Introduction to world Religions

Briefly explain one method of studying religion and explain a benefit and problem associated with the method. Give an example of the problem and the benefit. Give an example of an event or place or object that is ‘sacred’ to people in current Western society that is not associated with religion. What kind of events can take on a sacred quality in our society? Answer question #2 under ‘discussion questions’ on page 38. What are some misconceptions or assumptions you think Westerners have of indigenous religion? In indigenous cultures and religions, the role of the Shaman is important. Do you see anything (rituals. objects, substances. actions) in our modern Western culture that could be similar or related to the role or concept of the Shaman or Shamanism in general? In the article, “Seeing with a native Eye.” Barre Toelken argues for an indigenous understanding or the world and ecology. Do you think modern western culture takes the relationship of humanity to the earth seriously? Should we? Or are native traditions simply outdated by the advent of progress?

In the Hindu tradition, there are two kinds of texts or scriptures: smrti and sruti. Please define these kinds of texts (as well as how they may be similar or different) and describe and analyze one example each. Read the ‘Hymn on Creation’ from the Rig Veda and compare it to another creation myth of your choice. What is meant by the phrase ‘Atman = Brahman’? How would the understanding of this relationship affect your life?
Part Two: Please download the primary text materials under the “course content’ tab in the Hinduism folder. You have excerpts from Juan Mascaro’s translation of selections of the Upanishads. Please answer the following questions about the selection.
In the Mandukya Upanishad, the author explains that the Atman has four conditions. In your own words, briefly explain how you understand these four conditions. In the Chandogya Upanishad, you have a dialogue between Svetaketu and his father. What does Svetaketu’s father mean when he asks has his son “asked for knowledge whereby what is not heard is heard, what is not thought is thought, and what is not known is known.” Explain Svetaketu’s father’s examples of knowledge of Atman; either the banyan fruit story or the salt in the water. Compare the example to another explanation of reality from another source.