Monday, December 15, 2008

A Treasure Within!

Dear Readers, this post is rather one of the most awaiting post of my conscious. This post is a huge leap In The Quest of Truth. This post is devoid of theology but instead enters into one of the most sublime topic any human being would think. This post is about 'you'!

When I sit in front of my computer in this lovely evening, my thoughts pour on the tips of my finger. These thoughts are not a result of human convolutions but a mighty leap towards human understanding. It would be difficult to put 'silence' into words and so is my task here.

Imagine! Imagine, a bright noon with darkness around. Imagine, the colour of infra red and ultraviolet. Imagine the smell of fire. Imagine the taste of a rock-piece from mars. Please do not feel defeated, but understand that we are limited, the world that we see by all probability is not the world in real. We are controlled by our senses. The world that we know is through our senses, we do not know anything else, anything beyond our limitation. Nobody in this world could think beyond those because our thoughts are based on our previous experiences (observations) and its derivatives. Thus even imagination is limited. And if at all it is possible to imagine such thoughts, it would not be possible to express it! Going a step ahead, can you imagine nothing? Well to imagine nothing you shouldn't imagine. Thus, it would be the most absurd but true task in which a man thinks of nothing without thinking.

Now being in this limitation of human mind, and human body, I am here to reveal a truth about self. If you think that we can be pure, then ask how can we be pure? Do you think we can be pure by being completely selfless? Think carefully, No! What is being completely selfless. Siddhartha Gotama tried to be so. He didn't have food and went to the extreme of having his own faeces. Well, imagine a person who is extremely selfless. He does not hurt anyone, helps all with his ability, does not eat non-veg. But imagine, can he live without breaking a chemical bond in nature? Can he help anyone without helping himself? Can he live without food? No. 'Thus, the pure selflessness means silence or death'.

Thus readers, if you think it is holy to be in these extreme thoughts then you are wrong. If you think it is holy to be completely selfless, then that too is not true. And if you think it is good to keep such a concept to be a role model, then that too wouldn't help you.

Now what is truth? The Truth is to be Natural. To live naturally. Everybody knows what is good and bad. But rarely people think how good and bad are categorized. Good is something which helps the propagation of your species (humanity) to live ahead. While, bad is something which destroys your species. Thus, killing a good person is bad, but killing a bad person is good. Development is good if it is not 'bad' to human beings. Know that being bad to a single other species indirectly is bad to human species. Our nature is so framed that everything is webed together, so being good to yourself will not harm others! This knowledge of distinguishing good from bad is known as wisdom. Now, you will appreciate the importance of wisdom. Because only wisdom and following the good path according to the wisdom will bring peace.

You can be a master of it, anyone can. It is not a divine knowledge, or a miracle. It is logic. You need not strain yourself to gain this knowledge, but achieve it by just being practical. You can be a master of yourself, and you need not seek taking advices from others. This is the beauty of truth! It is simple yet has a lot of meaning.

This is the simple truth dear, neither theology nor extreme philosophies. Based on this truth we can move deeper into The Quest of Truth.

"love has bounds, even universe has bounds"


Saturday, November 22, 2008

General Awareness over the World Religions (Part 1)

As a reader of this Blog, it is better to have an idea about the various religions in the world, its philosophies, principles etc. One of the main intentions of this Blog is to help people think beyond the philosophies which they are mended by the society. When people are bound over a particular philosophy or theology, many times they ignore to think beyond the ideas which they are absorbed into. Having a general idea over the World Religions, its philosophies and theology may help the readers in broadening their mind and thus help them walk a step ahead In The Quest Of Truth.

Adherents.com, one of the world’s biggest religious portals lists around 43,351 groups. And remember, each and every group has different beliefs, rituals and philosophies. So, it is an enormous task to categorize and explain each and every sect and religion in this post. But, it is clear that our purpose here is not a detailed theological study but instead to understand and realize the fact that:
• Each and every person in a particular belief thinks that his/her faith is right
• Each and every faith contradict the other faith in at least one way
• This leads to a logical conclusion that a person in a particular faith has to believe that only his/her faith is completely ‘true’!

