World Religions – Introduction 01/07/2013
Studying it after already believing it – confessional. Usually studies just one religion – and if studying any
other it is in context to that one.
In the academic study of religion, belief is not the primary concern. Purpose is to study them as religious
systems. Not implying any commitment.
Academic study of religion started around the 19 century – as evolved, has two aspects to it:
1. to gain information of the religions of the world – multitraditional, looking at more than one religion
2. polymethodic – having many methods
phenomenon deals with themes. Bracketing own judgement and biases. Understanding the religion the way
the believers believe it to be. Before criticizing or judging need to know what the tradition is. Not using just
the bare historical facts but the meaning behind them instead. Known as phenomenology.
Main focus is to understand it as the believers believe it. Hinduism 01/07/2013
Believe that there is an ultimate reality and that that reality is called brahman. This reality is often
described by an expression, namely, saccidananda. (sat+cit+ananda Standing for truth, awareness
Nature of this reality – suggests it is more immaterial.
One of many? Interpreted by the use of the word bliss. … it is one?
Hinduism is one method, technique – indescribable because it is all comprehensive, infinite.
• Nirguna: without distinguishing attribute – does not mean that it is characterless.
• Saguna: with distinguishing attributes – can be imagined in two ways
o Devi – literally one who shines forth. A goddess. Recognizes the feminine dimension
of the divine.
o Isvara – means the Lord. Masculine terms. Ishvara performs three roles in terms of
the universe. Bringing it into being, sustaining it and then bringing it to an end. There is
a hiatus and then the cycle starts again.
Universe has a definite point at which it comes into being and when it ceases to be. From it’s origin to it’s
end is the duration of the universe and is linear as one short event. Does not recognize anything before it or
after it. Undergoes periods of manifestation and dissolution.
The term creation has to be understood in a special way.
Isvara: takes on different aspects
• Visnu: intervenes in the world if necessary to prevent premature dissolution. Appears in the
universe as an incarnation to keep it going.
o Dasa = ten
o Ramayana – the line drawn by the brother of ram?!
o Mahabharata Hinduism 01/07/2013
o Bhagavadgita: song sang by krsna. Important because it is now mentioned athe
scripture of Hinduism.
• Shiva (Siva)
11 January 2013
brahman in the ultimate reality and brahma is the god?
indra was ruling over the kingdom of the Gods and thought to build a new capital for the kingdom.
Karma: unfinished business, the type of situation you create for others will be created for yourself
Brahman: ultimate reality, God, unity of all things. Emphasis on the oneness. Reaching for
an account of unity, something that holds everything together as one. This unity is given the
• Atman: the final reconciliation, the realization that all there is, is Atman. Everything we
observe is recognized as self. Find themselves as each other. Unity is the true self of all things
and is found within me
• Saccidana brahman: reality of all things. What human beings should try to attain. Made
up of three terms
o Sat: truth
o Chit: Awareness
o Ananda: Bliss
Because of our partial existence, we tend to see it in different lights or perspectives. Brahman can be
thought of as impersonal. Which is Nirgun. A personal view is called Saguna. It thought of as nameable and
with attributes with markers that we can interact with.
Saguna can be broken down further. It can be either male or female. Ishvara is conceived of as male and
Devi is conceived of as female. These are not different parts of Brahman. Not different parts but different
ways of thinking about the same thing.
Reality above the line and there is a reality below the line making sense.
Brahma is the creator and Brahman is conceived of as personal and masculine. Hinduism 01/07/2013
God in his masculine form having three different forms. No account of the different roles that Devi can take.
Vishnu: under Brahman personal masculine sustainer
Vishnu takes form of a human being in order to set.
Vedas have four layers and each has a different level of development. Buddhism 01/07/2013
Vedas have four layers and each has a different level of development.
Can see difference between Hinduism and Buddhism. Hinduism does not have a single founder whereas
Buddhism has Buddha.
Deal with the life of the Buddha and his teaching. To become a Buddhist you have to recite three refuges:
In the Buddha
In the Dharma (Dhamma)
In the Sangha (in the order of months formed by the Buddha)
Any one who repeats these sentences thrice becomes a Buddhist.
His life can be discussed at two levels.
At one level we can look at the dry bones of history and historically confirmed and attested parts. Sticking to
this, we will note that the Buddha existed (the exact date of birth is unknown but the most commonly
accepted date of his death is 483BC and he lived for approximately 80 years).
Buddha is a title given to Gautama him which means “The Awakened One”. The first proclamation of the
Buddha goes unheeded. The account is that after he became enlightened.
He was born a prince and when he was around the age of 29 he renounced the world and at 35 he had a
moment of spiritual enlightenment in which he was said to have attained nirvana. He preached his message
and he died at the age of 80.
