definition: par•a•digm (pār'ə-dīm', -dĭm')

3. A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004.

Statement of Purpose

The purpose of this blog is four-fold:
to recognize that every person functions within a basic paradigm, which affects how all information is processed;
(2) to understand the paradigms of others;
(3) to discuss, in particular, paradigms which are related to science, religion, and philosophy.

(4) to reveal the paradigm shifts in my own life, a process that has completely changed the direction and purpose of my existence.

The purpose of this blog is NOT to convince anyone that their paradigms or beliefs are correct or incorrect. I am hoping for an honest dialog, but the discussions must remain respectful of others, even if there is profound disagreement. If any comments are not respectful, they will be removed.
(Revised 1/13/09)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Comparison of 11 Different Religions - Part 2


Beginnings of Daoism
Ancient roots

Daoism can be traced back to Shamanism, which spread into Mongolia and China at least ten thousand years ago. Two mythological figures from those early days are the divine brother and sister Fu Hsi and Nu Kua. Together they created human progeny and created all aspects of civilization, such as writing, agriculture, medicine and astrology. They were the first two of the Three August Ones of Chinese mythology. Later came the Yellow Emperor, bringer of order and the first recorded ruler. Legend puts his rule around 2500 BC. He is revered as the one who introduced divine knowledge into human society, especially the arts of medicine.

Formal beginnings

The influence of the Shamans in ancient China waned from the beginning of the first millennium BCE. During this period the great Lao Zi is supposed to have lived, and written the Dao De Jing (Tao Te-Ching), the most important book of Daoist wisdom. Daoism was formally established as a religion under the East Han dynasty, about 2,000 years ago. Since then Daoism has been one of the main components of Chinese culture, and has exerted great influence on the Chinese way of thinking, working and acting.

The five religions of China

Daoism is one of the five recognised religions of China – the other four are Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism and Islam. Now the influence of Daoism has spread beyond the Chinese-speaking world to attract international interest.


Beginnings of Hinduism

The religion of India
Hinduism is the indigenous religion of India. It grew over thousands of years into a body of teaching and culture which we now call Hinduism, named after the Western word for India, formerly called Hind, the land on the other side of the Indus River. India’s own name for its religion is Sanatan Dharma which means the eternal occupation of the soul. Religion in India has always been a natural part of daily life: for the body the natural thing is to breathe and to eat, and for the soul the natural occupation is religion.

Early sources

Hinduism has no single founder. It evolved out of the rich culture of ancient India. Between 3000 and 1500 BC the Aryans migrated into India from present-day Iran. In Northern India they met a culture already well-established, with cities such as Mohenjo Daro in present-day Pakistan. In Southern India the Deccan culture flourished for 1500 years up to about 1000 BC. Early Hinduism developed out of these three cultures.

The Vedic hymns
The source of Hindu teaching is the Vedic hymns, poems passed down from ancient times by word of mouth, and written in the Sanskrit language in their earliest form around 1500 BC. Hindus believe the Vedas are the inspired word of God, delivered at the dawn of the universe to Brahma, the first created being. The central theme of these poems, expanded in other sacred writings, is the soul’s search for liberation from suffering, and ultimately for release from the cycle of birth and death.


Beginnings of Islam

The Prophet Muhammad was born in Makkah, in present-day Saudi Arabia, in 570 and grew up as a trader. At the age of 40 he had a visitation from the Angel Jibreel (Gabriel), who gave him messages from God. He told these messages to the people of Makkah, and some believed him and began to follow the teachings of God as revealed to Muhammad. He and his followers were forced to leave Makkah and travel to Medina, where they founded the first Muslim community in the year 622. The Muslim calendar dates from this journey, known as the Hijrah. After a few years Muhammad returned to Makkah with an army of supporters and re-entered the city. He died in 632.

The Qur’an
Muhammad continued receiving messages from God throughout the later part of his life. He memorised these messages and passed them on to his followers. After his death they were collected and written down in the Qur’an (Koran). The sayings and deeds of Muhammad were recorded in the Hadith. These two books are the source of guidance for all Muslims.

The Spread of Islam

Within the Prophet’s lifetime Islam covered most of the Arabian peninsular. In the following 100 years, Muslims conquered the Persian Empire and much of the Byzantine Empire to rule from North Africa and Spain to the borders of China. Many of the conquered peoples converted to Islam, although in some cases this took several centuries.Now there are more than 50 independent Muslim countries and there is a worldwide population of around 1,300 million Muslims.

Beginnings of Jainism

The founders of the ancient Jain religion were the 24 Tirthankaras most of whom lived before recorded history. Their name means ford-makers, who cross over the river of birth and death. These sages were also called jina, meaning spiritual victors, and their followers, who revere them and remember their examples, are called Jains.


The last of the 24 Tirthankaras was Mahavira, born around 540 BC. At the age of 30 he left home to wander as an ascetic and practice penance. After 12 years he found enlightenment and started teaching. He gathered hundreds of thousands of followers and divided them into four groups: monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen. By the 5th century BC the Jain religion was an influential force in Northern India.

Tattvartha Sutra

The most important Jain scripture is the Tattvartha Sutra, written in Sanskrit in the 2nd century AD. It summarises the entire Jain doctrine and remains the basis for Jain education to this day.

Jainism today

By the 12th century was in decline in India, making way for Hindus and Muslims, but it has remained strong mainly in Gujarat, Maharastra and Rajasthan, in the North-West of India, where more than 7 million Jains live today. Small communities live in Britain and America.

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