Some of you may feel this conclusion to be weird and if you feel so then either you are not aware of the world religions in detail or you are not a strict believer in your faith. To not be a strict believer in your faith just means that you are a hypocrite, bending your faith as you will so that it is compatible according to your need and the society. But, if you are a true believer in your religion ‘AND’ also have a comprehensive knowledge about the world religions, I must say that it would bring a few tough times in your life. And this tough time is the result of the confusion that will arise in you. It depends upon your nature on how you react with this confusion. Either you may take a bold step In The Quest of Truth, or be intolerant toward other religions. Both these journeys may take you to any extent. I shall cite a few examples in the coming posts on how religious intolerance, terrorism etc are related to the above mentioned conditions (i.e. being a true believer in your religion ‘AND’ also have a detailed knowledge about the world religions).

Actions are determined by Ignorance…” - Siddhartha Gautama (on the law of causation)

Dear Readers, now I attempt to give a general awareness of the world religions. One thing every religion (except a few) has in common is the concept of deity. In the beginning, I shall categories different thoughts based on this concept.

• Agnosticism:
It is simply a belief that we cannot prove either the existence or the non-existence of deity. So, it is a waste of time to argue or ponder about it.
o Agnostic theists: those who believe that a deity probably exists;
o Agnostic atheists: those who believe that it is very improbable that a deity exists.

• Apetheism:
The term is a portmanteau -- a combination of two words -- either "apathy" and "Theism" or "apathy and "Atheism." An Apatheist is a person who regards the existence of a God or Supreme Being as a relatively meaningless and irrelevant question. Unlike Theists, Agnostics, Atheists, etc, the unique feature of an Apatheist is that if it were possible to prove that God exists, their beliefs and behavior would not change. Similarly, there would be no change if someone proved that God does not exist.

• Atheism:
The lack of a belief that deity, in the form of one or more supernatural gods or goddesses, exists.



• Cosmicism:
It is philosophy developed by H.P. Lovecraft based on the insignificance and helplessness of humans, the absence of a deity, and the existence of "powerful beings and other cosmic forces" that are completely indifferent towards humanity.

• Deism:
Deism involves the belief in the existence of God, on purely rational grounds, without any reliance on revealed religion or religious authority.
o Do not accept the belief of most religions that God revealed himself to humanity through the writings of the Bible, the Qur'an or other religious texts.
o Disagree with Atheists who assert that there is no evidence of the existence of God.

"God is the power of first cause, nature is the law, and matter is the subject acted upon." - Thomas Paine


• Humanism:
It is a philosophy which in most cases embraces Agnosticism or Atheistic belief about the non-existence of a deity. But it goes further to create ethical systems based upon reason and logic. It regards humanity as the measure of all things. Humanists emphasize a belief in the importance of doing good in society.

Most Humanists share these following opinions:
• Either they do not believe in the existence of a deity, or they don't really care about the topic.
• They believe that excellent codes of behavior and morality can be created through reason.
• Humans created the Gods and Goddesses in their own image.
• They are very concerned about human rights and equal opportunities for all.
• They tend to be at the liberal end of the spectrum on such controversial topics as abortion access; equal rights for gays, lesbians and bisexuals; same-sex marriage, physician assisted suicide, etc.


• Monotheism:
Monotheists believe in one, indivisible God, and not to associate anything to worship with that indivisible God. Example: Islam and Judaism.

• Pantheism:
God and the Universe are the same.

• Polytheism:
They believe and worship more that one deity.

Below is a Chart which includes the major beliefs, statistics, practices etc of most of the Major Religions of the World. Going through this chart may help the reader in understanding the diversity in human culture and beliefs, thus letting them a step nearer to the Truth at least in their sub-conscious mind.

