Monday, February 11, 2008
Comparative Religion Essay
Rev. Linda Muhammad
The study of Comparative Religion was a journey in self awareness for me. It helped broaden my insight about the similarities that exist between most religious organizations. As a Minister of the Gospel, I believe it is important to have a working knowledge of the various religious ideologies. As a nondenominational minister with aspirations of missionary work I feel this course has been invaluable.
Some of the commonalities that exist are as follows:
A belief in a Creator of the Universe
To love and show compassion to our fellow man, as observed in the Golden Rule, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Respect for the Sacred Writings inspired by God, to learn, and to pass on the lessons verbally and through your individual lifestyle.
The belief in messengers or angelic beings, as well evil spiritual beings.
Enlightened individuals that bring a message to the masses, as with Jesus, Buddha, and Krishna
Structures or places of worship most with some symbolic meaning within the structures.
Ceremonies or religious practices that are observed among the adherents.
With these similarities in mind, I have come to the realization that we should meet others of differing beliefs at the point of our common interest. I have gained tolerance and understanding of various religious bodies. The irony, of course, is that I still believe the way to our Heavenly Father is through Christ. However, I have learned to respect each individual's path of truth to our Creator.
This study of Comparative Religion expanded my knowledge base to include and respectfully consider another's view point. Ignorance of another's race, creed or religious beliefs, is the breeding ground of prejudice. This course brought the knowledge I needed to fight prejudice and broaden my spiritual insight.
It was enlightening to review the origins of the major religious bodies and to analyze the different branches that have developed. Many esoteric thinkers were the organizers of these branches from the mainstreams. From this comparative study, I noted that most of the well known religions of today were branches form Hinduism or Judaism. For example, Christianity is one of the religions branching from Judaism. Buddhism is a branch from the Hindu religion. There are many stems branching into the major bases, forming a family tree, connected by deep roots to our divine creator. Usually some esoteric thinker, who had gained a new spiritual insight, broke from the major religious body, and formed a new religion. This enlightened one had a spiritual awakening that ignited a passion, which led to a break from some mainstream religion.
Most religions speak of some type of war between the forces of Good and evil. This war goes on in the spiritual realm as well as the earthly realm. The journey in life for most individuals will have its share of internal battles between good and evil as well. Religion gives us a framework to embody and employ moral choices. The sacred writings of religions are spiritual guidebooks and references for humans to make wise choices. The belief that messengers, or angelic beings, are the protectors or guides for humans, and evil beings interfering or thwarting the plans of humans, is a tenant of most religions.
The exoteric and esoteric overview was also thought provoking. There will always be some believers in a religion, which are content with enough knowledge to manage life. Then there are the profound individuals, who challenge the mainstream, and are spiritual explorers. They are the forerunners, who go against the norm, and are labeled as,”Mystical Thinkers.”
The differences between religious institutions have been the cause of many arguments, wars, and controversy. Most religious differences are incited by men, who feel their religion is the one and only true way to the Creator. Upon completing this course I have come to understand there are many paths and each person must find their own spiritual truth. As a minister, we must respect each individual's path, even if we do not agree. We, as ministers must be walking epistles filled with love and compassion for all. The lives we live speak volumes to others without a word being spoken. I also found that I connected spiritually with the saying and principals of other religions. For example, in the Sikh tradition, angels have to have these three components: faith, contentment and tolerance. These are all necessary components to a mature individual.
I would thoroughly enjoy taking another course by Kathera. The material in this course was organized and well written. This course is a great reference for future endeavors. There was really nothing in the course that I did not enjoy. My only suggestion would be that some printed material or book comes with the course. Overall, as I stated earlier this course had a profound impact on my own spiritual journey.