Shame

I can’t talk about this

And I can’t talk about that

And how dare you put something so private on your Facebook page

And then share it with the whole world

Aren’t you afraid

Aren’t you ashamed

No

You can’t shame me

I did nothing wrong

Take these stories and weep

But please, society, please

Give me validation and peace

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The Study of Religion

What is Religion?

Merriam Webster defines religion as “a belief in a god or a group of gods; an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods; an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group; a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith” (Merriam Webster, 2016).  However, this is neither a complete nor accurate definition of religion.

Religion could be said to contain some or all of the following eight elements: belief system; community; central myths; ritual; ethics; characteristic emotional experiences; material expression; and sacredness. A belief system is where several beliefs about the universe and humans place in the world fit together to form a worldview. This belief system or worldview is shared by several people in a community, and its ideals are practiced by this community. Religions contain myths or stories about the creator of the universe or about the human helper the creator sent to Earth. It should be noted that myth does not necessarily mean the stories are untrue, just that they are a part of that specific religion. Religions contain rituals or ceremonies that are practiced by the community, such as baptism in Christianity. Religions provide rules or ethics about how people should act and how they should treat others. These rituals and ceremonies usually bring a characteristic emotional experience with them, such as awe, or inner peace, maybe even fear. Religions use material expressions, such as paintings, and statues to depict the lives of the deities or saints that form the religious belief system. Religions carry with a feeling of sacredness by using special clothing, different languages, or places, in the community to shares in this sacredness (Molloy, 2013). Regardless of what religion one believes in and follows, all religions have certain elements in common.

Patterns in World Religions

All religions are different, but all religions are also the same in some ways. All religions have three major patterns that can be seen across cultures, and those patterns are views of the world and life, focus on beliefs and practices, and views on males and females (Molloy, 2013).

All religions attempt to answer one of the most profound questions known to humankind – What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? What is our purpose?  How did the universe come into existence; will it ever end? How do we reach fulfillment or salvation? What is or should be our relationship with nature? What is or what should be our relationship with the sacred or the holy?  All religions answer these questions in different ways (Molloy, 2013).

Some religions define the sacred or “God” as transcendent, living in a realm beyond our ability to reach. Other religions represent sacred as being within humans and nature and can be experienced as energy or a feeling of peace. Sometimes it is seen as having personal attributes, much like humans, and sometimes it is viewed as an impersonal entity, who has not care about humans (Molloy, 2013).

Some religions see the creator of the universe as a personal, caring entity that has a master plan for the cosmos, and that he or she is guiding the world along on an ultimate path that leads to his or her ultimate goal for life. Other religions view the universe as eternal, having neither a beginning nor end. If the religion sees the universe as having been created by a creator, then that religion worships that creator. If, however, the religion views the universe as eternal, with no creator, then the universe becomes the center of that religion (Molloy, 2013).

The human attitude toward nature is also something all religions address. Some religions believe that nature was put here to be the tools for man. Some religions preach that nature is evil and must be overcome. Some religions say that nature is sacred and needs no alterations. And, some religions teach that nature is or was created by a divine being for humans to shape (Molloy, 2013).

In some religions time is considered linear, moving in a straight line from the beginning to the end; the end of everything as we know it. In these religions time is important because it is limited and unrepeatable. In other religions time is cylindrical, moving in an endless pattern of changes that repeat themselves over and over again on a grand scale. In these religions time is not so important, the universe is not moving towards an ultimate ending, and enjoying the present is more important than being concerned about the future (Molloy, 2013).

In some religions, humans have a purpose and are part of a great divine plan. Individual meaning comes from within and from the divine in the context of a great struggle between the forces of good and evil. In these religions human actions are of great importance and therefore, their actions are prescribed by a righteous moral code. In other religions, however, human life and their actions are not viewed as important, and the individual person is only part of a much larger reality. In these religions, humans are not seen as a small part of a larger plan; they are seen as part of a family, society, and the universe as a whole; placing more importance on how one may achieve harmony with the universe, as opposed to their individual salvation. Human action is not guided by a divine moral code, but by the family and society of the individual (Molloy, 2013).

