World Religions Grade 6 SS

Hinduism

How does Samsara work?

  • Will we forget our past memories when we go through samsara?
  • What are the beliefs that samsara were based on?

An Introduction to Samsara

Samsara, according to the religion of Hinduism, is the cycle of life, death, and reincarnation. When the body dies, the soul of the body - the atman - moves on to another being, and maybe another better caste, if your karma is good enough. In your next life, you may actually be born as an animal, since Hinduism states that there is no difference between an atman in a human soul and a plant or animal soul. There is also a belief that the atman goes through a series of steps that begins in animals and goes to human beings. Hindus believe that if they live good enough lives, then they can be freed from this endless cycle and achieve moksha, where the soul can join Brahman. In Hinduism, people believe that samsara is a feature of illusion (maya). Illusion makes the person think that s/he is an independent being and instead of seeing the connection between himself/herself and the rest of reality. If the person believes in the illusion of separateness, then that person will act in ways that generate good karma, which, will stop the cycle of dying and rebirth. By fully believing in the unity of things, the person has the ability to break the illusions and achieve moksha. When soul goes to moksha, the soul is unaffected by anything that happens on earth, and goes back to Brahman, which was where it began.

This is the deity Shiva, the god that was responsible for destroying things. People often will compare the samsara to Shiva.

Stages of Samsara

There are 5 stages of samsara that every person follows. The first stage of it is being born into a caste. Hindus believe that what you did during your past life has an effect on your caste that your new body is born into. The second stage of samsara is receiving your dharma. Dharma is the duties that you are given and have to complete. If you fail to complete them, then you may not get a very good caste in your next life. The duties that you are given depend on the caste that you are in. The third stage of samsara is to collect your karma. Your karma are your actions, whether or not you fulfil your dharma. There is good karma, and bad karma. Bad karma will not be beneficial for the caste you will be born in and the privileges you will get in your next life. Good karma, however, will get you one step closer to moksha. The fourth stage of samsara is to die. When you die, your body will be washed and wrapped in a shroud, which is a type of cloth. The fifth stage of samsara is rebirth. You will be reborn into the cycle again, in your new body. Unfortunately, you will be wiped of any memories from your previous life, and there will be no proof that you have been through the samsara, the never ending cycle of life. Up till now, the question still remains unscientifically solved: Does the samsara really exist?

Credits: https://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/essays/samsara-hinduismhttp://globalhinduism.weebly.com/samsara.html; Hinduism, by Sue Penny

Buddhism

Buddhism

What happens after enlightenment?

  • How would you achieve enlightenment?
  • What is enlightenment?

Enlightenment is when you are free from suffering and able to be in a state of perfect knowledge and wisdom. In this case, knowledge does not refer to collection of data. Enlightenment is being able to understand both the way in which things appear to us and the true nature of those appearances. This kind of knowledge is the remedy to ignorance and suffering. There are seven factors of enlightenment. These are: mindfulness, keen investigation of the dhamma, energy, rapture or happiness, calm, concentration, and equanimity. Buddhism, according to http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/piyadassi/wheel001.html, is actually the teaching of enlightenment. Someone who wants to achieve enlightenment needs to know about the obstacles that will block the path to enlightenment. There are 5 obstacles that block people from achieving enlightenment, and they are: sensuality, ill-will, obduracy of mental/ mind factors, relentless and flurry, and doubt.

After meditating under the Bodhi tree for a long time and being tempted by the evil god Mara, the Buddha became enlightened.

After Enlightenment

After enlightenment technically means "after reaching god". When you reach it, you will be doing everything, for the things that you are doing are the exact same thing that God is doing. Enlightenment for Buddhists is kind of like moksha for Hindus, because in both situations you have merged with God, have realised your Self. The moment of enlightenment is almost like an accident. At that point when you reach enlightenment, everything is emptiness or fullness. But once you have become united with God, you do not exist at all. You become one with the universal force. But your Consciousness must still view you as an individual. You will still answer to your name and know where you are living. But you are acting as a psychic operating-centre to activate your thoughts, movements, and voice. After enlightenment, external relations do not exist anymore. But you will be still in the same body, it's just that you have changed inside. That is, specifically, your thinking mind will no longer be in existence. That means there is no "me", "my", and "I". You will not be acting for the sake of yourself. Physically, there is no change in you. Your body will still suffer pain and feel joy, but the thing is, there will be nobody there to be feeling joy or suffering pain. Your mind and intellect may stay the same, but your aim in life will change.

Judaism

What is the history of the dreidel?

  • Why are they important during Hannukah?
  • When are they used?

Even though when we think of a dreidel we think Hanukkah, the dreidel originally had nothing to do with Hanukkah.

