainism is an ancient Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence for all forms of living beings in this world.

Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded on the teachings of  Guru Nanak and ten successive Sikh. Sikhs are expected to embody the qualities of a Sant-Sipāhī—a saint-soldier, have control over one’s internal  vices and be able to be constantly immersed in virtues clarified in the Gutu Granth Sahib.

There are other religions that can’t be put into one of these two world traditions, among them Shinto (the indigenous spirituality of  Japan), Zaroastrianism (an ancient Iranian religion and philosophy), Taoism (a religious tradition that emphasizes living in harmony with the Tao meaning “way”, “path” or “principle”), Confucianism (an ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius) and Baha’i Faith (a monotheistic religion emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind).

The development of religion has taken different forms in different cultures.  But we have to remember that the great teachers never founded a religion. It is the followers that established and promoted the different churches, replete with their own beliefs, dogmas, rules, rites, rituals and other governing persuasions.

Each great teacher emphasized different ideals and virtues.   The ideal is the selfless aspiration to help uplift humanity and a virtue is the fulfillment of the ideal.  In other words, an ideal is a virtue we promise to practice. In the end there is a basic unity of the world’s religionCompare with The Universality of Golden Rules in Religion even if they emphasize different ideals because any particular ideal includes all the others for its altruistic completion.

 

RELIGION TEXT IDEAL TEACHING TEACHER TIME
Hinduism Vedas Divine Duty, Wisdom Vyasa and Unknown +2000 – 600 B.C.
Judaism Torah Righteousness Moses ca. 1250 B.C.
Shinto Kojiki & Nihonji Godliness Unknown 660 B.C.
Zoroastrianism Zend Avesta Purity, Truth Zoroaster/Zarathushtra 660 – 583 B.C.
Jainism Siddhantha Angas Harmlessness Mahavira Vardhamana Jnatriputra 599-527 B.C.
Buddhism Tipitakas Compassion Siddharta Gautama Sakyamuni Buddha 580 – 483 B.C.
Taoism Tao Teh Ching Simplicity Lao Tzu 570 – 517 B.C.
Confucianism The 4 Books & The 5 Classics Altruism, Propriety Confucius 551 – 479 B.C.
Christianity Holy Bible Love, Forgiveness Jesus 105 B.C.
Islam Koran Divine Surrender Abulqasim Mohammed ca. 570 – 632 A.D.
Sikhism Adi Granth Devotion Guru Nanak 1469 – 1538
Baha’i Faith Kitab-I-Agdas Peace Mirza Husain Ali Nuri 1817 – 1892

 

Sources for this article:

Escudero, B. (1994). Basic Unity of the World Religions. Summar Sophia Series, Volume 4, Number 9

Jewish Virtual Library. Abraham. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/abraham.html

Renkewitz H. (1980). Religion aus Das Moderne Bildungsbuch.

Vedic and Abrahamic Thoughts. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://veda.wikidot.com/vedic-and-abrahamic-thought

 

 

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