The 6 dimensions of Religion

Topics: Religion, Buddhism, Faith Pages: 7 (2484 words) Published: April 28, 2005
1. Ninian Smart has established 6 dimensions or structures in a way to find a common ground between all world religions. These are classified into the thought, "mind", dimensions which are the experiential, mythical, and doctrinal dimension, and then the multi-sensory dimensions which are the ritual, ethical and social dimensions.

The experiential dimension is the religious experience. People come to know their religion, their God or the ultimate reality through experience. According to Smart, there are different types of religious experience. The numinous experience is having God or the subject as holy and very other than our human condition. On the other side, the mystical experience is having the subject be inside the object, the inner quest to experience ultimate reality. The there is the experience that is a combination of both. The Shamen experience is situating oneself into transit to connect with the spirit world. And the Pananhenic experience where the individual feels unity with all of nature and the spiritual world, therefore find the spirit in everything around it. In every religion, the religious people go through at least one of these experiences to come to know God or attain the ultimate reality. In Christianity a monk or nun may experience a combination of mystical and numinous, always starting numinous because of the basis of Christianity. The duality is obvious with constant worship but a close embrace develops creating unity in love and not in identity. In the same way while Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism one may also find a combination beginning with mystical y Theravada Buddhism it is mainly mystical finding that ultimate reality is found within. There is no sense of worship and one must work for its own liberation by being quiet, peaceful and becoming detached.

The Mythic dimension is the religious myth. The word myth is not implying truth or false, it is a neutral term that means story of sacred or divine significance. This is also something that we may find in all religions, stories from the past that have been passed down through generations, and even written down to keep a more accurate account. Smart says there are universals and particulars that apply to myths. A myth may have its universal principles that can be applied to all myths or stories while each one has various particulars that only affect a certain myth in the culture. The Koran, for the Muslims, and the Vedas, for the Hindu people, are a compilation of the traditional myths of their religion. In general, there are myths of origins, of destruction, of activities between God and the people and of alienation, when people do things to be good with God. The Vedas is the Hindus primary text; it is a recollection from oral tradition recorded from what the Brahmin memorized. Muhammad's revelations for 23 years were finally formed into the Koran, or Qúran. Most religions have a recap of some kind that puts together the teachings or stories from their origins.

The Doctrinal dimension is the essential beliefs. The functions of doctrines are to order beliefs from the material supplied by tradition, relate beliefs to current knowledge in an attempt to come to terms with what we know now, to define the community and they are woven into schemes, each doctrine must be seen as a part of a whole and must have an organic unity to them. All religions have their essential beliefs, their doctrines which are found in the texts and scriptures. Looking at the division of Buddhism one can find that the essential beliefs are very similar, their doctrines are even overlapping but since their rituals and their ethics and social views change form one to another they discern and separate.

The Ritual dimension is the recreation of events described in myths to make them real now, in a way replaying ancient drama and making the past present. This creates a path of communication between the God of Gods and humanity and it is true for all religions. It can...
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