Religion was created by individuals who demonstrate cultural ethics by favoring their own perception of God’s word. This evolutionary process has given birth to multiple religions and has generated divisions among all cultures around the world. In result, conflict of religious beliefs has escalated towards hatred, violence, war, and ownership of serving the “right religion”. Within their religion they have filtered out its main equation of its creation in the first place…such as demonstrating unconditional love, forgiveness, understanding, truth & respect for one another. All religions reflect the same base of its divine purpose…love. We can live as one with the unity of many.


[“Christianity”, “Christianity”, “Christianity”]
christianity-symbols-cross

“With this cultural and religious background, the ministry of Jesus began. Jesus was a Jew. He observed the Jewish faith and was well acquainted with the Jewish Law. In His early thirties, Jesus traveled from village to village, teaching in the synagogues and healing those who were suffering. Jesus’ teaching was revolutionary. He challenged the established religious authorities to repent from their self-righteousness and hypocrisy and realize that the Kingdom of God is rooted in service and love.

Jesus’ teachings stirred the hearts of people and created instability, something the Jewish religious authorities feared. Soon, a faithful group of men began to follow Jesus and call him teacher. These men became His disciples. Jesus taught His disciples about the will of God and about the “new covenant” God will bring to humanity through Him. Jesus helped them to see that mankind is bound to the pain and futility of life as a result of sin. Due to sin, mankind lost its relationship with God. The purpose of this “new covenant” is to restore those who accept it into a renewed fellowship of forgiveness and love with God. What is this new covenant? Jesus himself would pay for the sins of all humanity by being crucified unjustly on a Roman cross. Three days later, He would rise to life, having conquered death, to give hope to a hopeless world.

Well, it happened just as Jesus taught, and His disciples were witnesses to an amazing miracle. Their teacher, Jesus of Nazareth, died and three days later rose again to become their Messiah. Compelled by a great commission to share the love that the God of this universe had imparted upon them, the disciples began to proclaim this gospel of hope throughout the territory. Thus, from a small group of ordinary men that lived in a small province in Judea about 2000 years ago, the history of the Christian Church began, and the Christian Faith has since spread to the rest of the world. Their gospel message was simple: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).” (http://www.allaboutreligion.org/history-of-christianity.htm)

 


[“Judaism”, “Judaism”, “Judaism”]
Judaism-Symbol-Jewish-Star

“Judaism thus begins with an ethical monotheism: the belief that God is one, and concerned with the actions of humankind. According to the Hebrew Bible, God promised Abraham to make of his offspring a great nation. Many generations later, he commanded the nation of Israel to love and worship only one God; that is, the Jewish nation is to reciprocate God’s concern for the world. He also commanded the Jewish people to love one another; that is, Jews are to imitate God’s love for people. These commandments are but two of a large corpus of commandments and laws that constitute this covenant, which is the substance of Judaism.

The main denominations today outside Israel (where the situation is rather different) are Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. Orthodox Judaism holds that both the Written and Oral Torah were divinely revealed to Moses, and that the laws within it are binding and unchanging. Orthodox Jews generally consider commentaries on the Shulchan Aruch (a condensed codification of halakha that largely favored Sephardic traditions) to be the definitive codification of Jewish law. Orthodoxy places a high importance on Maimonides’ 13 principles as a definition of Jewish faith.

Orthodoxy is often divided into Modern Orthodox Judaism and Haredi Judaism. Haredi Judaism is less accommodating to modernity and has less interest in non-Jewish disciplines, and it may be distinguished from Modern Orthodox Judaism in practice by its styles of dress and more stringent practices. Subsets of Haredi Judaism include: Hasidic Judaism, which is rooted in the Kabbalah and distinguished by reliance on a Rebbe or religious teacher; and Sephardic Haredi Judaism, which emerged among Sephardic (Asian and North African) Jews in Israel. Conservative Judaism, known as Masorti outside the United States and Canada, is characterized by a commitment to traditional Jewish laws and customs, including observance of Shabbat and kashrut, a deliberately non-fundamentalist teaching of Jewish principles of faith, a positive attitude toward modern culture, and an acceptance of both traditional rabbinic and modern scholarship when considering Jewish religious texts.

