The Elixir of Religion

Authors

The Elixir of Religion

(6801 words 02.06.05)

From the earliest days of man, some form or other of religious beliefs has shaped his conduct, his pursuits, and his community. Fundamentally it comes down to the fear of death and the pursuit of immortality. So let us examine, broadly, how some religions view afterlife. The following is just a template to start this examination:

Answer: There appear to be five major categories regarding how to get to heaven in the world’s religions. Most believe that hard work and wisdom will lead to ultimate fulfillment, whether that is unity with god (Hinduism, Buddhism, and Baha’i) or freedom and independence (Scientology, Jainism). Others, like Unitarianism and Wicca, teach the afterlife is whatever you want it to be, and salvation is a non-issue because the sin nature doesn’t exist. A few believe either the afterlife doesn’t exist or it’s too unknowable to consider.

Derivatives of the worship of the Christian-Judeo God generally hold that faith in God and/or Jesus and the accomplishment of various deeds, including baptism or door-to-door evangelism, will ensure the worshiper will go to heaven. Only Christianity teaches that salvation is a free gift of God through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8–9), and no amount of work or effort is necessary or possible to get to heaven.

Atheism: Most atheists believe there is no heaven—no afterlife at all. Upon death, people simply cease to exist. Others attempt to define the afterlife using quantum mechanics and other scientific methods.

Baha’i: Like many other religions, Baha’i doesn’t teach that man was born with a sin nature or that man needs saving from evil. Man simply needs saving from his erroneous beliefs of how the world works and how he is to interact with the world. God sent messengers to explain to people how to come to this knowledge: Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, and Baha’u’llah. These prophets progressively revealed the nature of God to the world. Upon death, a person’s soul continues its spiritual journey, perhaps through the states known as heaven and hell, until it comes to a final resting point, united with god.

Buddhism: Buddhism also believes that heaven, or “Nirvana,” is to be rejoined in spirit with god. Reaching Nirvana, a transcendental, blissful, spiritual state, requires following the Eightfold Path. This includes understanding the universe, and acting, speaking, and living in the right manner and with the right intentions. Mastering these and the other of the eight paths will return a worshipper’s spirit to god.

Chinese Religion: Chinese Religion is not an organized church, but an amalgamation of different religions and beliefs including Taoism and Buddhism. Upon death, worshipers are judged. The good are sent either to a Buddhist paradise or a Tao dwelling place. The bad are sent to hell for a period of time and then reincarnated.

Christianity: Christianity is the only religion that teaches man can do nothing to earn or pay his way into heaven. Man, a slave to the sin nature he was born with, must completely rely on the grace of God in applying Jesus Christ’s sacrifice to the sins of the believer. People are saved by faith in the death and resurrection of Christ. Upon death, the spirits of Christians go to heaven, while the spirits of unbelievers go to a temporary holding place called hell. At the final judgment, unbelievers are separated from God for eternity in the lake of fire.

Confucianism: Confucianism concentrates on appropriate behavior in life, not a future heaven. The afterlife is unknowable, so all effort should be made to make this life the best it can be, to honor ancestors, and to respect elders.

Eastern Orthodox: Orthodoxy is a Christian-Judeo derivative that reinterprets key Scripture verses in such a way that works become essential to reach heaven. Orthodoxy teaches that faith in Jesus is necessary for salvation, but where Christianity teaches that becoming more Christlike is the result of Christ’s influence in a believer’s life, Orthodoxy teaches that it is a part of the salvation process. If that process (called theosis) is not performed appropriately, a worshiper can lose his/her salvation. After death, the devout live in an intermediate state where this theosis can be completed. Those who have belief but did not accomplish sufficient progress in theosis are sent to a temporary “direful condition” and will go to hell unless the living devout pray and complete acts of mercy on their behalf. After final judgment, the devout are sent to heaven and the others to hell. Heaven and hell are not locations, but reactions to being in the presence of God, as there is nowhere that He is not present. For Christ-followers, God’s presence is paradise, but for the unsaved, being with God is eternal torment.

Hinduism: Hinduism is similar to Buddhism in some ways. Salvation (or moksha) is reached when the worshiper is freed from the cycle of reincarnation, and his spirit becomes one with god. One becomes free by ridding oneself of bad karma—the effect of evil action or evil intent. This can be done in three different ways: through selfless devotion to and service of a particular god, through understanding the nature of the universe, or by mastering the actions needed to fully appease the gods.

In Hinduism, with over a million different gods, there are differences of opinion regarding the nature of salvation. The Advaita school teaches salvation occurs when one can strip away the false self and make the soul indistinguishable from that of god. The dualist insists that one’s soul always retains its own identity even as it is joined with god.

