Religious beliefs are an intrinsic part of a vast number of cultures and therefore need to be recognized as crucial phenomena that deserve close attention. Religions shape societal standards, morals, ethics, and behaviors worldwide, often affecting not only individual development but also the evolution of an entire nation.
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Therefore, as the factors that define the behaviors and choices made by the majority of the global population, world religions need to be studied to explore their similarities, differences, foundational principles, core values, and the impact that they have on their followers. Although the world’s most common religious seem to be entirely different from each other due to their context, the focus on the faultiness of human nature and the necessity to strive to attain the heavenly realm of the afterlife can be seen as the common tendencies in most world religions.
World Religions: Analysis
Implying that the power of the spirit can be shaped to fit a variety of forms, the Hindu religion has affected my worldview significantly. The Hinduism religion is among the oldest ones, originating approximately 4,500 years ago (Kishore, 2016). The principle of dharma, or striving for the greater good, which makes the bulk of Hinduism as a religion, has affected my personal and professional choices significantly. Dharma implies the idea of the right action, which can be transformed into the Utilitarianism philosophy. Particularly, taking the actions that one deems as correct based on the outcomes that they produce can be seen as an inseparable part of professional ethics in a range of domains, including mine. Although I cannot define Hinduism as a part of my cultural heritage, learning about it, and the ideas that it promotes has helped me to shape my personal and professional beliefs.
Although a significant portion of the world is currently highly prejudiced against the Muslim community and Islam, in general, the religion itself has practically nothing to do with the events that have contributed to its bad reputation. Although I cannot identify as a Muslim person, I am capable of understanding the plight of the specified cultural group and recognize the key components of the specified philosophy.
The Muslim religion can be described as monotheistic and centers around the prophet Muhammad, who is regarded as the herald of God, or Allah. The origin of Islam is Mecca, 570 C.E. (Adler & Pouwels, 2016). Understanding the principles of the specified religion has not affected my worldview specifically since it is rather distanced from the Christian beliefs that I uphold, yet it has helped me to understand the needs of Muslim patients better by respecting their traditions and aligning prescriptions with hem.
Dating back to 570 B.C.E. China, the philosophy of Tao, or “the way,” is self-explanatory, which, nevertheless, does not make it simplistic. The idea of Tao, or the path, can be interpreted as the journey to self-perfection, which can never be completed yet should always be sought after as the unattainable goal, has contributed to shaping my philosophy of counseling significantly. Similarly, the specified religion views compassion and empathy as crucial components of communication, which has also influenced my opinion of therapy (Schmidt, 2006). The philosophy of Tao also implies introducing order into the universe, the yin and yang being the symbol of the global balance (Moodley, Lo, & Zhu, 2017).
The specified elements of Taoism gained popularity quite a while ago, becoming perpetuated in the global culture. Therefore, they are integral principles of my personal and professional philosophy as well. By striving to achieve balance in my professional practices, I have managed to create the setting in which patients feel most comfortable and inclined to accept the proposed treatment options.
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Another important religious philosophy that has gained global recognition for its wisdom, Confucianism, originates from the 2000 B. C. E. China and implies building wisdom, following traditions, and using Jen, or treating everyone with kindness, as the basis for social interactions (Schalkwyk & D’Amato, 2015). The philosophy of Confucianism does not imply direct worshipping of any deity and instead provides a set of guidelines for balanced and happy life created by Kung Fu-Tzu, or Confucius, in “Analects” (Bresnan, 2017).
Therefore, it would be wrong to claim that Confucianism is the direct representation of a religion or a set of religious beliefs. However, it is typically ranked among the world’s most influential religious philosophies (Schmidt, 2006). Confucianism is often conflated with Taoism, yet the latter is focused on spiritual growth, whereas the former is occupied primarily with daily life.
Built-in 500 B. C. E. by Siddhartha Gautama, Buddhism is another religious philosophy that does not imply worshipping a specific deity per se. While the image of a Buddha, or the Enlightened One, is deemed as superior to mere mortals, the specified state is, in fact, achievable, and thus should not be seen as the object of worshipping. According to the Buddhist religion, four noble truths, which revolve primarily around the concept of suffering, constitute the foundation of Buddhism. The idea of suffering as the path to achieving eternal bliss might seem gratifying; it does not quite fit my philosophy of nursing. Therefore, Buddhism does not constitute my general philosophy of nursing.
Being one of the lesser-known monotheistic religions, Baha’I am also the youngest one. It was established in 1863 by Bahá’u’lláh and was expected to promote the idea of equality for every member of humankind (Sergeev, 2015). Although I strongly identify with Christian beliefs as the platform for my core values, I have to admit that the Baha’I concepts of equity and equality are an important addition to the framework of counseling and the provision of high-quality therapy. The ideas of Baha’I am especially important in the modern globalized environment, where counselors have to address the needs of diverse communities. The Baha’I religion provides the foundation for a multicultural approach toward therapy, thus increasing the range of one’s abilities for assisting diverse populations. Therefore, the specified religion has also contributed largely to my development as a counselor.
