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Religious Life on Earth

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Religion is a particular response to dimensions of life considered sacred, as shaped by the institutionalized traditions. Religion is a complex and an indescribable subject that many have studied. Many scholars have posed questions of where religion has come from, why people believe in religion, why it is so important, and how can we understand it better. There might not be concrete answers to these questions. It is extremely difficult to describe what religion looks like, but in many cultures, religion has been known to be the basic establishment of life. In all type of religions, there are many rituals, narrative stories, beliefs, and sacred customs that shape everyone’s life. People on Earth practice their religion through all of these aspects, through teachings, through their daily habits, and through faith. Even those who do not believe in a religion are still affected by religion. Aside from the major organized religions of the world, there are still indigenous peoples that follow local sacred ways handed down from their remote ancestors and have adapted to contemporary circumstances. Through globalization, much of the ancient teachings and wisdom has disappeared. However there are still indigenous societies that practice communal rituals and ceremonies. In Mesoamerica, the ancient teachings have remained hidden for 500 years since the coming of the conquistadores, passed down within families as a secret oral tradition. Indigenous spirituality is a lifeway, a particular approach to all life. On the other end of the spectrum, organized religion has dominated the majority of the world. The oldest of these religions is Hinduism. The Hindi word “dharma,” refers to a broad complex of meanings, encompassing duty, natural law, social welfare, ethics, health, and transcendental realization. Ancient and modern rituals with fire are significant and are conducted by Hindu pundits to invoke the blessings of the Unseen. There are many rituals in Hinduism that come from the Vedas and Upanishads, both ancient teachings from highly realized spiritual masters. Hinduism focuses on the atman, which is the self or soul. A common question in any religion is, “Where do we go when we die?” Hinduism believes in reincarnation, where one takes birth again and again in countless bodies, but your atman remains the same. A Hindu goes through this cycle of birth and rebirth until one achieves moksha, or salvation. Pujaries, or Brahmin priests, perform public worship called puja. The conduct worship ceremonies in which the sacred presence is made tangible through devotions employing all senses. In a temple, devotees may have the great blessing of receiving darshan, visual contact on the divine. Then Prasad, food that has been sanctified by being offered to the deities, is passed around to be eaten by devotees. Hinduism is known to be tolerant and to praise non violence. Many Hindus are vegetarians in respect to not wanting to harm any animals. Just like Hinduism, Jainism heavily focuses on the teachings of being non violent and to be tolerant of everyone and everything around you. Jains believe that the universe is without beginning and that it has no creator or destroyer. The principle of ahimsa is very strong in Jainism. Jains believe humans have no right to supremacy; all living things deserve to live and evolve as they can. To kill any living thing has negative karmic effects. Another central Jain ideal is nonattachment to things and people. Jains emphasize to cut down on materialistic possessions and desires. The third principle is anekantwad. Jains avoid anger and judgementalism. They teach you to remain open-minded. Jainism believes in living peacefully without hurting anyone or anything. The function of religion on Earth is to provide faith and understanding of where we come from and where we are going. The reason to live comes from ancient teachings, modern day adoptions, and learning. All religions should teach toleration. Religion should be taught should be taught to show the principles and not just on the rituals and customs. Rituals and customs are very important to religions, however, they are easily misunderstood and can be misinterpreted. The philosophies and daily lives of people are more important in understanding what religion people believe in. Even if it’s not an organized religion, everyone has the right to choose what is best for them.

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