Unit Four- Belief Systems

About Animism

Animism originated in Africa. It is also the oldest of all religions ever. It is very traditional. Animism is practiced in many cultures, not just one specific culture. Although most of this religion is practiced in Africa today.

Main Beliefs!

Animists believe that living and non-living things have a spirit. Such as plants and animals. Nature is respected so much that they might even worship plants at times. They believe that forests are where spirits dwell. To understand this religion you must have a great respect for the spirit of all things. You must also understand that they believe in having total respect for your ancestors as well, even after they pass away you offer sacrifices to them to please them. Ones ancestors are a link between the physical world and the spiritual. Between the physical world and the spiritual, to them, there is no fine line. The line is in a sense blurry. They believe what happens in one results in the other. The most important thing to remember when learning or reading about Animism is that they believe the earth is alive the hills and rivers are most sacred to them.

what's the impact on the culture?

Animists have such great understanding of what the earth provides for us and the resources it supplies. They also show so much appreciation towards ancestors that came before them, because they are the link between the physical world and the spiritual. Even after they pass on the existing citizens still live to please them, and offer sacrifices. This creates such a great dynamic for the overall religion.

What is cool about this religion?

Modern day Animists do not believe in Hell or the devil. They believe people alone are responsible for his or her own actions and do not not essentially blame an evil presents or vibe. They believe that humans or no more good or evil than any other creature. In a sense it's all a unified system.

What is also cool is that people who practice this religion have no dietary restrictions, but they do believe in eating as natural as they can. They are a fan of eating locally grown things. There is no fasting or sacred animals of any kind involved.

One of the really nice things about Animism is that it's not strict. There are no specific rules really, other than it is expected that nature is respected, and ancestors are appreciated. There is also such a wide variety of people all around the world that practice it, it is not central to one specific country. This religion is in a sense such a "loose" or basic introduction of spirits, and souls. Many people are attracted to this religion because it remains so basic and non-complex as it was when it was first founded around 2100 B.C.

Online Sources!

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Location and the beginning!

Hinduism originated from India, and it really mainly stayed in India. Hindus also follow a holy book called the Vedas. At the start of Hinduism there is a lot of cultural diffusion. Cultural diffusion meaning there is a variety of beliefs in which Hinduism inhabits its beliefs from. Hinduism started with the beliefs of the ancient Indus river valley civilizations people. Then Hinduism first started to solidify in the reign of the Mauryan Empire. This ends up contributing a great deal to the Indian culture.

Main beliefs and Gods

Hindus believe in a universal spirit, this is Brahman. To break it down most simply they believe in hundreds of different gods all to identify with Brahman. The gods are all the same, but sometimes Hindus like them in different forms, such as Maya, Kali, Durga, and Vishnu. The literal word Maya means illusion, Maya creates ignorance for each and every single individual. Kali is the goddess of time and transformation into death. Kali is also a ferocious form of the divine mother. Durga in Sanskrit means invincible, basically when demons threatened to destroy the very existence of gods they all worked together to from parts of Durga out of all of them, giving her powerful weapons like the trident from Shiva and the Chakra from Vishnu. Finally Vishnu, Vishnu is the preserver and protector of creation. He can usually be represented standing on coiled serpents, they massage his feet, which maintains his peaceful mood. He never sleeps and although he is the embodiment of mercy and goodness, he does not tolerate ego.

Other than the many gods Hindus believe in reincarnation, the belief that a soul can be reborn into many variations of things. Hopefully the soul will climb higher and higher until it reaches perfection, which is Brahman. Karma is a concept they believe in that totals up ones deeds in a lifetime. If one has good karma they reach high points, if one has bad karma they do not. Dharma determines what karma a person receives.

Overall Hindus practice very strict concepts and gods. One, they believe in reincarnation. They believe in souls and afterlives. Two they believe in many gods. Three they believe in the concepts of Karma and Dharma as well. There are so many aspects and that's just the surface of it all.

How did it affect the culture?

Hinduism had a very, very strong influence on India's culture. Other aspects of this religion is also the driving force behind the Caste System. In other words Hinduism (the religion) influenced other ideas about how this culture should be ran. The Caste System is a social classification for the Indian people. Essentially it is a set of rules for a specific family to follow for generations, if they want good Karma. If they want to succeed in the afterlife, they follow their families Caste System and everything works out for them later on, as long as they strictly follow this system.

facts, facts and more facts.