Religion/Sect/
Belief System
Origins & History
Adherents Worldwide (approx.)
God(s) and Universe
Human Situation and Life's Purpose
Afterlife
Practices
Texts
More Info
AladuraVarious prophet-healing churches founded since c.1918, West Nigeria. 1 million Generally monotheistic; a mix of Anglican, Pentecostal and traditional African beliefs. Strong emphasis on healing and salvation in this life through prayer, fasting and other rituals. Not emphasized; views vary. Spiritual healing is central. Mix of Anglican and African rituals; a prophet plays a prominent role. NoneReligionFacts article
Asatru


Revival of Norse and Germanic paganism, 1970s Scandinavia and USA. unknownPolytheistic, Norse gods and goddesses, Norse creation myths. Salvation or redemption not emphasized. Fatalistic view of universe. Valhalla (heaven) for death in battle; Hel (peaceful place) for most; Hifhel (hell) for the very evil. Sacrifice of food or drink, toast to the gods, shamanism (less frequently), celebration of solstice holidays. Nine Noble Virtues is moral code.

Eddas (Norse epics); the Havamal (proverbs attributed to Odin)ReligionFacts article

Asatru Alliance


Wikipedia
AtheismAppears in history, but especially after the Enlightenment (19th cent). 1.1 billion (this figure includes agnostic and non-religious, which tend to be grouped on surveys) There is no God or divine being. Beliefs about the universe generally based on latest scientific findings. Only humans can help themselves and each other solve the world's problems. nonenoneInfluential works include those by Marx, Freud, Feuerbach, and Voltaire.The Secular Web

BBC Religion


Wikipedia
Baha'i Faith


Founded by Bahá'u'lláh, 1863, Tehran, Iran. 5-7 million One God, who has revealed himself progressively through major world religions.The soul is eternal and essentially good. Purpose of life is to develop spiritually and draw closer to God.Soul separates from the body and begins a journey towards or away from God. Heaven and hell are states of being.Daily prayer, avoidance of intoxicants, scripture reading, hard work, education, work for social justice and equality.Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and other Bahá'í leadersReligionFacts section

The Baha'i World
BönIndigenous religion of Tibet. 100,000Nontheistic Buddhism, but meditation on peaceful and wrathful deities. Purpose is to gain enlightenment. Reincarnation until gain enlightenment Meditation on mandalas and Tibetan deities, astrology, monastic life. Bonpo canon ReligionFacts article

Tibet.com
Buddhism


Founded by Siddharta Gautama (the Buddha) in c. 520 BC, NE India. 360 million Varies: Theravada atheistic; Mahayana more polytheistic. Buddha taught nothing is permanent.Purpose is to avoid suffering and gain enlightenment and release from cycle of rebirth, or at least attain a better rebirth by gaining merit. Reincarnation (understood differently than in Hinduism, with no surviving soul) until gain enlightenment Meditation, mantras, devotion to deities (in some sects), mandalas (Tibetan) Tripitaka (Pali Canon); Mahayana sutras like the Lotus Sutra; others. ReligionFacts section

BuddhaNet
Religion/Sect/
Belief System
Origins & History
Adherents Worldwide (approx.)
God(s) and Universe
Human Situation and Life's Purpose
Afterlife
Practices
Texts
More Info
Cao Dai


Founded in 1926, Vietnam by Ngo Van Chieu and others based on a séance. 4-6 million God represented by Divine Eye. Founders of Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity venerated, and saints including Victor Hugo. Goal is peace and harmony in each person and in the world. Salvation by "cultivating self and finding God in self."Reincarnation. Bad karma can lead to rebirth on a darker planet; good karma to better life on earth. Eventual attainment of nirvana or heaven. Hierarchy similar to Roman Catholicism. Daily prayer. Meditation. Communication with spirit world (now outlawed in Vietnam). Caodai canon ReligionFacts article

CaoDai.org
Chinese Religion


Indigenous folk religion of China.394 million Dualistic yin and yang; mythological beings and folk deities. Purpose is a favorable life and peaceful afterlife, attained through rituals and honoring of ancestors. Judgment, then reincarnation or temporary hell until gain a Buddhist-type paradise.Ancestor worship, prayer, longevity practices , divination, prophecy and astrology, feng shui. NoneReligionFacts section