Known as one of the most ancient, if not the most ancient, world religions, Judaism is a monotheistic religion that worships Yahweh. Judaism is often seen as the foundation for other religions, such as Christianity and Islam (Schmidt, 2006). The Torah, which correlated to the first five volumes of the Bible in the Christian tradition, is regarded as the sacred text of Judaism (Sue & Sue, 2015). The significance of morality and ethical behavior is especially high in the Judaist tradition. Understanding the principles of Judaism allowed me, as a counselor, to approach patients of Jewish background and culture.
Personal Religious Beliefs
Due to the multicultural upbringing that I have had throughout my childhood, I can relate to most of the ideas that can be found in world religions. However, I feel that my philosophies and especially the idea of forgiveness, have been influenced especially strongly by Christianity. Having been exposed to the Christian cultural traditions throughout my entire life, I can relate to most of the values and ideas that the Christian faith promotes.
However, it could be argued that my current religious views incorporate the elements of other religious beliefs as well. For example, the focus on the tranquility of the mind and the personal philosophy that I currently follow can be described as Confucianism in their ideas of nonmaleficence and the focus on achieving balance, which is seen in Buddhism as reaching Jen. It could be argued that the specified concepts are overly simplified interpretations of the Confucianism philosophy that border pop-cultural reiterations of the identified philosophy, yet they describe my current state of mind and attitude toward religion, in general, rather precisely. At present, I tend to view religious principles as the addition to the personal philosophy. Therefore, the specified aspects of the Confucianism principles fit my worldview rather nicely.
Nonetheless, the Christian principles, and especially the ideas of forgiveness, as well as the traditions of the Christian religion, including praying, are currently the closest to my personal identity as far as religious beliefs are concerned. I follow the traditions of the Christian religion almost subconsciously, using prayers as the means of communicating with God, focusing on fostering the qualities that are upheld by the Christian religion, and practicing a significant number of Christian traditions. Furthermore, a range of my interpretations of spiritual development, including even the idea of the afterlife, are heavily influenced by Christian traditions.
The specified characteristics of my religious beliefs define the choices that I make in the professional setting to a considerable degree. For instance, I use empathy in order to cater to the needs of diverse patients since the identified skill is the foundational quality of Christianity (Schmidt, 2006). The ability to empathize with the experiences of others and understand their pain is a crucial component of the Christian tradition that assists me in providing high-quality care.
Moreover, the principles of nonmaleficence and appreciation for every form of life, which pertain to the Confucian philosophy, have also affected my professional development. Due to the specified characteristics, I have managed to act on behalf of patients and their needs, managing a range of ethical issues in healthcare successfully. For instance, the problems associated with the management of patients’ personal data, securing the independence of vulnerable groups, and promoting education among the disadvantaged have been influenced by the ideas of nonmaleficence that were inspired by Confucianism. Thus, my current approach to therapy can be seen as an amalgam of numerous religious ideas combined to produce a worldview aimed at encouraging diversity and meeting the needs of a multicultural demographic.
Although the world’s most common religious are unique in their sociocultural significance and meaning, they share a plethora of characteristics that make them fall under the same category of social phenomena. Hinduism, Islam, Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Baha’I, and Judaism share a range of characteristics in regard to the worldview that they provide, the central values that they encourage believers to develop, and the interpretation of a superior being that they offer.
The differences between the specified religious beliefs, in turn, are much deeper than the superficial characteristics fo worshipping and the religious practices that are typically associated with Hinduism, Islam, Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Baha’I, and Judaism. Particularly, it could be asserted that the identified religions are rooted in the general concept of humanism as the foundation for building relationships within religious communities. In addition, the concepts of a deity as a superior being and social classes, including general audiences and the clergy, can be seen as common for the specified religions.
At the same time, the differences between the identified religious frameworks are truly glaring. Specifically, some of them, like Hinduism, are rooted in multitheism, while others seek to worship a single deity. In addition, some of these religions, such as Hinduism, are extraordinarily old, their origins dating as far back into the history as 4,500 B.C. E., whereas others, such as Islam, were conceived in 570 C. E. (Schmidt, 2006). The age of religions defines the influences that have shaped them. For instance, the holy texts of both Christianity and Islam share impressive similarities with the Judaism texts due to the profound cultural impact that the latter had on each of the specified religious in the past.
Therefore, the specified religions cannot be deemed as either entirely separate from each other or equally interconnected. Due to the multiple cultural factors that have affected the development of the specified religious beliefs they have gained unique shapes. As a result, they are nowadays perceived as not only a set of religious traditions but also as life philosophies that provide the foundation for building ethical principles, moral values, and the general philosophy of life.
Adler, P. J., & Pouwels, R. L. (2016). World civilizations. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
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Bresnan, P. S. (2017). Awakening: An introduction to the history of eastern thought. New York, NY: Routledge.
Kishore, B. R. (2016). Hunduism. New Delhi, India: Diamond Pocket Books Pvt Ltd.
Moodley, R., Lo, T., & Zhu, N. (2017). Asian healing traditions in counseling and psychotherapy. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Schmidt, J. G. (2006). Social and cultural foundations of counseling. New York, NY: Pearson.
Schalkwyk, G. J. V., & D’Amato, R. C. (2015). From the Confucian way to collaborative knowledge co-construction: New directions for teaching and learning. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Sergeev, M. (2015). Theory of religious cycles: Tradition, modernity, and the Bahá’í faith. Boston, MA: BRILL.
Sue, D. W., & Sue, D. (2015). Counseling the culturally diverse: Theory and practice. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.