We should all have something to believe in. Even Atheists tend to heed towards the teachings of Marx, Freud, Feuerbach, and Voltaire;
Because it is not just circumstances of life that teaches us, but the words and influences of others that lead us as well.
Whether or not I agree with someone’s beliefs, I respect and admire someone who is strong in their convictions and use them as a power source for self-growth and positive change. However, usually when someone tells me that they are religious, it usually poses a question of whether it is a self-taught belief with growing knowledge, or is it just simply a societal lifestyle of which they have grown accustomed, and unfortunately an excuse passed down by ancestors who have taught them that the lives created by the very God they worship were put on the earth to be judged, ridiculed, and hurt. That fact made me sad, and curious. In a land of blended cultures and religions, I was interested to know just how many religions are out there in the world, and the fundamentals of each one.
There are twelve classical world religions: Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism. These religions do not include the hundreds of beliefs that are practiced around the world. I thought that I would share some fast facts (if even possible) on a few of the religions, and even though I am sure there are more denominations, beliefs, and challenges included with each other of these beliefs, I wanted to share what I’ve read so far.
Founded in India 2,500 years ago, Buddhism remains the dominant religion of the Far East and is increasingly popular in the West. Over its long history Buddhist has developed into a wide variety of forms, ranging from an emphasis on religious rituals and worship of deities to a complete rejection of both rituals and deities in favor of pure meditation. But all share in common a great respect for the teachings of the Buddha, “The Enlightened One.”
Ultimate reality: None. Nothing is permanent.
Human nature: There is no self or soul. Human existence is nothing more than a combination of five impermanent components (khandas).
Purpose of life: Theravada – Become an arhat, escape the cycle of rebirth, and attain nirvana. Mahayana – Become a boddhisatva then help others attain enlightenment.
Afterlife: Rebirth or nirvana. Nirvana is seen simply as the cessation of suffering by some and as a heavenly paradise by others.
The Bahá’í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Baha’u’llah in 1860s Persia. Today, there are about five million Baha’ís worldwide, most of whom live in non-Muslim Third World countries.
Like Jews, Christians and Muslims, Baha’is believe in only one God, who sends prophets as his messengers. But Bahá’is regard God as completely transcendent and ultimately unknowable, so Bahá’í doctrine focuses primarily on “Manifestations of God” who progressively reveal God to humanity. These include Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, Krishna, the Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, the Bab, and Baha’u’llah.
ultimate reality:one creator God, who is described in different ways by various religions and revealed by the Messengers
human nature: eternal soul that is essentially good purpose of life to develop spiritually and draw closer to God
how to live: pray daily, avoid intoxicants, read the scriptures, work hard as a form of worship, promote education, strive for social justice and equality
after life: soul separates from the body and begins a journey towards or away from God; heaven and hell not literal places but states of being.
Christianity as founded in the early 1st century AD, with the teaching, miracles, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Today it is the largest religion in the world, with around 2 billion followers. Especially dominant in the western world, today’s Christianity has a wide variety of forms, beliefs and practices but all center around faith in Jesus Christ. I found that there were several interpretations/sectors of Christianity, so I have to come back to this one- but this is what I’ve found so far..
Ultimate reality: One God (A Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)Human nature, Created good but now born sinful
Purpose of life: Know, love and serve God
How to live:Have faith in the true God and Christ’s resurrection, do good works, participate in sacraments
Afterlife: Resurrection of body and soul, purgatory (Catholic and Orthodox), and eternal heaven or hell
Confucianism a way of life taught by Confucius in the 6th–5th century BC. Sometimes viewed as a philosophy, sometimes as a religion, Confucianism is perhaps best understood as an all-encompassing humanism that neither denies nor slights Heaven.
Confucianism has been followed by the Chinese for more than two millennia. It has deeply influenced spiritual and political life in China; its influence has also extended to Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. East Asians may profess themselves to be Shintoists, Taoists, Buddhists, Muslims, or Christians – but seldom do they cease to be Confucians.
The main principle of Confucianism is “Humaneness” or “benevolence”, signifying excellent character in accord with ritual norms, loyalty to one’s true nature, reciprocity, and filial piety (which is respect and obedience for elder family members) . Together these constitute virtue.
Confucianism is characterized by a highly optimistic view of human nature. The faith in the possibility of ordinary human beings to become awe-inspiring sages and worthies is deeply rooted in the Confucian heritage (Confucius himself lived a rather ordinary life), and the insistence that human beings are teachable, improvable, and perfectible through personal and communal endeavour is typically Confucian.
Confucius regarded heaven as a positive and personal force in the universe; however, he was not, as some have supposed, an agnostic or a skeptic.
Means “of the Indus Valley” or simply “Indian.” Hindus call their religion sanatama dharma,”eternal religion” or “eternal truth
human nature-in bondage to ignorance and illusion, but able to escape
purpose of life-to attain liberation (moksa) from the cycle of reincarnation
how to live-order life according to the dharma
afterlife-if karma unresolved, soul is born into a new body; if karma resolved, attain moksa (liberation)
(Now keep in mind, that just like most of the other religions, these facts are based on what I’ve read from a majority stand-point, but is not the general belief for all Muslims.. Muslim beliefs differ between sects and individual believers. Those listed below are believed by the majority of Muslims, but not all.
major sects and denominations are Sunni and Shiite
Twelvers – Majority Shi’ite denomination that reveres the Twelve Imams
Seveners – Shi’ite denomination holding that the legitimate line of imams ended with the seventh
Sufi- A mystical branch.
ultimate reality-God (Allah in Arabic); the same God revealed (imperfectly) in the Jewish and Christian Bibles
type of theism-strict monotheism, which is
human nature Born in a state of purity, imperfect yet capable of seeking God and doing good
purpose of life-Submit to the will of Allah and attain paradise after death
how to live-Follow the Qur’an, Hadith, and Five Pillars Of Islam
afterlife-Resurrection of body and soul followed by eternal paradise or hell
Jainism is an ancient Indian religion that emphasizes non-violence and the ascetic life. It began in the sixth century BCE, the same time Buddhism was developing.
