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World Religions: Answers
1. Religion should not be seen as a source of violence regardless of whether it is Islam or Christianity since sacred religious texts do not speak of violence as the appropriate method of solving various problems. That is why religious violence happens when people misuse or misinterpret their religion. In this regard, the ethical ramifications are associated primarily with the ability of people to find a compromise in a relationship with each other.
2. The significance of the subtitle of this chapter, Everything is alive, concerns its focusing on the sacredness of everything that is presented in our world. This view of reality as being sacred does not differ substantially from my own. I also believe that our earthly world is sacred because nature and animals are the most amazing creation of God. They reflect the divinity of God, and this is the precise reason why they should be seen as sacred.
3. The circle as a symbol is of great importance for many indigenous peoples. In particular, for the Lakota people, the circle is a sacred symbol of life representing every aspect of life coming together as a whole (Indigenous Religious Traditions, n.d.). In practice, this symbol is used in various local rituals as a symbol of unity of people and nature.
4. The negative side of religion is associated with the idea of it becoming an instrument of oppression of other peoples. The history of European colonialization of the indigenous people of Africa is an example of this cruelty (Guzhavina 2013, p.5). In this regard, it is necessary to take into account the unique features of the religious beliefs of other peoples. Therefore, industrialized people should create commonalities between indigenous peoples based on the interaction of different cultures as the centers of exchange of various cultural experiences. These commonalities should use the experience of indigenous peoples' interaction with nature and animals based on the careful and reverent attitude to them.
5. I think that one of the most conflicting religious claims is presented in Islam. On the one hand, Islam affirms that all human beings were created by God, that is, all people are equal regardless of their nationality. However, in Islam, there is a concept of jihad that is understood as a holy war against those who practice other religions, particularly Christians. From my point of view, every Muslim must view jihad as a spiritual struggle against their inner vices.
6. One of the central ideas of Hinduism is the idea of moksha, in other words, release from an inherently flawed world (Dimock, n.d.). The main ethical implication of this idea is that it focuses on specific ethical principles as well as the special way of life. Analysis of the ethical implications provides an opportunity to see that the main emphasis is made on the peaceful life of people without problems connected to various human passions and desires.
7. Jainism originated in the 7th century BC in India as opposed to Brahmanism (Strohl, 2016). The main philosophical ideas emphasize the unity of man and nature as well as the spiritual purity of people. In this regard, the idea of ahimsa, or non-violence, plays a key role because it outlines the relationship between humans and nature. This idea defines the uniqueness and specificity of this religion in the sense that it provides an opportunity to see the special attitude of Jainism to nature as it is very timid and gentle.
8. In the conversation with a practitioner of Jainism, I could ask them why they chose this religion among many others. I think that I would receive the following reasoning: Jainism emphasizes the amazing connection between man and nature, and this connection is only possible through the reverent attitude towards nature, animals, and other people. In my opinion, this response reflects the characteristics of the Oriental perception of reality as a constant interaction between man and nature.
9. Jainism asserts the equality of all people; however, one of the directions of Jainism does not. In particular, the Digambara Jain sect believes that women cannot achieve liberation without being reborn as men first (Women in Jainism, 2009). Solving this contradiction is possible based on understanding that Jainism takes into account the peculiarities of female nature and is trying to protect women from some particularly severe austerities that can negatively affect women's health. In other words, the practical features of austerity are not intended to restrict women in their chances of achieving enlightenment. In fact, they take into account the peculiarities of female physiology.
10. As I have previously noted, one of the distinguishing features of Jainism is the following: religion prohibits violence towards all living beings. In ethical terms, this requires the manifestation of positive human qualities, such as kindness, compassion, and tolerance. Thus, ethical behavior is considered primarily from the perspective of a non-violent attitude towards nature and other people. The essence of man is seen in the non-violent attitude towards all living organisms.
11. In the conversation with a practitioner of Buddhism about their view on why the world is suffering, I would probably receive the following reasoning: all people have their own desires, and those desires do not cease to appear, which ultimately leads to the dependence of the world. As a result, the person becomes unhappy. Thus, I can say that the focus is on the need to avoid the suffering that accompanies people in this life, and in this respect, the various Buddhist practices are of particular importance.
12. In my opinion, one of the most conflicting ideas in Buddhism is the idea of God. As it is well-known, Buddhism denies the concept of God as a transcendent being who created the world (Kitagawa, 2015). However, the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, is almost equal to God. This contradiction can only be removed if the believers accept Buddha not as their personal God but primarily as the spiritual founder of Buddhism who showed the way of achieving liberation.
13. The doctrine of suffering presented in Buddhism has important ethical implications. In particular, it teaches people how to avoid attachment to the material world, to their own passions and desires that often make people feel discontent. In other words, Buddhism believes in the ability to rid oneself of suffering and pays special attention to the development of the soul, mind, and body. Every human being should strive to cleanse their thoughts and feelings from all evil and negativity as it is harmful first and foremost to that person.
14. Daoism, also known as Taoism, originated in China over 2000 years ago as a philosophy of inner harmony, peace, and joy (Strickmann, 2014). The cultural aspect of Daoism is that it considers primarily the inner state of a person and does not make any special emphasis on the social connections between people compared with Confucianism. The main idea is the concept of the Dao as the cosmic order, the Way, and the Law that determines the existence of all living beings. The concept of the Dao is present also in other Eastern religions, but a specific interpretation of the Dao as the path to unity between man and nature and the universal cosmic order identified its uniqueness.
