Eastern Religion and The New Age Movement

Eastern Religion and The New Age Movement

Eastern Religion and The New Age Movement History, Theology and Practice By John Oakes, Ph.D. Outline Definitions Hinduism Buddhism New Age Other Eastern Religions

Jaina Confucianism Daoism Sikhism Shinto Bahai Definitions

Animism: Anima = spirit. A religious system which includes the belief that spirits inhabit inanimate objects and phenomena Polytheism: Poly = many. A belief that the universe is governed by many gods. Pantheism: Pan = all. A belief that a spirit fills the universe. God is the universe, and we are part of God. Dualism: A belief that the universe is governed by nearly equally matched forces of good and evil. (Zoroastrianism) Definitions (cont.) Asceticism: a belief that enlightenment, or a close relationship with deity is obtained by an extreme denial

of worldly pleasures and possessions. Associated with monasteries, monks, nuns, and the like. Mysticism: a belief which has been incorporated in all world religions which sees enlightenment and spiritual powers coming through contemplation/meditation/direct experience of God. Other important concepts Scripture: The list of primary authoritative writings for a particular religion. Inspiration: The belief that a particular writing, edict or tradition comes by direct communication from divinity, and is therefore perfect and authoritative.

Myth: A story, presumably fictionalized, about a divine interaction with human beings which teaches an important religious truth. HINDUISM The principle religion of India. Approximately 900,000,000 adherents. Began as animism/polytheism Evolved into polytheism/pantheism Syncretistic. Hinduism is not really a single religion.

Ganesh: a Hindu deity God of wisdom and intellect Important Hindu Terminology Brahman universal soul Atman soul, essence atman is part of a brahman. Maya illusion Reincarnation a disincarnated soul enters a new body, starting a new existence (samsara) Shakti power Karma a principle of cause and effect

Nirvana oneness with brahman Dharma righteousness Principle gods of Hinduism Lakshmi Brahma Chief god of the pantheon. Shiva God of destruction. Worshipped as a male phalus. Vishnu Preserver and protector. Krishna

The eighth emanation of Vishna. Rama Seventh incarnation of Vishna. Hero of the Ramayana. Devi Chief female deity. The power (shakti) that animates the cosmos. Lakshmi Female consort of Vishnu. Godess of prosperity. History of Hinduism Aryan invasions about 1500 BC Early animistic religions of Indian subcontinent merged with Aryan/Persian religion Gradually, a huge pantheon of gods distilled down to the chief deities, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva

Scriptures of Hinduism Vedas Poems. Ritualistic, priestly. 1500-1000 BC. Include the Brahmanas. Upanishads Highly philosophical essays about brahman, atman, transmigration of atman, karma and so forth. 800-600 BC. Epics (Ramayana, Mahabarata, Bhagavad Gita) Mythic adventures of Rama, Krishna and others. Puranas Largely local legends, myths, many local deities. AD 400-1000. This is the scripture of most local Hindus. Tantras Religious discussions/teachings. Caste System A historical remnant of the vedic system and the

interaction between the Aryans and the natives of the subcontinent Brahmins the priestly (Aryan) class Kshatriyas The ruling class. Kings, landlords, warriors. Vaishayas merchants Shudras servant/trade classes Untouchables Modern Hinduism Yogic practices Gurus (teacher), yogi (practitioners), sadhu (holy

men) Transcendental Meditation Hare Krishna Paramahansa Yogananda Buddhism Principle religion of Korea, Japan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma Sri Lanka and China? 400,000,000 adherents. A reaction against the rigid priestly system of Hinduism.

Pantheistic, or arguably non-theistic. A philosophy, a psychology. Life of Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) Born into a wealthy family in north Indiaabout 550 BC. Renounced his birthright. Sought nirvana/god through asceticism. Decided on a middle path between asceticism and sensuality. Created the eight-fold path to enlightenment (nirvana). Important Terms to Understand Buddhism Nirvana awakened state, lack of suffering.

Bodhi awakenment, enlightenment. Bodhisattva an awakened being. Dharma the Buddhas teachings. Sangha the Buddhist community of monks and nuns. Maitreya the second coming of Buddha prophesied. The Four Noble Truths of Siddhartha Suffering is not getting what one wants. The cause of suffering is desire which leads to rebirth. The way to end suffering is to end desire.

