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Ancient Religions and Beliefs
• Judaism
• Zoroastrianism
• Daoism
• Founded by Zoroaster. Persian prophet
and religious reformer offered an answer
to the basic question, “Why should so
much suffering and chaos exist in the
• Purpose – to rid the world of suffering and
• Relationships:
• Followers of Ahura Mazda, the God of Truth and
Light also called the Supreme God, would receive
• followers of Ahriman, the God of Evil and Darkness,
would suffer forever in a fiery pit.
• Process – People’s own choices control their fate.
• Teachings –
• Avesta – Teachings of Zoroaster
• Gathas – Hymns and poetry
– Two spiritual armies fight for possession of a person’s
– Developed ideas about heaven & hell, God & Satan,
human soul and final judgment that had a great
impact on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
– 1st Monotheistic religion, 6000-1500BCE
– "Zoroastrianism is the oldest of the revealed worldreligions, and it has probably had more influence on
mankind, directly and indirectly, than any other single
faith." Mary Boyce.
• Founded by
– Abraham was chosen as the “father” of the “chosen”
Hebrew people.
– Moses led the Hebrews out of slavery.
• Purpose – To be made a great nation, protected
by god and blessed by him.
• Relationships –
– Obey God, Yahweh
– Live justly with one another
• Process –
– Monotheism, a belief in a single god.
– A covenant was formed between God, Yahweh, and the
Hebrew people that if they obeyed Him, they would be
• Teachings –
– Torah – 1st 5 books of the Old Testament
– Talmud – Laws given to Moses by Yahweh
– The Ten Commandments were given to the Hebrews as
civil and religious laws which regulated social and religious
The Ten Commandments
I am the Lord, thy God and Thou shalt not have any
other gods before me.
2) Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
3) Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God
in vain.
4) Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
5) Honor thy father and thy mother.
6) Thou shalt not kill.
7) Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8) Thou shalt not steal.
9) Thou shalt not bear false witness.
10) Thou shalt not covet.
• Founded by Muhammad
• Relationships – Belief in one God - Allah.
• Muslim – One who follows Islam
• Process –
– Life long acts of worship
• The Five Pillars
• Teachings –
– Five Pillars of Islam
Faith – One God, Allah, Muhammad is his messenger.
Prayer – 5 times a day, facing Mecca (the east)
Alms or Charity – to the poor, a religious tax
Fasting – Month of Ramadan, one meal at the end of the
• Pilgrimage – to Mecca, at least once in their life.
– Believe in the Bible and the prophets of Judaism and
– Qur’an – Words revealed to Muhammad by the angel
– Shari’ah – Laws based on principles of the Qur’an,
regulates religious, political and social aspects of life.
• Two Main Divisions
– Sunni – People of Tradition, quietists. Leaders are elected,
not blood related, majority
– Shi’ite – Activists/radical, True leadership is passed
through bloodlines, minority.
• Belief in final judgment – Paradise or hell.
• Founded by Jesus Christ
• Purpose – To reach salvation by following the
teachings of Christ
• Relationships – Belief in one God
– Often refer to God in three ways:
• God the Father, creator and Father of all humankind
• God the Son, Jesus the Christ
• God the Holy Spirit.;power of God experienced by people in
their lives, inspiring human beings all over the world.
• This is not suggesting that there are three different Gods but one
God working in three different ways. It is how Christians explain
that Jesus was God and a human.
• Process –
– Live a good life, free of sins.
– Repent of sins that you have/do.
• Through Jesus, it is possible for humanity to turn back to God and
to be saved from sin.
• Those who live a Christian life, believe in Jesus and turn back to
God, can look forward to a further life of happiness after death, as
they will be received into heaven.
• Teachings –
– Teachings of Christ as recorded in the New Testament
of the Bible.
– Nicene Creed - It is in three sections, states
beliefs about God, Jesus and other aspects of
– Belief in the resurrection. The Bible states that the
resurrection of Jesus Christ was a sign that he had
gained victory over the power of death. Because of
this, death is not the end, and that after death there is
eternal life.
– After death, the physical body dies but the spirit lives
on. This spirit, or soul, is reunited with God (in
heaven) and then finds eternal rest.
Branches of Christianity
• Founded by Siddhartha Gautama
• Purpose – Through meditation, find Nirvana,
a refuge from inevitable suffering through
living a moral and religious life. Avoid
• Relationships – None, except with self, right
thinking and good deeds.
• Process – By understanding the Four Noble Truths,
and mastering the Eightfold Path through a series of
reincarnations, one could achieve ‘nirvana’.
• Teachings –
– Four Noble Truths
– Eightfold Path
– Five Precepts
State of bliss, free from suffering and
dissatisfaction. The release of selfishness and
Religious and Moral duties
good or bad deeds – how you live in one life, will
determine your path in the next life
• Four Noble Truths
1.Everything is suffering and sorrow.
2.Caused by selfish desires of temporary pleasures
of the world.
3.To end suffering, end desires.
4.To overcome desires and attain enlightenment,
follow the Eightfold Path called the Middle Way
between desires and self-denial.
Eightfold Path
Right view
Right thought
Seeing things as they really are, the truth of things.
