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1 World Religion In this paper I would like to let the reader know what I think of and estimate in other religions and their beliefs. It is not easy since I am not part of any among them neither are they in the country to which I belong. However, world religions have something great to offer to my wellbeing spiritually because it helps to deepen out the "why" of the existence of all religions. My intention is not to define or explain their multiregional origin. I will try to point out my thoughts and feelings about other religions, namely Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism. Hinduism Starting with Hinduism, we are told as we read that it is based on cultural and societal beliefs, which is also found in many other religions. According to Hindu teaching, there are four basic social classes. Each and every society is bound to its own rules and obligations of living. They have a priest caste which is deemed to be the first. Secondly the caste of the Kshatriyas, which is sometimes also called warriors and rulers. Thirdly, Hinduism has got a class which is known to be the Vaisyas or merchants and farmers. Eventually there comes the Shudras, or laborers. Apart from the above-mentioned, they have the "the untouchables", who are hardly ever talked of. These untouchables are outcasts of the society. So I don t see a big gap between any other societies but if we are to look carefully within our own society we see that economics means, like many others factors, what qualifies or divides us into classes even though it is not generally known. The goodness in Hinduism is that they have got common principals among the various sects. They ways of living are not hinged only on previously said principals but also they behave virtuously. Like any other many religions, Hinduism also believes in God, who is known as "Brahman", which is interpreted as creator. They believe in one God. As a Catholic believer I see that they are so close to our own belief in Page 1

2 As a Catholic believer I see that they are so close to our own belief in terms of "The Holy Trinity", but maybe the only difference is in the way it is conceived or explained. Karma is seen to be the law that goodness bears goodness and vice versa. Every deed, thought or decision one makes has consequences. Good or bad will return to each person in the present life or in life to come. The reincarnation or transmigration of souls is also underlined. This is a journey on the cycle of life, where each person experiences as series of physical births, deaths, and rebirths. If one behaves in the right way, there is hope of being reborn into a higher class to the extent of becoming or entering godhood. Bad karma has the possibility of belonging to a lower caste, or event to life as an animal in life to come. Finally, a Hindu believes and works for Nirvana, which is seen as the main goal of Hinduism. Nirvana is believed to be the release of the soul from the seemingly endless chain of rebirths. Islam Unlike Hinduism, Islam is not so new to me; therefore it is not so difficult for me to have some clues and a positive image of Islam, which in some of the corners of the world has a bad reputation not because of its worth but because of the misconceptions. Islam is not a new religion, but the same truth that God revealed through all his prophets to everyone. This is the same with all Christian churches whereby we see the word of God coming to us through an innumerable number of prophets, starting from the biggest till the smallest or the early to the last ones. Muslims, as Christians do, are asked and are found in obligation of striving for peace, mercy and forgiveness. Having enough information now about Islam, it is imprinted on my mind that the majority of them has nothing to do with extremely violent events which have come to be associated with their faith. I see Islam as having the same origin as Christianity. The framework of a Muslim is so much similar to the one of a Christian who Page 2

3 framework of a Muslim is so much similar to the one of a Christian who knows better and speaks for his or her religion. This framework is based on faith, prayer, and concern for the needy, self-purification. Some people see Islam as intolerant towards other religions which I consider untrue, according to what I read and was taught during this class of world religions. We are given some examples of good Muslims, who completely point out a way to other religions. For example, it was my first time to enter a mosque. When we paid a visit to a mosque I was thinking that we would be welcomed outside and be given more information about it outside of it but, surprisingly, no sooner had we arrived than we were taken inside. Secondly the Quran says: "God does not forbid you, with regard to those who fight not for your faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them; for God loves those who are not just, (Quran, 60-8)". Being a monotheist religion, having also sacred scriptures like we do, striving for peace, the wellbeing of the needy, prayer and faith, it is obvious that Islam should not be any barrier between its followers and us Christians, even though we may be different in conceiving realities. Buddhism Like some of the Christians who try to do meditation for the sake of finding out a path to practice and development leading to insight into the true nature of life, Buddhism, too, has many practices such as meditation to change oneself in order to develop the qualities of awareness, kindness and wisdom. I am convinced that if each and every human being had the same target the present world would be a paradise. However, though it is not a problem for other religions like Christianity, Buddhism does not include the idea of worshipping a creator god the reason why some people don t see it as a religion in the common Western sense. The basic principals of Buddhist teaching are straightforward and practical: nothing is fixed or permanent which means that actions have consequences are very essential not only for Buddhists but to the entire world. The idea of addressing all people Page 3

