Religion Research Questions

Many scientists, in particular, Sigmund Freud and William James, have varying insights towards the origin of religion. In total, there are twelve classical religions in the world. Some of the most notable religions are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. Every religion has different religious practices as well as religious doctrines. Religions are anchored on different tenets that hold their believers together hence facilitating worship. Religion plays a fundamental role in the world, and such scientist as Sigmund Freud has researched this phenomenon to get an in-depth understanding of its origin and doctrines.

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Question One

Compare and Contrast Sigmund Freud's Theory as to the Origin of Religions with William James' Theory

Regarding the origin of religions, Freud postulates that religions arose basically because of the demands of civilized society that were not fulfilled, but they needed to be repressed. He further postulates that religion was an illusion, and it arose because human beings wanted it to be true and, therefore, negatively portraying religion. Conclusively, Freud asserts that religions originated because psychological needs were left unfulfilled. On the other hand, James was not interested in analyzing the origin of religions (Molloy, 2010). Rather, he promoted the investigation of experiences in religion. Moreover, instead of offering the reasons behind the origin of religion as Freud, James provided assertions that religious experiences should be the topics discussed primarily while studying religion rather than studying institutions of religion, therefore, positively portraying religion.

How the Insights of William James Might Illuminate My Traditions

I belong to the Seventh-day Adventists (SDAs) church that upholds various practices such as same-sex marriages, the atonement of Christ, salvation, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The insights of James might illuminate my Sda's religious traditions as it helps me to have a deeper understanding of my religious group. According to James, these traditions and beliefs can be best understood through biblical analysis. The life of Jesus Christ described in the Bible best explains why the SDAs believe in Jesus Christ and His resurrection and His gift of salvation.

Question Two

FourKey Concepts of the Upanishads

The four key concepts of the Upanishads are moksha, karma, dharma, and samsara. The concept of samsara regards reincarnation. The idea of reincarnation proceeds the idea that when a person dies, his/her soul will be born again and take the form of another body. For instance, when an individual dies, he/she may be reincarnated perhaps as a god, as an animal, or a human being but following the death and resurrection cycle (Molloy, 2010). Apart from this, the notion of karma holds the understanding that all actions have consequences either good or bad. Karma can be literally translated into action (Molloy, 2010). Karma fundamentally determines the next life conditions just as our life is determined by our past karma. According to this concept, the availability of judgment or forgiveness is not guaranteed, rather, a law that is interpersonal, eternal, and natural operates in the universe. For instance, individuals who do good will surely be reborn in better conditions. On the other hand, individuals who do evil will be reborn in bad conditions.

The third basic concept of Upanishads is the concept of dharma, which means the right behavior. According to this notion, every individual has a social responsibility. That is, each individual belonging to a specific caste has a specific set of responsibilities. For instance, regarding the warrior caste (Kshatriyas), dying in bed was considered a sin (Molloy, 2010). Every individual aimed at dying on the battlefield since this was highly honored. Therefore, this concept highly motivated individuals to do their best in their varied social groups. The fourth basic conception is the idea of moksha meaning liberation. Regarding this concept, the death and resurrection cycle has no goal attached to it as it is repetitive. Thus, the concept of moksha liberates individuals from this repetitive cycle.

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Question Three

Four Noble Truths Particularly the Noble Eightfold Path

The four noble truths form the basis of Buddhism. The first truth explains that life holds suffering, pain as well as misery. The second truth states that the major causes of suffering are selfish craving in addition to personal desire. The third truth holds the idea that one can overcome the selfish craving. The last truth presupposes that the only way to overcome suffering is by following the noble eightfold path. The fourth noble truth basically means that one can avoid suffering by following the noble eightfold path (Molloy, 2010). Regarding this truth, enlightenment actually refers to an individual being liberated from suffering. Thus, the path to put suffering to an end is achieved by seeking self-improvement by using all of the eight elements. According to this noble truth, there are eight paths or attitudes that must be followed to achieve freedom from suffering. The eight paths are referred to as the eight things one should do in life. They consist of significant elements, including having the right intentions, having the right view, speaking rightly, acting rightly, living the right life, application of the right efforts, being mindful, and having the desired concentration levels.

Two Concepts from Hinduism that Buddhism Eventually Kept

There are two concepts of Hinduism that Buddhism eventually kept. The first Hinduism concept that was kept by Buddhism is the concept of devotional worship. This concept involves worship performance with a view of achieving body integration, integration of mind, as well as spirit to help an individual engage in the worship to transform into a higher being. The second concept is the notion of Hindu tantra (Molloy, 2010). The perception involves certain practices, such as the identification with deities, body concentration, and breaking of taboos.