Think good things, free from selfish desires and ill will
towards others.
Right speech
Words have consequences; therefore, every time a person
speaks, they could be the cause of either good or evil.
Avoid harsh words & lying, and try to say good things.
Eightfold Path
• Right action
• Deeds have consequences. Actions are performed because
they help a person attain Nirvana. Give up wanting
• Right way of life
• A person’s way of life must be the right one or else it will
be difficult to follow all the paths.
• Example - certain types of jobs would interfere with a person’s
striving for freedom, some occupations are morally wrong. In order
to have a chance, a person must have the right job and lifestyle.
Eightfold Path
• Right effort
• Effort to rejecting anything which would interfere
with a person’s progress towards right meditation.
• Right mindfulness
• Pay full attention to what you are doing. Be aware of
what is going on and give attention to what is
happening at present rather than thinking about the
past or the future.
• Right concentration
• Meditation. Concentrate the mind entirely on one
thing. The way to enlightenment is through attention
not through fantasy.
Five Precepts
– Basic rules for the lay person
– Five Precepts
Refrain from destroying life – Don’t Kill
Refrain from taking what is not given – Don’t Steal
Refrain from impurity – Stay Morally Clean
Refrain from Lying
Refrain from using intoxicating substances
• Both Buddhism and Hinduism involve a break
from the chain of reincarnations once a
perfect state of understanding is achieved.
For Buddhism this is called Nirvana, in
Hinduism, this is called Moksha.
• Founded by – No single founder
• Brahman (or the world soul) has three main
functions called the gods, Shiva, Brahma and
Sometimes these are referred to as the supreme gods.
Brahma - Creator and source of all creation.
Vishnu - Preserver and keeps all good things on earth.
Shiva - Destroyer and is needed because some things
are harmful and change is necessary for the creation
of new things.
– Each of the supreme gods has a female partner
• Purpose – To liberate the soul from the illusions,
disappointments, and mistakes of everyday life.
Attain Moksha. Non-violence
• Relationships – When one understands the
relationship between atman (the individual soul)
and Brahman (the world soul), that person will
achieve perfect understanding and release from
life in this world (moksha).
• Process – Understanding does not come in one
lifetime, but through reincarnation (rebirth),
until moksha is achieved. Three different paths
may be chosen to achieve moksha.
– Path of Knowledge. Through meditation, possible to
know the truth and be released from the attachments
of this world.
– Path of Self-Realization. Living free from selfish gain
and dedicating everything one does to God.
– Path of Devotion. It is devotion to God, is achieved
through daily worship, in prayer and in offerings. This
path is God-centred, where a person's actions
performed for God and not for themselves.
• Teachings – Karma - every action has an effect,
and that there is a cause for everything that
happens in life.
– A person's karma will affect their future lives: evil or
selfish actions will result in an unhappy future while
unselfish or good actions will bring benefits in the
next life.
– Belief that every Hindu is born into a particular caste
(varna/social status) as a result of their behavior in a
previous life.
– Ahimsa – non violence, especially cows
• Mother cow – Source of food and material goods
– Vedas – Prayers and Hymns
– Upanishads – Collection of writings, learn about
Brahman and the Universe.
• Atman - the individual soul
• Brahman – the world soul that contains and
unites all atmans.
• Karma – good or bad deeds – follows from
one reincarnation to another.
• Ahimsa - Non-violence
• Dharma - Religious and Moral duties
• Hindus today are free to choose the deity they
worship or to choose none at all.
• Most choose to try and achieve moksha by
following the Path of Devotion.
• Founded by Confucius
• Purpose – Ethics, to improve oneself morally,
socially and politically.
• Relationships – Social and Civic responsibility,
order and harmony
• Process – Education, Filial Piety.
• Teachings –
– The Analects
– The Five Classics
– Social order, harmony, and good government
could be achieved if society was organized by
the Five Basic Relationships
– Education can transform a humbly born
person into a gentleman.
• Education became critically important to career
advancement in the bureaucracy.
• About 6 million (26,000 in US)
• “If a ruler himself is upright, all will go well
without orders. But if he himself is not upright,
even though he gives orders, they will not be
• Golden Rule : “Do not unto others what you
would not want other to do unto you.”
• Filial Piety - Children should respect their parents
and elders.
• Five Basic Relationships:
Ruler and Subject
Father and Son
Husband and Wife
Older Brother and Younger Brother
Friend and Friend.
• Shows importance of FAMILY and the individual’s responsibility to
• Based on the philosophy of Laozi.
– A universal force called Dao, meaning “the Way,” refers to
the power that envelops, surrounds and flows through all
living and non-living things (Animism).
• Purpose – To gain knowledge and understanding of
nature. Achieve balance in the universe, harmony of
opposites (love/hate).
• About 20 million, Taiwan.
• Relationships – Nature, scientific studies. Reject
• Process –
– If you seek order and harmony, go up into the hills, and
observe that nothing in nature strives for fame, power, or
even wisdom.
• Influences – Acupuncture, Meditation, Tai Chi, Holistic
• Teachings – Its search for knowledge and understanding of
nature led followers to pursue scientific studies such as
alchemy, astronomy, and medicine.