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The Postmodern Catholic

Unit III Notes Hinduism

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Sacred Paths
Homeworks and Outline: Sacred Paths
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Reading Guide Questions Taoism
Homeworks: and Outline: Introduction to Catholicism
Unit IV Moses Reluctant Hero
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The Mass, Vestements, and Sacred Vessels
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Iona Prep Interfaith Society
Islam Notes

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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

Moksha (Liberation)….renunciation

Are these not typical life-stages?

A. Kama

Pursuit of pleasure within the constraints of appropriate morality

Kama Sutra…tantrism

The end result proves dissatisfying b/c the individual seeks only to fill the self

B. Artha

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."

C. Dharma

Call to Service…the individual has left the stage of the will-to-get (meaninglessness) and entered the will-to-give (meaning)

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.

D. Moksha

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 potential


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)

Ritual offerings

The community worships a deity in a mandir (temple)


Ritual offerings

A puja



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


The Caste


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)

Chakra 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

4. Anihata…heart…love…compassion

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

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D. “The more I am able to affirm others, to say ‘yes” to them in myself, by discovering them in myself and myself in them, the more real I am. I am fully real if my own heart says yes to everyone” Thomas Merton