Islam: Islam is a take-off on the Christian/Judeo God. Muslims believe salvation comes to those who obey Allah sufficiently that good deeds outweigh the bad. Muslims hope that repeating what Muhammad did and said will be enough to get to heaven, but they also recite extra prayers, fast, go on pilgrimages, and perform good works in hope of tipping the scales. Martyrdom in service to Allah is the only work guaranteed to send a worshiper to paradise.

Jainism: Jainism came to be in India about the same time as Hinduism and is very similar. One must hold the right belief, have the right knowledge, and act in the right manner. Only then can a soul be cleansed of karma. But in Jainism, there is no creator. There is no higher god to reach or lend aid. Salvation is man as master of his own destiny, liberated and perfect, filled with infinite perception, knowledge, bliss, and power.

Jehovah’s Witnesses: The teachings of the Watchtower Society lead us to categorize the Jehovah’s Witnesses as a cult of Christianity that misinterprets the book of Revelation. Similar to Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses teach different levels of heaven. The anointed are 144,000 who receive salvation by the blood of Christ and will rule with Him in paradise. They are the bride of Christ. For all others, Jesus’ sacrifice only freed them from Adam’s curse of original sin, and “faith” is merely the opportunity to earn their way to heaven. They must learn about Kingdom history, keep the laws of Jehovah, and be loyal to “God’s government”—the 144,000 leaders, 9,000 of whom are currently on the earth. They must also spread the news about the Kingdom, including door-to-door proselytizing. Upon death, they will be resurrected during the millennial kingdom where they must continue a devout life. Only afterwards are they given the opportunity to formally accept Christ and live for eternity under the rule of the 144,000.

Judaism: Jews believe that, as individuals and as a nation, they can be reconciled to God. Through sin (individually or collectively) they can lose their salvation, but they can also earn it back through repentance, good deeds, and a life of devotion.

Mormonism: Mormons believe their religion to be a derivative of Judeo/Christianity, but their reliance on extra-grace works belies this. They also have a different view of heaven. To reach the second heaven under “general salvation,” one must accept Christ (either in this life or the next) and be baptized or be baptized by proxy through a living relative. To reach the highest heaven, one must believe in God and Jesus, repent of sins, be baptized in the church, be a member of the LDS church, receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, obey the Mormon “Word of Wisdom” and all God’s commandments, and complete certain temple rituals including marriage. This “individual salvation” leads to the worshiper and his/her spouse becoming gods and giving birth to spirit children who return to Earth as the souls of the living.

Roman Catholicism: Roman Catholics originally believed only those in the Roman Catholic Church could be saved. Joining the church was a long process of classes, rituals, and baptism. People who had already been baptized but were not members of the Roman Catholic Church had different requirements and may even already be considered Christians. Baptism is “normatively” required for salvation, but this can include “baptism of blood” (i.e.: martyrdom) or “baptism of desire” (wanting to be baptized really badly). From the catechism: “Those who die for the faith, those who are catechumens, and all those who, without knowing of the Church but acting under the inspiration of grace, seek God sincerely and strive to fulfill his will, are saved even if they have not been baptized.” Despite the changes through the years, baptism (or the desire for baptism) is still required for salvation.

According to Catholicism, upon death, the souls of those who rejected Christ are sent to hell. The souls of those who accepted Christ and performed sufficient acts to be purified of sin go to heaven. Those who died in faith but did not complete the steps to be purified are sent to purgatory where they undergo temporary, painful punishment until their souls are cleansed. Purification by torment may be lessened by suffering during life and the offerings and prayers of others on the sinner’s behalf. Once purification is complete, the soul may go to heaven.

Scientology: Scientology is similar to Eastern religions in that salvation is achieved through knowledge of self and the universe. The “thetan” (Scientology’s answer to the soul) travels through several different lifetimes, attempting to expel painful and traumatic images that cause a person to act fearfully and irrationally. Once a Scientologist is “cleared” of these harmful images and becomes an “operating thetan,” he/she is able to control thought, life, matter, energy, space, and time.

Shinto: The afterlife in Shinto was originally a dire, Hades-like realm. Matters of the afterlife have now been transferred to Buddhism. This salvation is dependent on penance and avoiding impurity or pollution of the soul. Then one’s soul can join those of its ancestors.

Sikhism: Sikhism was created in reaction to the conflict between Hinduism and Islam, and carries on many of Hinduism’s influences—although Sikhs are monotheistic. “Evil” is merely human selfishness. Salvation is attained by living an honest life and meditating on god. If good works are performed sufficiently, the worshipper is released from the cycle of reincarnation and becomes one with god.

