World’s Religions

“If a man thinks about his physical or moral state, he usually discovers that he is ill.”

This illness has been present for many centuries. In order to correct this there arose, from time to time, messengers for different races of the earth, to sustain our soul and provide physical, moral, and spiritual leadership.

Many use religion and spiritualism to promote good health, happiness and brotherhood of man. But there are others who perpetrate violence, destruction and death in the name of religion.

This infighting among religious groups is surprising due to the “fact that no people have been discovered who do not believe in the existence and survival of human souls”, says A. T. Houghton in The World’s Religions. This book, edited by J. N. D. Anderson, provides a short factual account of the history, philosophy, and practice of seven of the great religions of the world. A study of Christianity has been excluded, as it is a well-known religion in Western countries.

Now that Christmas is over, let us briefly look at the teachings of these seven great religions as described in Anderson’s book: Animism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism and Confucianism.

The book uses the term “Animism” to describe the religion and the philosophy of peoples who believe in the existence of spiritual beings. Animism is the doctrine that places the source of mental and even physical life in energy independent of, or at least distinct from, the body.

Judaism believes that there is only one God in the universe, and He is the God of Israel. The book says that this idea of God is to some extent similar to what the Christians and Moslems believe. Followers of all three faiths believe that religion is a way of life. A life that needs to be cherished and not destroyed by neglect or abuse.

Islam arose to claim the allegiance of mankind about six hundred years after the appearance of Jesus Christ. Islamic beliefs are based on the “Five Pillars”: 1. The recital of the Creed or Kalima (There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Prophet of God); 2. Prayer – 5 times a day; 3. Fasting in the month of Ramadan; 4. Zakat (tithe) or voluntary charity; 5. The hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca).

Hinduism originated in India. Two important aspects of Hinduism are: 1. Triumph of good (god Vishnu) over evil (god Siva); 2. Karma – what you sow you reap. Bad and good fortune, health or sickness, poverty or riches, are all ascribed to karma.

Buddhism came into existence almost six hundred years before Christ. Buddhism consists of The Four Truths: 1. The truth of suffering – suffering is omnipresent; 2. Cause of suffering – desire for possession and selfish enjoyment; 3. Suffering ceases, when selfish craving, lust for life, has been renounced and destroyed; 4. Eightfold path that leads to the cessation of suffering – a path to perfect detachment from self-indulgence and self-mortification.

Buddhism also teaches: karma (action-reaction); impermanence (every form must die and give place to a different one); nirvana (passionless happiness).

Shintoism, the Way of the Gods, is reverence paid to the gods of Japan. Its code of moral behavior is an unwritten code that owes much to Confucius and Buddhism.

Confucius was born in 551 B.C. in China. His teaching was almost entirely concerned with man’s moral conduct and his social relations. His aim was to reform the corrupt kingdom by means of moral principles of the ancient worthies.

As we can see, adoption of the teachings of these religions in our daily life can considerably improve all aspects of our health. One does not have to be a religious zealot to instill spiritualism in one’s lifestyle. We just have to make it a way of life!

Our ultimate aim should be nirvana for the lifetime!

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