Midterm Terms

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Monotheism

One god

Atheism

No god

Pantheism

everything is divine

Agnosticism

Don't know-God cannot be proven

Polytheism

many gods

Animism

All elements of nature as being filled with spirits

Bhagavad Gita

A religious literary work about Krishna

Trimurti

Three forms of the divine--Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva

Karma

The moral law of cause and effect that determines the direction of rebirth

Vedas

Four collections of ancient prayers and rituals

Samsara

Everyday world of change and suffering leading to rebirth

Upanishads

Written meditations on the spiritual essence of the universe and the self

Therevada Buddhism

Conservative approach--followed Buddha's original teachings

Mahayana Buddhism

Big Vehicle--allows everyone to reach enlightenment, not just monks, also added ritual back in to the religion

Vajrayana Buddhism

Diamond Vehicle--focuses on ritual and chants to help reach enlightenment

Taboo

A strong social prohibition

Shaman

A person who contacts and attempts to manipulate the power of the spirits for the tribe or the group

Key Characteristics of Religion

Belief system
Community
Central myths
Ritual
Ethics
Characteristic emotional experiences
Material expression
Sacredness

Belief System

Several beliefs fit together into a fairly complete and systematic interpretation of the universe and the human being's place in it

Community

The belief system is shared, and its ideals are practiced by a group

Central myths

stories that express the religious beliefs of a group are retold and often reenacted.

Ritual

Beliefs are enacted and made real through ceremonies

Ethics

Rules about human behavior are established. These are often viewed as having been revealed from a supernatural realm, but they can also be viewed as socially generated guidelines

Characteristic emotional experiences

Among the emotional experiences typically associated with religions are dread, guilt, awe, mystery, devotion, conversion, "rebirth," liberation, ecstasy, bliss, and inner peace

Material expression

Religions make use of an astonishing variety of physical elements--statues, paintings, musical compositions (including chants), musical instruments, ritual objects, flowers, incense, clothing, architecture, and specific locations

Sacredness

A distinction is made between the sacred and the ordinary; ceremonies often emphasize this distinction through the deliberate use of different language, clothing, and architecture. Certain objects, actions, people, and places may share in the sacredness or express it.

Why religion exists

Serves many human needs. Helps us deal with our mortality. Provides the answers for the soul, afterlife, and rebirth. Also helps us cope with death. Offers companionship and the fulfillment of belonging. The most basic function is to respond to our natural wonder about ourselves and the cosmos.

The first noble truth

To live is to suffer

The second noble truth

Suffering comes from a desire

The third noble truth

To End suffering, end desire

The fourth noble truth

Release from suffering is possible and can be attained by following the noble eightfold path

The Noble eightfold path

The way to inner peace

1. Right understanding

I recognize the impermanence of life, the mechanism of desire, and the cause of suffering

2. Right intention

My thoughts and motives are pure, not tainted by my emotions and selfish desires

3. Right speech

I speak honestly and kindly, in positive ways, avoiding lies, exaggeration, harsh words

4. Right action

My actions do not hurt any other being that can feel hurt, including animals; I avoid stealing and sexual conduct that that would bring hurt

5. Right work

My job does no harm to myself or others

6. Right effort

With moderation, I consistently strive to improve

7. Right meditation (right mindfulness)

I use the disciplines of meditation (dhyana) and focused awareness to contemplation the nature of reality more deeply

8. Right contemplation

I cultivate states of blissful inner peace (samadhi)

Brahman

A divine reality at the heart of things. The Upanishads insist that it is something that can be known, not simply believed in. It is everything, the way a piece of wood can become a boat or a house or fire or ash, water can turn into a cloud or a plant.

Atman

Sometimes translated as "self" or "deepest self" at the deepest level of what I am is a divine reality, a divine spirit, that everything shares, it is true to say that I am God, because, for the person who understands reality at the deepest level everything is God. Unchanging reality.

Goals of life

By living life from a less selfish and egotistic point of view and more from a perspective that embraces the whole, by accepting the unity and sacredness of everything, by practicing kindness to all, animals as well as people, you can reach Moksha

Threats to indigenous religions

Four major threats: global spread of popular culture, loss of natural environments, loss of traditional languages, and conversion to other religions

Buddhist notion of impermanence (Anichcha)

When we truly experience impermanence, we see that all of reality is in motion all the time, that the universe is in flux. Impermanence can be shown by the change of your face as you age, or the idea of a concept, such as love, as you mature.

Buddhist notion of no permanent identity (Anatta)

Buddha denied the existence of the permanent identity of anything, each person and each thing is not only changing but is made up of parts that are also constantly changing. This is in contrast with Hindu's Atman, where reality is unchanging.

Hindu Caste System

Priest (Brahmin) traditionally performs Vedic rituals and acts as a counselor
Warrior-Noble has the role of protecting society, aristocracy
Merchant includes landowners, moneylenders, and sometimes artisans.
Peasant Manual labor and is expected to serve the higher castes
Untouchable traditionally does the dirties work, cleaning toilets, sweeping streets, collecting animal carcasses

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