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Question Four

Three Ethical Mandates of Jainism

The three ethical mandates of Jainism are Ahimsa, which means non-violence, Satya, which means truth, and Astheya, which means non-stealing. The first ethical mandate of Ahimsa requires abstinence from killing animals (Molloy, 2010). Additionally, the thought of killing is equated to the evil of killing regarding this ethical mandate. In addition, any word that shows the intention of killing is also considered to be evil. Thus, this mandate upholds only pure thoughts, pure actions, and pure speech. The second ethical mandate, Astheya, argues against stealing. Therefore, jains should only take something that is willingly offered to them. Moreover, this ethical mandate holds the idea that there should be neither the exploitation of the weak nor the extortion of materials from the wealthy. Rather, there should be the giving of fair value to all goods and services that are purchased. The third ethical mandate, Satya, stands for truth (Molloy, 2010). The ethical mandate requires speaking the truth at all times. Moreover, silence should be observed in situations that promote violence.

Evaluation of the Case for Complete Vegetarianism

Regarding the first ethical mandate of Ahimsa or rather non-violence, all of the people should be vegetarians. This is because the eating of animals or fish will necessarily involve the act of violence against these creatures, which is their killing. Violence against animals is completely prohibited. Even the act of buying meat from a butcher should not be allowed, as it will involve promoting the act of killing (Molloy, 2010). This is proved by the fact that the buyer will be supporting the intention of the butcher person to kill. Therefore, there should be absolute vegetarianism, which should be upheld by all individuals. Basically, the ethical mandate of non-violence holds that just the support of killing, for instance, by buying meat from the butcher shows the actual involvement in the direct act of killing an animal.

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Question Five

The Three Marks of Reality in Buddhism

In Buddhism, there are three marks of reality - anicca or rather impermanence, dukkha translating into suffering or frustration, and anatta translating into non-self. Anicca, as a mark of reality, holds that nothing is permanent, as everything will eventually stop existing at some point (Molloy, 2010). In addition, it holds that all conditioned things are in a state of flux that is constant, thus, constantly changing. Therefore, all conditioned things are inconstant, unsteady, as well as impermanent. Regarding the dukkha mark of reality, anything that is not permanent is subject to changes, and anything prone to changes is basically a subject to frustration or suffering. This mark or reality supports the view that nothing in the world can result in long-lasting satisfaction. Generally, while striving for various desires, stresses and sufferings are experienced along the way, consequently, leading to suffering. The third mark of reality, anatta, means there is no soul as far as living beings are concerned that is unchanging or rather permanent (Molloy, 2010). According to this mark of reality, an individual is a combination of events, such as perceptions, consciousness state, feelings, and dispositions. This combination of events is basically temporary. Therefore, this mark of reality provides that there is nothing or no one constant.

How the Three Marks of Reality Differ from the Hindu Concept of Reality

The three marks of reality are different from the Hindu concept of reality. According to the Hindu concept of reality, life and death are viewed as a cycle in the process of reincarnation. That is, the state in which we are born determines our lives in the future. The actions in our lives dictate what our future will look like (Molloy, 2010). Therefore, when we are engaged in good actions, our future life is better and the opposite is true. Thus, individuals are in a position to change their future lives by engaging in good actions. This is very different from the three marks of reality, as these marks hold that nothing in the world can lead to a long-lasting and deep satisfaction, as anything in the world is constant.

Question Six

Carl Gustav Jung positively views religion by providing the psychological analysis of most common religious terms, such as sacred, soul, evil, and God. On the one hand, he identifies the wholeness quest by humans as the reason behind the origin of religions. According to him, wholeness is the integration of both the conscious and unconscious psyche. On the other hand, James provided assertions that religious experiences should be topics primarily studied while learning about religion, rather than studying institutions of religion and, therefore, positively portraying the notion.

The insights of James might illuminate my Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) religious traditions by having an understanding of the dietary traditions as far as SDA is concerned (Molloy, 2010). For instance, the SDAs are not required to consume meat or drinks, such as coffee and tea. In addition, the Sabbath day should be kept holy, in addition to believing in the resurrection of Jesus and His salvation. Therefore, James will understand these traditions by deeply studying them or making an analysis of the life of one of the individuals from this tradition. These traditions can also be understood by studying the Bible.