Conservative Judaism teaches that Jewish law is not static, but has always developed in response to changing conditions. It holds that the Torah is a divine document written by prophets inspired by God and reflecting his will, but rejects the Orthodox position that it was dictated by God to Moses. Conservative Judaism holds that the Oral Law is divine and normative, but holds that both the Written and Oral Law may be interpreted by the rabbis to reflect modern sensibilities and suit modern conditions. Reform Judaism, called Liberal or Progressive Judaism in many countries, defines Judaism as a religion rather than as a race or culture, rejects most of the ritual and ceremonial laws of the Torah while observing moral laws, and emphasizes the ethical call of the Prophets. Reform Judaism has developed an egalitarian prayer service in the vernacular (along with Hebrew in many cases) and emphasizes personal connection to Jewish tradition.

A Reform synagogue with mixed seating and equal participation of men and women. Reconstructionist Judaism, like Reform Judaism, does not hold that Jewish law, as such, requires observance, but unlike Reform, Reconstructionist thought emphasizes the role of the community in deciding what observances to follow. Jewish Renewal is a recent North American movement which focuses on spirituality and social justice, but does not address issues of Jewish law. Men and women participate equally in prayer. Humanistic Judaism is a small non-theistic movement centered in North America and Israel that emphasizes Jewish culture and history as the sources of Jewish identity.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judaism)

 


[“Muslim/Islam Faith”, “Muslim/Islam Faith”, “Muslim/Islam Faith”]
Muslim-symbol-star-and-crescent

“The name of the religion is Islam, which comes from an Arabic root word meaning “peace” and “submission.” Islam teaches that one can only find peace in one’s life by submitting to Almighty God (Allah) in heart, soul and deed. The same Arabic root word gives us “Salaam alaykum,” (“Peace be with you”), the universal Muslim greeting. A person who believes in and consciously follows Islam is called a Muslim, also from the same root word. So, the religion is called “Islam,” and a person who believes in and follows it is a “Muslim.” Allah is the proper name for Almighty God, and is often translated merely as “God.” Allah has other names that are used to describe His characteristics: the Creator, the Sustainer, the Merciful, the Compassionate, etc.

Muslims believe that since Allah alone is the Creator, it is He alone that deserves our devout love and worship. Islam holds to a strict monotheism. Any worship and prayers directed at saints, prophets, other human beings or nature is considered idolatry.” The basic beliefs of Muslims fall into six main categories, which are known as the

“Articles of Faith”:

Faith in the unity of God
Faith in angels
Faith in prophets
Faith in books of revelation
Faith in an afterlife
Faith in destiny/divine decree

In Islam, faith and good works go hand-in-hand. A mere verbal declaration of faith is not enough, for belief in Allah makes obedience to Him a duty. The Muslim concept of worship is very broad. Muslims consider everything they do in life to be an act of worship, if it is done according to Allah’s guidance. There are also five formal acts of worship which help strengthen a Muslim’s faith and obedience.”
(http://islam.about.com/od/basicbeliefs/p/intro.htm)

 


[“Hinduism”, “Hinduism”, “Hinduism”]
Hinduism-symbol

“Many variations have developed from Hinduism over the years, and many non-Hindu cults and religious movements gained their inspiration from Hinduism. Below are the nine principles they follow.