Chinese Cultural Studies
Chopra Center


Founded by Deepak Chopra in 1991, California unknownmonism - God or Supreme Reality pervades all things; all is unity Humans have limitless potential, but do not recognize this. Health and success can be had by focusing on whole self (mind, body, spirit). ReincarnationYoga, meditation, massage, nutrition, mindfulness, detox sessions, positive thinking. Deepak Chopra's many books, such as the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success ReligionFacts article

Official Website
Christianity (Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox)


Founded by Paul, and later people based on the principles of Jesus Christ in c. 30 AD, Israel. 2 billion One God who is a Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit All have sinned and are thereby separated from God. Salvation is through faith in Christ and, for some, sacraments and good works. Eternal heaven or hell (or temporary purgatory). Prayer, Bible study, baptism, Eucharist, church on Sundays, numerous holidays. The Holy Bible (Old and New Testaments) ReligionFacts section

Wikipedia


BBC Religion
Christian Science


Founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1879, Massachusetts. 150,000 - 400,000 One God. No Trinity (in traditional sense). Matter and evil do not exist. Salvation is "Life, Truth, and Love understood and demonstrated as supreme over all; sin, sickness and death destroyed."Heaven is "not a locality, but a divine state of Mind in which all the manifestations of Mind are harmonious and immortal."Spiritual healing through prayer and knowledge, Sunday services, daily Bible and Science & Health reading.Christian Bible, Science & Health with Key to the ScripturesReligionFacts article

Official Website
Confucianism


Founded by Confucius (551–479 BC), China 5-6 million Not addressed Purpose of life is to fulfill one's role in society with propriety, honor, and loyalty.Not addressed Honesty, politeness, propriety, humaneness, perform correct role in society, loyalty to family, nation AnalectsReligionFacts article

Wikipedia
Religion/Sect/
Belief System
Origins & History
Adherents Worldwide (approx.)
God(s) and Universe
Human Situation and Life's Purpose
Afterlife
Practices
Texts
More Info
Deism


Especially popularized in the 18th-cent. Enlightenment under Kant, Voltaire, Paine, Jefferson, and others unknownOne Creator God who is uninterested in the world. Reason is basis for all knowledge. Not addressedNot addressed None prescribed, although some deists practice prayer. Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason and similar texts World Union of Deists

Wikipedia
Druze


Al-Darazi in 11th century, Cairo, Egypt. Roots in the Isma'iliyya sect of Shia Islam.500,000Universal Intelligence (al-Aql al-Kulli) or Divine Essence (akin to Neoplatonism), of which al-Hakim is believed to be an incarnation. Live a good life for a favorable reincarnation. Await the re-appearance of al-Hakim (a Fatimid caliph who disappeared in 1021), who will usher in a Golden Age for true believers. Reincarnation. Heaven is a spiritual existence when one has escaped reincarnation. Hell is distance from God in lifetime after lifetime. Modest lifestyles, fasting before Eid al-Adha. Beliefs and practices are hidden for protection from persecution. Special group of initiates called uqqal. Al-Naqd al-Khafi (Copy of the Secret); Al-Juz'al-Awwal (Essence of the First)Wikipedia

Lexicorient
Eckankar


John Paul Twitchell in 1965, Las Vegas.50-500,000The Divine Spirit, called "ECK" "Each of us is Soul, a spark of God sent to this world to gain spiritual experience." Salvation is liberation and God-realization. Reincarnation. The Soul is eternal by nature and on a spiritual journey. Liberation possible in a single lifetime. Spiritual Exercises of ECK: mantras, meditation, and dreams. These enable Soul travel and spiritual growth. Shariyat-Ki-Sugmad and books by Harold Klemp ReligionFacts article