Taoism: Like several other Eastern religions (Shinto, Chinese folk religions, Sikhism), Taoism adopted many of its afterlife principles from Bismuddhism. Initially, Taoists didn’t concern themselves with worries of the afterlife and, instead, concentrated on creating a utopian society. Salvation was reached by aligning with the cosmos and receiving aid from supernatural immortals who resided on mountains, islands, and other places on Earth. The result was immortality. Eventually, Taoists abandoned the quest for immortality and took on the afterlife teachings of Buddhism.

Unitarian-Universalism: Unitarians are allowed to and encouraged to believe anything they like about the afterlife and how to get there. Although, in general, they believe people should seek enlightenment in this life and not worry too much about the afterlife.

Wicca: Wiccans believe many different things about the afterlife, but most seem to agree that there is no need for salvation. People either live in harmony with the Goddess by caring for her physical manifestation—the earth—or they don’t, and their bad karma is returned to them three-fold. Some believe souls are reincarnated until they learn all their life lessons and become one with the Goddess. Some are so committed to following one’s individual path that they believe individuals determine what will happen when they die; if worshippers think they’re going to be reincarnated or sent to hell or joined with the goddess, they will be. Others refuse to contemplate the afterlife at all. Either way, they don’t believe in sin or anything they need saving from.

Zoroastrianism: Zoroastrianism may be the first religion that stated that the afterlife was dependent upon one’s actions in life. There is no reincarnation, just a simple judgment four days after death. After a sufficient amount of time in hell, however, even the condemned can go to heaven. To be judged righteous, one can use knowledge or devotion, but the most effective way is through action. [1]

Discussion

The above provides the framework to look at the different religious ideologies and to compare them in the light of modern scientific knowledge. We have sufficient information about ancient religions like Taoism going back beyond historical records, to modern beliefs like Scientology to astound the traditional evangelical Christians. I will now refer to the Chinese religion as the ancient Taoist-Shaman religion before the superimposition of the relatively modern ethical, social, political philosophers like Confucius and others that followed.

Taoism

T1: Taoism is a polytheist religion, with the people worshipping many spiritual, immortal (saintly), and even inanimate gods. Some of these ancient gods are:

GODS AND GODDESSES OF ANCIENT CHINA

 

Ao

Description:  The 4 dragon kings named Ao Ch’in, Ao Kuang, Ao Jun and Ao Shun.  Each was responsible for a part of Earth and an area of sea.  During droughts, the dragon kings were worshipped with noisy parades of music and dance which followed a cloth effigy of a dragon.  Every stream and river had its own Ao.

Ch’ang-o

Other Names:  Heng-o.

Description:  Goddess of the Moon and wife of I.

Ch’eng-Huang

Description:  God of walls and ditches.  Each town/village had its own local Ch’eng-Huang.

Rules Over:  Protection and Justice.

Chih-Nii

Other Names:  Chih Nu

Description:  Goddess of spinners, weavers and clouds.

Rules Over:  Handcrafts, rain.

Ch’in-Shu-Pao

Description:  Guardian God.  T’ang dynasty military hero elevated to the job of guarding doors.

Rules Over:  Protection, privacy.

Chuang-Mu

Description:  Goddess of the bedroom and sexual delights.

Rules Over:  Sex.

Chu-Jung

Description:  God of fire and executions.

Rules Over:  Justice, revenge, death.

Erh-Lang

Description:  God who chases away evil spirits and shape-shifter who had up to 72 different bodily forms.  Widely worshipped.

Rules Over:  Protection from evil.

Feng-Po-Po

Description:  Goddess of winds.

Rules Over:  Storms, moisture.

Fu-Hsi

Other Names:  Fu-Hsing.

Description:  God of happiness, symbolized by the bat.

Rules Over:  Destiny, love, success.

Hou-Chi

Description:  Ancient harvest God.  Depicted as a kindly old man with millet stalks growing on his head.

Rules Over:  Harvest, crops.

Hsi Wang Mu

Other Names:  Wang-Mu Niang-Niang, Weiwobo.

Description:  Highest Goddess of ancient China.  Her palace iss in the Khun-lun mountain where she protects the herb of immortality.

Rules Over:  Curing Disease.

Hsuan-T’ien-Shang-Ti

Description:  Ruler of Water, God who removes evil spirits and demons.

Rules Over:  Exorcism.

Hu-Tu

Other Names:  Hou-T’u

Description:  Female deity Earth.  The Emperor offered sacrifices to her on a square marble altar in the Forbidden City each summer solstice.

Rules Over:  Earth magic, fertility.