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Question Seven

Three Paths to God (Yogas) in Hinduism

According to Hinduism, there are three paths to God, namely, the path of action (karma yoga), the path of devotion (bhakti yoga), and the path of knowledge (jnana yoga). The path of action involves doing selfless actions to others without expecting merits fame or glory. Individuals should not desire to get something in return for their actions (Molloy, 2010). The path of action leads one to God, as it makes an individual practicing it be mentally pure, as well as reach inner peace by continually offering actions that are selfless to both God and humanity. Therefore, practicing karma yoga results in true self-knowledge and also prepares an individual to be receptive to the divine light of God.

Accordingly, the devotion path in Hinduism entails spiritual practices that are aimed at the cultivation of devotion and love for God. In light of this path, an individual has an inner desire to adhere to what pleases God at any time, instead of concentrating on the attainment of a divine reward or fear of divine punishment (Molloy, 2010). Those who practice Hinduism have the feeling that the devotion path is the easiest way of attaining a spiritual state that is liberated by ordinary individuals because of a lack of rigorous practices.

About the path of knowledge, one ought to be engaged in practices that look into the truth of various aspects of human beings' experiences in different ways (Molloy, 2010). This basically involves an individual being able to question that regard the inner truth of the experiences of human beings with a view of finding out the essential and constituent truths inside oneself in the capacity of a human being and the large society. This path leads to God through exercises and meditations that help one to acquire knowledge on truth.

Question Eight

The Theravada and Mahayana forms of Buddhism

In East Asia countries including China, Korea, Vietnam, and Japan, as well as in North America and Australia, the Mahayana form of Buddhism is popular. On the one hand, this form of Buddhism asserted the possibility of salvation of the universe. On the other hand, the Theravada form of Buddhism is common in countries, such as Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia (Molloy, 2010). However, the different geographical locations ensure that it has differing views that are explicated below.

Firstly, the Mahayana form of Buddhism follows the beliefs that the goal of religion to become like Buddha, therefore, fulfilling the enlightenment and inner peace destinies of a bodhisattva. However, the Theravada form of Buddhism views the goal of religion as the deliverance of the mind, that is, being able to free one from various bondages. These two forms also have differing practices. The Mahayanist believes in the practice of meditation that is frequently visiting temples with a view of making offerings to Buddha. The other form values the practice of donating, meditating, and upholding morality. Regarding how one should live his/her life, the Mahayana Buddhism practitioners follow the idea that marriage is not required, as marriage is viewed as a secular concept (Molloy, 2010). However, the Theravada Buddhist value marriages. They believe that individuals can marry and be able to lead a moral life, but they should be aware that desires and cravings, in addition to attachments lead to suffering. The Mahayana Buddhists also view that individuals should lead their lives by meditating on their practices, therefore, leading to the elimination of negative impressions that are created in people's minds. The Theravada Buddhists, on their part, believe that individuals should not be mentally attached to certain misdeeds.

Question Nine

Hinduism and Sikhism can be identified as Hindu religions. However, Hinduism was founded earlier before Sikhism, as Sikhism began as an attempt to unify Hinduism and Islam. Basically, Sikhism took numerous religious concepts from both Hinduism and Islam. Firstly, Sikhism took the religious concepts of karma, dharma, Mukti, and Maya from Hinduism (Molloy, 2010). The religious concept of karma is a spiritual principle that involves causes and effects, whereby the future of an individual is determined by the performed actions. Good actions influence good karma, while bad actions influence bad karma. The spiritual concept of dharma involves engaging in good actions, according to the social grouping. Therefore, this spiritual concept encourages individuals to work hard in their social groupings. That is, individuals should engage themselves in a way of living that is right by engaging in righteousness, as well as proper religious practices. In addition, the multi-religious concept was borrowed from Hinduism by Sikhism and is used to refer to spiritual liberation. Therefore, Sikhism recommends meditation as the way to spiritual liberation (Molloy, 2010). The Maya religious concept was borrowed from Hinduism, and it refers to the reality of God in Sikhism. From Islam, Sikhism borrowed the religious concept of God; which is observing strict monotheism. In addition, Sikhism also accepted the spiritual concept of believing in Grants. Sikhism believes in Adi Granth, as its authoritative scripture just as the Muslims believe in the Quran. The religious concept of charity was accepted by Sikhism from Islam.

However, Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, rejected some elements of Hinduism. Firstly, he rejected the element of polytheism as Sikhism believes in the existence of one God and, therefore, is a monotheist. The other element rejected by Nanak is the element of rituals (Molloy, 2010). The Sikhs only believe in meditation and they do not value the element of rituals. In addition, Nanak rejected the element of worship, in addition to rejecting the element of dietary requirements. Basically, Hinduism abolishes eating animals. However, Sikhism gives an individual the choice of diet.

Sikhism attempted to unite Hinduism and Islam by the promotion of religious tolerance. Therefore, Sikhism attempted the process of unification by the use of Muslim clothes and Hindu clothes in the process of preaching. Additionally, the unification process was attempted with the fact that the holy book of Sikhism uses vocabularies used by the languages that are used in Islam and Hinduism. The founder of Sikhism attempted to unite the two religions by preaching that they were both children of God (Molloy, 2010). Nevertheless, the unification procedure exhibited numerous challenges, as the founder precluded and accepted some beliefs from both Islam and Hinduism. For example, he dismissed the caste system that is commonly associated with Hinduism and adopted the belief in reincarnation by the Hindus. Later, Sikhism accepted the practice of charity from Islam. However, in the attempted unification process, Sikhism was rejected by the Hindus. This was because Sikhism promoted the requirement of keeping their hair uncut and, thus, the action was considered as an invitation that was open for persecution, therefore, making the attempts of unification unsuccessful.

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Question Ten

The Concept of the No-Soul Doctrine

As a religion, Buddhism is characterized by three marks of reality. Molloy (2010) points out that the first notable one is the anicca that could be inferred into impermanence. The second one is dukkha that plays an instrumental role in highlighting suffering or frustration (Molloy, 2010). Anatta is the third mark and it refers to the idea of no-soul doctrine. The concept of no-soul doctrine brings out the view that there is no existence of a soul or self. From Buddhism, the idea of self is basically an imaginary and false belief, which is not congruent with reality, as it evokes harmful thoughts, such as selfish desire, impurities, pride, egoism, hatred, cravings in addition to the attachment. Therefore, the soul is the origin of all problems in the universe, ranging from personal conflicts and wars that occur between various nations of the world.

According to Buddhism, the concept of individuals referring to God and the soul exhibits falsity and emptiness. Thus, human beings live in tandem with these false and empty ideas to the degree that they do not want to listen nor understand any teachings that are against them. Basically, humans seem to be overpowered by passions and, thus, are not in a position to see the truth. Moreover, the doctrine holds that there are no reasons to make an individual believe that the soul creates itself or rather the soul comes from heaven and it either goes to hell or heaven (Molloy, 2010). The doctrine, thus, postulates that there is nothing in the universe that is external. Conclusively, the idea of a man searching for a soul can be equated to an individual searching for an item or object in a dark room. Hence, the existence of the soul is imaginary, as the individuals who believe in its existence cannot explain its nature and where to find it.

The concept of the neo-soul doctrine differs from the Hindu concept of reality, as the Hindus believe in the existence of the soul. According to the Hindus, the concept of reality provides for life after death basically referred to as the process of reincarnation. That is, the soul of an individual can reincarnate in another form after his/her death (Molloy, 2010). Therefore, an individual's behavior and actions reincarnate in another form. Thus, regarding the Hindu concept of reality, there is the existence of souls, which is not the case with the concept of the neo-soul doctrine.

Question Eleven

The Hindu Trimurti (Trinity of gods)

In the Hindu religion, the following is the order of trinity of gods; Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. This translates to the creator, the preserver and, the destroyer of the universe, respectively. The trinity is an exemplification of the Divine in its nature and function that is threefold. Each trinity aspect contains itself, in addition to including others (Molloy, 2010). That is, the aspects of the trinity are aligned as the Godhead who is transcendent, the cosmic lord being Shiva while Vishnu and Brahma being the cosmic mind.

Furthermore, each god in the Hindu trinity of gods has a specific consort. Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge is the consort of Brahma. To add on, Lakshmi, the goddess of delight, beauty in addition to love is the consort of Vishnu. Also, there is Kali, the goddess of power and destruction besides transformation consort to Shiva (Molloy, 2010). Conclusively, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are the main forms of god in the Hindu trinity of gods. In addition to these, three goddesses are worshiped accordingly alongside their specified spouses.

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Some scientists have a negative depiction as to the origin of religions. However, several insights of these scientists can help in illuminating the traditions of various religions. Apart from this, religious aspects and practices shape the basic characteristics of a particular religion. These aspects and practices vary from one religion to another, and there are instances of borrowing of religious aspects from one religion to another.

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