Religion and philosophy

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Religion and philosophy

Abstract

Suffering has different meanings in different religions. The traditional meaning of suffering as passed down through generations has evolved over time alongside development of religions and human philosophies. Asian religions in particular have a strong emphasis on human suffering often taken as a sacrifice for the greater eternal good. Different Asian religions have different philosophies as regards suffering often viewing it as a means of strengthening a people’s faith. This paper compares and contrasts two of the major Asian religions views on suffering namely Taoism and Hinduism.

Introduction

Different societies have different interpretation of suffering which come forth with religion and human culture in general. This has been something passed down by generations to the next, and especially within the dynamic Asian culture and tradition. For example, some of the major traditions and beliefs, which have been known to impose greater suffering, include Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, yin-yang schools, Ge Hong, and Wu-hsing, among others[1]. One of the main themes common to many Asian religious and philosophical traditions is the issue of suffering. This paper will therefore briefly look at two major traditions in the Asian Religions on how suffering has been a favorite theme all along in such traditions.

Suffering in Asian Religion and Philosophy

            With a lot of suffering faced in the Asian religion and philosophy, much has been demanded which has been seeing the people suffering right in their own traditions and religions. Some of the major religions, which have been able to address suffering, include that of Buddhism and Taoism[2]. Taoism comes with philosophies and beliefs, which have been aimed at alleviating pains in humankind in general within the society. This has been an Asian mystical society, which holds individualistic philosophical views, which had originally been aimed at being utilized by the Chinese rulers in an attempt of addressing all the suffering faced by man. Much of the suffering for these individuals within the faith come from the foundations and understanding which have been passed across from history by generations to generations[3].

            With Taoism, the rulers do hold that people within this faith have to make sure they always struggle with the suffering by practicing the rituals and confessions, which have been seen necessary within the society. Being a mystical foundation and a similar faith in itself all the people have always been required to remain true to the faith and beliefs of the faith and teaching, which have been passed down from the ‘Old Teacher’ as the term means in Chinese language[4]. With this kind of belief and faith, it is necessary that one does realize the need of Taoism and thus be able to come up with a life which involves non-desire for all the materialistic goods and earthly and being ready to live for a life which is unplanned. With this understanding, all people tend to be forced never to plan, and at the same time never think beyond tomorrow, which they might not be able to comprehend in the least of sense. In that case, the people do believe that much of the suffering faced by men today come from the desire of material goods and earthly possessions and thus the best thing can only be in avoiding them as much as possible[5].

The teaching also prevents any use of mechanical means in an attempt of preventing what might seem to be unavoidable. This has always been leading to the greatest form of imbalance thus making it quite hard to get the balance of one’s life. However, this has been a good approach, so they say, in addressing the problem and suffering faced by men in general. As seen by other people outside the Taoism faith, it has been seen that the faith has a very strong ability in mind control of the people in it, and this has been causing the greatest suffering on them. The other important point of observation is on the fact that the women have also been facing the greatest suffering in it all. This has been so because there are limits and duties, which have been aligned for women. This has thus been seeing the women avoided in some duties within the society and having some of their functions within the society rightly controlled by men[6]. This is to say, women within the society have continued to face very many problems and suffering in the name of the Taoism faith. As well, the philosophies, which have been passed across from generation to generation within this faith, have been very insidious as noted by the greatest observers and other people as well. Just like many of the religious and philosophical teachings in the Asian continent, this form of faith has been faced with great suffering, and thus the main aim of the faith is to deal with human suffering from the teaching of the ‘Old Teacher’.

            Hinduism is another common religious faith in the Asian continent with a large number of people and believers who follow strictly and abide to the teaching and the philosophies that do exist[7]. On the other hand, the Hinduism faith holds that the possible cause of the human suffering today is due to the existence of the evil spirits around the world. In that connection, this kind of faith does belief that the rightful approach in understanding human suffering is by getting to know some of the major intentions of the evil spirit. In Hinduism, suffering is seen as the central point or pivot in which human life does lie. However, Hindus does believe that all people should be accountable for their actions. In that case, a better and positive action will foster a better life which is free of suffering. This means that, all suffering is because of the person’s deeds, which matter the most[8].

Going by the philosophies and laws passed down by Good Karma, all people who do good will live better or good lives and vice versa. In that case, the faith does preach that, all actions of men are what determine the suffering faced[9]. The faith thus does acknowledge the existence of suffering which holds for a better in the future days. When one has undergone through any form of suffering in life, that is the way or path which prepares the individual for a much better life in the future days. Suffering is thus seen as a way in which people do pay for the debts in which they may have been engaged in worst deeds and mistakes in their past years. In order to deal with suffering, all people should be willing to do what is good, and always stick to the teachings, which have been passed across in the holy books of Hinduism and stick as well on the rules and philosophies of Good Karma[10].

Conclusion

            In short, different philosophies have been passed in the religious faiths and philosophies within the Asian continent[11]. The most outstanding thing is that these faiths have been able to come up with ways and approaches in which they can deal with all the problems, which are faced by man within the religious faiths. With the above discussions, the Taoists do belief in sticking right into the teaching of the Old Teacher to be free from the earthly suffering while the Hindus believe that such suffering in the world is healthy and does reform man once he suffers while paying for his or her sins, which have been committed in life. Generally, all faiths and religious groups have ways through which they deal with all forms of sufferings, which do come their way[12].

References

Ballingtin, Ray. Understanding Eastern Philosophy. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1997.

Callicott, Baird. Earth’s insights: a survey of ecological ethics from the Mediterranean Basin. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1997.

Ellen, Ackerman. Heaven in transition: non-Muslim religious innovation and ethnic identity. Oxford: Oxford University, 2001.

Hill, Delton. Asian Philosophies and Religious Foundations. Moscow: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Joshua, Michael. Buddhism: Philosophy and practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Laozi, Michael. Tao and Method: a reasoned approach to the Tao Te Ching. New York: Wiley and Sons, 1994.

Littleton, Scott. The Sacred East: an illustrated guide to Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucius. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Mark, Sedgwick. Against the modern world: Traditionalism and the secret intellectual history. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Taylor, Jay. The dragon and the wild good: China and India. New York: Longman, 1987.

Watts, Alan. The Tao of Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

 


[1] Ballingtin, Ray. Understanding Eastern Philosophy. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1997., 23.

[2] Ray., Philosophy., 34.

[3] Ibid., 42.

[4] Mark, Sedgwick. Against the modern world: Traditionalism and the secret intellectual history. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004., 37.

[5] Laozi, Michael. Tao and Method: a reasoned approach to the Tao Te Ching. New York: Wiley and Sons, 1994., 78.

[6] Watts, Alan. The Tao of Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999., 44.

[7] Taylor, Jay. The dragon and the wild good: China and India. New York: Longman, 1987.

New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999., 45.

[8] Joshua, Michael. Buddhism: Philosophy and practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007., 45.

[9] Laozi, Michael. Tao and Method: a reasoned approach to the Tao Te Ching. New York: Wiley and Sons, 1994., 66.

[10] Ellen, Ackerman. Heaven in transition: non-Muslim religious innovation and ethnic identity. Oxford: Oxford University, 2001., 54.

[11] Hill, Delton. Asian Philosophies and Religious Foundations. Moscow: Oxford University Press, 2006., 68.

[12]Littleton, Scott. The Sacred East: an illustrated guide to Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucius. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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