I-Ti

Description:  God of wine who invented winemaking.

Rules Over:  Wine.

Kuan Ti

Description:  God of war and fortunetelling.  Shown dressed in green and had a red face.

Rules Over:  Protection, valour, justice, divination, revenge, death, dark magic, prophecy.

Kuan Yin

Other Names:  Kwan Yin, Kwannon.

Description:  Great Mother, patroness of priestesses.  Sometime depicted holding a child.  It is thought this Goddess sits on her paradise island of P’u T’o and answers every prayer to her.

Rules Over:  Success, mercy, purification, fertility, children, motherhood, childbirth, healing, enlightenment.

K’uei-Hsing

Other Names:  Chung-Kuei.

Description:  Protector of travelers.  God of tests and examinations, literature and students.

Rules Over:  Protection during travel, tests, literature, 

Description:  One of the 8 Immortals of ancient China, this Goddess dressed as a woman but had a male voice.  Carried a flute and basket of fruit.

Rules Over:  Music, fertility.

Lao-Tien-Yeh

Description:  The Jade Emp[eror. “Father heaven.”

Lei-King

Other Names:  Lei-Kung.

Description:  God of thunder and retribution, he had few shrines.  Shown as an ugly man with blue skin, wings and claws, clad in a loincloth.  He punished the guilty that human law did not touch.

Rules Over:  Justice, punishment.

Lo Shen

Description:  Goddess of rivers.

Rules Over:  Water magic.

Lu-Hsing

Description:  God of pay and employees.  Symbol was a deer which he rode on.

Rules Over:  Prosperity, success, law, employment.

Lu-Pan

Other Names:  Lupan.

Description:  God of carpenters and masons.

Rules Over:  Artistic abilities, fame.

Ma-Ku

Description:  Goddess of springtime.

Rules Over:  Spring rites.

Men Shen

Description:  Two deities who warded the door against evil spirits and hostile influences.  One had a red or black face, the other a white face.  They both wore military dress, holding a long-handled mace.

Rules Over:  Protection.

Meng-Po Niang Niang

Description:  Goddess who lived just inside the door to hell where those reincarnating would depart.  Her sacred potion, of which she gave a few drops to each departing person, made all humans forget previous lives.

Rules Over: Passing over rites, past-lives.

Nu Kua

Description:  Creator Goddess who made humankind.

Rules Over:  Creation.

Pa

Description:  Goddess of droughts.

Rules Over:  Droughts.

P’an-Chin-Lien

Description:  Goddess of prostitutes.

Rules Over:  Prostitution.

Pi-Hsia Yuan Chin

Description:  Goddess of childbirth and labor, she brings health and good fortune to the newborn and protection to the mother.

Rules Over:  Protection, good fortune, health, childbirth, labour.

Sao-Ts’ing Niang

Description:  Goddess of the clouds.

Rules Over:  Ending droughts.

Shaka-Nyorai

Other Names:  Sakyamuni.

Description:  Historical Buddha.

Rules Over:  Virtue, enlightenment, self-realization.

***Shang-Ti

Description:  THE SUPREME GOD.

Shen Nung

Description:  God of medicine, pharmacy, agriculture.

Rules Over:  Medicine, pharmacy, agriculture.

Shou-Hsing

Other Names:  Shou, Lao.

Description:  God of longevity and old people, keeper of the book of the life-span of men.  Shown with a prominent bald head with white eyebrows and whiskers.  A stag beside him, he leaned on a staff and carried a peach, symbol of immortality.

Rules Over:  Life plan, date of death, reincarnation. (Buddhism)

Shui-Khan

Description:  God who defends men against all evil and forgives sins.

Rules Over:  Averting Evil.

T’ai-Yueh-Ta-Ti

Other Names:  Tung-Yueh-Ta-Ti.

Description:  God of the affairs of men, protector of men and animals.

Rules Over:  Children, fortune, honours, fate, animals, payment of good and bad karma, prosperity, success.

Tien-Hou

Other Names:  Tien Fei.

Description:  Protectress of sailors and others in time of danger.

Rules Over:  Protection.

T’ien-Khuan

Description:  God who bestows happiness.

Rules Over:  Happiness.

Tien-Mu

Description:  Goddess of lightning.

Rules Over:  Lightning.

Ti-Khuan

Description:  God who grants remission of sins.

Ti-Tsang-Wang-Pu-Sa

Description:  God of mercy, he visited those in Hell and tried to arrange for a good reincarnation.  Depicted as a smiling robed monk with a halo around his body and carried a pearl that gave off light.

Rules Over:  Knowledge for reincarnation.

