Etiket arşivi: Buddha

Comparison Of The Living Religions 2

The Claim of a Supernatural Origin of the Founder

Buddha, in some later scriptures which abound in the marvellous is represented as a pre-existent heavenly being who, in connection with a prophetic dream of a queen, became her first-born child when she was forty-five years old.

Lao Tzu in documents dating a thousand years after his day is represented as having been born a fully matured Wise Old Boy or Philosopher, with white hair, who had been carried in his mother’s womb for seventy-two years, or for eighty-one years, according to different traditions.

Mahavira in a Jain document is represented as a pre-existent being who, in fulfilment of fourteen prophetic dreams, was supernaturally placed in his royal mother’s womb.

A virgin birth seems to be intimated in the case of Zoroaster. His mother was supernaturally glorified when she was an unmarried young woman of fifteen. Three future saviors in Zoroastrianism are predicted to be born of a mother who, similarly, is to be a virgin fifteen years old.

In the canonical New Testament of Christianity there are varying data concerning a divine origin of Jesus. Jesus represented himself as having come from God, whon he called father.

Titian (1490-1576), Saint John the Evangelist on Patmos, c. 1547.

Titian (1490-1576), Saint John the Evangelist on Patmos, c. 1547.

 

The Claim of Divine Revelation

The following may be specified as outstanding revelations of truth:

Hinduism -  The immanence of the divine in the world; human society, a divinely ordained structure; union with the divine, the goal of existence.

Jainism – Self-renunciation, the condition of salvation; the ideal of a liberation of the spirit with subjugation of the flesh.

Buddhism – Selfishness as the root of misery; salvation through inner purity and self-discipline.

Confucianism – The essential goodness of human nature, as divinely implanted; religion as exercised in proper social relationships.

Taoism – Religion as exercised in humbly following the divine Way.

Zoroastrianism – Religion as involving active co-operation with a cosmic power of goodness in a struggle against evil.

Shinto – Nature to be recognized as a beautiful divine creation; religion as involving purity and also loyalty to the supreme authority.

Sikhism – Religion as discipleship of the One True God, with trust in His Name.

Christianity – The supreme power in the world is a perfect person; that He may best be conceived of and lived with as a Father-God; that He has been presented by His Son Jesus Christ; and that the supreme satisfaction of every human being consists in loving obedience to Him and in loving service to brother man.

Islam – Superlative satisfaction to be obtained through submission to an omnipotent God, who is not only a sovereign, but also a judge and rewarder.

Rembrandt (1606-1669), the Evangelist Matthew Inspired by an Angel, 1661.

Rembrandt (1606-1669), the Evangelist Matthew Inspired by an Angel, 1661.

 

The Claim of an Inspired Scripture

Living religions do possess definite sets of documents which are regarded unique divine truths which need to be known for salvation. For all of them claims have been made as pre-eminent above the rest of literature.

Hinduism – Vedas, book of knowledge.

Jainism – Angas, bodies of knowledge.

Buddhism – Tripitaka, three baskets of of teachings.

Sikhism – Granth.

Confucianism – The Five Classics and The Four Books.

Taoism – Tao-te-Ching, the canon of reason and virtue.

Shinto – Ko-ji-ki, the records of ancient matters and Nihon-gi, the chronicles of Japan.

Zoroastrianism – Avesta, the knowledge.

Judaism – The Old Testament.

Christianity – The New Testament.

Islam – Koran.

 

Comparison Of The Living Religions 1

The religions of the world have some features in common.

  • The belief in One Supreme Being,
  • The claim of divine incarnation,
  • The claim of a supernatural origin of the founder,
  • The claim of divine revelation,
  • The claim of an inspired scripture,
  • The report of miracles wrought,
  • The principle of the “golden rule”,
  • The recognition of an especially sacred community,
  • The hope of a universal religion,
  • The hopes and fears of a future life.

The Belief in One Supreme Being

This idea was repudiated by original Jainism and by original Buddhism. But in the later developments of both systems the founder was worshipped.

Judaism believed in one supreme worshipful God, Jehovah. After the period of the Exile the Jews were consistently monotheistic.

Confucianism teaches the beliefin one Supreme Being, designated either personally as Supreme Ruler or impersonally as Heaven. But Confucianism has limited the worship of this Being to only one person in China, the emperor, and only once a year, on the night of the winter solstice, December 22. Popular Confucianism encourages the common people to worship many spirits, both nature spirits and the spirits of deceased ancestors.