Hindus believe in a one, all-pervasive Supreme Being who is both immanent and transcendent, both Creator and Unmanifest Reality.
Hindus believe in the divinity of the four Vedas, the world’s most ancient scripture, and venerate the Agamas as equally revealed. These primordial hymns are God’s word and the bedrock of Sanatana Dharma, the eternal religion.
Hindus believe that the universe undergoes endless cycles of creation, preservation and dissolution.
Hindus believe in karma, the law of cause and effect by which each individual creates his own destiny by his thoughts, words and deeds.
Hindus believe that the soul reincarnates, evolving through many births until all karmas have been resolved, and moksha, liberation from the cycle of rebirth, is attained. Not a single soul will be deprived of this destiny.
Hindus believe that divine beings exist in unseen worlds and that temple worship, rituals, sacraments and personal devotionals create a communion with these devas and Gods.
Hindus believe that an enlightened master, or satguru, is essential to know the Transcendent Absolute, as are personal discipline, good conduct, purification, pilgrimage, self-inquiry, meditation and surrender in God.
Hindus believe that all life is sacred, to be loved and revered, and therefore practice ahimsa, no injury, in thought, word and deed.
Hindus believe that no religion teaches the only way to salvation above all others, but that all genuine paths are facets of God’s Light, deserving tolerance and understanding.“
(http://contenderministries.org/hinduism/hindubeliefs.php)
(http://www.himalayanacademy.com/basics/nineb/)

Non Denominational

People who are not restricted to a particular religious denomination.

 


[“Atheist/ Agnosticism /Nonreligious”, “Atheist/ Agnosticism /Nonreligious”, “Atheist/ Agnosticism /Nonreligious”]
Atheist-Symbol

“The more common understanding of atheism among atheists is “not believing in any gods.” No claims or denials are made – an atheist is any person who is not a theist. Atheism is merely the absence of belief in any gods, it becomes evident that agnosticism is not, as many assume, a “third way” between atheism and theism. The presence of a belief in a god and the absence of a belief in a god exhaust all of the possibilities. Atheists are thought to be closed-minded because they deny the existence of gods, whereas agnostics appear to be open-minded because they do not know for sure.

This is a mistake because atheists do not necessarily deny any gods and may indeed be an atheist because they do not know for sure — in other words, they may be an agnostic as well. Agnosticism is not about belief in god but about knowledge – it was coined originally to describe the position of a person who could not claim to know for sure if any gods exist or not. Many people who adopt the label of agnostic reject the label of atheist — there is a common perception that agnosticism is a more “reasonable” position while atheism is more “dogmatic,” ultimately indistinguishable from theism except in the details.

This is not a valid position to adopt because it misrepresents or misunderstands everything involved: atheism, theism, agnosticism, and the nature of belief itself. It also happens to reinforce popular prejudice against atheists. A person can believe in a god (theism) without claiming to know for sure if that god exists; the result is agnostic theism. On the other hand, a person can disbelieve in gods (atheism) without claiming to know for sure that no gods can or do exist; the result is agnostic atheism. Nonreligious are those who haven’t chosen a specific faith to follow.”
(http://atheism.about.com/od/aboutatheism/p/atheism101.htm)

 


[“Buddhism”, “Buddhism”, “Buddhism”]
Budda-Symbol

“The word comes from ‘budhi’, ‘to awaken’. It has its origins about 2,500 years ago when Siddhartha Gotama, known as the Buddha, was himself awakened (enlightened) at the age of 35. Buddhism goes beyond religion and is more of a philosophy or ‘way of life’. It is a philosophy because philosophy ‘means love of wisdom’ and the Buddhist path can be summed up as:

to lead a moral life,
to be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions, and
to develop wisdom and understanding.

Buddhism explains a purpose to life, it explains apparent injustice and inequality around the world and it provides a code of practice or way of life that leads to true happiness. He was not, nor did he claim to be. He was a man who taught a path to enlightenment from his own experience. Buddhists sometimes pay respect to images of the Buddha, not in worship, nor to ask for favors.

A statue of the Buddha with hands rested gently in its lap and a compassionate smile reminds us to strive to develop peace and love within ourselves. Bowing to the statue is an expression of gratitude for the teaching. Buddhism is also a belief system which is tolerant of all other beliefs or religions. Buddhism agrees with the moral teachings of other religions but Buddhism goes further by providing a long term purpose within our existence, through wisdom and true understanding.