Idea that you have lived before and will live again unless you achieve enlightenment. According to the
Buddhists in a previous life many eons ago, Buddha was a monk and he saw the Buddha of HIS day, and
said he wanted to become… him. The moment he made this resolve, he became what the Buddhists call a
bodhisattya (a being whose goal is enlightenment)
Enlightenment in Buddhism is not an easy affair, you have to work hard at it. Have to perfect moral and
intellectual virtues to have the insight come to you. In Buddhist literature there are many stories in which the
Buddha in previous lives perfected virtues.
Jataka is one of the previous life that he had.
After achieving enlightenment he wondered what to do. There are two kinds of Buddhas:
Pratyeka Buddha: who guides others to enlightenment and does not just keep it to himself.
Who keeps the enlightenment to himself.
Wondered who he should share this enlightenment with. And wanted to share it with his religious teacher.
Two of them had passed away so instead he met up with the 5 monks in a garden in the modern city of
banaras. It was on his way to the park that the person met him and told him his face was radiant. Buddhism 01/07/2013
When the five monks saw him come they did not want to talk to him but such was the effulgence of his face
that they had no choice.
He gives a sermon in which he enunciates the four noble truths which are accepted by everyone all over the
world despite the diversity.
Theravada: doctrine of the elders which ultimately spread worldwide. The text of the form of Buddhism is
Pali and it known as the three baskets “triptaka”. The idea behind this is that they are passed on from
generation to generation till it reaches its proper end. Means of transmission.
It was transmitted orally through the vedas.
Review Terms: Buddhism
Nirvana: this extinguishment of ourselves if liberating because they don’t ear death. Literally means to
blow out or extinguish – our unique individual consciousness.
The Four Sights: the way the Buddha sees and comes to the realization that something is wrong with
his life. He sees four things:
An old man
A sick person
A funeral procession
A joyous monk: means that he enunciated all material beings. How is it that the monk was still happy?
These questions set the Buddha on his path of discovery and eventually enlightenment.
Middle Way: doctrine of a path between two extremes. On the one hand you have the extreme of
indulgence and on the other hand you have the extreme of asceticism to the point that you’re not able to
live anymore because you denied yourself the basic sustenance of life. The Buddha doesn’t preach a wildly
hedonistic or ascetic but instead a form of life which preaches moderation.
The Four Noble Truths:
1. Dukka: incapsulated in the statement “life is suffering”. Buddha said there are six moments in your life
that you realize this especially:
a. At birth
i. When you’re sick Buddhism 01/07/2013
ii. When you get old
iii. When you experience fear of death
iv. When you get caught doing things you don’t want to do
v. Being separated from things or people that you love
Buddha said life is always and everywhere, suffering. Even in the moments of pleasure and joy, those
moments are so fleeting that life there is suffering as well since it is not permanent.
2. Samudaya: this truth can be encapsulated in the statement, “suffering has a cause” this cause is
tanha which means desire. Wanting things that you can’t always have and that hurts.
3. Nirodha: encapsulated in the statement, “suffering can be removed by removing the cause”
4. Magga: encapsulated in the statement, “there is a path to follow by which suffering can be removed”
The Three Marks of Existance – Exploring what suffering is everything you might encounter
1. Anicca: nothing lasts and things are always temporary and never permanent.
2. Dukkha: same term as above which basically means suffering
3. Anatta/Anatman: means no self – the opposite of Hinduism. Within yourself, there is nothing
permanent there – no self or soul.
Three Types of Suffering:
1. Dukkhadukkhata: can be distinguished from other forms of being and you can see it
2. Viparinama dukkhata: suffering brought about by change – also by the thought that things could
change. Because things are changing that you’re running into this problem
3. Sankhara dukkhata: brought about by some dislocation in your life or self. There is no self but
comes about when you some to think, “what am I?” the absence of a self brings about the suffering
Tanha/Trishna: the cause of suffering, namely, desire. Literally the word means to thirst. Attachment,
desire or thirst causing suffering because things are impermanent. Goes back to the emptiness of existence
and the fleetingness of it all. Our cravings and desires are often left unfulfilled. Buddhism 01/07/2013
Paranirvana: nirvana is emptiness. Paranirvana is the crossing over into nirvana. Conceptualize it as a
bridge from this life into the next but over no where and nothing. Over which no one crosses. Because
when you get there, you are not.
Four Noble Virtues: when the Buddha was here, he didn’t spend his entire life telling them to get out
of this life. More socially concerned and empathetic. Middle way between indulgence and asceticism. There
are four noble virtues:
1. Loving, kindness
4. Joy specifically in the happiness of others – motivated to seek the happiness of other beings as well.
Even though you know these momentary pleasures will pass away. Still don’t wish ill on others.
