BELIEF SYSTEMS

-Sierra Dowdle


ANIMISM

Animism was originated in Africa usually in traditional communities. People who believe in Animism worship the spirits of nature like trees and animals and even inanimate objuects. They also worship there ancestors. They believe that their ancestors are an important link between the present world and the spiritual world. Communities that practice Animism usually demonstrate great respect and understanding of nature.

Most traditional cultures that practice Animism often have the tradition of story telling rather than having a writing system. Animism is probably one of man's oldest beliefs. Its origin is most likely from the Paleolithic age. Animism incorporates the belief that there is no separation between the spiritual and physical worlds. examples of Animism can be found in other forms of religion like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Shintoism.

Shintoism

Shintoism originated in Japan. If you practiced the belief of Shintoism you also had a great respect for the natural world. They worship the spirits of Kami which exists in all things including their Emperor which they believed was god like. Kami is not only in spiritual beings but also different elements of nature like mountains, rivers and even geographical regions.

Shintoism doesn't really have a founder and has no official sacred texts. Practices of Shintoism were first recorded in Kojiki and Nihon Shoki during the 8th century. Shintoism does not actually require someone to profess faith to be a believer.

Hinduism

Hinduism was created in India and stayed in India. The Vedas is the sacred text of the Hinduism religion. People who practice Hinduism believe in reincarnation. They believe that one's soul is reborn into another form until it has reached perfection. They believe in Brahman who is known as the universal spirit. Hundreds of gods are used to identify all of the roles of Brahman. They also believe in Karma and Dharma. Karma is all of someone's deed in their lifetime. Dharma is what determines what one's Karma will be like the acts that one is supposed to do in there lifetime. Hinduism has beliefs spanning from monotheism, polytheism, pantheism and others.

Hindu's try to lead a life with good morals in order to keep moving towards perfection. The Caste System is used as the traditional social classification system for Indian people. People could move up or down the caste system by the type of job the had. Hinduism is the world's third largest religions.

Buddhism

Buddhism began in India but was not accepted there because the Hinduism social order was too strong. Missionaries began to teach others about the religion and it began to spread. From India Buddhism went to both China and Southeast Asia. Then from China it spread to Korea and Japan.

Believers in Buddhism Believe in the Four Noble Truths. Their affect on culture was that they learn to accept what life brings to them.

The Four Noble Truths are

  • Everyone suffers
  • Suffering is caused by having desire\
  • To end suffering, end desires
  • -To end desires, follow the eight fold path

Taoism

Taoism was originated in China by a man named Lao-Tse. The Tao Te Ching is the sacred or holy text of Taoism. The believers in Taoism follow the way of nature. They accept the things that can not be changed. The belief of Taoism has affected the culture because they don't challenge the natural process and accept things as they come. Modern political repression from mostly the Communists has caused the importance of Taoism less public.

A believer is expected to maintain a balance of everything which is depicted by the yin and yang. This pretty much means just don't mess with the Tao and everything should be fine.

The concepts of Taoism have had a lasting impression on many things from art to medicine. They don't usually associate themselves with activities including politics or other social stresses. It has also had an influence on surrounding areas in Asia.

Some Taoist temples fly square or triangular flags. They usually have mystical writing or pictures and are intended to fulfill various functions including guiding spirits of the dead, bringing good fortune and increases your life span.

On certain dates food will be set out as a sacrifice to the spirits of the deceased or to gods. Also on certain holidays there are street parades which often include firecrackers and covered floats with traditional music playing.

Confucianism

The religion of Confucianism originated in China It was created by a man named Confucius. It was created to be a guiding philosophy to help maintain order in Chinese culture. It is directed more to a man's social interactions like politics and society. Believers in Confucianism believe that one should know and accept their role in society. The affect on the culture is that they have a great amount of respect for their parents, elders and the county which is also known as filial piety.

The four main principles of Confucianism are:

  • Education is important for a well run society
  • Government officials should be good role models for society
  • Everyone should know and accept their roles in society
  • Respect your elders

Relationships are very important to Confucianism. One has many different relationships at one time. Both people in the relationships have different duties. IN most of the relationships respect is always held for elders. The relationships are:

  • Father to son
  • Older brother to younger brother
  • Husband to wife
  • Ruler to subjects
  • friends are equal to friends

Confucian ethics are a guideline for other beliefs including democracy, capitalism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism.

Judaism

Judaism began in the middle east. It was started by the Hebrew people of the ancient fertile crescent. The Jews were kicked out of Palestine by the Romans during the diaspora. It was the scattering of Jewish people during the 1st century A.D. Most Jews went to the cities of Europe where they lived in ghettos. There was a lot of persecution and oppression in the ghettos.

Jewish people believe that there is only god, they obey only him. they believe this because of the stories they are told in their holy book the Torah. They will also lead a good moral life so in return the god will send a messiah someday to save them from their sins. These beliefs affected culture because while they are waiting the Messiah they live a good moral life. They also follow the ten commandments.

The tallit is worn by many Jewish men or women during a prayer service. In some customs it is customary to wear one only after marriage. Jewish holidays are important days to celebrate moments in Jewish history. They are also for themes in relationships between god and the world like creation, revelation, and redemption.

Christianity

Christianity is originated from the Middle east. Christians believe in one god. They believe the Jesus Christ is son of God and that he is the Messiah that the Jewish religion is waiting for. After the death of Jesus, missionaries spread his word to the world. In the Roman Empire the Romans persecuted Christians. They slowly began to accept the Christians ideas though. Eventually Christianity became the official religion of Rome and they began to spread it throughout the empire. it was also common in most of Europe during the middle ages.

Christians are expected to live a good moral life and treat each other fairly. Their beliefs affect cultures because they were appealing to people because there were simple rules which helped it spread quickly.

Christianity is now one of the largest religions. It has around two billion followers.

Islam

The religion of Islam began in the Middle East specifically in the city of Mecca. It was started by Mohammed in 622 A.D. Islam went out of Mecca east to India, west across North Africa and on into Spain. It spread by military conquest and trade.

Some of the main beliefs were that they were to follow Allah in all things and follow the Qur'an which was their holy text. Mohammad was the messiah who spread the word of god. Mohammad preached o the people of Mecca. He convinced many to switch from polytheism to worshiping one god. Each Muslim also needs to follow the Five Pillars of Faith which are:

  • Recite "there is no god but Allah and Mohammad is his prophet"
  • Pray five times each day facing Mecca
  • Charity; they must give regularly to charity
  • Fast from sunrise to sunset during the month of Ramadan
  • Pilgrimage; have to try to make a journey to Mecca at least once in their life time

The religious rules of Islam are very important. They often become the political laws of the nation. Islam is often more than a religion for many it is the way of life.

Islam is now the second largest religion and one of the fastest growing religions in the world.

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