Jains derive their name from the jinas, spiritual conquerors who have achieved liberation and perfection. Included among these are the 24 spiritual leaders called “ford-makers” or tirthankaras. The last of the tirthankaras was Mahavira (599-527 BC), a contemporary of the Buddha and the man generally considered the founder of Jainism. Jinas are believed to reside in the top-level of heaven, above the realm of the gods. Accordingly, liberated souls are revered more than the gods.
Jainism incorporates the traditional Hindu concepts of karma and reincarnation, but rejects the Veda scriptures, castes and the idea of a creator god. The goal of life is to reach liberation by a life of purification and discipline as taught by the tirthankaras.
The unique emphasis of Jainism is on peaceful, disciplined living for monks and also for laymen. Jain ritual centers around on sacred images and mantras.
Ultimate reality-Uncreated and eternal universe
Human nature-The soul is uncreated and eternal and can attain perfect divinity. Only in human form can one achieve liberation.
Purpose of life-Gain liberation from cycle of rebirth.
How to live-Cause no harm to any sentient being.
Afterlife-Repeated reincarnation until liberation.
Shinto (also Shinoism) is the term for the indigenous religious beliefs and practices of Japan. The Shinto religion has no founder, no official sacred scriptures, and no fixed creeds, but it has preserved its main beliefs and rituals throughout the ages.
the core of Shinto beliefs is the mysterious creating and harmonizing power (musubi) of kami and in the truthful way (makoto) of kami. The nature of kami cannot be fully explained in words, because kami transcends the cognitive faculty of man. Devoted followers, however, are able to understand kami through faith and usually recognize various kami in polytheistic form.
The Kami began as the mysterious forces of nature associated primarily with permanent features in the landscape, such as unusual mountains, rocky cliffs, caves, springs, trees and stones. Many folk tales evolved around these holy places, which often refer to animal possession and chiefly involve foxes, badgers, dogs and cats betwitching people. Celestial bodies play only incidental roles as Shinto kami.
The word “Sikhism” derives from “Sikh,” which means a strong and able disciple. There are about 23 million Sikhs worldwide, making Sikhism the 5th largest religion in the world. Approximately 19 million Sikhs live in India, primarily in the state of Punjab. Large populations of Sikhs can also be found in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. Sikhs are a significant minority in Malaysia and Singapore, where they are sometimes ridiculed for their distinctive appearance, but respected for their work ethic and high education standards.
Ultimate reality: God (Ik Onkar, Nam)
purpose of life-Overcome the self, align life with will of God, and become a “saint soldier,” fighting for good
afterlife-Reincarnation until resolve karma and merge with God.
five cardinal vices are:
4. worldly attachment
There are two main strands and schools within Taoism, usually labeled “Philosophical Taoism and “Religious Taoism”. Scholars now say the two are not as strongly distinguished as once thought, but the former generally focuses on the philosophical writings of Lao-Tzu, Chuang-Tzu and other early mystics while the latter emphasizes religious rituals aimed at attaining immortality.
Ultimate reality:The Tao
human nature: Born in a state of purity, imperfect but capable of seeking the Tao and doing good
purpose of life: Inner harmony and peace; longevity.
how to live: In accordance with the Tao
afterlife: Revert back to state of non-being
Zoroastrianism- Not so fast facts:
Zoroastrianism is the ancient, pre-Islamic religion of Persia (modern Iran). It survives there in isolated areas but more prosperously in India, where the descendants of Zoroastrian Persian immigrants are known as Parsis, or Parsees. In India the religion is called Pariism.
Founded by the Iranian prophet and reformer Zoroaster in the 6th century BC, Zoroastrianism contains both monotheistic and dualistic features. Its concepts of one God, judgment, heaven and hell likely influenced the major Western religons of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
The Zoroastrian concept of God incorporates both monotheism and dualism. Though Zoroastrianism was never as aggressively monotheistic as Judaism or Islam, it does represent an original attempt at unifying under the worship of one supreme god, a polytheistic religion comparable to those of the ancient Greeks, Latins, Indians, and other early people.
Zoroastrianism is a highly ethical religion in which the choice of good over evil has almost cosmic importance. Zarathustra taught that humans are free to choose between right and wrong, truth and lie, and light and dark, and that their choices would affect their eternity destiny.
Judaism is a monotheistic religion, with its main inspiration being based on or found in the Hebrew Bible, which has been explored in later texts, such as the Talmud. Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenantal relationship God established with the Children of Israel. Judaism is not a homogenous religion, and embraces a number of streams and views.
Ultimate reality-One God (YHWH)
human nature-created good
purpose of life-obedience to God
how to live-obey the law and atone for sin
afte rlifeviews vary: Gan Eden, Gehinnom, nonexistence, or reincarnation.
Hello, down here! If you’ve made it down this far I am sure you see just from the twelve Religions I have shared today that there are so many religious/cultural beliefs that dwell our planet earth. I think it is beautiful, and I hope that we all can utilize the positivity that each one of the beliefs teach us..I am sure then we will live harmoniously.
(I’d like to thank Religious Facts for providing me with great information!)