Real Buddhism is very tolerant and not concerned with labels like ‘Christian’, ‘Moslem’, ‘Hindu’ or ‘Buddhist’; that is why there have never been any wars fought in the name of Buddhism. That is why Buddhists do not preach and try to convert, only explain if an explanation is sought. Buddhism teaches that wisdom should be developed with compassion. At one extreme, you could be a goodhearted fool and at the other extreme, you could attain knowledge without any emotion. Buddhism uses the middle path to develop both. The highest wisdom is seeing that in reality, all phenomena are incomplete, impermanent and do no constitute a fixed entity. True wisdom is not simply believing what we are told but instead experiencing and understanding truth and reality. Wisdom requires an open, objective, unbigoted mind. The Buddhist path requires courage, patience, flexibility and intelligence.” (http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/5minbud.htm)

 


[“Spiritualism”, “Spiritualism”, “Spiritualism”]
Tree-of-Life-Symbol

“Spiritualism was, and is, regarded by its adherents as a religion, or a supplement to an existing religion, imposing certain moral obligations and offering new and far-reaching revelations on the conditions of existence beyond the grave. The continuity of life after death is, of course, one of its most important tenets, though not a distinctive one; since on it depend most of the world’s creeds and religions. But the spiritualist’s ideas concerning the nature of the life of the freed soul are peculiar to his creed. The soul, or spirit, is composed of a sort of attenuated matter, inhabiting the body and resembling it in form.

On the death of the body the soul withdraws itself, without however, undergoing any direct change, and for a longer or shorter period remains on the “earth plane.” But the keynote of the spirit-world is progress; so after a time the spirit proceeds to the lowest “discarnate plane,” and from that to a higher and a higher, gradually evolving into a purer and nobler type, until at length it reaches the sphere of pure spirit. Another central belief of spiritualism is that the so-called “dead” can, and do, communicate with the living, through the agency of mediums, and can produce in the physical world certain phenomena depending for their operation on no known physical laws. To the earnest spiritualist, requiring no further proof of the reality of his creed, the subjective phenomena, as they are called, comprising trance-speaking, writing, etc., are of vastly greater importance than the physical manifestations, just as the latter are more in favor with psychical researchers, because of the better opportunities they offer for investigation.

From the trance-speaking of the medium are gathered those particulars of the spirit world which to the outsider present one of the most unattractive pictures extant of that domain. The spirit life is, in fact, represented as a pale and attenuated reproduction of earthly life, conducted in a highly rarified atmosphere.”
(http://www.newagevillage.com/wiki/index.php/Introduction_to_Spiritualism)

 


[“Taoism”, “Taoism”, “Taoism”]
Confucius-Ying-Yang-symbol

“Defining the features of Taoism (or Daoism) as one of the predominant trends in the history of Chinese thought involves accounting for its religious traits. The word dao has two main meanings, namely “way” and “method.” These two meanings refer, respectively, to the way in which something is or functions, and to the way of doing something (including the extended meaning of “practice” in a religious sense). The early Taoist texts are the first ones to use this word to mean the Absolute (Robinet, 1997, p. 26). For the Daode jing, the Dao has no name and is beyond any description or definition; the word dao itself is used only because one “is forced” to refer to it (25).”

“The Dao is unknowable, has no form and therefore does not undergo change (41), is “constant” (1), and is “invisible, inaudible, and imperceptible” (14). The two principles of Non-being (wu) and Being (you) are contained within it. Yet the Dao, in spite of its being “indistinct and vague” (huanghu), contains an “essence” (jing) that is the seed of the world of multiplicity (21). Under this second aspect–which can be distinguished from the previous one only from the perspective of the domain of relativity–the Dao is the “beginning” of the world and its “mother” (1).”