Different Approaches to Studying Religions

            The study of religion was, at one time, divided among different academic fields. Fields such as psychology, theology, and philosophy would study different aspects of religions. Now, the study of religion is unified into one academic field, but all the different fields still study religion as part of their curriculum.

Psychology means soul study in Greek, and encompasses the study of human mental states, emotions, and behaviors. Psychology takes a special interest in religions because of its rich material in human experiences. Mythology is the study of myths, which is the study of religious stories, texts, and arts that reveal universal commonalities. Philosophy means the love of wisdom in Greek, and encompasses the study of human life and their purpose. Theology means the study of the divine in Greek, and encompasses the study of one particular religious belief, usually the religion of the theologies who is doing the studying in order to gain a deeper understanding of their own religion (Molloy, 2013).

Critical Issues in Studying Religion

The academic study of religion has, in the past, been carried out by individuals seeking to find further knowledge in their own religion. However, in recent decades, there has been a shift in this cycle where now people are wanting to study religion academically without promoting the beliefs of one religion over another. The great questions of religions were once studied as a philosophy course in colleges, while other aspects of religious beliefs were found scattered in such academic departments as anthropology, history, or psychology. The study of religion then was very fragmented, scattered all over the college campus, and no unified course could be found.

In the recent past, all of this has changed and now most campuses have a department for studying religion as a whole. However, the academic study of religion brings problems and questions, as well as clarity, insight, and answers. Some concerns include the rights and obligations that professionals hold towards the practitioners of each religion, the truthfulness of informants or interpreters, the objectivity of the professional, and how, and in what way do researchers change indigenous communities.

 

References

Molloy, M. (2013). Experiencing the world’s religions: Tradition, challenge, and change (6th

Ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Religion. (n.d.). Retrieved June 13, 2016, from http://www.merriam

webster.com/dictionary/religion

Is World Peace Possible?

 

The world has had two world wars in recent history. World War I, which was fought between the Allies:  Britain, France, Russia, Italy and the United States, against the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria. World War I saw the destruction of over 38 million lives, including civilian and military personnel in the four short years it was waged from 1914 to 1918. The next big war in recent history was waged by Hitler, a notorious tyrant, from the years 1939 to 1945. It’s safe to say that the war started long before that in Germany, as veterans of World War I came home and looked to Hitler to lead them in the pursuit of the Third Reich. Hitler eventually took his message worldwide, trying to eliminate all Jewish people and other “impure” people from the face of the Earth. World War II saw the destruction of over 60 million people; however, some estimates place the number of lives lost could equal as many as 80 million. Today, many would call the war on terrorism a global war, and it has been being fought for about sixteen years and is still being fought today. These three examples of World Wars demonstrate that it is possible for the entire world to come together to accomplish a goal that they find necessary and for the good of the world. In this paper, I will discuss how the previous World Wars and wars in ancient history, can be used to demonstrate that a world built on global peace is just as possible as a world made on world wars.

Global Wars and their Impact

The age-old question of rather a war is a part of human evolution and, therefore, a human necessity is not an issue that we are going to concern ourselves with in this paper. Instead, we are going to skip ahead in history, from early war: unplanned tribal attacks, to more recent wars, involving planned attacks by military personnel. If we compare modern warfare to ancient Greece; we can see many similarities and many differences. One main similarity is that war is fought under the important notion of defending one’s home, and the military is made of civilians that arm themselves when their city-state is attacked (Bowden, 1995). However, war today is not fought only in defense of one’s nation, or in the hopes of expanding one’s territory. Global war today, and in the recent past, has been fought over resources, genocide, or terrorism, and the consequences have been much more devastating than in the past, with more people, and resources lost on both sides. With globalization comes the ability to defend countries half way around the world, and this can have far-reaching effects on all of the world.

The First World War in modern history, World War I, had far-reaching effects on many parts of the world. World War I saw the financial center of the world shift from England to the United States, as England consumed all of their credits on the global marketplace and became deeply indebted to the US. Shortly after the war, women worldwide gained the right to vote (where voting was allowed), and the working class people were given a higher social status than they had before the war. The United States, joining as they did, late in the War, suffered relatively minor losses and emerged as the great superpower of the world. The United States could be said to have benefitted the most from World War I, as it pushed forward industrialization. However, some argue that the United States was not prepared for this position of world leadership (Effects of World War One).

