The difference between ‘Advaita Vedanta’ and ‘Bhakti Devotion’ is just the way both are perceived. Believing God is full of mercy and capable of gracing us we have to pray with extreme sincerity and devotion. This is called Bhakti Devotion. There is another justification for practicing Bhakti Devotion. Advaita Vedanta accepts the likelihood of being identical to the Brahma caitanyam of all living beings, the plants, the insects, the birds, the animals, the demons, the gods and the human beings. There is no pleasure in living without love. It is the gist of experience that there is incomparable pleasure in love. In Bhakti Devotion, the person we love will separate from us one day or we will separate from him. Then the love instead of being source of pleasure becomes the cause of grief. If we place our love on Him that love will give us pleasure eternally. On maturing this love leads to the awareness that He is one and all. This will not have the basis that love towards one, means hate towards another. Since He is in all beings, we shall have same love without any discrimination towards all. Thus Bhakti Devotion helps us to avoid being loveless and waste our lives.
The Upanishads were the final part of the Vedas. They were a series of profound spiritual truths which grew out of conversations by the priests and Brahmins of the day. Upanishads were, and still are, a source of much of Indian philosophy both traditional and modern. The purpose for which the Upanishads talk about creation is only to take us from the changing unreal phenomenon to the changeless reality behind, wherein lies our true goal of life. Bhagavid-Gita is a Sanskrit philosophical poem in the Mahabharata epic and an important and widely-translated expression of Hinduism. Upanishads are without any authors and the primary source of Vedantic knowledge. Bhagavid Gita is that which was explained from the memory by the Lord. Bhagavid Gita is not primary but it depends on the Upanishads for final say in any matter.
Koan is a question, that is enigmatic, and an inquiry, that is kind of special. Awakening of oneself to a truth, that is deeper is the design purpose of Koan. Not only an understanding, that is intellectual, is needed, but also an experience of realization that is actual, is required to answer Koan. The barrier of the language of philosophy (neuro-linguistic) is broken down by Koans. It allows the silence within us to be experienced by us. Koans are designed, quite simply, to still the noisy mind and allow the light that is always shining in the silence to enlighten us. This is because enlightenment, as many of us have heard and read, is right here this very moment, permeating all of who we are. It is our conditioning that prevents us from seeing this, and a Koan is simply a direct question designed to help break up our habitual way of viewing the world. In an instant flash of insight, we can see the deep truth of our liberated mind.
The three branches of Buddhism are; Theravada, Vajrayana and Mahayana. All Buddhist schools have in common the thinking that life means suffering. According to Buddha every human existence is full of suffering and momentarily. Suffering exists when the person is attached to the false idea that something or someone is eternal or permanent. Someone reaches salvation when he or she recognizes that everything is temporary and without constant substance- including the own person/ the own self. In Theravada, the underlying basis of the faith is that an individual is responsible for his or her own salvation. No god or image can bring enlightenment. A person must be responsible for every act and thought. Salvation is an individual’s duty. Mahayana strand believes that religious growth can be nurtured through the help of others. They do not idealize the lonesome ways of the monk, they seek help from bodhisattva. It is believed that the spirit of Buddha is universal and timeless. Vajrayana is an extension of Mahayana in the sense that the philosophy is the same but practice is different.
Wu-forms are the forms in Taoism that have the highest virtue. Tao Te Ching was written by Lao-Tzu. Tao Te Ching begins with a statement about the Tao and how it cannot be described or conceptualized. In then recommends that rulers learn to attune themselves with the Tao because, short of that experience, and understanding of life and all its difficulties is impossible. It also talks about Lao-Tzu principle of refraining from overly aggressive action; one is better off moving with the flow of things; spontaneity, simplicity, naturalness, tranquility and virtue. It also teaches about meditation and the goal if immortality. The Tao Te Ching also talks about meditation and the goal of immortality. The Tao Te Ching offers important insights that, though impractical to implement on a large scale, could significantly improve the lives of those who are willing to try. This suggests that only one’s instinctive actions, not conscious efforts, result in true success.
The three theological strands in the Old Testament are; Biblical Studies, Christian Doctrine and Ethics and Church in Practice. Biblical Studies involves the teachings of the Bible and other religious scriptures. Christian Doctrine bases on the teachings of arguments and rational analysis. Ethics and Church strands bases on the teachings of the Church and one’s own intuition of ethics.
Form Criticism is a hybrid of historical and literary criticism and seeks to determine the particular genre of a text. Form criticism takes small sections of the text and asks what the earliest form of the tradition behind it was. Form criticism is studying the oral handing down of the facts about Christ. It tries to get behind the underlying oral and written forms that may have been used in the final written text. It attempts to determine the original form, life setting and purpose of such oral and written forms. It focuses on small units of biblical text. Form criticism asks how and why authors have used and changed the information from their sources and socio-scientific criticism asks what we can tell about the community from which a gospel came. Asking different questions leads to different answers, and a different way of reading the text.
Talmud is a collection of ancient rabbinic oral tradition recorded in the Mishnah and Gemara in Judaism. The Talmud is the basis for religious authority in Orthodox Judaism. Talmud is a tradition explaining the written Torah and how to interpret it and apply the Laws. The three divisions of modern Judaism are; Orthodox, Reform, and Conservative. Orthodox are strict followers. Reform Judaism is the most liberal. Conservative Judaism is right in the middle of other two divisions. It is moderate.