Tou-Mou

Description:  Goddess of the polestar and record-keeper; scribe of the Immortals.  Judge of all peoples.

Rules Over:  Stars, records, writing, judgement.

Tsai Shen

Other Names:  Ts’ai-Shen

Description: God of wealth, most popular chinese god.  Shown dressed in exquisite silks.

Rules Over: Abundance, success.

Tsao-Wang

Other Names:  Tsao-Chun.

Description:  Kitchen god, and god of the hearth. Protector of families and recorder of the actions and words of each family.  His wife recorded the behavior of women in particular.  He gave his report to the Jade Emperor who then determined the family’s coming fortunes.

Tsi-Ku

Other Names:  Tsi Ku Niang.

Description:  Goddess of the outhouse.  It is said that when a woman wanted to know the future, she went to the outhouse and asked Tsi-Ku.

Rules Over:  Outhouses, divination.

Twen-Ch’ang

Other Names:  Wen-Chang-Ta-Ti.

Description:  God of literature and poetry.

Rules Over:  Writing, publishing, artistic fame.

Yao-Shih

Description:  “Master of healing.”

Rules Over:  Psychic abilities, healing powers.

Yeng-Wang-Yeh

Description:  Foremost of the ten Yama Kings of Lords of Death.  Ruler of hell.  He decided the fate of all new arrivals, determining if they went to a special court for trial, were punished or sent straight back to the Wheel of Life.

Rules Over:  Judgment, punishment, karmic justice. [4] [5]

The Three Pure Ones

The Three Pure Ones (三清 – pinyin: Sānqīng) – also variously called the Three Pellucid Ones, the Three Pristine Ones, the Three Divine Teachers, the Three Clarities or the Three Purities – are a Daoist trinity of gods, who are generally recognised as the three highest deities in the Theistic or Religious Daoist pantheon.

In modern times they have come to be seen as an attempt by Daoist monks or clerics to visualise an important but abstract concept from the Philosphical Daoism of Laozi in mythological or theistic terms, so as to be more readily understood by ordinary people.

In the classic book of Philosophical Daoism, the Dao De Jing, Laozi wrote “The Dao (Wuji) produced the One (Taiji), the One produced the Two (Yin/Yang,) the Two produced the Three and the Three produced 10,000 things.”

What Laozi meant by “the Three” is not entirely clear and is the subject of ongoing scholarly debate, although the growing consensus is that the third primordial feature to be created – after the separation of the potentials of yang and yin (the Two) – is the energising lifeforce: Qi.

In Folk or “Religious” Daoism, the philosophical concept of the One or Taiji (represented in the Philosophical Doaist tradition by the interlocking Great Ultimate or Yinyang symbol) is seen as being embodied in the personage of Yùqīng or Yuqing Dadi (玉清 or 玉清大帝 – the Jade Pure One or “Great Emperor of the Jade Purity.”)

[It would appear that “The Three Pure Ones” evolved long after the establishment of the ancient Taoist gods since the philosopher Laozi (570-490 BC) appears to have to explain the mythological concept into Taoist religious theistic terms. But there is no doubt of its mythical concepts.]

ANCIENT GODS OF CHINA PRE-DATES TAOISM, CONFUCIUS, LAO TZU AND THE SHANG DYNASTY (1766-1027 BC)

It becomes clear that the above gods were born out of the “folk Religion” of the Chinese peasantry, and closely associated with shamanism and animism long before the before the appearances of the philosophies of Confucius, or Lao Tzu or other early philosophers. Because much of these folk beliefs, mythologies, old wives tales, folk worship and religion, pre-dates written history most scholars tend to overlook this period in their researches because they are unable to substantiate their findings with tangible evidence. Yet these folk beliefs, folk traditions and rituals passed down over the generations by word of mouth and family traditions is clear evidence of the basic religious beliefs and traditions dating back into Shamanistic and even into the Neolithic era. It is this ancient culture, Shamanistic – neolithic culture, that has been passed down the generations, some mostly intact, that form the culture of the Chinese people,  past and present. Evidence is sprinkled throughout Chinese history to prove this point.