Official Website
Epicureanism


Epicurus in c.300 BC, Athens. unknownA deistic sort of polytheism: the gods exist, but take no notice of humans. Materialism: everything is made of atoms, including gods and the soul. No afterlife. The soul dissolves when the body dies. Pursue the highest pleasures (friendship and tranquility) and avoid pain. Letters and Principal Doctrines of Epicurus ReligionFacts article

Epicurus.net
Falun Gong


Li Hongzhi in 1992 in China 10 million Countless gods and spiritual beings. The Falun (wheel) is an energy source located in the navel. Goal is spritual transcendence, achieved by practicing Falun Gong. Not addressed Five exercises to strengthen the Falun. Cultivation of truthfulness, benevolence and forbearance. Zhuan Falun and other writings by Master LiReligionFacts article

Falundafa.org
Gnosticism


Various teachers including Valentinus, 1st-2nd cents. AD ancient form extinct; small modern revival groups The supreme God is unknowable; the creator god is evil and matter is evil. Humans can return to the spiritual world through secret knowledge of the universe. Return to the spiritual world.Asceticism, celibacy Gnostic scriptures including various Gospels and Acts attributed to apostles. Wikipedia

Gnosis.org
Greek Religion


Variety of religions of ancient Greeks ancient form extinct Olympic pantheon (Zeus, etc.) mixed with eastern deities like Isis and Cybele Human life is subject to the whim of the gods and to Fate; these can be controlled through sacrifice and divination. Beliefs varied from no afterlife to shadowy existence in the underworld to a paradise-like afterlife (mainly in mystery religions). Animal sacrifice, harvest offerings, festivals, games, processions, dance, plays, in honor of the gods. Secret initiations and rituals in mystery religions. Epic poems of Homer and Hesiod. ReligionFacts section

Wikipedia


Ancient Greek Religion
Religion/Sect/
Belief System
Origins & History
Adherents Worldwide (approx.)
God(s) and Universe
Human Situation and Life's Purpose
Afterlife
Practices
Texts
More Info
Hare Krishna



Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, 1966, USA (with roots in 15th-century Hindu movement) 250,000-1 million Krishna is the Supreme God. Salvation from this Age of Kali is by a return to Godhead, accomplished through Krishna-Consciousness. Reincarnation until unite with the Godhead. Chanting, dancing, evangelism, vegetarianism, temple worship, monastic-style living. The Bhagavad-Gita As It Is ReligionFacts article

ISKCON.com


Krishna.com
Hinduism


Indigenous religion of India as developed to present day. 900 million One Supreme Reality (Brahman) manifested in many gods and goddesses Humans are in bondage to ignorance and illusion, but are able to escape. Purpose is to gain release from rebirth, or at least a better rebirth. Reincarnation until gain enlightenment. Yoga, meditation, worship (puja), devotion to a god or goddess, pilgrimage to holy cities, live according to one's dharma (purpose/ role). The Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana, etc. ReligionFacts section

BBC Religion
Islam


Believes that it existed from the beginning of humanity. Thus, respects all the prophets including Abraham, Moses, Jesus etc. Muhammad is believed to be the seal of prophets, 622 AD, Saudi Arabia 1.3 billion.
*Fastest Growing Religion in the world.
God, One and Only, Absolute and eternal, who beget not nor is begotten, Creator of the Universe, often accompanied by words Most Gracious and Most Merciful
(Allah in Arabic).
Humans must submit (Islam) to the will of God to gain Paradise after death.The sole purpose of humanity is to worship God in every walk of hi/her life.
Paradise or Hell. Five Pillars: Faith, Prayer, Alms, Pilgrimage, Fasting. Mosque services on Fridays. Ablutions before prayer. No alcohol or pork. Holidays related to the pilgrimage and fast of Ramadan. jihad - struggle for Self Purification.
Books given to Abraham, Moses (Torah), David (Psalms), Jesus (Injil) and Muhammad (Qur'an).(Scripture); Hadith (tradition)ReligionFacts section

