Religion Philosophy: Right and Wrong Beliefs

From the point of view of Hinduism samsara is a cycle of being born, living, dying and then being re-born again. This cycle will repeat many times, while the person is tied up by their own karma, which is the law of causes and consequences that determine an individual’s quality of life. The cycle breaks when a person gives up the earthly desires, which leads to the end of their sufferings – nirvana, the liberation.

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Brahman is the ultimate reality; it is the sustainer and the source of all things (Moore, Bruder, 487). Atman represents the individual life. These two notions are viewed as one. Hindu idea of the reality sees the source of all things in the self and the self in all the things. The self is the universe and the universe is one with the self.

To my mind the Buddha’s four noble truths are correct. Sufferings are inevitable and they always have a specific cause. Logically, the end of sufferings lies in the elimination of causes. According to Buddha, enlightenment is the way of living without desires or passions, which serve as the causes of all people’s sufferings.

Eightfold Path presents a set of rules for a happy life. This path implies elimination of selfish desires and passions, lies and gossips, pursuing proper values, doing good deeds, having a goal to achieve enlightenment. When not taken to the extreme, this is a reasonable model of life for everyone.

In Chinese Buddhism Tao was representing what Hindus called Buddha dharma. Tao means The Way. Tao is the ultimate and absolute knowledge of everything. In order to recognize the Tao, a person had to create ideal equilibrium within the self. Yin and Yang are the contradicting forces of the universe that are released by the Tao, they are opposite, and this is why they are able to maintain balance.

According to Lao Tzu, effortless non-striving is the way of living where the individual does not try to struggle with the flow of being. This is the way of complete surrender. Modern idea of fighting with the life circumstances contradicts this belief. Lao Tzu viewed life as a river, when you try to swim against the stream of water, you become exhausted. The philosopher suggested letting the river carry you, applying no effort. In order to apply this principle a person needs to trust the world around completely and believe that whatever happens next is for the best.

According to Confucius, the universe works through the Principle of Mean. This is the principle of mutual reciprocity, which leads to understanding and balance. The person that does not want to be harmed should do no harm to the others. Basically, this is the well known principle that recommends us to treat others the way we want to be treated. Unfortunately, this principle would only be helpful if it was used by everyone. This way most of the unfair outcomes affecting innocent people could be avoided.

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Murasaki Shikibu, a Japanese female philosopher and a feminist was determined to demonstrate how women were discriminated in the Japanese society. The discrimination was not only political, it also was cultural. Women in Buddhism were thought to present a worse moral value than men (Moore, Bruder, 518). Women’s only way to achieve nirvana was though a reincarnation as a man.

The argument of St. Anselm is designed to prove the existence of god. In order to support his point St. Anselm uses ad absurdum method and assumes that “the being greater than which cannot be conceived is not the being greater than which cannot be conceived” (Moore, Bruder, 10). This statement fails from the logical point of view and this is why the proof of St. Anselm makes sense.

Gaunilo’s objection to St. Anselm’s proof is based on the fact that his logical statement could be applied to any object, which means that the statement could be used to prove the existence of all kinds of things. Anselm disagreed by saying that his statement could only be applied to the being, greater than which cannot be conceived, and no other things. I agree with Gaunilo’s point of view, logic can be applied to all kinds of knowledge, which makes Anselm’s proof too universal and primitive.

According to Aquinas, there are five ways to prove the existence of god. The first way states that the movement of the things started from the initial force that gave the first push, this force was god. The second way works according to the same scheme and associates god with the first cause. The third way explores the necessity of existence as the source of the existence of everything. Fourth and fifth ways prove god’s existence through the system of values and purposes, the absolute source of which turns out to be god.

Leibniz suggested looking at our world from the global point of view in order to see that all the events, causes and outcomes are in perfect balance; this is why the world is a perfect place. I think that seeing things from this point of view requires ultimate objectivity, which is impossible for humans. Every event we observe immediately receives some kind of evaluation in our minds. In cases when the event touches us directly we are unable to stay away from having personal opinions and judgments.

Nietzsche’s statement means that all of the attempts of humans to find some kind of law and order in the world are pointless, because there is no higher cause for things to happen one way or another. Nietzsche views religions as people’s attempts to rationalize and organize the flow of life.

William James saw religion as something people created in order to have fear preventing them from making errors. He saw that as a useful, but irrational approach, because it also prevents people from seeing the truth. The artificially created fear was intended as a restricting factor that served to create boundaries for people and take their actions under control.

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Religious beliefs are individualistic, every believer views their religion through their own perspectives, and this is how people that practice the same religion may consider each other’s beliefs wrong. There is an opinion that two people looking at the same chair see two different chairs. I think that this statement can be applied to people’s views about their religions. Besides, often people tend to intentionally adjust religious truths in order to justify or explain some types of behavior. These adjustments would work for certain individuals, but would be wrong for the others practicing the same religion.

Works Cited

Moore, Noel Brooke and Kenneth Bruder. Philosophy: The Power of Ideas. 8th ed.

New York: McGraw Hill, 2010. Print.

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