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Philosophy of Religion

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Philosophy of Religion

In the book of Acts chapter 9, verses 3-9 the text speaks of the life altering experience that Saul undergoes while traveling into the city of Damascus. As he road into Damascus a light shined on him from heaven which caused him to fall to the ground. As he fell to the earth he heard a voice that questioned his loyalty to the lord, Jesus Christ. The voice that interrogated him on his prior persecution was that of the Christ. Overwhelmed and frightened by the unexpected encounter with which he was experiencing he replied to the voice by asking what he could do to obtain forgiveness for his disloyalty. The voice replied by instructing him to continue onto Damascus, where he would be given further instruction. The men that were journeying with Saul were also astonished by the absence of a man to accompany the voice that they had previously heard. All of the men continued their journey into Damascus where Saul was without sight and did not eat or drink as well for three days. As the story persists the instruction that Saul would eventually receive was to become a messenger for Christ and relay his teachings to the world.

What draws me away from Islam and Judaism? Why can't I understand Buddhism or Hinduism? Why am I not a Christian? Well, mainly because what happened to the Apostle Paul (at this point still Saul) on the road to Damascus, as related above, has never happened to me, and I've even been to Damascus, by three different roads, and to the traditional spot were Paul is supposed to have entered the city. But don't most people become immersed in their religion without such an experience? Yes, but perhaps they don't have as much to overcome as did Paul, or me. On the other hand, do I think it is possible to have an experience like Paul's? Yes. Do I think that religion is an effective institution worthy of membership? Yes. Then what is there to overcome? Ay, there's the rub.

Most people want to make it through life with some degree of success, some sense that they did it right. In attempting to live the "right" life the choice to make religion a tenet of one's life philosophy is normally seen as a good move. Next one much chose a religion that is rightfully suited for them. But what religious doctrine am I in agreement with? In order to make this decision one must study several different religions. Ensuing my study of several different religions I have found the teachings of the four most popular religions of the world to be impressive. The fourth largest religion in the world is Buddhism. Buddhists do not worship any gods or God. People outside of Buddhism often think that Buddhists worship the Buddha. However, the Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) never claimed to be divine, but rather he is viewed by Buddhists as having attained what they are also striving to attain, which is spiritual enlightenment and, with it, freedom from the continuous cycle of life and death. Most Buddhists believe a person has countless rebirths, which inevitably include suffering. A Buddhist seeks to end these rebirths. Buddhists believe it is a person's cravings, aversion and delusion that cause these rebirths. Therefore, the goal of a Buddhist is to purify one's heart and to let go of all yearnings toward sensual desires and the attachment to oneself. Buddhists follow a list of religious principles and very dedicated meditation. When a Buddhist meditates it is not the same as praying or focusing on a god, it is more of a self-discipline. Through practiced meditation a person may reach Nirvana -- "the blowing out" of the flame of desire. Buddhism provides something that is true of most world religions: disciplines, values and directives that a person may want to live by.

Hinduism is the third largest practiced religion in the world. Hinduism is also generally regarded as the world's oldest organized religion. Most Hindus worship infinite representations of ultimate oneness (Brahman) through a multitude of gods and goddesses, over 300,000 of them. These various manifestations of gods and goddesses become incarnate within idols, temples, gurus, rivers, animals, etc. Hindus see their position in this present life as based on their actions in a previous life. If their behavior before was evil, they might experience tremendous hardships in this life. A Hindu's goal is to become free from the law of karma in order to be free from continuous reincarnations. There are three possible ways to end this cycle of karma. First be lovingly devoted to any of the Hindu gods or goddesses. Second grow in knowledge through meditation of Brahman (oneness) in order to realize that circumstances in life are not real, that selfhood is an illusion and only Brahman is real. And lastly to be dedicated to various religious ceremonies and rites. In Hinduism, a person has the freedom to choose how to work toward

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