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Religious Studies Paper

by: Solomon Dana

Religious Studies Paper Rlst 110

Solomon Dana

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About this Document

My RLST paper, prompt #2
World Religions
Professor Ebel
Class Notes
Religious Studies, Paper
25 ?




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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Solomon Dana on Sunday March 6, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Rlst 110 at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign taught by Professor Ebel in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 133 views. For similar materials see World Religions in Humanities and Social Sciences at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Date Created: 03/06/16
Solomon Dana 2/27/16 Section ADE RLST 110: Paper #1, Prompt 2 The sacred texts The Upanishads discuss the Hindu religious teachings of life and rebirth, as well as their unique beliefs of deities. To start off, the texts describe a dialogue between two in which a man asks a Hindu philosopher – Yajnavalkya ­ how many gods exist. To this question,  he responds “Three and three hundred, and three and three thousand,” upon further questioning  the philosopher responds again “Thirty­three,” and then eventually gets worked down to stating  there is one god. When asked who the three and three thousand gods are, the philosopher replies  “They are only the powers of the gods.” As the man questions further he finds that the gods  represent the multiple facets of the one god, Brahman, who represents breath, or the life force of  the world. When compared to the religion of Buddhism that also stemmed from this region of Asia,  it’s astounding to see the stark comparison in the two beliefs. On the one hand, the Hindu  religion teaches that there although there are many gods, there is only one true god that exists in  the ultimate reality. So although it would seem that Hinduism is a radically polytheistic religion  with their roughly 330 million gods, in reality Hinduism teaches this “the one and the many”  approach – causing some to argue that Hinduism could be regarded as a henotheistic or even  monotheistic religion. However on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, the complexity  that lies within Buddhism is that although to most outside cultures it would appear as if  Buddhists worship the Buddha; however in reality Buddhism isn’t so much as a culture as it is a  way of life or a philosophy, where the Buddha isn’t a deity but rather he is a symbol of the  Enlightenment that all wish to reach.  Also in The Upanishads, the idea of samsara – death and rebirth – is discussed. In  this chapter of the text, a man discusses how a reincarnation works, “As a caterpillar… reaches out to a new foothold and draws itself on it, so the self...reaches out to a new  foothold and draws itself onto it.” He goes on stating that although it may seem that a  man is made up of his senses and tangible elements, in reality what makes a man are his  actions and how he conducts himself; this is the teaching of atman – the eternal self or  soul. The man continues, “If his actions are good, he will turn into something good. If his actions are bad, he will turn into something bad.” This outlines the Hindu teaching of  karma, that all actions will have an equal consequence to be paid either in this life or in  upcoming lives. Finally, the man states: “a man who does not desire­who is without  desires…whose only desire is his self…Brahman he is, and to brahman he goes.” This is  the teaching of moksha – the liberation from samsara – once you have freed yourself  from desire then your atman returns to Brahman.  Similar to the teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism teaches that through the Four  Noble Truths that desire is the cause of all suffering, and that in order to release yourself  from this suffering one must follow the Eightfold Path. However where Buddhism and  Hinduism diverge is on the topic of that atman. Where Hinduism teaches that everyone  has an eternal soul, Buddhism preaches anatman – the doctrine of No­Self. Instead of  having a single and unchangeable soul that progresses through multiple lives, Buddhists  believe that we are impermanent, thus we are each a shifting version of our previous  selves changing and shifting in relation to multiple different phenomena. 


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