The way to the end of desire and of suffering is the eightfold path. The eight-fold path to bodhi/dharma/nirvana/lack of suffering Right viewpoint (the four noble truths). Right values. Right speech. Right actions. Right livelihood Right effort Right mindfulness Right meditation

Schools/Sects of Buddhism Mahayana (the greater vehicle) China, Korea, Japan. Ideal of the bodhisattva. Stresses the divine nature of the Buddha. Many mini-buddhas (bodhisattvas). Theravada Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma. A more pure form of Buddhism? Zen. An offshoot of Mahayana which emphasized meditation to achieve nirvana. Vajrayana Stresses tantric practices, rituals, initiations, mystical power. Tibet, Mongolia. Similar to Gnosticism. Buddhist Scripture The Tripitaka Three sets of the supposedly original

sayings and teachings and philosophy of Buddha. These were oral only for about 400 years. Disputes over the content of the Tripitaka led eventually to the Theravada, Mahayana and other sects. Jatakas Mahayana stories of previous incarnations of Siddhartha Buddha. Buddhism is a striving through many lives to come to a bodhisattva state. Practices of Buddhism Many monks and nuns who live ascetic lives Lay Buddhists follow the five precepts, which are, 1. do not kill 2. do not steal. 3. do not have sex. 4. do not lie and 5. do not get drunk

Meditation is a big part of many Buddhist traditions, involving the saying of a mantra. (Om Mani Padme Hum). New Age: A Very Confusing Religion Is it: Palm reading? Channeling? Seances? Meditation? Reincarnation? Occultism? Gurus?

Paganism? Gnosticism? Mother Goddess worship? Yes all the above. So, What is New Age, Really? You are God, I am God, the trees are God, we all are God! New Age is Western pantheism New Age is a syncretistic blend of Gnosticism, Hinduism, Spiritualism, Mysticism, Buddhism and Paganism. New Age is Monism! God is everything I am God!!! Once we begin to see that we are all God, then I think the whole

purpose of life is to re-own the God-likeness within us. Background Start with a shaker of the occult Transcendentalism Ralph Waldo Emerson Truth through human intuition. Theosophy (divine wisdom) Madame Blavatzky. I AM mysticism Guy Ballard Ascended Masters channeled

through Ballard and his son. Stir in some Hinduism All of these relied heavily on Hindu theology and practice. Reincarnation Pantheism Meditation (but New Age does not seek to escape the world)

Combine with Greek Philosophy/Gnosticism Man has a spark of the divine Need a guru to initiate you into deeper truths Interpret the Bible allegorically-let it tell a story Background (cont.) Add just a touch of paganism

Mother Goddess/the divine female/priestesses/feminism Combine it all together with a Post-modern reaction to scientific materialism/rationalism Experiential religion No sin (because we are god) You get the ultimate man-made (Western) religion. All religion is truth.

This is very appealing! You get the ultimate man-made (Western) religion Enlightenment is realizing the truth that you are God. There is no sin. Sin (if it exists) is ignorance. The goal is self-realization. Response to New Age Religion New Agers claim their religion is reasonable, but it is not. Their revelation through channeling is self-contradictory.

All religions are not the same Christianity: One triune God. A personal God. Islam: One impersonal God. Predestination. God cannot have a son. Hinduism: Many gods, pantheism

Buddhism: No godGod is irrelevant Zoroastrianism: Dualismgood vs evil Confucianism: Polytheism Jesus: We are not God We have a sin problem. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment. Hebrews 9:27 Jainism

Founder: Mahavira ~600-540 BC Last of 24 gurus. Parshva 750 BC? Location: India mostly. About 5,000,000 practitioners A reaction to worldly, priestly Hinduism Jaina Theology Very strong emphasis on asceticism Siddhartha may have been a follower before finding a middle way. We are souls trapped in a body. The goal: escape the body to reach nirvana through

ascetic practices. The Svastika a symbol of samsara (rebirth) Reincarnation Karma Pantheistic Jaina Scriptures The Purvas. Sayings of the 24 gurus all the original Purvas were lost.

Agama Sutras Sayings of Mahavira Jaina Sects Digambaras: Monks are nude, only males can reach enlightenment. Shvetambaras: Wear white robes. Women can be ordained as nuns. Jaina Worldview A very strange cosmology. The universe is an infinitely repeating pattern of cycles of time. One of the gurus lived 70 trillion years and was 3000 ft. tall.

The earth is the center of the universe The universe has existed forever. Five Mahavrata or rules of ascetic living Ahimsa. Non-harming (fly-whisk, strain liquids, etc) Satya. Truthfulness Asteya. Non-stealing Celibacy Non-attachment

Sikhism Location: India, especially the Punjab. 25,000,000 adherents. Founder: Nanak (1469-1539) A compromise between Islam and Hinduism. Nanak, founder of Jaina Avowedly monotheistic, but with many Hindu idea.