A 3D Printed Dreidel

At first, in Ireland, men would play and gamble with spinning tops called "teetotums" at bars and inns. This is a possible thought on how dreidels were invented. were During that time, the letters on the teetotum were the first letters of the Latin words for "nothing", "half", "everything", and "put in". This game was brought to Germany during the late Roman period, where it would evolve into "trendels".

Another thought on the origin of the dreidel is that it was invented when the Jews were under the rule of the Syrian-Greeks. At that time, they forbade study. Which, of course, made the Jews want to study even more. According to a legend, Jews would hide their studying by pretending to play with a spinning top, a popular gambling device. If the Syrian- Greeks had found this group of people, they would only see gamblers, but not lawbreaking scholars.

Apparently, dreidels promote gambling. Frankly, that's not too surprising. Think about it, 6 year olds playing dreidel could totally grow up to become gamblers.

Dreidel literally means "little spinner" in Yiddish. The name is self explanatory.

Did you know? Dreidel spinning has recently become a competitive sport. Major League Dreidel hosts tournaments each year in New York City to see who can make the dreidel spin the longest.

Dreidel for Hanukkah

But why use the dreidel for Hanukkah? Rabbi Ephraim Nisenbaum suggests that the dreidel represents how we are so immersed with the hustle and bustle of our daily lives and routines that we do not stop to notice the miracles that happen to us all around. Only during the time that we start to reflect then we realise the miracles that were there all along. How does this concept and the dreidel itself relate to each other? On the dreidel, you know that there are the letters nun, gimmel, heh, and shin, that represent the words nes gadol haya sham, "A great miracle happened there." As the dreidel spins, the letters become a blur, and at that time we cannot recognise the letters on the dreidel and what they represent. But when the dreidel finally stops, we can only then see clearly the letters on the dreidel and the words the represent.

http://www.aish.com/h/c/b/Why_Dreidel.html

http://forward.com/culture/326379/the-true-history-of-the-dreidel/

http://www.mazornet.com/holidays/chanukah/dreidel-origin.htm

Christianity

What happens to Old Testament saints after they die?

After saints die, they would go to a place of comfort and rest called "paradise". The Old Testament taught that there was a life after death. It also taught that everyone who had died would go to this place of conscious existence, called Sheol. This could be translated as "the grave" or "the realm of the dead". The wicked people and the righteous people would be in the same place in the afterlife. But, for the Old Testament saints, they did not get to go to Heaven when they died because Jesus had not opened the gates of Heaven at their time. Also, the Old Testament saints had not been cleansed of their sins. They had been given a system of animals sacrifice to be a blood offering to cover up their sins. The problem is, the blood of an animal cannot never completely satisfy God.

This is depicting a story of a rich man who refused to give to a poor beggar - the rich man going to hell and the poor man going to Abraham's Bosom. Old Testament saints would also be comforted by Father Abraham in Abraham's Bosom.

So where did these saints go?

The Old Testament saints went to a place in Sheol called "Abraham's Bosom". Now, to make things clear, Abraham's Bosom was not Heaven. Heaven is where God is. Normally, we would think of Heaven as "up above us", beyond the "heaven" (basically sky) that we see. God supposedly lives where the sun, moon, planets, and stars live. So, where was Abraham's Bosom? This place was actually said to be located below the earth. According to Jesus, it was the "heart of the earth". Abraham's Bosom was not Heaven, so what was it? It was a place of comfort and waiting. The sins of the Old Testament saints were "nullified" by the blood of the animals they used. Since this was not enough to satisfy God, the dead saints would have to wait in Abraham's Bosom until their sins could be repaid completely.

How does someone become a saint?

Usually, someone is declared a saint after their death. The path you need to take to make someone a saint normally will start 5 years after that person has already died. This gives time for the emotions after the death to cool down, and make sure that the person's case can be judged fairly. Some people may have to wait a long time until they are seen as a saint. For example, Saint Bede died in 735 but waited 1,164 years until everyone saw him as a saint.

When the time has come that the individual is ready to be judged, the bishop of the diocese where the person died can start to investigate whether the person he is judged lived their lives with enough holiness and virtue to be considered a saint. The investigation kind of becomes like court. Evidence, witnesses, and testimonies are gathered to determine whether a person is worthy or becoming a saint. If the evidence is enough, then the bishop asks the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the department that recommends the Pope on saints, for permission to open the case. Once the case has been accepted for contemplation, the person can be called "servant of God".

The CCS (Congregation for the Causes of Saints) will closely examine the evidence of the person's holiness, work , and signs that people have started praying because the person impacted/influenced them. If the CCS approves the case, the Pope will then view it. If the Pope decides this person lived a life of "heroic virtue", they can be called "venerable".