You are not grasping for yourself. It is a virtue to take pleasure in the pleasure of other people.
Five Precepts: find this list repeated in Judaism and Christianity. Sensitive to the fact that there are
certain human actions that cause the community a great deal of pain.
1. Do not kill
2. Do not steal
3. Do not lie
4. Do not be unchaste: do not commit adultery
5. Do not drink intoxicants
The Eightfold Path: do not need to know each and every step and what it represents, just need to
know the direction the Buddha takes you down. What you accomplish when you go down this path:
the truth that there is a path you can follow for the extinction of suffering. Describing the path that Magga
suggested to eliminate suffering.
1. Right view of life – need to think about life the right way
2. Need to have a right resolution or intention – need to focus yourself. Need to put into practice
3. Right speech – thinking the right stuff, doing intending to do the right stuff and now you have to talk it
as well. Buddhism 01/07/2013
4. Right action – or conduct
5. Right livelihood – aware that there are certain things someone can do with their lives that are
detrimental to the achievement of Nirvana. Can’t take advantage of other people.
6. Right effort – sounds like right intention but can be distinguished since intention is when you think about
something you want to do subjectively whereas effort is all of you
7. Right mindfulness – step back and are mindful of what we’re doing
8. Right meditation or concentration – taking of end goal which is nirvana or extinguishment of self.
The Three Vows:
1. I will seek refuge in the Buddha
2. I will seek refuge in the Dharma
3. I will seek refuge in the Sanga which is the monastic order.
Cunda: the man who fed the Buddha his last meal and felt really bad and was despairing the fact that he
hadn’t cooked the meal well enough. Through which the Buddha is able to teach the lesson. He said there
are two meals in my life that I hold above all others; the one just before he achieves enlightenment and
Cunda’s meal because it was the meal that helped him achieve Nirvana
Ananda: Buddhas right hand man – he loved the Buddha so much that he was unable to achieve
enlightenment himself. Buddhas teachings is to renounce desire and therefore oneself to achieve nirvana.
He loved the Buddha so much that he was unable to see past himself and his desire to serve this man.
Unable to see the truth of existence that Buddha was impermanent as well.
Pajapati: the Buddha’s mother died and is raised by his sister, pajapati. She wanted to join the order as
well. He initially refuses but eventually allows women to set up monastic order. If it was male then it would
have remained pure for a thousand years but with women it would remain pure for just 500. In order for
women to be allowed into this order, they have to be subjected to eight additional rules. They have to be
entirely subservient to the male order. A female would have to refer to the youngest male monk.
Sangha: literally meaning the monastic order, inclusive of male and female
Arhat: meaning enlightened one. When the Buddha dies, the first meeting after is attending by 500
arhats. At this meeting there was a set an official Buddhist texts and teaching relying on the memory and
teachings of his friends Buddhism 01/07/2013
Asoka: famous Indian king who becomes the Chakravartin and converts to Buddhism and leads a certain
part of his kingdom along with him. Becomes a state sanctioned religion. Asoka is responsible for this.
Dedicates the rest of his life as a missionary, preaching to his subjects in his kingdom.
Paticca Samupada: coorigination. Very generally, taught to think in terms of causal sequences.
When it comes to problems, want to identify why. Coorigination says that you need to give up on a causal
sequence. Leave open for question why things happen. They are cooriginative without assigning blame.
Surrender your desire to establish a causal sequence in order to take the Buddha seriously.
Pudgala Sunyata: Theravada doctrine – Buddhist teachings which emphasizes the emptiness –
nothing to hold you together and the temporary nature of everything.
Dharma Sunyata: Mahayana doctrine. Means the emptiness of the dharma or things. Everything in the
world, including myself, is all empty. Turning out rather than a turning inwards.
Karma: actions have consequences which will follow you around and will manifest themselves at some
point down the line. Actions have consequences but emphasis on the cognitive aspect. Can fall into a
pattern or habit when you do something – laying down patterns of thought and therefore behavior. They will
manifest themselves and if they are bad habits. Need to break the pattern of thought to break the karmic
cycle. Introspective view on karma. How actions establish habitual patterns via thought – always led down a
path that needs to be broken
Boddhisattva: means a Buddha to be. All attentions are poured into extinguishing oneself. Takes a lot
of mental effort and concentration. Not finding yourself back here
Trikaya: when Buddhists think about existence and cosmos, they think that things are impermanent and
don’t last but recognize that we can make distinctions between things. We know that there is a historical
Buddha but that might not be the same thing as Buddha nature or nirvana – what he achieves for himself.