There is no evidence in ancient Chinese thought that ever entertained the concept of  “A CREATOR OF THE COSMOS,” even if the concept of a Shang-Di, a Heavenly Ruler was conceived and given form. Yet the Chinese thinkers did believe that the world existed as an integrated  organic system in an ordered system. What was above Man was Heaven, “tian,” and what was below Man was Earth, “di.” To the ancient Chinese the Universe is the totality of Heaven above, and Earth below and everything else in between.  The ancient Chinese believed that, “The Universe” was always there – a part of the Cosmos: It simply Existed. (Modern cosmology proves this makes a lot of sense.) [6]

However, ancient Chinese believed that as the world was an organic natural system with phenomena beyond their control, that only recourse was to pray to the gods responsible to mitigate the events of nature on their behalf. The Ancients believed that there was a spiritual intervention available to the world of  man with the world of nature. So a form of worshipping the gods of nature to mitigate its anger and ferocity against man  was a natural evolution. They assigned different gods for the different phenomena of natural disasters. Thus if we study the different gods, listed above, a clear picture evolves showing the fears and anxieties of ancient Chinese people, which is no different from the fears of all men of today. Broadly listing the numbers of deities/gods to cover the different aspects of fears and anxieties of ancient man, we see a clear pattern; from the short list analysed above:

ANXIETIES OF “FOLK RELIGION”

Deities relating to Protection/Security/Punishment/Laws…………………………………………21 deities

Deities relating to Sex/Illness/famines/exorcism/death……………………………………………15 deities

Deities relating to Wealth/Success/Happiness/Compassion/happiness/virtue………..11 deities

Deities relating to creation and Heavenly Laws and gods…………………………………………5 deities

Deities relating to Prostitution……………………………………………………………………………………3 deities

T2: There were no prophets in Chinese religious beliefs. Gods did not speak to anyone on earth and Gods did not lay any conditions or commandments for the people to abide by. Although Shamans did contact spirits especially of the dead relatives, they did not communicate with Gods. In Chinese religion there Heaven and there was Earth but there was no Hell or the Perpetual Fires of Hell to punish sinners.

The early Chinese saw their gods like caring and loving parents or grandparents to whom they could turn to for comfort and advice or some other benevolence that gods could dispense, hence they created or sought out gods to meet their spiritual, emotional or material needs as shown by “The Anxieties of the Peoples of Folk Religion” above. So these early gods were created by man to meet their needs, to fulfil the void that could not be met otherwise. Those anxieties that those ancient folk were most concerned of still remain with us today. They were:

(1) Safety, and security, and rule of law and deterrent by punishment of the criminal.

(2) Life and death, and Illness, and sex, and evil spirits, and famines and starvation.

(3) Happiness and contentment, and compassion, success and virtue, and wealth.

(4) Laws of Heaven, and laws of gods, and creation.

(5) Fidelity, and infidelity and its corruption.

Is that any different or lacking to the morals or ethics of any other religion or culture?

T3: Clearly illustrated is the evolution of religious philosophies, uninfluenced by any other earlier or neighbouring culture, to meet the emotional, physical and spiritual needs of some primitive peoples. The Taoist-Shaman religious beliefs were not tribal, nor regional or exclusive but it was open and eclectic or freedom of choice. Even the choice of gods is non-compulsory. There are no strict commandments or death penalties nor any Hell to be sent to. Hence there has never been any need for conflicts over religion and this has been so for over 10,000 years. And it seems to have met the spiritual and emotional needs of over 1.3 billion peoples since the beginning to time, it seems.

What is probably needed is the updating of Chinese religious literature and tidying up some of the archaic language and interpretations to bring it into the 21st century literary acceptance.

Christianity

C1: Christianity is a monotheistic religion founded around 2000 years ago in the Middle East. Today’s Christianity is based on the Trinity of God as The Father, The Son and the Holy Ghost. The evolution of Christianity, in my opinion, came from the influences of Egyptian, Babylonian, and Greek mythology, and the concept of monotheism evolving from a polytheist culture must owe its influence to Akhenaten, the first monotheist of the Egyptian culture.

Christianity has one God, the God of Moses.

C2: But the Gospels tells us that God’s incarnate in the form of Jesus Christ came amongst the peoples to spread God’s words to them. Jesus Christ was the son of God, a God incarnate, and also a prophet of God. But God had already sent his 10 Commandments to the people, recorded by prophet Moses on Mount Sinai amid smoke, earthquake and the sound of trumpets.

  The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17 NKJV)
1 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.
2 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments.
3 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
4 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
5 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
6 “You shall not murder.
7 “You shall not commit adultery.
8 “You shall not steal.
9 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
10 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

C2: Christian prophets communicated God’s words to man. Here is a list of Biblical Prophets:

  1. Abraham
  2. Asaph
  3. Barnabas
  4. Daniel / Book of Daniel
  5. David
  6. Elijah
  7. Elisha
  8. Enoch
  9. Ezekiel / Book of Ezekiel
  10. Habakkuk / Prophecies of Habakkuk
  11. Haggai / Book of Haggai
  12. Hosea / Prophecies of Hosea
  13. Isaiah / Book of Isaiah
  14. Jeduthun
  15. Jeremiah / Book of Jeremiah
  16. Jesus Christ
  17. Joel / Book of Joel
  18. John / Book of Revelation
  19. John the Baptist
  20. Jonah / Book of Jonah
  21. Joshua
  22. Malachi / Prophecies of Malachi
  23. Micah / Book of Micah
  24. Moses
  25. Nahum / Book of Nahum
  26. Noah
  27. Samuel / Books of Samuel / Books of Kings
  28. Zechariah

Biblical prophetesses

  1. Anna
  2. Deborah
  3. Huldah
  4. Miriam

False Prophets

  1. Balaam

Analysis: The Ten Commandments communicated through the prophet Moses clearly shows that God has set certain commands as his criteria for the conduct of his followers such as:

Honouring the Holy Sabbath,

Honouring their father and mother,

Thou shall not murder

Thou shall no commit adultery

Thou shall not steal,

Thou shall no bear false witness.

Thou shall not covet.

These will be taken as sins in the eyes of God.

C3: Unlike the Taoist religion, the Abrahamic/Christian religion is tribal, exclusive, and totalitarian. “Thou shall have no other God before me. Thou shall not worship idols, and thous shall not blasphemy or use the Lord’s name in vain.”

There is no compromise. No other God will be tolerated.

This totalitarian exclusiveness is the result of the fierce rivalry of other religious beliefs all around them and the competition for followers was fierce and tribal. Christianity evolved out of the ancient religious legends of Babylon and Egypt and influenced by Greek philosophies, thus each sect had to battle to maintain their following or they would be absorbed by more powerful and aggressive ideologies. The Abrahamic faiths have thus begun their existence with intrigues, deceits, and intimidations that needed to be sorted out. Two thousand years later this struggle to be the dominant religious faith still exists. The Abrahamic faiths have been nothing but tribal jealousies fighting for predominance.

Islam

I-1: Islam is one of the three Abrahamic faiths that grew out of Judaism and Christianity, and is a monotheist faith but their allegiance is to a god known as Allah. But Islam was created by a man Muhammad, in the 7th century from a mishmash of religion he learned from Judaism and Christianity in the market place. But Muhammad’s ideology was rejected and persecuted by the Romans, the Jews, the Christians, and the tribal peoples do that Islam had to evolve in a defensive, and aggressive and totalitarian ideology in order to compete and survive. Muhammad saw visions during his epileptic fits and in fear he turned to his wife, Khadija, who skilfully convinced him that his visions were messages from Allah and that he should become a prophet of Allah.

I-2: The 6 Pillars of Islam

Islam has five primary obligations, or pillars of faith, that each Muslim must fulfill all of these or they are not Muslims.But the 6th obligation is compulsory and can be deemed the 6th Pillar of Islam. They are as follows:


Shahadah, profession of faith, is the first pillar of Islam. Muslims bear witness to the oneness of God by reciting the creed “There is no God but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” This simple yet profound statement expresses a Muslim’s complete acceptance of and total commitment to Islam.

Salah, prayer, is the second pillar. The Islamic faith is based on the belief that individuals have a direct relationship with God. The world’s Muslims turn individually and collectively to Makkah, Islam’s holiest city, to offer five daily prayers at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and evening. In addition, Friday congregational service is also required. Although salah can he performed alone, it is meritorious to perform it with another or with a group. It is permissible to pray at home, at work, or even outdoors; however it is recommended that Muslims perform salah in a mosque.

Zakat, almsgiving, is the third pillar. Social responsibility is considered part of one’s service to God; the obligatory act of zakat enshrines this duty. Zakat prescribes payment of fixed proportions of a Muslim’s possessions for the welfare of the entire community and in particular for its neediest members. It is equal to 2.5 percent of an individual’s total net worth, excluding obligations and family expenses.

Sawm, fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, is the fourth pillar of Islam. Ordained in the Holy Qur’an, the fast is an act of deep personal worship in which Muslims seek a richer perception of God. Fasting is also an exercise in self-control whereby one’s sensitivity is heightened to the sufferings of the poor. Ramadan, the month during which the Holy Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, begins with the sighting of the new moon, after which abstention from eating, drinking and other sensual pleasures is obligatory from dawn to sunset. Ramadan is also a joyful month. Muslims break their fast at sunset with a special meal, iftar, perform additional nocturnal worship, tarawih, after evening prayer; and throng the streets in moods that are festive and communal. The end of Ramadan is observed by three days of celebration called Eid Al-Fitr, the feast of the breaking of the fast. Customarily, it is a time for family reunion and the favored holiday for children who receive new clothing and gifts.