- Sindu comes from the Sanskrit language, meaning river. This refers mostly to the Indus river valley civilization, where it all began.

-There are four stages to life, Brahmacharga is for years of growing and learning, Grhastha is the stage for marriage and a career, vanapastha is the time for you to think more of the spiritual side of things more clearly, and finally Sangrasu where one can abandon the physical world and seek spiritual things.

-Their sacred text is Vedas.

Online Sources


Shintoism originated in Japan. Shintoism has no holy book, because of how traditional it really is. Although it is traditional they believe in some main things and there is an affect upon culture Shintoism is just very traditional.

Main Beliefs!

People who practice Shintoism believe in spirits of Kami. They believe Kami is in all things, including the Emperor. Kami is basically a supernatural force, like a realm for all things sacred. Mostly Shintoests believe in respecting nature, that's why so many shrines in which they pray under or near are in forests or parks or somewhere near a pond or river.

How does this impact culture?

This has such a great impact on culture because of the respect they have for nature. They also find it so important to respect their Emporer, he is in charge so he should be greatly respected, that is what they believe.

Interesting facts!

- One must wash their hands and feet to purify themselves before worship.

- The alter in which one worships near is called Kamidana.

- Kagura are ritual dances, these dancers are highly trained and dance to ancient instruments. These dances are usually done by young girls because of their "purity".

- Purification is extremely important to Shintoism. Some might find this the most attractive thing about Shintoism.

- Since purification is so important in June and December of each year a Priest waves a cleansing wand over all the people, then the people rub themselves with paper dolls and so the dolls are the ones that obtain the impurities, the priest then disposes of them.

- The New Year celebration starts January first and ends the seventh. The seventh marks a new year.

Online sources.


About Buddhism

Hinduism was founded by a Prince who originated from India, which means this religion also originated from India. Hinduism did however spread into China, Southeast Asia, Korea and Japan as well. This prince broke out of his home and what he saw outside of the walls of his home was sickness, and poverty. He didn't like this. So he set out to see how he could stop this, he thought about this for a long time under a tree one day and he then came up with an idea all his own, about how things should be. This religion is so similar to Hinduism, yes. Yet, there are a few differences. Like their beliefs are different. Read on to find out what this prince came up with on his journey to find a cure for all things that he saw wrong.

Main Beliefs

Hindus mainly believe in minimalizing or having no desires what so ever. There is an explanation to this idea. The explanation is this, suffering is what causes desires, when people desire things they cannot afford or are not able to have people get greedy and greediness leads to anger and anger leads to angry people, when angry people run a society the society suffers from this. So to end all suffering one must not have desires, in a sense you have to clear your mind and your life of all of its "clutter". Once you end your desires follow the Eight Fold Path. The Eight Fold Path is basically having a positive attitude and good behavior, as well as using good judgment. This helps create a peaceful and well-behaved culture. By the time this prince figures out what was wrong with the world he changes his name to Buddha meaning the "enlightened one".

Impact on Culture

One might ask how Buddhism impact culture. Buddhism impacts culture because it allows people to live well rounded lives, as well as a good perspective on life and how you should always learn to accept things as they are and never try to change them. To desire is not what they believe in, so Buddhists live minimalistic lives, in other words they are very simple.

Interesting Facts!

-Buddhism contains more than one billion followers, making it the third most largely followed religion in the world.

- Yoga, Vegetarianism, and meditation are its greatest contributions to the world.

- The idea of marriage was founded by Hindus.

- Wasting food is a big deal in the Hindu religion, they consider it so disrespectful.

- Hindus believe that we reach the human body after 8,400,000 other species in advance.

- The Ganges River was considered "mother".

- Teachers, parents, and food are all considered next to god.

Online Sources


About Taoism

The place in which Taoism originated from is China. Their Holy Book is called the Tao de Ching. Taoism is also the second youngest religion we have learned about. The people who follow this religion are all about accepting the way of nature, the things you cannot change. These people have learned how to leave things be, as they are.