BBC Religion

IslamiCity
Jainism


Mahavira, c. 550 BC, eastern India 4 million The universe is eternal; many gods exist. Gods, humans and all living things are classified in a complex hierarchy. The soul is uncreated and eternal and can attain perfect divinity. Purpose is to gain liberation from cycle of rebirth, by avoiding all bad karma, especially by causing no harm to any sentient being. Reincarnation until liberation.Monasticism under the Five Great Vows (Non-Violence, Truth, Celibacy, Non-Stealing, Non-Possessiveness); worship at temples and at home. Meditation and mantras. The teachings of Mahavira in various collections.ReligionFacts section

BBC Religion


Jainworld.com
Jehovah's Witnesses


Charles Taze Russell, 1879, Pittsburgh 6.5 million One God, Jehovah. No Trinity - Christ is the first creation of God; the Holy Spirit is a force. Salvation is through faith in Christ and obeying Jehovah's laws. The End of the World is soon. Heaven for 144,000 chosen Witnesses, eternity on new earth for other Witnesses. All others annihilated. No hell. No blood transfusions, no celebration of holidays, no use of crosses or religious images. Baptism, Sunday service at Kingdom Hall, strong emphasis on evangelism.New World Translation of the ScripturesReligionFacts section

Official Website


BBC Religion
Religion/Sect/
Belief System
Origins & History
Adherents Worldwide (approx.)
God(s) and Universe
Human Situation and Life's Purpose
Afterlife
Practices
Texts
More Info
Judaism


The religion of the Hebrews (c. 1300 BC), especially after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD. 14 million One God, Yahweh. Obey God's commandments, live ethically. Focus is more on this life than the next. Not historically emphasized. Beliefs vary from no afterlife to shadowy existence to the World to Come (similar to heaven). Circumcision at birth, bar/bat mitzvah at adulthood. Synagogue services on Saturdays. No pork or other non-kosher foods. Holidays related to historical events. Bible (Tanakh), Talmud ReligionFacts section

Judaism 101


BBC Religion
Mayan Religion



c.250 AD (rise of the Mayan civilization) Historically, up to 2 million. Some survival today. Many gods, including Itzamná, Kukulcán, Bolon Tzacab, and Chac Appease and nourish the gods; determine luckiest dates for various activities. The soul journeys through dark and threatening underworld; but sacrificial victims and women who die in childbirth go to heaven. Astronomy, divination, human sacrifice, elaborate burial for royalty, worship in stone pyramid-temples Dresden, Madrid, and Paris codices; Books of Chilam Balam; Popol Vuh; The Ritual of the BacabsReligionFacts article
Mormonism (LDS)


Joseph Smith, 1830, New York 12.2 millionGod the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate individual beings Humans existed as spirits before this life, salvation is returning to God. Salvation by faith in Christ, good works, ordinances, and evangelism.All return to spirit world for period of instruction before resurrection. Mormons to heaven with God and families; others rewarded but not with God; hell for those who reject God after death. Abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea; baptism for the dead; eternal marriage; temple garments under daily clothes; active evangelism. Christian Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great PriceReligionFacts section

Official Website


BBC Religion
New Age Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Annie Besant in the 19th C, Alice A. Bailey (1880-1949), flourished in 1970s and 80s 5 million (very approximate) The Divine is an impersonal life force that pervades all things Dawning of a New Age of heightened consciousness and international peace. Individuals can obtain a foretaste of the New Age through spiritual transformation ("Ascension"). More emphasis on the latter now. Evil comes from ignorance. Reincarnation based on karma Astrology; mysticism; use of crystals; yoga; tarot readings; holistic medicine; psychic abilities; angelic communications; channeling; amulets; fortune-telling Works of a variety of New Age writers Beliefnet

Religious Movements Homepage
New Thought


Phineas Parkhurst Quimby (1802-66) and others, late 19th century, USA. 160,000Generally monism (all is One), but members might be theists, pantheists or panentheists. God is immanent; the universe is essentially spiritual. Man is divine, essentially spirit, and has infinite possibility. Mind can control the body. Sin and sickness caused by incorrect thinking. Man can live in oneness with God in love, truth, peace, health, and prosperity."Life is eternal in the invisible kingdom of God." Emphasis on spiritual and mental healing, but without rejection of modern medicine. Worship services; prayer for the sick; discussion of New Thought authors and ideas. Writings of Quimby (such as the The Quimby Manuscripts) and other New Thought authors ReligionFacts article