The end of World War I was the beginning, in Germany’s eyes, of World War II. Veterans from World War I, returned to Germany after the war to find an utterly defeated country; looking for a new leader to take them to glory and the Third Reich, and they found that leader in Hitler. Hitler became a Messiah to the World War I veterans, now called the Nazi’s, and they would have done anything to please him. Indeed, they did commit some of the most hideous war crimes upon humanity to please Hitler; following his orders blindly as he tried to eradicate any impure persons from Germany and the rest of the world (Redles, 2010).  Aside from almost complete genocide of the Jewish race, the effects of World War II on the world were also far-reaching, and some would argue that they are still being felt today.

One primary effect that is still being felt today was the dropping of the first atomic bombs, from the United States, devastating Japan. Indeed changing their DNA, so that their children and grandchildren are still seeing mutations today; mostly in the prevalence of leukemia found in the Japanese children (Center for Nuclear Studies, 2012). Germany, Japan, England, France, and Russia suffered immeasurably in lives lost and damage taken due to bombings during World War II, and world power shifted again, from England and France to Russia; making Russia one of two superpowers in the World along with the United States. In the United States, World War II stimulated the economy, and cemented the US as a superpower. Scientific discoveries, that were used to fight diseases during the war, would later be applied to benefit mankind; reducing the mortality rate and encouraging population growth. Other technological advancements, such as the development of the atomic bomb, would leave future wars more precarious, as now nuclear weapons were a possibility in every future war. While the development of nuclear weapons was a definite pitfall for the future of humanity, perhaps the biggest benefit to emerge from World War II was the creation of the United Nations. With the unification of the world’s superpowers, most considered the world to be entering a new era of peace (Effects of World War Two).

That new era of peace came to an abrupt end on September eleventh, 2001, when a group of terrorist attacked the Twin Towers in New York, the Pentagon in Washington DC, and killed over three thousand people (History Channel). The attacks on nine eleven caused, then President George W. Bush, to call a global war on terrorism, ending the hope of world peace, and creating a ripple effect of changes in the United States and worldwide. Since President Bush announced the global war on terror, the militia groups connected to or inspired by al-Qaeda, have increased as well as the number of attacks committed by the group, over twenty attacks that have killed over twenty people since 2001, and counting. Other terrorist groups have sprung up, accounting for more minor assaults, and more deaths worldwide; demonstrating that global terrorism is on the rise and not on the decline (BBC News, 2011). Perhaps, however, the global war on terrorism has caused the most internal change to the US and its citizens. It saw the decrease in personal privacy (with the government now able to pry by recording both phone conversations and internet history of everyday civilians), the militarization of the police force, and the formation of the National Security Administration, which now oversees all internal and foreign affairs, using recorded personal data disguised as intelligence to target civilians accused of ordinary crimes (Kane, 2013). Recently, with the attacks committed by ISIS, the global war on terrorism has increased the amount of discrimination toward Muslim people on US territory as well as globally. The global war on terrorism could easily be argued to have had the opposite effect of world peace, and may, in fact, be a significant contribution to a future World War; but that remains to be seen.

The Effects of World Peace

While it is safe to say that since the development of human communities and cities, as well as military arms, and the advancement of civilization, the world has never known peace. Some country, rather little or big, in human history, has always been at war. However, with the

Ending of World War I and the development of the United Nations, world peace could be a possibility in the future if the world’s governments and resources could be used to promote world peace instead of world war.

The United Nations (UN) was founded to foster global peace, prosperity, and justice, and since the time of its inception, it has prevented a third world war from breaking out; if one does not count the war on terrorism (United Nations, 2013). The UN could be said to have been tasked with an impossible mission; world peace has never existed, why would it now? Michael Mandelbaum, in his book entitled Ideas That Conquered the World: Peace, Democracy, and Free Markets in the Twenty-First Century compares the pursuit of world peace to the search for a cure for cancer; it is done slowly over time, taking small steps in the right direction with the hopeful development of a “cure” at the end of the road (Mandelbaum, 2004). However, despite these difficulties, Mandelbaum maintains hope for world peace, through democracy, global government, and free markets that, he says, is the key to world peace at the onset of the twenty-first century (Mandelbaum, 2004). As Dwight D. Eisenhower said of the UN, “ With all the defects, with all the failures we can check up on it, the UN still represents man’s best-organized hope to substitute the conference table for the battlefield” (Sharp, 2011).

