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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Components of Traditions

My interest in religion and spirituality led me to the writings in at least four major traditions. I have read several original sacred texts of the Vedic religion in Sanskrit and of the others in translations. Based on what I have read, it appears that these texts in every tradition have five components. They are Philosophy, Spirituality, Morality, Theism and Liturgy. Masters from the past have written about this also. Each tradition seems to emphasize some components more than the others.

Philosophy means “love of wisdom”, is defined as “the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence”. Equivalent word in Sanskrit is darshana, a point of view.

Spirituality is defined as the process “of, relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things”. It is also connected with relating to religion or religious beliefs. (in Sanskrit, Adhyatimakam, manasikam)

Morality is defined as “principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior”. (nithi, in Sanskrit)

Theism is defined as “belief in the existence of a god or gods, especially belief in one god as creator of the universe, intervening in it and sustaining a personal relation to his creatures”. (Astikyam)

Liturgy is defined as “a form or formulary according to which public religious worship, especially Christian worship, is conducted”. Corresponding texts in Vedic system are called the agamas.

In my biased view, the Vedic tradition has two major strengths. 1. It is the most complete in all five components. 2. It is flexible and not too dogmatic. It gives each individual several options to choose from in each of the components to suit one’s place in life, society, temperament, ability, and effort.

While reading about the initiation ceremonies in various religions (most religions and sub-sects have one), it occurred to me that the demand for initiation into one religion or sect or one specific god, is an admission that there is only ONE God.

** All definitions are from the Oxford Dictionaries

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