“The faculty that the Dao has to give life to and nourish the individual entities is its de, or “virtue.” The Daode jing outlines the generative process from the Dao to existence, which happens spontaneously and has no cause or purpose, in a well-known statement: “The Dao generates the One, the One generates the Two, the Two generate the Three, the Three generate the ten thousand things” (42). According to this formulation, the Dao first generates the One (yi), the principle of the unity of existence in which the individual entities defined by forms and names are included, but have not yet separated from each other. The One differentiates itself into the two polar and complementary principles, Yin and Yang. The Three is the product of the joining of Yin and Yang; it represents the One reestablished at the level of each individual entity. The “ten thousand things” (wanwu) are the sum of entities generated by the joining of Yin and Yang, i.e., the world of multiplicity.”
(http://www.goldenelixir.com/taoism/taoism_intro_1.html)
(http://www.goldenelixir.com/taoism/taoism_intro_2.html)

 


[“Jainism”, “Jainism”, “Jainism”]
Jainism-symbol

“It is a core belief to conquer all temptations and inner enemies such as anger, greed and pride by practicing non-attachment with the material world and by living a peacefully disciplined lifestyle. There is unique emphasis on non-violence or ahimsa. Hence, the word ahimsa is found on the Jain symbol of the open palm meaning ‘stop’. Although non-violence is a common practice in most religions, Jainism is unique in extending this principle to all living beings or jivas on earth which include soil, oceans, microbes and plants. Therefore, Jains have a strict diet and only eat by-products of the living beings such as fruits, nuts and milk. Some Jains wear masks over their mouths and nose to avoid harming microbes by inhaling them, which will result in unwanted karma. Karma is the natural moral law of the universe in which every good and bad action has a corresponding effect on the doer. Jains believe that karma determines their rebirth form- good karma results in a higher spiritual and favorable physical form and conversely bad karma has adverse results.

The purpose of life is to attain moksha (salvation from the cycle of rebirth) by ridding oneself of the karma, which obstructs the soul. One can achieve this by living a life of harmlessness and renunciation in the human form and by causing no harm to any sentient being. If one does not achieve moksha, after death the soul will be reincarnated or will suffer punishment in hell. Hell has 8 levels (each level become progressively colder). Suffering in the hells is not eternal; after punishment the soul is reborn in another form. There are different levels of Heaven also. Jains are polytheists and pantheists as they believe that every living being has a potential to become God – they believe in reincarnation and seek moksha, once a soul is liberated it is worthy of being labeled a God.

However, Jains reject the notion of a creator and do not believe that any external Being can help the soul. This notion has led some to consider Jains as atheists. According to Jain cosmology, the universe and everything in it is eternal. Nothing that exists now was ever created, nor will it be destroyed. The universe consists of three realms: the heavens, the earth and the hells.”
(http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/religion/jainism.html)

 


[“Bahai”, “Bahai”, “Bahai”]
Bahai-Symbol

“Baha Ullah taught that there is only one God, there is only one human race, and that all the world’s religions represent stages in the revelation of God’s will and purpose for humanity. God, who in his essence is unknowable, can be made known to man through manifestations through His messenger, including Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Zoroaster, Jesus, Muhammad, the Bab, and Baha Ullah. Baha Ullah being the most recent in this succession of divine Messengers. All these messengers were sent at various stages of human progress as part of a divine plan to educate the human race. Essentially, they all taught an identical truth. The most core tenet of Baha Ullah’s message is that of unity between all humans. According to Baha ullah, God has set in motion historical forces that are breaking down traditional barriers of race, class, creed and nation and that a time will come when universal civilization will be achieved.

Bahais believe that a global society is bound to flourish through universal education, elimination of all forms of prejudice, world peace, equality of men and women, recognition of the oneness of the world’s great religions, harmony of science and religion, balance of nature and technology, elimination of extreme wealth and poverty and living a simple life. The Bahai sacred texts are a compilation of the writings and spoken words of Bab, Baha Ullah and Abdul Baha. Anyone who professes their faith in these sacred teachings and believes that Baha Ullah is the most recent messenger of this era is accepted in the community without any ceremony/sacrament and there is no clergy involved.