US Motivations to Continue the War Effort

While the initial, official stated reason for the global war on terrorism has remained the same throughout the last fifteen years (national security, God’s will, and eliminating evil from the world), after the death of the al-Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden, many people have begun to question the necessity of the War on Terrorism. Since the evidence suggests that the War on Terrorism has created more terrorists, not less, why does America continue to fight this war; does America need war?

Since America’s economic system is built on a brand of capitalism, where the rich get richer, and the crumbs are left for the rest of society, it is argued that America needs a war every four years, or so, to maintain its economic system. The legitimate causes of war were justified, to begin with in the eyes of the American public, however while they were blinded with hatred and with the war in the middle east, the government levied taxes upon the poorer citizens of the country to pay for the war, thereby increasing the pockets of the already rich suppliers of weapons and other military necessities (Pauwels, 2003). It would be safe to say that the war on terrorism has become a war designed to make corporate America richer while devastating “enemy countries.” The fight on terrorism is abstract enough that it is a war that can continually be fought, for many, many years, without a clear enemy in mind, increasing the pockets of the rich in corporate America, while further decreasing the wealth of the middle to poor class of America.

The War on Terrorism also provides the American government the excuse necessary to monitor and invade their citizens’ rights, it allows the police force of the American government to detain anyone, terrorist ties notwithstanding, in a prison without outside contact for three days, and increased world democracy; pushing their ideas upon every country in the world, rather they want it or not (Higgs, 2005). It may well be that America continues the war on terrorism to push further their ideas while gaining political power across the world. Regardless of the American government’s justification for the continued War on Terrorism, the costs, in human lives, economic and governmental structure ships across the world, and important civil and economic liberties in America, are genuine and detrimental to most countries involved in the War on Terrorism (Higgs, 2005).

US Motivations for World Peace

According to a Gallup International survey, which polled 66,000 people in sixty-five countries, America is seen as the biggest threat to world peace (Bulger, 2014). Since America has technically been involved in some war since 1940, one is forced to ask, does America have any motivations to pursue world peace? As the world’s great superpower, one could argue that America, more than any other countries has a responsibility to use their powers responsibly, pushing world peace instead of continuing to wage war after war; up to this point in recent history, which has not been the case. However, the founding fathers of America brought about the world’s most prosperous, free, and peaceful country in world history; it stands to reason that if they could do it, so can the current governmental powers in America (Lohman, 2013).  Could it be that the only motivations the US government has for world peace are the spread of democracy or the pushing of their ideals? Could it be that the only motivating factor the US has for the establishment of world peace is even more political power throughout the world? It could be.

Perhaps if the American government were more straight forward and honest in their dealings with both their citizens and foreign nationals and governments, the complete distrust of the United States by most countries in the world would diminish, and the American military could stand a chance of spreading a peaceful democracy across the world, eliminating world wars altogether. They would have to practice real democracy here at home, as well.

Peaceful Societies in History

The view is that generally friendly societies do not exist in human history; caveman supposedly fought with caveman, and today one country fights another, or a group of people fights another group of individuals, all in the name of “God” or “peace”, even though neither has been seen or heard from in Western civilizations since at least 1940. However, there have been peaceful societies throughout the history of humankind, who not only did not engage in war or warlike behavior with outside societies; they also did not promote fighting or violence even within their societies.

The Paliyan Society of South India, for example, is a relatively nonviolent civilization, that practices avoidance when dealing with violent situations or people (Gardner, 2000). A study of the literature composed of twenty-four other peaceful societies throughout the world shows much of the same thinking in regards to warfare or violence. Peaceful societies do not view violence in the same light as westernized nations. They believe that violence is not inevitable, that punishment and armed forces are not the answer to all conflicts, both internal and external, that political structures are not a necessity to prevent conflict, and that war is not the answer to world peace (Bonta, 1996).