15. Confucianism emerged in China in the 6th century BC (Weiming, 2016). Its founder was Confucius hence the name. Confucianism can be considered as social and ethical teaching. The cultural aspect of Confucianism is that it considers primarily the features of the harmonious interaction of people within society. One of the main ideas of Confucianism regards the concept of a nobleman. This concept defines the uniqueness of Confucianism as a doctrine that covers the basics of harmonious social life.
16. My question would be connected to the idea of a nobleman and his virtues. The answer would be the following: a nobleman is a man who respects his parents and ancestors. A nobleman is fair, honest, decent, and humane. As we can see, in the concept of a nobleman a central place belongs to the idea of harmonious interaction between all members of society that determines the importance of the identified virtues.
17. Confucianism emphasizes the equality of all people. This is the ideal of social harmony. On the one hand, the governor is considered a basic element of Chinese society who should be strictly honored by all people. Therefore, this aspect can be seen as controversial. On the other hand, believers must understand that the governor has no right to hurt his people. The priority of the ruler is determined by the fact that he considers his people as his children whom he loves and cares about.
18. Daoism has several specific features that define the uniqueness of this religion. One of these features emphasizes the fact that everyone should live in harmony with the Dao. This harmony is only possible if a person lives by the law of the Dao. Thus, it is primarily about the inner harmony of the human soul as a result of unity with the Dao.
19. Shinto originated in Japan several thousand years ago. The features of Shinto are the following: Shinto has no founder, no official sacred scriptures in the strict sense, and no fixed dogmas (Hirai, 2016). The cultural significance of Shinto is associated with its reflecting the features of Japanese society based on the profound respect for their ancestors. One of the important elements of Shinto is the worship of ancestors that fits into the idea of Shinto about the close relationship between the different generations of Japanese. This aspect of the Shintos doctrine illustrates its uniqueness in comparison with other religions that focus primarily on the inner tranquility of a man.
20. I would ask what the uniqueness of their religion is compared to the other Eastern religions. I think I would get the following answer: Shintos uniqueness is connected with the fact that it was the national faith that was created by the Japanese people and therefore has no single founder. Such a response would not surprise me because, indeed, Shinto is a religion created by the collective effort of the Japanese. It reflects the national peculiarities of the Japanese based on the respect for parents, ancestors, and various gods.
21. I believe that one of the conflicting points in Shintoism is associated with the fact that despite the national character of the religion, which claimed equality for all Japanese, in practice, Shinto is dealing with excessive praise of the emperor. This contradiction may be eradicated by viewing the emperor as the father of all Japanese people that is consistent with a deep respect of the Japanese for their parents.
22. One of the central ideas presented in Shinto speaks of the existence of magical power that determines the existence of the world. This force is kami. In ethical terms, the belief in kami presupposes respect for the ancestors, performing certain rituals, and calm behavior of people in general. Thus, this religion focuses on the continuity of generations.
23. Judaism originated in Israel in the 7th century BC. Its founder is considered to be the prophet called Moses. Judaism is a monotheistic religion that believes in a transcendent God by the name of Yahweh (Vajda, 2016). The cultural significance of Judaism is that it sees a special connection between the Jewish people and God. The Jewish people serve as the type of guarantor of God's will for all people on Earth. This feature, namely the idea of the Jews being the chosen people of God, determines the uniqueness of Judaism in comparison with other religions.
24. I would ask the following questions: what qualities characterize the god Yahweh and what value the relationship between Yahweh and people has. I would probably receive the following reply: Yahweh is a just and wise God who appreciates in people such qualities as honesty, kindness, modesty, and decency. As we can see, these qualities are of particular importance in the sense that they contribute to a harmonious relationship between God and the Jewish people.
25. In theory, the belief in one God should focus primarily on the phenomenon of faith, yet in practice, Judaism is primarily a religion of action (Jewish Beliefs, 2009). Believers can remove this contradiction if they understand the special importance of the observance of the Jewish law that is a form of the contract between God and the Jewish people. For this reason, the right actions can be viewed as a priority of faith.
26. Faith in God has a large number of ethical implications because Judaism prohibits people to lie, steal, and kill. Moreover, people should not create idols. They should honor their parents and live by God's will. In this respect, ethical behavior is the way to unity between God and the peoples.
27. Christianity appeared in the 1st century BC on the territory of the Roman Empire (Crow, 2015). A distinctive feature of Christianity and at the same time its main idea is a representation of Jesus Christ as the savior of all mankind. The cultural significance of Christianity is that it emphasizes the special relationship between people and Messiah, whose main mission is to save humanity. Moreover, another distinguishing feature of Christianity is the idea of salvation through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Thus, this idea defines the uniqueness of Christianity since it focuses on the special personal relationship between each person and Jesus Christ as the Son of God.
28. My question would have direct relevance to the idea of Jesus Christ and faith in his features. I would most likely receive the following answer: Jesus Christ is the central element of Christianity, and every Christian views him as a personal savior who redeemed the sins of the entire humanity and showed the way to immortality for all believers. This response allows us to see that every Christian considers God primarily as their personal savior and that personal salvation is possible through faith in Jesus Christ.
29. One of the complexities of Christianity is that this religion believes in one God. However, in practice, one can witness the observance of various rituals and celebrations in honor of the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). This contradiction can be removed only with the help of the perception of God as the unity of His three incarnations revealing the specific features of His divine nature.
30. The main idea of Jesus Christ as the Savior for mankind includes the fact that Christians all over the world believe in his atoning sacrifice that led to the death and then the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the way to God, and the main task of people is to prove their true faith in God through their faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Thus, faith in Jesus Christ must be unconditional, otherwise, believers cannot hope for salvation.