International New Thought Alliance


Religious Movements Homepage
Religion/Sect/
Belief System
Origins & History
Adherents Worldwide (approx.)
God(s) and Universe
Human Situation and Life's Purpose
Afterlife
Practices
Texts
More Info
Rastafari


Teachings of Marcus Garvey (1920s, Jamaica) and coronation of Haile Selassie (1930, Ethiopia) 1 million God is Jah, who became incarnate in Jesus (who was black) and Haile Selassie. Humans are temples of Jah. Salvation is primarily in this world and consists of liberation from oppression and return to Africa. Some Rastas will experience "everliving" (physical immortality). Heaven is a return to Eden, which is in Africa. Many practices based on Jewish biblical Law. Abstinence from most or all meat, artificial foods, and alcohol. Use of marijuana in religious rituals and for medicine. Wearing of dreadlocks. Holy Piby (the "Blackman's Bible). The Ethiopian epic Kebra Negast also revered. ReligionFacts article

The Afrocentric Experience


Jamaicans.com
Scientology


L. Ron Hubbard, 1954, California70,000 or several million, depending on the sourceGod(s) not specified; reality explained in the Eight Dynamics Human consists of body, mind and thetan; capable of great things.
Gain spiritual freedom by ridding mind of engrams.
ReincarnationAuditing, progressing up various levels until "clear". Focus on education and drug recovery programs. Writings of Hubbard, such as Dianetics and Scientology ReligionFacts section

Official Website


Beliefnet
Seventh-day Adventists


Rooted in Millerite movement; Ellen White was main leader; founded 1863 in New England10 million [source] One God who is a Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit Second Coming of Christ is imminent; salvation is by faith in Christ; emphasis on quality of life both now and in afterlife A "peaceful pause" after death until the coming of Christ, then resurrection to judgment and eternity in heaven or hell Sabbath observance on Saturdays; healthful lifestyle; baptism by immersion Bible only; but later prophets like Ellen White are authoritative when tested against Scriptures ReligionFacts article

Official Website


Beliefnet
Shinto


Indigenous religion of Japan. 3-4 million Polytheism based on the kami, ancient gods or spirits. Humans are pure by nature and can keep away evil through purification rituals and attain good things by calling on the kami. Death is bad and impure. Some humans become kami after death. Worship and offerings to kami at shrines and at home. Purification rituals. Important texts are Kojiki or 'Records of Ancient Matters' and Nihon-gi or 'Chronicles of Japan' ReligionFacts article

Wikipedia


Japan Guide


BBC Religion
Religion/Sect/ Belief System
Origins & History
Adherents Worldwide (approx.)
God(s) and Universe
Human Situation and Life's Purpose
Afterlife
Practices
Texts
More Info
Sikhism


Guru Nanak, c. 1500 AD, Punjab, India. 23 million One God (Ik Onkar, Nam)Overcome the self, align life with will of God, and become a "saint soldier," fighting for good. Reincarnation until resolve karma and merge with God.Prayer and meditation on God's name, services at temple (gurdwara), turban and five Ks. Balance work, worship, and charity. No monasticism or asceticism. Adi Granth (Sri Guru Granth Sahib)ReligionFacts section

Sikhs.org


SikhNet.com
Spiritualism, a.k.a. SpiritismModern movement: c.1850, USA, UK, France11 millionBeliefs vary, but generally based in a Christian worldview.Body and spirit are separate entities. Morality and contact with spirits affect afterlife.A spiritual existence with access to the living. Condition depends on morality of life and advancement is possible.Sunday services. Seances and other communication with departed spirits. Spirit healing.No authoritative texts. Doctrine learned from spirit guides (advanced departed spirits).Encyclopedia Britannica

