What is Religion?
Is religion a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny or is it a system of symbols, myths, doctrines, ethics and rituals for the expression of ultimate relevance (Carmody, 2008). Religion is the human quest for experience of, and response to the holy or sacred and a combination of all individuals desire to attain the promise of a better life than that here on earth, human spirituality. Religion is the voluntary subjection of oneself to God (Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913). Religious beliefs are the mental state in which faith is placed in a creed related to the supernatural, sacred, or divine. The beliefs that what one does in the former life will follow to the next life and good karma will help obtain higher forms of life in the reincarnation. Hinduism, Buddhism, Janineism, Sikhism, Manichaeism and Gnosticism beliefs in reincarnation, that the soul continues to live from the death of the old to be reborn in the new and to break this cycle is to achieve enlightenment or nirvana (Valea, 2009) Or the beliefs of the Greek that their Gods and Goddess appear in human form and Hinduism avatars appear in human and animal form to rid the world of oppression (Das, 2009). Zoroaster, Buddha, Gautama and Jesus have been deemed incarnations of God. Sacred text and scriptures play an important role in many religions. Depending on the religion, the text or scriptures are believed to have originated from God or Goddess that revealed a revelation or compositions for an original founder of the religion or early leaders or prophets and are now considered to be divinely inspired. The sacred writings of Hinduism, including the Vedas and Upanishads, sacred text of Judaism, the Hebrew Bible that has not changed but also Christians considered sacred by Christians as the Old Testament and incorporated with the New Testament. There is also the Quran, the sacred book revealing the words of Allah given to Mohammed through the voice of Gabriel (Carmody, 2008).
Symbolic images can tell us a lot about the religion, history and spirit of a culture as well as identifying a person’s faith. The Cross a common symbol in Christianity represents the suffering of Jesus; in ancient Egypt, India and Tibet the Cross was considered to be a symbol of reproduction. In modern Christianity, the cross represents Trinity. The three shorter sections represent the Three Persons of Trinity and the longer section represents One Divinity. The five pointed star representing the five pillars of Islam, Shahadah, Salah, Zakah, Siam and Hadj; the six pointed Star of David, the star of the creator, which stands for the six days that God created earth. The six points representing the six attributes of God: wisdom, love, justice, mercy, power, and majesty. This same symbol is also used by modern Judaism of Israel. Rituals in religion symbolize the way individuals recognize significant events, deeds and activities in their lives.
Specifically in religion, rituals are used to reinforce the basic common beliefs of a community. Performed in a sacred place, away from the ordinary world, rituals are intentionally separated from the secular to allow the rituals to enhance their belief. As an example, A Catholic mass is a symbolic ritual in accordance of the “last supper” of Jesus, by extension, an affirmation of the acceptance of his teachings by “partaking of the host” (O’Neil, 2009).
Compassion, humility, and hope, all personal virtues, moral principles that guide religions and set the standards of ethical moral conduct to attain a higher state of being. “Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself,” the ethical moral code for Judaism (Leviticus 19:18); “Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them,” Christianity’s ethical moral code (Matthew 7:12). The ethical code for all religions is the care for our fellow man, to feel and share in their pain and suffering...
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