4 Buddhists but to the entire world. The idea of addressing all people irrespective of race, nationality or gender, I regard it as suitable to every human creature and this, in case, is done in a very cheap way to develop oneself and the whole world. It teaches practical methods which enable people to realize and utilize its teachings in order to transform their experience, to be fully responsible for their lives and to develop the qualities of wisdom and compassion. Like many other religions, Buddhism has also rituals and devotions. It is a path of transformation which means that it is not enough to understand it intellectually. I liked very much how the professor talked of the ways it develops emotions and the imagination. Having the emotional engagement, helps me on my way towards God, in terms of devotion and faith which finds its ways in ritual engagement. Like the religion to which I belong, their rituals consist of three main elements: recitation, chanting and the making of offerings. Judaism Judaism was the most important lecture to me, since from my childhood I always heard many people talking of Jewish people. This attracted my attention and forced me to ask many questions about who is a Jew, but unfortunately none of them was able to describe or to tell me more about Judaism apart from what was and is still normally read in the holy bible. It was my great joy when I saw for the first time a Jew before me giving a lecture. This is one of many reasons why I have decided to write this paragraph to let the reader know what I have so far understood about Judaism. Judaism is known as a religion and culture of the Jewish people and the first monotheistic faith. Considering what I read and was said about Judaism, its history constitutes the historical foundation of other religions, namely Christianity and Islam. There are three facts regarded as the pillars of Judaism. Judaism has a belief in a monotheistic God. Judaism is, in essence, the Law of God given to Moses. Fundamental to Judaism is the belief that the people of Israel are God s chosen people, who must serve as a light for other nations. It is believed that God made Page 4

5 who must serve as a light for other nations. It is believed that God made a covenant first with Abraham and renewed it with Isaac, Jacob and Moses, which means that Judaism is a religion that focuses on the group and the group s needs, rather than on individuals. Individuals are important only as their actions affect the group. The last but not the least fact is the expectancy of a Messiah who will bring universal peace and Jerusalem will be his capital center. Jews believes again that the human condition can be improved, this is almost common in every religion, that the letter and the spirit of the Torah must be followed, and that a Messiah will finally bring the world to a state of paradise. Briefly, I may say that this was a trustworthy lecture since it opened up my mind in understanding who is a Jew and what is Judaism. What I do not yet know about the Jewish people and their religion, there is a hope that I will know it through mutual dialogue with other people from other religions. Shinto Shinto is a general term for the activities of the Japanese people to worship all deities of heaven and earth. Its origin is as old as the history of Japan. It was my first time to even hear about such kind of religion but, finally, I saw it is interesting. Like any other religion it has got faith. Having awe for Kami and revering it as their guardian, it goes that the majority of the Japanese has also a warm close feeling to Kami, and they always wish Kami s protection against any disasters and its grace with divine blessings. It is clear that they believe in a supernatural force which we, too, Christians believe. Regarding life after death, according to Shinto faith, a human spirit is believed to remain forever like the spirit of Kami does. However, the spirit is not conceived as a substantial existence. It is believed because of its work, and places where the spirit dwells are often mentioned as the other world in the classics. It is more interesting to me when I see that they have they accept a hereafter, which I may Page 5

6 to me when I see that they have they accept a hereafter, which I may compare to heaven, and is regarded as the other world of heaven where the most venerable deities live, and then it comes to the other world of Yomi where a divine female parent gave birth to the land of Japan. The faith in the Kami and ancestral spirits protect their descendants as far as the descendants continue to hold festivals. This took me back in my culture. It used to be nearly the same before Christianity took over. Finally, it can be said that Shinto is not a religion which centralizes its interests in the life after death, but in this world. Home Page 6

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