However, it is a spiritual obligatory upon every Bahai to pray daily and regularly, to fast 19 days a year (from sunrise to sunset), to abstain from alcohol or any substances that may have affect ones mental-state, to practice monogamy, to obtain the consent of parents to marriage and to attend the 19 Day Feast on the first day of each month of the Bahai calendar which involves prayer through reading of the sacred texts, discussing community activities and issues, enjoying the company of each other in order to ensure universal participation in the affairs of the community and the cultivation of the Bahai fraternity. There is no hierarchical organization of priesthood and no formalized rituals in the worship. In the temples, the services consist of recitation of the sacred scriptures but there is no preaching.”
(http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/religion/bahai.html)

 


[“Sikh”, “Sikh”, “Sikh”]
Sikh-Symbol

“Sikhs believe that there is only one God; he is the creator of life and death. They believe that god exists throughout our daily lives although he may not be visible; he is with us in spirit everywhere we go (‘Ik Om Kar’). Equality is a very important element within the Sikh religion, regardless of caste and class all humans are seen as equal. Everyone possesses the same rights, with all men and women being treated equally in the Gurdwara (temple). This emphasis on equality then sees many people from all ethnical backgrounds being welcomed into the Gurdwara and in to ‘Guru ka Langar’.

They also believe that when a Sikh dies, his or her soul is recreated in another living body whether this is human or an animal. This depends upon what an individual has done in his or her past life, if it is good their soul is relived within a human, if it is not then it is relived in the form of an animal. Therefore, our deeds in a past life lead way to our life in the future; this is a decision that is in the hands of God. The Sikh religion encourage that life should be lived in truth and justice. Sikhs should earn their money honestly and not take away from others and they should only consume what rightfully belongs to them. Sikhs should also undertake a form of ‘sewa’ (service to God), by giving to the needy and helping others, this usually takes place at the ‘Gurdwara’.”
(http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/religion/sikhism.html)

 


[“Shinto”, “Shinto”, “Shinto”]
Shinto-Symbol-e1349558537591

“Shinto is regarded as the religion indigenous to Japan and is thought to predate all reliable historical records. Literally translated the word ‘Shinto’ is composed of two words from the original Chinese Shêntao: ‘shin’ meaning gods or spirits and ‘to’ meaning the philosophical way or path. Shinto has no fixed dogma, moral precepts or sacred scriptures but many shrines (‘jinja’) around the country which have often been bases of power with ties to Imperial and Shogunal rule throughout the ages. Shinto followers worship a huge array of ‘kami’ (gods or spirits) which personify all aspects of nature, such as the sky, the earth, heavenly bodies, and natural phenomena. Sacred objects, such as rocks or trees, can be recognized by the shimenawa ropes and white paper strips attached to them. Many of the festivals held all over Japan originate from Shinto rites, including prayers of thanksgiving, offerings of food and valuables and purification rituals. Despite its many diffuse forms, some sources find it helpful to distinguish three types of Shinto practice. These in turn have given birth to many diverse schools and sects since medieval times to the present day.

Shrine Shinto is the oldest and most prevalent of the Shinto types. It has always been a part of Japan’s history and constitutes the main current of Shinto tradition. The Association of Shinto Shrines oversees about 80,000 shrines nationwide.

Sect Shinto is comprised of 13 groups formed during the 19th century. They do not have shrines, but conduct religious activities in meeting halls. Shinto sects include the mountain-worship sects, who focus on worshipping mountains like Mount Fuji, faith-healing sects, purification sects, Confucian sects, and Revival Shinto sects. Konkokyo­, Tenrikyo­, and Kurozumikyo­, although operating separately from modern Shinto, are considered to be forms of Sect Shinto.

Folk Shinto includes the numerous but fragmented folk beliefs in deities and spirits. Practices include divination, spirit possession, and shamanic healing. Some of their practices come from Taoism, Buddhism, or Confucianism, but most come from ancient local traditions.”
(http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/religion/shinto.html)