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RELI 304 Final


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What are the 5 reasons for suffering in the Vedanta tradition of ancient India?
1. Not knowing the true nature of reality-ignorance often leads to suffering (ex: drug addicts kids becoming drug addicts themselves)

2. Clinging to the transitory and the illusory-maternal possessions, wealth, status, etc

3. Aversion and fear of the transitory-to accept the fact that all of life is impermanent

4. Identification with a false ego

5. Fear of Death
What are the 4 paths to wisdom/truth in the Vedanta tradition? In these traditions you have to balance yoga with a critical understanding.
1. Karma Yoga: God (Brahman) is the supreme reality of our lives-God alone⬦Humans are only instruments, Humility.

2. Bhakti Yoga: Devotional traditions of ancient India⬦Love is the ultimate truth of the universe

3. Raja yoga: Meditation

4. Jnana Yoga:Philosophical, intellectual path
According to Diana Eck, what is it that she brought back with her from her trip to India? What did she learn from India?
She learned that Christianity does not have a monopoly on wisdom, knowledge, justice and truth. She finds beauty and truth in other religions.
What did this discovery teach her about her own Christian beliefs? Explain her thoughts on Acts 10:34, John 10 and Romans 2:12-16.
John 10:16-“I have many sheep that are not of this fold.”
Acts 10:34: “I truly understand that God show n
1. Christianity does not have a monopoly on wisdom, justice, truth, and love.
2. “strange”: different, and other
3. ethnocentric: devaluation of cultures different from one’s own

problematic approaches: the bible should not be used as an ammunition belt with bullets to be fired of when needed, which causes violence to the text and content of the early church. The meaning of the bible should not be interpreted through individual verses, but through its undergirding message as appropriated through the questions and struggles of each community of faith.
How does Eck describe the nature of “dialogue” among world religions?
She finds religious dialogue to be a mutual transformation-you can’t have a dialogue if you’re already convinced one’s own religion is the sole possessor of the truth.
How does the story of Krishna dancing with the milkmaids illustrate the tolerance of Hinduism for different religious beliefs?
Dance can be a religious experience for Hindus, Krishna multiplies himself to dance with all the milkmaids individually but Krishna disappeared when any one of the women thought he was dancing with her alone.
1. The moment we human beings grasp God with jealousy and possesiveness, we lose hold of God. God has infinite capacity to love and the problem of human jealousy. Refutes old testament that God is jealous.
2. The tolerance in Hinduism for different religious is shown because there is more respect for pluralism in polytheistic religions since they believe in many Gods.
According to Eck, what is the “Age of Kali”?
The age is which there is intolerance of other religions. The tendency to despise the viral God of a viral community.
According to Eck, what are the following positions regarding religious dialogue:
a) exclusivism - (religious fundamentalism)
b) inclusivism
c) pluralism
a)exclusivism (religious fundamentalism): There is only one sole truth and one’s own religion has a monopoly on that truth…excludes the possibility of truth existing outside of ones own religion, and is intolerant of them.
b)inclusivism: Every religion has the potential to embrace part of the truth, but ones own religion is the fullness of the truth.
c)pluralism: There is no one religion that possesses the total truth all religions have only partial glimpses and hints of the truth.
What is the meaning and significance of nirguna and saguna in Hinduism?
God is interpreted as having two dimensions…
1. Nirguna - Transcendant or transpersonal - beyond human concepts - no human elements can be attributed to this dimension of God - monotheism God is a “force”- beyond the concept of a person -paradoxical dimensions
2. Saguna is the personal dimension implying Polytheism. In Hinduism there could be thousands of faces of the same God. Oneness and manyness to God in Hinduism…”truth is one, the wise call it by many names.”
What is the meaning of neti and what is it’s significance concerning the understanding of God (see p56, 63-65)
Neti means “not this”and the language of negation is part of both Hindu and Christian traditions. However, language limits us because it cannot fully explain God.
What does Eck mean by the myth of monotheism?
That there is one and only one holy story to be told, to be reflected upon by theologians, and to be participated in by the faithful - made in reference to the 3 great monotheistic traditions of the west: Judaism, Hinduism, and Christianity.
How does both polytheism and monotheism function in Hinduism (see pg 62)?
Both viewpoints are held simultaneously…one view is that these Gods are many; from another they are One. A Hindu says: “Truth is one by the wise call it by many different names.” Oneness and Manyness are not seen as true opposites
What is the “Trimurti”?
It is the “three forms” of the Divine, also provides a way to help us think about the question of God’s manyness.
1. Brahma is the creator
2. Vishnu as the sustainer (also reveals himself, ex: Krishna “Bhagavad Gita, and also animal form)
3. Shiva as the destroyer (Shiva also represents violence and has an element in mercy.)
Each of the three are whole, not partial and each form is all three.
What is an “Avatar”?
Avatara literally means a divine descent of God into the world of name and form. There is a basic similarity between the Christian doctrine of the incarnate Christ and the Hindu idea of the Avatar. Both represent a descent and manifestation of God in human flesh.
What is one key difference between the portrayal of many of the Hindu gods and the figure of Jesus in Christianity?
The idea that God is one in Christianity is much different than the polytheistic ideas of Hinduism.
In Christianity God, Holy Spirit and Jesus are all one. God and Jesus are the key.
In Hinduism, knowledge is the key; the truth is one but has many faces.
What are the five faces of Shiva (see p 97)?
1. Creator: Shiva is revealed in creation itself.
2. Sustainer: Shiva upholds the world and its natural and moral order.
3. Destroyer: Shiva sometimes turns the human sense of order on its head, lifting up as holy the very things human beings might despise as polluted or frightening.
4. Concealment/Mystery: Shiva appears even where men and women are unable to recognize him (ex: as a beggar/stranger)
5. Grace - bestows life (God is compassion and love)
What is moksha in Hinduism?
moksha= “liberation”