Core Beliefs

The one main thing Taoists believe is acceptance. They regularly accept the things that they can't change, and the things that should not be changed, such as nature. They must always respect the laws of nature, meaning one cannot go against "the way". One must also maintain balance, the Yin and Yang symbol represents the earth as the dark and the light as heaven above. Everything will be in perfect balance if you learn be acceptant of all things.

So how does this affect culture?

This religion swayed their culture to be acceptant and tolerant of so many different situations. In other cases these situations could very well be stressful and demanding, Taoists learn to balance their lives and live an acceptant, and harmonized lifestyle.

What is interesting about Taoists?

- Taoists believe that a human is born pure, imperfect but capable of finding the Tao and doing good.

- When a human dies Taoists believe that one goes back into the state of a non-being.

- They believe that one must adore and follow the Tao.

- There are 20 million adherents.

- Taoism is very influential in the west especially under the category of alternative medicine.

- Taoists actually try to stay away from grains, they mostly require monks to be vegetarian.

- An old story explains the Taoist views on eating and sleeping, and this is how it goes: Once a student asked his teacher what enlightenment meant, the teacher replied by saying, "When you are hungry, eat. When you are tired, sleep."

Online Sources


About Confucianism

Confucianism starts in China. Confucius people believe in mainly knowing their role in society and never straying from that role. They believe also in the teachings of the Analects, their holy book. They have a great deal of respect for their country as well. They believe the people who practice this religion should always contribute their specific part in society and each part no matter how big or small is important to how things work in the society collectively. As far as rulers go they really respect their country for one, and for two they have lots of respect for the current emporer.

Core beliefs

Their core beliefs consist mostly of respect. Respect of parents and elders and most of all the country. They follow the concept of Filial Piety. They believe in one thing or person having strength and wisdom always over another person or thing at all times, which ensures correct guidance. A father guides his son, an older brother guides his younger brother, a husband guides his wife, a ruler guides his subjects, and friends are equal to each other as far as power and control goes.

Affected by culture?

How does this religion affect the Chinese culture. This religion definitely influences China's culture because this whole idea of respect for one who is in control over you gives china its whole reputation. When people think of the Chinese people they think of how respectful they are, and how aware they are of who exactly is in charge, and where they rank compared to that person in charge.

Cool Facts about Confusianism

- Confucianism has no practices, those practices are taken care of because Buddhism and Taoism exist in China as well.

-Their main principle is benevolence, signifying good character.

- Confucianism is 1000 to 5000 years of age.

- Holy sites are considered to be the school of the scholars.

- The positions of authority are considered philosophers and politicians.

- They believe in an afterlife.

About confucious

When Confucius mother died when he was twenty three he took on a new career, teaching, it fit him well because he felt that education was highly important. He felt his students should be kind, obedient and honest at all times. He also got the government in line. He gave it order overall. Confucius was known to be a bookkeeper and a clerk as well. He was most famous as a teacher and won great respect because he was so good at it.

Confucius wanted to maintain order in China so he created a philosophy known as Confucianism. Confucius wanted this philosophy to be more directed towards mans interactions with political issues and thoughts. He truly believed education was so important to the roles contributed towards society. To have a well rounded, well working society on needed to have an excellent education first. Government officals espectially needed to be well trained for the position they held, not only that but to set a good example for other citizens. He also believed in living a good moral lifestyle.

Online Sources



Judaism originated in the Middle East. Jewish people learn from the holy book of the Torah. They mostly believe that there is one god. They also believe that god will send a Messiah someday. They also believe in something called the ten commandments. In the beginning the Jews were slaves. They lived in ghettos, they had very poor living conditions. They were persecuted for many years until they found the promise land, Moses lead them there. The promise land is modern day Israel. they were eventually kicked out and were forced to spread and settle down in Europe. The Jewish people had many hard times but eventually they returned to their home, after centuries, to Israel in the 40s.

Main Beliefs

Judaism is the first religion to believe in the concept of there being only one god. Not only do they believe in one god but they also believe in a Messiah and that someday god will send him to the Jewish people and reward them for all the things they have done good and right. They believe also, in the ten commandments. The ten commandments is a set of rules that explains to people what is not acceptable to do while practicing this religion, things like lieing, stealing and killing.