Mysticism is the direct or indirect contact of human beings with divine beings. It is the acknowledgement of asservation without proof or evidence. It is mostly something that is beyond one’s reasoning and senses. Mysticism is the claim to some revelation, intuition, and instinct having non-identifiable, non-definable, non-rational and non-sensory means of knowledge. Mysticism is a part of Judaism. The Torah contains mystical experiences like vision, prophetic dreams and visits by angels. Zohar is book in which mystical experiences and teachings are written about.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke all have similarities and give the same account of Jesus; that is why they are known as The Synoptic Gospels. The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) are essential to contemporary understandings of the life and teachings of Jesus. While the content of the three books overlaps substantially, each reflects distinct theological and literary themes.
The New Testament was made into a canon during the First Century AD. The New Testament was made into a canon because there was a need to compile multiple works of the New Testament and to preserve it for future. A total of 27 works were compiled to be made into a canon.
The Q Gospel, deriving its name from the German word ‘quelle’, meaning ‘source’, is a document that is hypothetical. It argues that since the three Gospels; Matthew, Mark, and Luke, are so identical to each other, they may have been copied from one another or from a common source. Hence, if the articles are said to be copied from one another, then they would not have been inspired from God.
The three main divisions of Christianity are; Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestants. Eastern Orthodox follows numerous patriarchs and the principle of divinization. Roman Catholics believe that the successor of St Peter is the Pope and that he is the head of Christianity. Protestants believe that Bible is the sole revelation of God and that every necessary teaching is present in it.
Aquinas and Augustine obviously lived indifferent times with somewhat different concerns and styles, yet they are not necessarily contradictory. Augustine was a practical man pressed by the practical day-to-day affairs of life, and this makes his philosophy seem more connected to lived experience. Augustine also seems to some to be more "down to earth" than Aquinas' lofty speculative questions like what is the difference between morning and evening knowledge for angels, for example. Augustine is sometimes seen to be less optimistic than Aquinas, or more realistic about sins effects, depending on one's point of view. If sin is not discussed as much as it perhaps could be in Aquinas, Augustine helps to make up for any excessive silences on the matter. Augustine's thoroughgoing focus on his topic may have been part of what persuaded Aquinas to focus on other matters. Some feel more kindred to Augustine than Aquinas, at least at some point.
John Calvin’s theology consisted of five major points. They are known as ‘TULIP’, because each of the five letters stands for a major point of his theology.
It is the total inability of man. Man cannot save himself; he is totally dead in sin and therefore God must initiate salvation, man has no choice and cannot make one for that would be doing something to be saved of which man cannot do.
God unconditionally elected some to be saved. God also unconditionally elected some to go to hell. It was all God’s choice, according to His own purpose.
Christ died for only those He previously called & elected. God did not die for those whom he chose to go to hell. When God calls, man responds. Man has no choice in salvation-he cannot resist God’s call-and therefore has no reason to repent of sins committed. God’s grace is applied to those He determined to save.
Perseverance of the Saints.
They will endure to the end. None will be lost. Man is saved no matter what he does- he will endure and be saved until the very end of his life-no one who God has elected will be lost –they are eternally secure.
Religious Pluralism is considered to be religious tolerance. The pluralism of religions is the experiential context of the question of the approach of Phenomenological or Theological. An experience of pluralism is not detrimental to the affirmation of uniqueness, but rather makes it meaningful and at the same time problematic. Exclusivism defends its own religious tradition by constructing a dichotomy in which one’s own religion is good and everything else is evil. In inclusivism, other religious traditions are not so much evil or wrong-headed as incomplete. The key problem with either traditional inclusivism or pluralism is that they neglect the fact that different religions have different religious ends.
Mustafa Ruzgar is of the view of that since Islam is a complete, perfect, final and independent religion, Muslims do not engage, with other religions, in dialogue. Islam is considered a tolerant religion as it allows freedom of practice to other religions. The presence of pluralism is testified from the Qur’an which says that God has made each individual a separate entity so that every individual can be tested separately. An experience of pluralism is not detrimental to the affirmation of uniqueness, but rather makes it meaningful and at the same time problematic.
Enlightenment and Salvation are both paths that lead to knowing God. Enlightenment is the aspect that is personal, whereas Salvation is the aspect that is universal. To surrender oneself to a Supreme Authority is Enlightenment. It is a state of having non-attachment to the world we live in. On the other hand, Salvation is spiritually renewing oneself for transformation.
The religion ‘Islam’ interested me during the process of my study. It is a religion which is ambiguous for people who have not studied about it or for people who do not belong to it. People have different perceptions about Islam but when we get deeper into the understanding, we learn a lot of things that we as an outsider never knew or were misguided about. The fundamental principle of Islam is the belief in oneness of God and the belief in Prophet Muhammad being His last messenger. Muhammad was the model for Muslim life as all Muhammad life was all devoted to Allah the God of Islam religion. He built the core foundations of Islam when the Qur’an was revealed to him and he dedicated his life to spreading the word of Allah. He was the founder of Islamic faith, its name is inspired from that of Muhammad, the prophet who preached it. Muhammad made Islam a worldwide religion. The prophet Muhammad is seen as a model for life in Islam because he is the perfect role model and he has remained eternally devoted to Allah.
Islam does not force the world to abandon their own cultures and social constructs and to adopt a universal culture. However, it requires all to be within its boundaries. Islam deems every action to be permissible apart from what has been disallowed by God, not the other way around . Therefore, Islam accommodates any culture as long as it does not contradict its teachings. Global truths exist but not all truths need to be global.