Essay, Research Paper: College Paper On Religion

Religion

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The idea of “religare” or binding oneself back to one’s religion is key to
many religions. In Christianity, we bind our selves back to the truth unveiled
through scripture, myths, tradition, and the church’s teachings. Hinduism,
however has a much different interpretation of the idea of binding oneself back.
There really is not a whom or what that I can put my finger on. We all came from
one God and we must get back to God. But how can one go about doing that? A
Hindu would say to free ourselves from the desires and illusions present here on
Earth. To free ourselves from the material possessions and pleasures would be to
obtain Moksha. Moksha, for Hindus, would be the point of freedom and the
attachment to Brahman. In a way this is extremely ironic, for in the act of
binding oneself back, a Hindu would obtain liberation. To me, these terms seem
directly contradictory, however, this is proof to the fact that our minds cannot
understand certain aspects of religion, and that we are limited. The goal of a
Hindu is to release themselves, but also to gain a complete understanding of
life. By doing this, they are freed from the continuous cycle of reincarnation.
There are, as Huston Smith tells us, four paths to the goal. The yogas are the
specific direction taken to unleash the human potential of Moksha. The goal of
the yogas is to come in to and remain in touch with Brahman. The first way to
God is through knowledge. The three steps taken on this path is learning,
thinking, and the third, a little more complex, consists of separating one’s
material ego form one’s Atman. The second way to God is through love. The love
we show to others can be translated into a love for God. The third path to God
is though work. Through a devotion to one’s work, God can be seen through the
highest rewards if done so wisely. The final Hindu path to God is through
Psychophysical Exercises. In this way, a Hindu experiments with mental exercises
and observing their effects. Not all Hindus take the same path to God, but the
goal is identical. The Buddha made much reform to the path to God. Well, not so
much a reform as perhaps an alternate route. He called this the Middle Path. A
way between sensuality and asceticism, the Middle Path lay through intelligence.
The main revolutionary idea behind the Buddha’s teachings was that he rejected
asceticism, which at that time had been a popular belief and a socially approved
route to salvation. Not only did he reject self-denial, but the worship of gods.
In his renowned Eightfold Path, there is never any mention of worship. Also, he
refuted the idea that one had to pass through countless rebirths to reach the
Brahmin caste before being able to obtain salvation. For this very reason,
Buddhism ultimately failed in India, because of the widespread control by the
Brahmins. The most challenging concept for the Hindus to except was that the
Buddha taught that the soul did not exist. Hindus thought that the Atman, or
soul, was actually God. The Buddha reasoned that if the soul is purely God, the
it is not individual and therefore is an An-Atman, or no soul. The achievement
of liberation then for Buddhist takes form in Nirvana. Nirvana occurs when
people release their yearning for a false selfhood, which is similar to
Hinduism. Paradoxically, as with Hinduism, the act of extinguishing this
yearning occurs simultaneously with an enlightenment. Studying Hinduism and
Buddhism has been surely an enlightenment for me. To my amazement, Hinduism
actually addresses a few questions I have had before. I’ve wondered about the
way life is connected and how life is a flowing circle of life and death.
Hinduism is based primarily on the idea of Brahman and that everything is one.
The idea that material positions are basically meaningless is something that I
dread to think about, because I am most certaintly a victim of todays society
based on wealth and power. It infuriates me to think that my possessions are
meaningless, but for some reason I am drawn to these teachings of Hinduism. The
majority of teachings of all the religions we have studied so far has made sense
to me, and this is the most puzzling conclusion I am faced with. What does this
mean? I have found something here and I am utterly confused. How the heck can
more than one religion make sense to me? It is almost as though I could draw
parts form different religions and form something new and rounded. This of
course is a ludicrous idea, for thousands of years of traditions stand in my
way. I just wish there would be some way to wipe the slate clean and rework the
idea of God in a complete universal sense. I sometimes have the tendency to view
our ancestors and traditions to be inhibiting us from reaching some far off
realization that no Buddha or Brahmin or anyone has ever obtained. In
Conclusion, I do wish to continue studying religions beyond high school maybe it
will lead me to some discovery.
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