How does this affect their culture?

Basically this religion lets people of the culture see that one should always follow gods laws and rules. In the end the Jewish people believe they will be rewarded and that the Messiah will come for them and bring good news and hope. The people of this culture should understand that Jewish people follow the way of god, so that the Messiah will come. They believe in being good moral human beings.

Interesting Facts

- Jewish people celebrate Hanukah, it is almost like a Christian Christmas. They celebrate it for eight days and nights. On the menorah the candles are lit each night, there are eight candles on the menorah.

- Their day or worship is on Saturday.

- Their spiritual leader is called a Rabbi.

- Their place of worship is called a synagogue.

- When entering the synagogue the Jewish people believe it is disrespectful to show their head to god. So they cover their head with a Yarmulke.

Online Sources


About Christianity

Christianity all started in the Middle East. Christians are monotheistic. They believe in making god happy and following teachings of the bible. They also believe in keeping up with being a good person and following the ten commandments. Basically the guidelines to living a good moral life. In the beginning the Christians were not accepted by the Romans after the romans killed many Christians they realized that they could and would get used to the religion and actually end up spreading and practicing it as well.

What are the main beliefs?

Christians believe that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus is therefore so important to Christians. They believe in god as well, but what's important to know is that they believe Jesus is gods son. The followers of Christianity should spread the word of Jesus after everyone dies, after Christians die they continue to follow Jesus's path. Christians divided as time went on, based on methods of worship. One group was Roman Catholic the other called Protestants. Christians believe that we commit sins, and god forgives them as long as they try and correct them. When all the wrong is corrected Christians get into heaven. Christians also believe in treating everyone fairly.

Affects on Culture?

Throughout this culture people were mostly influenced by Christianity because of this idea that there were simple rules. It was easy to be a good person, basically if you weren't a murderer or a robber. Lots of people were attracted to this idea. Lots of people found it beneficial to believe in this religion because there were just ten simple rules and in the end people figured this would get them into a happy place after they died.

interesting information

- There is this idea that god is so forgiving of everything. This attracted people to this religion.

- A rosary is a necklace looking object with lots of little beads on it. a Christian would bring it to church with them to pray with it, or pray with it wherever they are, and they believed god would hear their prayers through the Rosary.

- Jesus was nailed to a cross, by the Romans because they thought he wanted to come in and ruin their system with his bad teachings and lies, as they called it.

- Christians holy day is Sundays.

- Christians are involved in a holiday called Christmas, this celebrates Christ's birth. Christians also celebrate Easter which celebrates his death. Christmas is a time for giving. Easter is a time for new beginnings.

Online Sources


About Islam

Islam started in the Middle East, but more specifically in Arabia. It begun with the prophet Mohammed, he began to spread these Islamic ideas. Mohammed spread these ideas because he claimed to have seen the angel named Gabriel, he said the angel told him to spread the word. Islam spread so quickly because for one Arab warriors conquered many lands and spread the teachings of Islam to those places as they went on conquering more lands. Muslim people were also very tolerant of other cultures. Muslim people are the people who take part in practicing Islam.

Core Beliefs

Muslims believe in one god, their god is called Allah. They must always follow the ways and teachings of their holy book called the Quran. Also Muslims must always follow the Five Pillars of Faith. The Five Pillars of Faith mean you must recite, "There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is the prophet". You must also pray five times a day facing Mecca, and also give to charity regularly. Muslims must also fast from sun up to sun down during Ramadan and must travel to Mecca at least once in their life.

Affects upon Culture

Not only is this religion great on political laws and social ways but its not just a religion but for many it is a way of life. A way they can live their lives with great structure and repetitiveness. The ways of Islam have really become the ways of the culture overall.

Cool facts

- Islam means "to obey".

- Islam is the fastest growing religion in the whole wide world.

- Women are made to cover everything on their body except for their eyes and hands. some women may choose to wear a veil over their eyes to move the level of their modesty up.

-A veil is also necessary when in the desert, as well as thick clothing to ensure their skin and eyes are protected from the whipping sand, due to harsh winds.

-Basically men and women prefer to be modest they like to cover their body up.

- During the time of Ramadam one must restrain from evil actions such as outbursts and yelling and arguments.

Online Sources

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