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Trevor Eichelberger

Wijitha Bandara
World Religions
April 29, 2016
Eportfolio: World Religions
There are many crazy and unexplainable topics in this coincidentally huge world. Out of
these crazy topics, I personally find the topic of religion to be the most mind boggling.
Although many people have already tried to define and explain what religion is, I personally
believe something of that depth and detail simply cannot be explained in a brief definition. Its
like trying to explain a vast landscape by only using words. Although you could try to vividly
explain the entire scene, there would obviously be details that go undiscussed. After finishing
this course, I still believe this applies when someone tries to define religion. Although they might
come close to capturing most of religions meaning, there is no way they could possibly capture
religion in its entirety.
After reading about the Materialist Theory, it seems like the main point is that religion is
just a mere product of our imagination. They believe that only thing that actually exists is the
physical, material world. I found philosopher Ludwig Feuerbachs idea to be quite interesting.
He explained how religions focus on praising good morals through a supreme beings but then
they dont spend time recognizing those same qualities within their individual selves (Fisher).
After battling with constant self-esteem issues, I found his particular perspective very relatable.
Karl Marx believed that religion is for the oppressed, used to lessen the individuals sense of

self-worth and then manipulate the weak. This general idea also helps explain how he started
taking steps towards atheistic communism in years later on.
In contrary, functionalists define religion more optimistically and slightly more uplifting.
They explain the role it has in shaping us, our general life morals, and even our social behaviors.
French sociologist, Emile Durkheim believed that religion is the main social structure, he refers
to it as a glue that bounds societies together. Other functionalists look at it through a more
biological scope. John Bowker believes that religions main purpose is to preserve reproduction,
nurture children, and bring people closer together for common survival (Fisher). The article
explained how many people in the medical industry have noticed that strong religious faith often
correlates with good health. Although I personally believe good health could easily be triggered
by many other variables than religion, I somewhat do understand it with their views on drinking
and smoking.
Last but not least is the Faith perspective. To put it shortly, people with the faith
perspective believe that the supernatural world actually exists. Unfortunately, there is a vast
population of people that fall into this specific perspective and every single one of them probably
have a different definition of what religion is to them. Just like the book said on page seven in
chapter one, some people simply accept what is written in their holy book and other people
prefer to analyze their observations (Fisher). After analyzing it they then draw their own
conclusions based on their personal observations. Most followers of the faith perspective claim
to have encountered spiritual episodes which have provided them with personal wisdom and
guidance. These are often referred to as realizations, enlightenment, an awakening etc. and play a
huge role in faithfully bonding with a religion.

I honestly found it pretty confusing when discussing Hinduism in past classes. However
as we have continued to discuss Hinduism and Dharma, I have found myself a little less
confused and have become interested with their methods self-connection and separation from a
material world. I found that most Hindu people have very strong levels of self-discipline,
possibly due to the seriousness of their rituals. These rituals, practice, overall morals come
together to make up Hinduisms Life order or universal rule known as Dharma. Unfortunately,
I still struggle with the topic regarding whether Hindu practices are considered religious
practices or if they would be more closely related to Dharma.
In Hinduism there are many practices that people partake in to preserve the godlike
presence that lives around them and even within their own souls. Hinduism has the belief that
everyone has the opportunity to gain god like characteristics/morals. 1 I honestly loved learning
about this belief. Ever since I started questioning religion, I always had an idea that maybe we
could become some sort of gods or godly people by promoting positive mindsets and being
compassionate to any and everyone around you.

Most of the Hindu rituals deal with

distinguishing the negativity energy in the physical world, and then working to cleanse
themselves. Gavin Flood explains how important the idea of purity is in Hinduism, stating that
the body is polluted daily and that Hindus work towards keeping themselves in as pure state as
possible. 1
Even though Hinduism divides its duties among the four castes and that caste system
creates some religious barriers, I found it interesting how much Hinduism works towards
building strongly tied communities. I believe the main reason why some Hindu communities
become so closely tied is due to their impressive social problem solving skills that could possibly
branch from their methods of mediation and overall inner-peace. Some practices in Hinduism tell

people to travel off into the forests so they may become more connected with themselves and the
natural world around them. This was another Hindu belief that I personally agreed with a lot and
hope to implement into my life.
As I said before, Hinduisms Dharma is pretty much a universal rule, almost like ethical
and spiritual guidebook.

It helps motivate Hindu people to preserve everyday purity,

communal harmony, and overall ideas self-peace. I found it very mind-opening to learn about
how Hinduisms rituals have led so many people to happiness and eternal appreciation for the
world around them. Ultimately, those rituals preserve a positive minded order of life. Accepting
Dharma brings people to almost godly status within our physical world. No wonder it has
promoted some of the most peaceful lifestyles for the past hundreds of years.
After taking this course and comparing the many different religion perspectives, I have
gained valuable ideas and even practices to keep with me the rest of my life. As I said before,
religion is one of those vast topics that simply cant be explained in one sentence or even
paragraph. However after reviewing these theories and their beliefs on religions main purposes,
I continue to find myself questioning and re-questioning the world of religion surrounding me.
Throughout this semester I have been able to compare many different viewpoints and draw my
own conclusions, ultimately gaining a better personal definition of religion. That being said, I
believe that Dharma already is a naturally occurring law and I would consider any rituals,
including Hindu practices as personal spiritual practices.
When I visited the Buddhist temple, I instantly noticed how peaceful and serene the
environment was. I got to see firsthand how the religion was connecting people while building a
community of aware and open-minded individuals. The rituals were led by the foreman,
involving religious prayers and passages that were often repeated by the audience. I felt that this

method of praise created a unique feeling of unity throughout the worship. Overall I would say
that the temple is notably a place of worship from its peaceful and decorative atmosphere and the
sense of serenity within that temple.

Bibliography
Fisher, Mary P. Living Religions. Ninth Edition. New Jersey: Pearson Education, 2014. Pg. (3
-10)
Flood, Gavin. An Introduction to Hinduism, New York: Cambridge University Press
1996.