Instead, peaceful societies throughout the world and in human history, have no record of violence. They rarely punish adults and have no prison system. Conflict is often viewed in a negative light, and outside interference by governmental forces are not sought after or approved, rather a conflict is with an outside society or within their society. Conflict is instead resolved through various other tactics, such as self-restraint, negotiation, separation or mobility, intervention, or humor (Bonta, 1996). These ulterior conflict resolution skills could be universally applied, promoting world peace instead of world war.

Conclusion

The examination of previous societies throughout world history that have implemented conflict resolution without the need for violence illustrates the world’s capacity for world peace; it is possible. The same forces it takes to push a country to war could be used to drive a country to peace. World War I set the United States up as the superpower in the world and World War II cemented that position, since then, the US has been in one way or another, and all under the guise of accomplishing world peace. If monies spent on war, some upwards of 450 trillion dollars, so far in the 21st Century, could be devoted to bringing democracy to developing countries instead of more destruction and human suffering, the world would be a superpower that indeed does promote peacefulness, democracy, and freedom. I have shown throughout this paper that the love of power and money is what keeps the world’s superpower at war, and in the words of William Ewart Gladstone, I will end this paper with the hope that world peace is achieved within my lifetime. “We look forward to the time when the Power of Love will replace the Love of Power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace” (Gladstone, 1809-1898).

References

BBC News. (2011, September 9). After 9/11: Global effects of the ‘war on terror’. Retrieved from BBC News Magazine: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-14844727

Bonta, B. D. (1996, November). Conflict Resolution among Peaceful Societies: The Culture of Peacefulness. Journal of Peace Research, 33(4), 403-420. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.proxy-library.ashford.edu/stable/424566

Bowden, H. (2012). Hoplites and Homer: Warfare, hero cult, and the ideology of the polis. In D. J. Rich, J. Rich, & G. & Shipley, War and Society in the Greek World (pp. 45-63). Routledge. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com.proxy-library.ashford.edu/lib/ashford/reader.action?docID=10058291

Bulger, M. (2014). Is America the Greatest Threat to World Peace? . Retrieved from American Humanist Association: http://americanhumanist.org/HNN/details/2014-01-is-america-the-greatest-threat-to-world-peace

Center for Nuclear Studies . (2012, Augest 9). Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The Long Term Health Effects. Retrieved from Columbia University: http://k1project.org/explore-health/hiroshima-and-nagasaki-the-long-term-health-effects

Effects of World War One. (n.d.). Retrieved from Suffolk County Community College : http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/westn/effectww1.html

Effects of World War Two. (n.d.). Retrieved from Suffolk County Community College : http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/westn/effectww2.html

Gardner, P. M. (2000, June). Respect and Nonviolence among Recently Sedentary Paliyan Foragers. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 6(2), 215-236. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.proxy-library.ashford.edu/stable/2660893

Gladstone, W. E. (1809-1898). Love of Power Quote.

Higgs, R. (2005, Spring). Benefits and Costs of the U.S. Government’s War Making. The Independant Review, 9(4). Retrieved from http://www.independent.org/publications/tir/article.asp?a=534

History Channel. (n.d.). 9/11 Attacks. Retrieved from History.com: http://www.history.com/topics/9-11-attacks

Kane, A. (2013, Augest 6). 5 Ways the War on Terror Has Changed Your Life. Retrieved from Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/5-ways-war-terror-impacting-you

Lohman, W. (2013, June 4). Honoring America’s Superpower Responsibilities. Retrieved from Heritage: http://www.heritage.org/research/lecture/2013/06/honoring-americas-superpower-responsibilities

Mandelbaum, M. (2004). Ideas That Conquered the World : Peace, Democracy, and Free Markets in the Twenty-First Century. New York, New York, US: Public Affairs. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com.proxy-library.ashford.edu/lib/ashford/reader.action?docID=10469157

Pauwels, J. R. (2003, April 30). Why America Needs War. Retrieved from Centre of Research for Globalization: http://www.globalresearch.ca/why-america-needs-war/5328631