Zoroastrianism sets forth one cosmic power, which is supremely worshipful, Ahura Mazda. But this being is not supremely powerful, because there has always existed an opposing cosmic power, Angra Mainyu, the spirit of evil. Furthermore, Zoroastrianism recognizes many other good spirits, subordinate to Ahura Mazda, yet deserving of worship.

Both Hinduism and Taoism believe in one supreme impersonal cosmic being, named Brahma and Tao, respectively, to be meditated upon, but not exactly to be worshipped. But in both religions the popular phases have been polytheistic, characterized by the actual worship of many deities.

A definite belief in and a worship of one supreme cosmic power by all people, can be found in only four religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Sikhism. These four religions agree as to the oneness of God.

The Claim of Divine Incarnation

The idea that deity can become incarnate is found in several religions, but with various settings and applications.

In philosophic Hinduism, ever since the period of the Upanishads, every object may be regarded as a temporary manifestation or embodiment or impersonation of the impersonal, non-moral, eternal Brahma, though the high cast Brahman priests are especially venerated as such.

In popular Hinduism there are several deities, who are believed to have taken the form of men. For instance, the god Vishnu, is believed to have entered upon several incarnations; the list varies from nine to twenty-two, but always includes animals. None of these Hindu avatars are represented as morally perfect, nor are they represented as manifestations of one supreme personal cosmic deity.

In Buddhism, despite its explicitly non-theistic basis, Buddha came to be regarded as a kind of incarnation, yet even so only as one of some twenty-four incarnate Buddhas, with a twenty-fifth still to come.

In Christianity, Jesus Christ is the unique incarnation, the Word of God.

In Islam, despite its dominant doctrine of the absolute transcendence of Allah, Shi’ism broke away from Sunni’ism on the issue of imams, divine incarnations. Some subsects among the Shiites differ concerning the exact number of still other incarnations, seven or twelve, and concerning the identity of the last one.

 

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, Caravaggio, 1601-02, Neues Palais, Potsdam, Germany. The Divine One became human so that human beings might become divine.” — Athanasius Photo:www.ibiblio.org

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, Caravaggio, 1601-02, Neues Palais, Potsdam, Germany.
The Divine One became human so that human beings might become divine.” — Athanasius
Photo:www.ibiblio.org

 

Islam 10

MUHARRAM is the first lunar month of the Hegira calendar and Ashura is an Arabic word meaning the tenth. Ashura Day is the name given to the tenth day of Muharram. There are many different interpretations of Ashura Day. It is claimed variously to be the day on which Adam acknowledged his repentance; the day Noah’s Ark landed on Mount Ararat after the Flood; the day Abraham was rescued from the fiery furnace; the day Jacob was reunited with his son Joseph; the day the Prophet Mohammed was born. It is the day on which Jews observe Yom Kippur, (Day of Atonement) which is spent fasting.

10th Muharram, Hegira 61 (10th October, 680 CE) is commemorated as a day of mourning in the Muslim world because the Prophet’s daughter, Fatima, and his uncle’s son and the fourth Caliph Ali’s youngest son Imam Huseyn together with 72 comrades were martyred in the Karbala Desert (Iraq) by the armies attached to the Yezid of the Omayyads. For this reason, Ashura Day is a day of mourning for Muslims. The members of the school of Ja’far mourn the martyrdom in the Karbala Desert, they shed tears and perform a play (Ta’ziya) which relates the story of the Karbala massacre. Ta’ziya is the only type of drama in Islam.

In mourning the victims of the Karbala massacre, black robes expressing bereavement and white robes which symbolise the shroud are worn. Every year a play narrating the Karbala massacre is performed. This is a scene from Ta’ziya. The red cloth and the flower represents the blood of the Martyrs and the sword driven into the sand displays the symbols of the main device used in this massacre. In the background, children dressed as angels represent the innocent children killed in the Karbala. According to Shi'ite belief, the Karbala battleground was, either on the same or the following day, changed into a field of flowers. For this reason, flowers are always included in the performance of the play.

In mourning the victims of the Karbala massacre, black robes expressing bereavement and white robes which symbolise the shroud are worn. Every year a play narrating the Karbala massacre is performed. This is a scene from Ta’ziya. The red cloth and the flower represents the blood of the Martyrs and the sword driven into the sand displays the symbols of the main device used in this massacre. In the background, children dressed as angels represent the innocent children killed in the Karbala. According to Shi’ite belief, the Karbala battleground was, either on the same or the following day, changed into a field of flowers. For this reason, flowers are always included in the performance of the play.