The hell is going on? Namely, not supposed to worship the Buddha himself but instead the nature:
1. Dharmakaya: this is the cosmic Buddha
2. Sambhogakaya: this is the enjoyment body of Buddha – the many forms the Buddha nature can
take. any body of a bodhisattva
3. Nirmanakaya: the particular body of Buddha himself, Gautama.
Message is from a particular man but need to achieve liberation on your own. Dharmakaya is something we
all have a share in and underlines all of existence. Buddhism 01/07/2013
Yanas: rafts, ferries or vehicles that get you across the water to the afterlife
Mahayana: great or the large vehicle. This form of Buddhism is more popular and has achieved a larger
audience. Liberation is available to more people that just the few. Places emphasis on the virtues of
compassion. Characteristic of Northern India, Nepal and Tibet.
Theravada/Hinayana, Vajrayana: derisively emphasizes on the few that aim to achieve the
enlightenment that the Buddha talks about. Literally means the way of the Elders. They point back to the
Buddhas original teachings – not as many Gods being spoken of. Human beings who have striven to
achieve enlightenment. Native to Southern India.
Pure Land: type of Buddhism popular in China. Belongs to the Mahayana family and predictively pure
land places more emphasis on deities to aid them to achieve enlightenment. Theravadas feel that human
beings need to rely on themselves to achieve this and not depend on divine beings.
Ti’en Tai/Tendai: Branch of Mahayana Buddhism that is influenced by Confucian teachings. Places
importance on classical learning and social harmony. Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism very fluid and
Ch’an/Zen: influenced by Taoism practiced in China and especially Japan.
Koan: if you need to set yourself on the path of meditation you need to think that through – paradoxical
quality of the question needs to be reconciled with and helps you enter into the meditative process
Sanzen/Dokusan: belongs to Zen. When you are going to visit a spiritual master, the consultation is
called Sanzen. What happens at these consultations are exchange of questions between the master and
students. If the students answer is not correct they will be set straight
Kensho/Satori: mental, profound epiphany. Words always fall flat in trying to explain this epiphany.
Come upon you like a flash of lightning
Dalai Lama: situating Buddhism in the current world. Said to incarnate the celestial principle of
compassion and mercy. Becomes the special focal point that one looks to for inspiration. Buddhism 01/07/2013 Confucianism 01/07/2013
Period of the Warring States: period in North eastern china was caught in a struggle. Period in
which Confucius grows up in era of social and political violence and instability. Need order and harmony –
heart of what Confucius teaches to set the human world into a form of harmonious relationship.
Kung Futzu/ Confucius: Latinized version. It means the master. Confucius is a title and name put
together. It means the master or the teacher. Born into humble circumstances, married at the age of 19,
unsuccessfully and divorced at the age of 23 when he dedicates his life to teaching. When he died at the
age of 72 he has trained approximately 3000 men.
Idealists: also called Moism. Known for loving everyone. Have to feel what you feel for your brothers
and sisters toward people you have never met in order to solve all social problems.
Realists/ Han fei Tzu: philosophy entails that all our problems are solved with the application of
power and law. Not a merciful way of going about things – strong man way of behaving toward subjects.
Mohism/ Mo Tzu
Deliberate Tradition: Confucius’ way – setting up schools in order to teach your perspective and
encouraging people to adopt the outlook you want. There are five parts to deliberate tradition that he
1. Jen: the ideal relationship that exists between persons. Encapsulated in the term humanity or humane.
This involved another orientation, it is not self serving. Expectations in other relationships with other people
that you are expected to follow.
2. ChunTzu: literally the superior man or the better man. A degree of nobility involved and this is what a
person ought to be. Usually the head men in the household who would fill out this role.
3. Li: there is a right way to do things and interact with each other. For a child to interact with parents,
husband to interact with wife, ruler to interact with subject and vice versa. It is not a one way street, not a
command oriented system. Expectations on both of the parties. Under propriety there are a number of
things we can say:
a. Rectification of Names: Confucius says that you need to rectify the names, you need to
understand what the thing is. Understand what it is and act it out. If only we all fulfilled the things expected
of us we will get along just fine. Confucianism 01/07/2013
b. The Five Constant Relationships: provide a sketch of how Confucius saw social norm.
subordination and a certain form of paternalism. These include: Confucianism 01/07/2013
1. parents and children: children have to be provided for
2. husbands and wives
3. older siblings and younger siblings
4. older friends and younger friends
5. ruler and subject: to serve and protect the interest of those subordinate to you.
c. Respect for Age
d. Respect for Family
4. Te: literally means power. When spoken about in Confucian context – about setting an example. People
are going to be impressed and are going to imitate me if I am upright in my actions. Middle down and
middle up version of a social program em