Redles, D. (2010, Augest ). The nazi old guard: Identity formation during apocalyptic times. Nova Religio, 14(1), 24-44. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy-library.ashford.edu/docview/507891296/fulltextPDF/E3EC9549B8A0416DPQ/1?accountid=32521

Sharp, A. (2011). Consequences of Peace : The Versailles Settlement : Aftermath and Legacy 1919-2010. Haus Publishing. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com.proxy-library.ashford.edu/lib/ashford/reader.action?docID=10491535

United Nations. (2013). Working with the UN. Retrieved from United Nations Foundation: http://www.unfoundation.org/what-we-do/working-with-the-un/?referrer=https://www.google.com/

Shintoism

Shintoism is an ancient Japanese religion that is still practiced today in Japan. Shinto can be translated as meaning “the way of the gods,” and those gods in Shintoism are called the Kami. There are many Kami’s, and they are usually related to natural elements, such as the Sun, the Moon, the forests, the rivers, and the mountains. Shinto is a nature religion, with elements of ancestral worship, as Shintoists believe that loved ones who have passed away become Kami as well, and they, much like the Chinese, will have shrines dedicated to certain Kami, including loved ones (Molloy, 2013).

Shintoism is not a religion that has a sacred text, but it is a religion that preaches that there is not one moralistic God who gives commands, but rather that humans are essentially good, and so is this earth, and life in general. Shintoists believe that this Earth is the heavenly realm that most religions preach one can only reach through death. Shintoists believe that individuals should strive to live up to the expectations that are placed on them in this “heavenly realm” here on Earth (Molloy, 2013).

With this heavenly realm in mind, Shintoists believe that cleanliness is at the core of those expectations. One should strive to keep one’s body, mind, house, clothes, etc. as clean as possible, and when they become dirty they must be washed and blessed by a Shinto priest. This cleanliness also applies to one’s character, and Shintoist are expected to keep one’s reputation “clean” by having sincerity. Humans maintain their sincerity by repaying debts, fulfilling obligations, and apologizing for misdeeds (Molloy, 2013).

Today, Shinto temples can be found throughout Japan. Shinto practitioners visit these temples to pray for the health and wellbeing of their family members, for success, and for good health for their selves. The priests of the Shinto temples can be found saying blessings over those praying, while waving a white wand of paper streamers. White is very important in Shinto as it represents the cleanliness and purity of the Kami. The priests, who perform the blessings, and they perform many throughout Japan, include blessings to drive out evil spirits in cars, can always be found wearing white and carrying those white wands (Molloy, 2013).

In the Shinto religion, New Years is a very important celebration, and Shinto practitioners will clean their houses from top to bottom, and adorn the front door with a kadomatsu or entry pine, symbolizing human virtue. During the New Year’s celebration, which takes several days, individuals visit family members, eating special rice balls called mochi, which is adorned with tangerines, signifying wealth and fertility, and the planting of rice in the spring. The whole holiday is representative of cleansing and the renewal of life (Molloy, 2013).

Traditional Shinto practices once put great importance upon the changing of the seasons, especially in regards to the planting and harvesting of rice. These traditional practices are becoming less important in the modern land of Japan, but there are still practices seen in Japan that can be linked to these traditional practices. One such practice is the finding of small shrines found in forests, fields, and mountains. One may find many practices related to the purification elements of water, as even individual practitioners will wash their hands with water before entering a temple. Individuals can also still be found practices the ancient art of misogi, where an individual stand under a waterfall, letting the water purify his mind and body. The practitioner must perform a series of calisthenics and deep breathing exercise before entering the waterfall, and be cleansed with a bit of salt. Misogi combines the ritual element of cleanliness and the Shinto ideal of self-discipline (Molloy, 2013).

 

 

References

Molloy, M. (2013). Experiencing the world’s religions: Tradition, challenge, and

Change (6th Ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Daoism

Daoism and the Daodejing (Tao Te Ching)

The Daodejing is generally considered to be one of the world’s greatest books; next to the Bible, it is the most published book in the world. The Daodejing is dated to about 350 BCE, and is said to be written by Laozi, and contains the teachings on Daoism. It is said that Laozi was forced to write his teachings down before he could leave the country of China. The book is considered to be more poetry than pose, and is considered to have no clear order and a lack of clarity. Suggesting that the book has no clear author, but is instead a collection of works gathered over time (Molloy, 2013).

