1. Three Approaches to Religious Pluralism
Intolerant of other faiths
JWs, Born-Agains, Fundamentalists
Tolerant of other faiths, but there is only one true religion
All religions are equal and true
Because Hinduism has many paths itself, it tends to present itself as a pluralistic religion
It is, in reality, a collection of similar religious traditions
2. The Goals
Kama (sensual pleasure)…desire
Artha (wealth, fame, power)….desire
Dharma (Call to Service)…renunciation
Are these not typical life-stages?
Pursuit of pleasure within the constraints of appropriate morality
The end result proves dissatisfying b/c the individual seeks only to fill the self
Worldly success…fame, wealth, power
Like pleasure, worldly success proves to be unfulfilling b/c the self is insatiable
World’s oldest literate religion
c. 3,000 BCE
Predominately in India…85% of the population
In US & Western cultures, the Krishna Consciousness of the 70s and the Yoga influx of the 90s have popularized Hinduism
creating a watered-down version
Plato: "Poverty consists, not in the decrease of one’s possessions, but in the increase of one’s greed."
Call to Service…the individual has left the stage of the will-to-get (meaninglessness) and entered the will-to-give
Kama and artha focus on the self, while dharma focuses on the community
The goals of each path progressively move away from the self (ego) towards others.
Beyond the previous goals, eventually people (not all) come to realize that they want Absolute…
Being: our physical bodies cease to exist
Knowledge: our minds are finite
Joy: we become bored, disappointed, and experience pain
Pain…can be overcome through intense focus
Disappointment…can be overcome if expectations are lowered and perceptions are expanded to others and not limited
to the self
Boredom…can be overcome if we take interest in others
There is so much more to our minds than we give credit. Directed meditation can free the mind and allow it to reach its
Our (B)being (not bodies) are infinite
Similar to Aquinas’ view that all are interconnected b/c they participate in God’s Being
3. Four Paths to Liberation
Path = Yoga
Yoga…"method of training designed to lead to integration or union of the human spirit with God."
God = Brahman: characteristics?
Monistic…universal essence, Source and Ground of Being
Theistic…characterized by one of the many Hindu deities
A. Jnana Yoga …the way to God through knowledge
B. Bhakti Yoga …the way to God through love (devotion) (Christianity often seen as a Bhakti path to God
C. Karma Yoga …the way to God through selfless works (Does Christianity fit here?)
D. Raja Yoga …the way to God through meditation, contemplation and physical exercises
Hinduism: Basic Tenets
Respect for life: very incarnational
Ganges: giver of life, cleanser of karma
Samsara…wheel of rebirth. Also means worldly and individual suffering
Karma…moral law of cause and effect. Our thoughts, emotions, and actions in this life determine our form
in the next
Dharma…duty, or teaching leading to Selflessness
Nirvana…This ultimately leads to nirvana..the release and extinguishing of the self
A. Jnana Yoga
Shedding of the ego to realize the Eternal Self (Atman) and be one with Brahman
Intense study of the sacred scriptures:
B. Bhakti Yoga
Devotion to the gods and goddesses
Each deity is an expression of Brahman
A family can worship a deity in their home with a puja (shrine)
The community worships a deity in a mandir (temple)
Vishnu…preserver Hindu Trinity
Kali…goddess of death and alleviator of fears
Ganesha…god of prosperity and remover of obstacles
Durga…goddess of balance
Krishna…avatar (incarnated divine being)
C. Karma Yoga
All work within one’s life is done for selfless purposes
The Blessed Lord said: "As the ignorant men act from attachment to action, O Arjuna, so should the wise act without attachment,
wishing the welfare of the world.
-Bhagavad Gita, ch.3, Verse 25.
Mother Theresa…Ghandi’s struggle to free India and the harijan
D. Raja Yoga
Stretching, bending, balancing and sitting exercises. Breathing exercises that aim to control the mind.
Withdrawing the attention from the body and the senses by focusing on the body.
Concentration of the mind.
Uninterrupted contemplation of Reality.
Chakras (Seven Levels of Energy)
comes from the Sanskrit, "circle"
The body is seen as an energy field w/ seven levels, each representing a specific power center
When chakra energy is blocked, spiritual development is hindered and emotional/physical difficulties germinate
A person can channel through the chakras
1. Muladhara …coccyx…material security…physical base
2. Svadhisthana…sex organs…identity and sexuality
3. Manipura…solar plexus…power-center
5. Vishudda…throat and vocal chords…finding our true voice
6. Ajna…center of forehead…"Third Eye"…vision…wisdom…no more duality
7. Soma…Thousand-Petaled Lotus Flower…Crown Region…Spiritual Connection