Sikh Teaching and Theology Reject polytheism but keep ideas of maya (illusion), samsara (reincarnation), karma Reject priestly system. All are equal before the True Name. Reject caste system. Opposition to idolatry and to asceticism. Sikhs do not try to escape the world, but to participate in it. The Golden Temple

Amristar, India Scriptures of Sikkhism The Adi Granth Compiled by the fifth guru Arjun in 1604 The Ganth of the Tenth King: Written by the last of the ten great gurus of Sikhism Gobind Singh. The Janamsakhis Legends. Obviously mythical accounts of the life of Nanak, including miracles. (Nanak never claimed to be a miracle worker). Works salvation: Sin and sorrow are destroyed by hearkening. Sikh Practices

The wearing of the male turban is very characteristic. Baptism in sugar water holding a dagger. Sikhs have been warriors. They have been very militaristic. Sikhs are immersed in worldly affairs. Businessmen, merchants etc. Think of Sikhs as the opposite of Jains. Confucianism Founded by Confucius 551-478 BC. Principle religion in China? Is it a religion?

Also influential in Korea and Viet Nam. Not a religious leaderhe accepted the religious superstition of his day as sufficient. AgnosticKeep aloof from spiritual matters, but perform the ceremony correctly. Utilitarian, conservative philosophy. Each person should accept his position in society for righteousness and stability. Strong emphasis on proper government, training for holding government office. Confucianism (cont.) Practical rather than esoteric. Ancestor worship stressed.

Later Confucian philosophy involved emphasis on ying and yangthe competing balance between good vs. evil, physical vs. spiritual, hate vs. love. (Dualism) Confucianism competed with two other philosophies: Taoism and Moism. Confucianism, being more practical, generally won out. Confucian Scriptures

I-Ching 1000 BC. Book of divination, magic. Shu-Ching. History, ancient documents, speeches. Shin-Ching 800-600 BC. Poetry used extensively by Confucius. Customs concerning courtship, marriage, war, agriculture, feasts, sacrifices, etc.

Li Chi. Book of ceremonial etiquite. 200 BC 200 AD. Chun Chiu. History of one Chinese province. Collected by Confucius? Lun Yu. Written down 400 BC. The sayings of Confucius, especially on ethics and government Analects of Confucius, etc Taoism (Daoism) Founded by Lao Tzua contemporary of Confucius. Scripture: The Tao Te Ching. Tao = way Te = power Ching = teaching Basic doctrine: Through non-involvement and withdrawal, we come

to know god/deity. Emphasis on self-interest. The religion of selfishness. Pantheistic. Experience God by contemplating nature. Emphasis on mysticism and magic. He would not pluck so much as a hair out of his head for the benefit of his fellow man. Bahai Founded by Baha-Ullah 1817-1892 The Bab 1819-1850 The John the Baptist of Bahai Begun in Iran, moved to Iraq, Lebanon. Very widely spread today. About 7,000,000 adherents.

A reform movement within Islam? History and Teaching The Bab was martyred in 1850 in 1852 Baha-Ullah claims to have received a vision, while in prison, of a divine woman who declared him to be The Beauty of God amongst you. ie the next prophet. Bahai is the culmination of all the worlds religions. Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, BahaUllah. No priests, no ceremony.

Theology and Teaching Monotheistic. God is unknowable The most Exalted, the Inaccessible. Baha-Ullah claimed to be The second coming of Christthat John 14:16 was about him. The Maitreyathe second coming of Buddha. The new incarnation of Krishna The fulfillment of the Day of God in the Koran.

Strong emphasis on equality, education, peace. Progressive Revelation. Religious truth is not absolute but relative. Teachings and Scripture. Salvation through keeping the law as handed down by Baha-Ullah Emphasis on good deeds, helping the poor, education Jesus did not die for our sins, because he did not have to. We are imperfect, but not lost. Scripture: The writings of Baha-Ullah. There are many!

Other World Religions Shintothe ancestral religion of Japan. Animist ZoroastrianismDualistic religion with origins in Persia. Worship of Ahura Mazda; a fire god. Summary The theologies of world religions are fundamentally and diametrically opposed to one another. Many paths to the same God is a ludicrous philosophy. The truth of the Bible is confirmed by

Clear evidence of inspiration (fulfilled prophecy, types and foreshadows, historical accuracy, scientific evidence, etc) Public miracles worked by Moses, Elijah and others, and especially by Jesus Christ (Hebrews 2:3,4).

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