National Spiritualist Association of Churches


Adherents.com
StoicismZeno in c.313 BC, Athens. unknownPantheism: the logos pervades the universe. Purpose is happiness, achieved by virtue, i.e., living reasonably. Possible continued existence of the Soul, but not a personal existence. Ethical and philosophical training, self-reflection, careful judgment and inner calm. Fragments of founders plus later writers like Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius. ReligionFacts article

Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Taoism


Lao-Tzu, c. 550 BC, China. 20 million
(394 million adherents of Chinese religion)
Pantheism - the Tao pervades all. Yin-yang - opposites make up a unity. Purpose is inner harmony, peace, and longevity. Acheived by living in accordance with the Tao. Revert back to state of non-being, which is simply the other side of being. General attitude of detachment and non-struggle, "go with the flow" of the Tao. Tai-chi, acupuncture, and alchemy to help longevity.Tao Te Ching, Chuang-TzuReligionFacts section

Taopage.org


Beliefnet
Unification Church


Sun Myung Moon, 1954, South Korea. Over 1 million (3 million acc. to official sources) Monotheism, with the duality of God (esp. masculine and feminine) emphasized. No Trinity doctrine. Purpose is true love and world peace instead of selfish love. True love and the kingdom of God on earth will be restored by the creation of "true families." Eternal life in a spirit world. Blessing Ceremony The Divine Principle (1954) by Rev. Moon. ReligionFacts article

Official website
Unitarian Universalism


Formal merger of Unitarians and Universalists in 1961, USA.800,000 Not specified. Members might believe in one God, many gods, or no God. Salvation is "spiritual health or wholeness." Members seek "inner and outer peace," insight, health, compassion and strength.Not specified. Some believe in an afterlife, some do not. Very few believe in hell - "Universalism" indicates the belief that all will be saved. Ceremonies for marriages, funerals, etc. Church services have elements from various religions. Emphasis on civil rights, social justice, equality and environment. Most UUs are anti-death penalty and pro-gay rights. Many sacred texts are revered by various members; some none at all. The Bible is the most commonly used text. ReligionFacts article

UUA.org
Wicca


Based on ancient pagan beliefs, but modern form founded early 1900s. Founder generally said to be Gerald Gardner. 1-3 million Polytheism, centered on the Goddess and God, each in various forms; also a belief in a Supreme Being over all "If it harms none, do what you will."Reincarnation until reach the SummerlandPrayer, casting a circle, Drawing Down the Moon, reciting spells, dancing, singing, sharing cakes and wine or beerNo sacred text; foundational texts include The Witch Cult in Western Europe and The God of the WitchesReligionFacts article

Wicca.org


Wikipedia
Zoroastrianism


Zoroaster in c.6th cent. BC, Persia. Official religion of ancient Persia. May have influenced Judaism and Vedic religion. c. 200,000 One God, Ahura Mazda, but a dualistic worldview in which an evil spirit, Angra Mainyu, is almost as powerful. Humans are free to do good or evil, must choose the side of good. Judgement followed by heaven or hell. Hell is temporary until final purgation and return to Ahura Mazda. Good deeds, charity, equality, hard work. Zend Avesta ReligionFacts article

BBC Religion


WZO
Religion/Sect/
Belief System
Origins & History
Adherents Worldwide (approx.)
God(s) and Universe
Human Situation and Life's Purpose
Afterlife
Practices
Texts
More Info



As some of the readers have complained of lengthy posts, I hereby reduce the length by dividing the posts into many parts. It would be rather a big mistake from my side if I hadn’t given at least this much information regarding the World religions, which were evolved possibly from the advent of Human Beings. This part was largely focused on categorizing the World religions in its faith over a deity and also to give a very vague idea about its principles and practices. In the upcoming posts I shall bring some important points to be thought regarding some of the large World religions (which embrace the majority of human population) and some common paradoxes, issues related to its faith, system, beliefs, founders and philosophies.
(To be continued…)