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Other Eastern Religions

Other Eastern Religions


This lesson introduces and briefly discusses other eastern religions, including Jainism, Sikhism, Taoism, and Shinto.

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[MUSIC PLAYING] Jains practice the most observant form vegetarianism of all the world religions. It was organized by Mahavira in the sixth century BC. Jainism practices the three jewels-- right belief, right knowledge, and right conduct. And the goal of Jainism is to practice to achieve liberation from rebirth by eliminating past karmas. So just as in Hinduism and Buddhism, but a little bit different way of getting there.

The next religion then we're going to look at is called Sikhism. Here's a Sikh scriptural motto here. God is but one. This is the Sikh Khanda. The cross swords represent political and spiritual power. The central sword represents knowledge of God. And the circle represents eternity.

Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak and his nine successors from 1469 to 1708 CE in India. The scripture of Sikhism is called Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Which is the compiled teachings of the 10 masters, Including prayers, poems, and history. You can recognize Sikhs by the five k's. Kesh, uncut hair. Kangha, the wooden comb that is worn in the hair and also used to comb the hair each day. The Kara, metal bracelet. Kachera, the cotton undergarment. And Kirpan, a curved sword.

A little bit about the Sikh teachings. First of all, only one god, a strict monotheism. Who is creator, sustainer, and destroyer. God cannot take human form. So the gurus are not considered to be God incarnate.

The goal is to break the cycle of rebirth and merge with God. So again, very similar to other Indian religions. But unlike other Indian religions, a complete rejection of ritualism and idol worship. So they reject the idols that are used in Hinduism.

Next, the rejection of caste and class, as well as race and gender distinctions. Women and men may sit separately in the gurdwara-- the Sikh temple-- but they are considered to be equal in all respects. Both sharing and service are considered to be a responsibility. So every Sikh gurdwara will have a free community kitchen.

Moving on to Taoism. Taoism seeks to reintegrate people in to the Tao, which is a sort of conceptless concept. The Tao, we can describe simply as the way, or the way of nature. The Tao is described as being older than God. We could say Taoism is not even a religion but more of a philosophy of life.

Or we could say the Tao is similar to emptiness in Buddhism. Taoism encompasses herbal medicine, yogic practices, philosophical reflection, ritual worship, worship of the Taoist immortals, who are beings who are thought to achieve immortality through practicing Taoism. And also quiet contemplation, trying to get rid of the mind by sitting still and reflecting.

And we're going to move on to Japan, to Shinto, which means path of the gods. These are Torii gates, which are used to demarcate sacred space in Shinto. Even the highway signs in Japan will have this image in order to indicate that there's a shrine nearby. So we could say that Shinto is Japanese nature religion

So again, it means way of the gods. Shinto is the folk religion of Japan. It's also inseparable from Japanese culture more generally. It is focused on spirits called "kami," which can be good or bad or simply mischievous.

Shinto seeks to integrate people into nature. And it does not posit a separate supernatural realm. Shinto integrates seamlessly into Buddhist practices. Like the relationship between Taoism and Buddhism in China, in Japan, Shinto and Buddhism work together perfectly well.

So again, Shinto forms an integral part of Japanese culture and might even be inseparable from Japanese culture. So that's a little bit more about these Asian religions.

The vocabulary term for this lesson is "tenet--" a fundamental belief often confused with "tenant." So let's take a look at the tenets of the religions that we have discussed so far. For a quick recap, we said that Jainism is an Indian religion that teaches complete nonviolence and aims at achieving siddha, a perfect state of soul.

Next the monotheistic religion of Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak in India in the 15th century and drives the worshipper to conquer his passions and his lower nature. Next, Taoism, which gets its name from the word for way or path, is not a religion per se, but rather, a body of spiritual and philosophical writings and traditions. Which direct the adherent towards an understanding of the source and destination for all life. Or a re-incorporation into nature. Next, Shinto, a religion in Japan, or simply inextricable from Japanese culture more generally, means path of the gods and can be dated back to the eighth century. Thanks for watching.

Terms to Know

A fundamental belief (often confused with "tenant").