When studying the different religions of the world we tend of focus on the distinctions between these religions and understanding what makes them unique, however it is important to note that although these religions are distinct and unique in their own way, there are common themes and structures that can be applied to them. Some of the common elements present in the different religions that we will be studying this semester are:
Sacred Scriptures and Sacred Writings
Divinely inspired writings that contain origins of the religion, essential beliefs, and major teachings. Some religions also revere writings of prominent figures throughout their history who have contributed to expounding the theology of the religion (ex: writings of the Christian saints)
Beliefs and Practices
Tenets of the religion that unify its community of believers on a variety of topics ranging from their relationship with the divine, soteriology, creation, eschatology, anthropology, etc.
Prayer and Worship
Liturgical practices that believers of the faith participate in throughout their daily lives. Some liturgical practices and rituals of prayer are performed in conjunction with the celebration of religious festivals at particular times of the week (ex: Sabbath) or times of the year (ex: Christmas)
Morality – Code of Ethics
Guiding principles that adherents of the faith abide by throughout their lives informed by the theology of the religion
Understanding how the religion was established and the advances of the religion throughout human history that shape the global image of the religion today while also recognizing changes in theology that have occurred throughout history due to major historical events
In your reading of Chapter 5 – Encouraging Buddhism: The Middle Path to Liberation you have gained a better understanding of what the religion of Buddhism is all about from the context of its history, beliefs and practices, code of ethics, etc. You will now use the information gleaned in the chapter to expand upon particular elements of Buddhism enumerated below:
Buddhist Symbols and Names (.5 pages)
Identify a common Buddhist symbol and explain its significance
Consider the following:
History/Origins of the symbol
Important religious figure(s) associated with the symbol and their involvement with it
How is the symbol utilized by Buddhists today?
Is it used during prayer/worship?
Is it worm as an outward sign of faith?
Distinguish between the terms ‘Buddhism’ and ‘The Buddha’ as it relates to the religion itself.
Life of the Siddhartha Gautama (.5-1 pages)
Discuss who Siddhartha Gautama was and the impact that he had on Buddhism.
Describe 3 key events from Siddhartha Gautama’s life.
Address how these events are commemorated by Buddhists today.
Beliefs and Practices (2 – 3 pages)
Throughout his life, Siddhartha Gautama did not record any of his teachings, but he is known for his influential sermons and the discussions that he had with his fellow monks. These sermons were transmitted orally for centuries before they were finally committed to writing by several different Buddhist groups. One of the most famous of The Buddha’s discourses is his first discourse titled Setting in Motion the Wheel of Dhamma and in this discourse he outlines two ideas that would become the foundation of all Buddhist thought: The Four Noble Truths and The Noble Eightfold Path.
Interpret the meaning of each of the Four Noble Truths (1-1.5 pages)
All life is suffering.
The Cause of Suffering is desire.
To end desire is to end suffering.
to end desire, one must follow the Noble Eightfold Path.
Articulate the significance of each of the aspects of The Noble Eightfold Path listed below and demonstrate how Buddhists believe that following these practical techniques will help them to achieve nirvana (1-1.5 pages)
Right Thought (Intention)
Right Concentration (Contemplation)
When completing this written report, the following guidelines must be followed. Failure to do so will result in points being deducted from your grade.
This report must be typed in 12 pt. Times New Roman font & double-spaced.
Each section of the report must include a section title on a separate line (ex: Buddhists Symbols, Beliefs and Practices, etc.)
Each section must incorporate at least 2 direct quotations from wither the course text (World RELG4: Introduction to World Religions) or one of the databases/encyclopedias available through St. Thomas University Library with an appropriate citation.
The paper should be formatted per current CMOS and adhere to the page length requirements outlined above.
Your paper will be assessed through Turnitin.
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