The Daodejing contains elements of early shamanistic teachings, including instructions on meditation and obtaining a trance like state. It also has been considered to be a political handbook, a religious guidebook, or as a guide to living in harmony with the universe. Whatever its original purpose, the Daodejing teaches that the Dao is not a thing, not like a god or a tree or even a human, but more of a presence that cannot be named. The Dao is the origin of everything, and all individuals are manifestations of the Dao (Molloy, 2013).

Although the Dao is something that cannot be named, it is something that can be felt. To experience the Dao, one must leave behind their appetite for physical things, our desires, and wants. That one must become like nature, moving with the flow of change in one’s life, much like the water flows and assists the obstacles it faces. Accepting that one is different, neither resisting nor competing (Molloy, 2013).

The Principles of Yang and Yin

Yang and Yin developed about 1000BCE, and contains the principle notion that the world expresses itself in complementary elements, light and dark, day and night, bad and good, the list goes on and on (Molloy, 2013).

These principles are not the same as good and evil. One is not expected to “win out” over the other. Instead, the notion is that everything contains it’s opposite and will eventually become its opposite. Both elements are in perfect balance, like energy or pulsations, breathing in and out (Molloy, 2013).

The Principle of Wu Wei

Wu wei is the ideal of effortlessness, or the ability to “go with the flow.” The ideal recommends a way of avoiding unnecessary action. Working only as hard as one must to accomplish what is necessary, much like nature, and no more (Molloy, 2013).

For example, one may be the recipient of a viscous rumor. One may think that confronting those who started the rumor may be the best course of action. However, a Daoist would see things differently. A Daoist would believe that the best course of action would be to do nothing. To let the rumor run its course and to not worry about it, but to just accept it.

An example of when following the way of the wu wei would be ill advised is if one was in serious trouble with the law, and was facing jail time. (I don’t know this by experience, it’s just an example I could come up with.) I would think in a situation where one is accused of a serious crime the best course of action, if one is innocent, is to fight and try to find as much evidence as possible to prove one’s innocence.

References

Molloy, M. (2013). Experiencing the world’s religions: Tradition, challenge, and

Change (6th Ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Understanding

I started a new class about two weeks ago – Physiological Psychology, a.k.a. Behavioral Neuroscience. That means, that about every five words or so, I have to stop reading and google what it is that I just read. My brain has too many tabs open… I saw that, somewhere. Facebook, I think. I can’t think, so, I’m writing. Probably a bad idea, but let’s see where it goes.

In light of trying to keep up with homework, family, this blog, and all other social media sites that one has to appear on every day, I have resorted to posting prior papers I have written in the past. I, personally, do not see an issue with this, as I did write the papers; I just wrote them for school.

I am a firm believer that education can stamp out ignorance, and I have attempted to spread some knowledge by posting a link to this blog on a few groups in Facebook. I do not think people read the papers, and truly, that’s okay. But, if you do not read them, why fight me about it? I am not promoting any one religion over another, or saying that you have to believe anything I say. Please feel free to do your own research.

I would like to address a couple of things. First, my intent is to spread knowledge about religions in the hopes of bringing about some understanding and peace. If there is one thing that ALL religions have in common, it is the belief that one should love their fellow man, and this beautiful earth that we all live upon.

Second, I am not a “religious freak,” (sic.), as anyone who knows me will tell you. I do have a particular interest in religions, but it is an educational interest only. I am a scientist. I believe in the Big Bang and Evolution. I will not fight anyone about this. There is loads and loads of evidence proving the existence of both. If you do not believe all that evidence, you will not believe me, and I will not waste my time.

I do not adhere to any one religion, and I do not follow any one religion. I have studied many religions, and I personally believe that they all have elements of truth in them. I am a believer in a Universal Consciousness that, I like to call, love. If I had to pick a “religion” it would be love. I am very spiritual, and I find my “god” in nature. I probably do not believe in god the way you do, and that’s okay. We can still be friends.