Hajj, the pilgrimage to Makkah, is the fifth pillar and the most significant manifestation of Islamic faith and unity in the world. For those Muslims who are physically and financially able to make the journey to Makkah, the Hajj is a once in a lifetime duty that is the peak of their religious life. The Hajj is a remarkable spiritual gathering of over two million Muslims from all over the world to the holy city. In performing the Hajj, a pilgrim follows the order of ritual that the Prophet Muhammad performed during his last pilgrimage.

The five pillars of Islam define the basic identity of Muslims – their faith, beliefs and practices – and bind together a worldwide community of believers into a fellowship of shared values and concerns.

The Sixth Pillar of Islam is Jihad or holy fighting and this is an obligation for every Muslim on earth! No exceptions. The politicians, pundits, preachers, and professors who deny this are all wrong. Islam is a Totalitarian, Supremacist, Absolute religion.

I-3: The Shahadah clearly establishes the exclusiveness of Islam: “There is no God but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” This clearly establishes that Islam will not recognise any other gods or religious beliefs. This isolates Islam from any other faith. Coupled with the sixth Pillar of Islam, Islam is at war with all infidels of Islam.

Analysis

It becomes clear that “Man” has always sought understanding of his environment in order to appreciate the causes of his misfortunes and sufferings either from natural causes or defects of the human genome. Some of the earliest evidence comes from the earliest civilisations like the Tao-shaman or Hindu-shaman pre-historic civilisations.

Considering the Tao-shaman religious evolution that began more than 10,000 years ago, it certainly shows the highly intelligent and sophisticated thinking that was already present in that culture. Their creation of their gods were in accordance to the needs of their sufferings and anxieties of the time, and they were mostly spiritual or immortal gods endowed with mythical qualities. The Taoist did not seek miracles, but the benevolence/blessings or the temperance of these deities, very similar to a child turning to their parents when they hurt or were ill seeking comfort or relief. But Taoist accepted that they were praying to mythical gods. The concept of Heaven and Hell did not exist in their perception of life and death even if they did believe in the spirits of the dead. Like with many Christians, the Taoist believed that the spirits of the departed existed and did looked after them and protected them and thus they showed their reverence to their memory by praying at their tombs. Christians do the same but they label it Remembrance Day of the departed, so that makes it respectable.

Christianity and Islam too have evolved from the mythology of other more ancient religions like Babylonian and Egyptian and Greek mythological civilisations. Over the past 2000 years, there has been no evidence, archaeological, or historical outside of the Gospels, to prove the historicity of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Hence, is must be assumed that the Gospels are also mythical legends like all the other religions. With this assumption, the whole edifice of Christianity crumbles as it is no more historical authenticity of their Gods or prophets than any of the other great religions of the world.

Comparing Religious Philosophies

(1) Early Taoist-shaman people sought/created spiritual/mythical gods who could offer them the sense of protection, comfort and benevolence in their daily earthly needs.In their insecurities they needed some form of assurances.

(2) Taoist gods were benevolent patriarchal mythical spiritual or immortal gods who demanded no commandments from her people even as they looked down upon them conferring blessings, good fortunes, and benevolence. That is a difference of Taoist gods from other gods such as the Abrahamic Gods.

(3) Although the supreme god, Yu Huang Da Di rules over the other gods, he does not have absolute powers over the dispensation of benevolences. Thus there has never been the concept of an Absolute Supremacist Authoritarian Only god.  The concept of Being “the Only Acceptable god” never arose. Hence, Taoism is an eclectic religion in every sense of the concept of the “freedom of worship.” Taoism did not demand that the Taoist way is the only acceptable way of worship. Hence there have not been any religious conflicts in that Continent because of conflicts of religious beliefs.

(4) Christianity is an exclusive religious doctrine.

1 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.”

Christianity will not tolerate the worship of any other God.

(5) Christians have strict commandments to abide by in order to comply with Gods wishes in order to seek eternal life in Heaven. Christians are obsessed with sin and Heaven and Hell, and seek to improve their lives to find immortality by emulating the life style of Jesus Christ. Christians also seek benevolence but also fear the wrath of God.

(6) Islam, born out of the scattered knowledge of Judaism and Christianity by Muhammad but rejected and spurned by the Romans, Jews, Christians and nomads of the desert was also an exclusive but also an angry and resentful religion determined to defeat her detractors. So Islam emerged as an Absolute Totalitarian Supremacist Theocratic Religion determined to destroy everything that stands in her way. Hence, the constant turmoil from Islam over 1400 years.

Reference
[1] Afterlife of Religions: http://www.gotquestions.org/how-to-get-to-heaven.html#ixzz3bXhsqKAg

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