Ashura is also the name of a dessert. After the mourning ceremony, it is eaten to celebrate the survival of Huseyn’s son, Imam Zeynu’l-Abidin, through whom the family would continue.

The school of Ja’far, who form the majority of the Shi’ite sect, are also named, Ithna A’shariya or Imamis. At present, it is the formal doctrine of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Belief in the Imams appointed by will and testament is regarded as one of the basic tenets of their religion. The Caliphate era began after the death of the Prophet Mohammed. The fourth Caliph, Ali, expressed faith in the Twelve Imams. Within them, they maintain, is a supernatural ‘Mohammedan Light’ granting them superhuman knowledge and strength, and their sufferings make them accessible to their believers through divine grace.

 The participants in the memorial services wear the names of martyrs on bands around their foreheads.


The participants in the memorial services wear the names of martyrs on bands around their foreheads.

The school of Ja’far indicates that the worship and religious procedures of this sect follow Ja’far al-Sadiq’s teachings. He was the Shi’ite’s sixth Imam, the last acknowledged Imam of all the Shi’ite sects, and was the great great grandson of Ali. One of his most basic thoughts, widespread among Shi’ites, was that God previously determined a definite form for certain things, but left others to human conduct. A further fundamental belief is that whatever is not in accordance with the Koran, no matter what evidence in its support may be put forward, must be discarded. The divisions among the Shi’ites began with the death of Ja’far. The representatives of his eldest son Ishmael, (the Ishma’ilis) maintain that Ishmael is only lost, and that one day he will reappear. The members of the school of Ja’far do not accept the doctrine of Ishmael as a lost imam. The Ishma’ilis expresses faith in the seven Imams.

In the place named Karbala (today within the borders of Iraq) which at that time was a desert some of the victims left for days to die of thirst were children. These are the children taking part in the 1362nd anniversary (2001) commemorating all those who lost their lives in that massacre, and they carry empty water bowls as a reminder. In Iran, the bodies of martyrs who fall in battle are laid to rest without ablution. Huseyn was such a martyr and his body was so interred.

In the place named Karbala (today within the borders of Iraq) which at that time was a desert some of the victims left for days to die of thirst were children. These are the children taking part in the 1362nd anniversary (2001) commemorating all those who lost their lives in that massacre, and they carry empty water bowls as a reminder. In Iran, the bodies of martyrs who fall in battle are laid to rest without ablution. Huseyn was such a martyr and his body was so interred.

Renewing the mourning, black-robed young people gather together to shed tears and share the suffering of the Karbala martyrs. They carry chains with which they strike their bare backs. They continue doing this until bruising occurs. Every year in Iran on the tenth day of Muharram bloody demonstrations are held in commemoration of Huseyn's martyrdom. In Iranian tradition organisation of such bereavement ceremonies dates from long before Islam and enjoys unbroken continuity.

Renewing the mourning, black-robed young people gather together to shed tears and share the suffering of the Karbala martyrs. They carry chains with which they strike their bare backs. They continue doing this until bruising occurs. Every year in Iran on the tenth day of Muharram bloody demonstrations are held in commemoration of Huseyn’s martyrdom. In Iranian tradition organisation of such bereavement ceremonies dates from long before Islam and enjoys unbroken continuity.

Shi’ism became the formal doctrine of Iran during the Safavid dynasty (16th century). It is believed that the twelfth Imam, Mohammed el-Mehdi, did not die but was hidden (878) and that he will reappear just before the Day of Judgment and ensure that Justice prevail in the world (expectation of the Muslim Messiah, Mahdi). Up to this time the mujtahids, expounders of Islamic law, who took over the regency from the imams, are considered authorized to implement the Shari’a punishments, and to adjudicate in social and economic matters. Refusal to accept their judgments is equivalent to a refusal of the judgments of the Imam. Nowadays, the authority of the mujtahids can be placed in ascending order thus: Huccetu’l Islam, Islamic proof; Ayetullah, sign from Allah; Ayettullahi’l Uzma, the paramount sign from Allah.

Other religions have a similar expectation of a return: the Jews wait for the Messiah, Christians wait for the second coming of Jesus, Buddhists for the return of Buddha, Hindus for that of Vishnu.