In Hinduism the ultimate goal of life is freedom or liberation, Moksha:
- (purpose/goal of the Hindu path) liberation from the cycle of rebirth (cycle of reincarnation)
- Wisdom/knowledge is the key to achieve moksha
- Ignorance is the main obstacle to moksha
How exactly is liberation achieved in Hinduism?
Wisdom and knowledge are needed to achieve Moksha⬦Wisdom has to do w/love, practices of meditation, and humility. Ignorance is the main obstacle to moksha.
How is liberation achieved in Hinduism different from the notion of salvation in Christianity?
For salvation in Christianity one must accept God and wisdom, knowledge, and meditation aren’t as important. Also, Hindu’s do not have a notion of sin.
How does Thomas Merton (from the video shown in class) describe his experience at the Buddhist statues of Polanarruwa?
He approached the Buddha barefoot, the silence of the faces filled w/possibility (they were rejecting nothing, knowing everything)⬦This became the most moving experience of his life. He felt jerked clean and felt clarity and obviousness. His Asian pilgrimage ultimately made him feel clear and purified.
What happens in the Thomas Merton video shown in class?
-Christian monk goes to the East
-Originally from France, came to USA for Columbia Univ.
-Became Christian and entered monastery as monk
-Peace activist, open minded
-Bangkok = impressive dialogue
-Traveled to Tibet: Tibetans w/ rosaries, religious central part of existence
-Buddhists: deeper attainment than Catholics
-Polynenia Buddhist statues experience mammoth statues, approach barefoot, silence of faces, huge smiles questioning nothing; knowing everything, rejecting nothing, inner clearness evident, seen what Merton looking for
-Cannot rely on structures (gov): EX – Dalai Lama and communism
-Merton body found with fan on it in bungalow, the fan fell in the shower and electrocuted him
How is the notion of the Tao described in the Tao Te Ching?
The Tao that can be named is not the Tao.
How is the notion of the Tao similar to the idea of Emptiness in Buddhism?
Notion of Tao:
The Tao that can be named is not the Tao.
Emptiness in Buddhism:
Sunyata - Emptiness is a scared reality that is empty or devoid of human conceptions. All constructs are empty. "The constructs that "all constructs are empty" is empty.
What are the Four Noble truths in Buddhism?
1. LIFE IS SUFFERING: Physical and Mental, Emotional, Suffering (ex: fear and anxiety), Emptiness, meaninglessness
2. CAUSES OF SUFFERING: Desire-Greed, anger, hatred, jealousy, envy, lust, gluttony, Ignorance-Leads to fear and fear leads to anger and anger leads to hatred (violence, suffering)
3. SUFFERING CAN BE ENDED: *Nirvana-Blissful state, peace; cannot be described in human language. *An end to the cycle of Rebirth or reincarnation
4. PATH TO NIRVANA-ENLIGHTENMENT *The Eightfold Path⬦there are 3 dimensions to this:
1) MORALITY: Crucial to achieve Nirvana, live your life w/compassion and love, kindness, humility, justice. *Morality stills the mind, serenity.
2) EXERCISES OF CONCENTRATION: meditation and attention: Chanting, counting ones breath, visualization.
3) WISDOM: Everyone has the potential to achieve wisdom, but not everyone does *Everyone has a Buddha nature, but not everyone achieves it.
What are some of the key themes and characteristics of Zen Buddhism?
Zen Buddhism was a tradition developed out of Japan from the Buddhist tradition.
1. Ideas and concepts can be misleading: what is important is the difference that an idea makes in ones life. *Zen Buddhism is pragmatic. *The Key Question is how to end suffering.
2. Prajna-An immediate and spontaneous intuition (Aha! Experience)
3. Mystism of the Ordinary: Wisdom can be achieved through ordinary experiences of life⬦
WE live in a time where ignorance to other religions leads to suffering.
Who is Buddha?
Buddha - AKA - Siddartha, Gautama, and Sakyamuni
- from 500 b.c.e.
- from India
- raised in Hindu culture
- he challenges and critiques principles of Hinduism; especially polytheism
- puts forth an idea of ultimate reality that is beyond any human manifestation, image or concept.
What is Sunyata?
Sunyata is another name for the Buddhist concept of emptiness. A reality that is to be revered and worshipped.
Belief that God is not the father or human at all, more of a force.
Central principle of Buddhism?
Live a life of compassion and it leads to a greater peace of mind.

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