This is Saint Ioannikios.

To get to the next step in this process, a miracle needs to be attained to prayers that have been made to the person after their death. The prayers being granted is proof that the person is in Heaven, and able to communicate with God on others' behalf, which means they are beatified. Incidents need to be "verified" by evidence before they are seen as miracles. Then, after this, the person can be declared "blessed".

Canonisation is the last step in making someone a saint. To get to this step, a second miracle needs to be attained to prayers made to the person after they have been beatified. During the canonisation ceremony, the Pope carries out a special Mass, reading aloud the person's life story then saying a prayer in Latin that declares the person as a saint.

Islam

What is the adhan?

  • Why is it important to Muslims?

The word adhan means to declare, announce, or inform. But as a religious term, adhan is something that calls Muslims to pray. Even though it only consists of a few words, it covers the the important parts of faith, is a form of worship towards Allah, the Muslims' God, and is a "symbol" of Islam. There are objects similar to the adhan in other religions, such as the bell for Christians, and the ram's horn for the Jews. The thing that all these have in common is that they all signal that it is time to pray.

A Muezzin shouting the adhan,

History

Back when prophet Muhammad was alive, the question of what should signal the Muslims to pray arose among the people. Some suggested blowing conchs and fish shells, and others said they should follow the Arab's custom - light a fire on a high place. But, none of this ideas seemed right to Muhammad, so, at last resort, he chose they should blow the conch shell. The next day, one of Muhammad's companions told him about a dream in which someone had "suggested" a way of calling people to prayer. It went like this:

Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!

Ash hadu Al-la-Ilaha il Lallah

Ash hadu Al-la-Ilaha il Lallah

Ash hadu anna Muhammadar Rasulullah

Ash hadu anna Muhammadar Rasulullah

Hayya ‘alas-salah

Hayya ‘alas-salah

Hayya ‘alal-falah

Hayya ‘alal-falah

Allahu-Akbar Allahu-Akbar La-ilaha il-Lallah.

i.e.

(Allah is Most Great! Allah is Most Great! Allah is Most Great! Allah is Most Great!

I bear witness there is none worthy of worship except Allah.

I bear witness there is none worthy of worship except Allah.

I bear witness that Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah.

I bear witness that Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah.

Come to prayer.

Come to prayer.

Come to success.

Come to success.

Allah is Most Great! Allah is Most Great! There is none worshipable but Allah.)

When Muhammad learned about this dream, he declared that from every prayer, a man would need to repeat these words with an extremely loud voice to call to Muslims, telling them the time has come for them to pray.

What is so important about adhan?

Muslims are told about the times of prayers through the adhan, and they also remind that prayer leads them to salvation, so they are encouraged to pray five times a day, and the adhan is there to remind them about that. More importantly, the most religious principles and teachings of Islam such as oneness and prophethood are shown to the whole world through the adhan.

Meaning of Adhan

The words of the adhan contain seven basic teachings of the Islamic religion.

1. The phrase "Allahu Akbar" presents that God is Most Great. (No, literally, that's what it means.) This exultation of God is an important teaching in Islam.

2. The second thing the adhan can teach is unity. This is when people to not see the superiority or inferiority of something and see everything as equal. To a worshipper of Islam, God (Allah) is the only one who is high above them. He is the only one worth worshipping.

3. The adhan can also teach that even though God is perfect himself, he also wants to make man as perfect as possible. He sends mankind messages through the prophets and directs them them to invite humanity to real communion with God.

4. The adhan says that the only way to fulfil the what God requests of man is to try to behave the moral, right, way and purify himself by struggling against temptation and other evils.

5. The adhan also says that as long as we cannot moce with vigilance in the right way, we cannot fulfil God's request. The Prophets are not the liaisons between man and God. They are only just guiding man in the right way and encouraging them.

6. The first sentence of "Allahu - Akbar" is then repeated not because of craft moves, but the explain what sort of success is going to occur to him and show that the belief in the glorification of God lies in the fact that he believes the incomparable sublimity and unapproachable exellence of the Islamic teachings.

7. The last stage of the spiritual improvement of man is told in the second sentence of the adhan. It talks about how man has come to realise that he loves God more than anything and chooses to worship him.

What I Believe

I am an 11 year old girl attending SAS, 6th grade. I was born in America, but currently live in Singapore. My favourite subjects in middle school are RLA and PE. My parents and I don’t believe in any religion, but we do enjoy viewing temples and learning about the history of different religions.

I am an atheist, so I do not believe in any religion. However, my mother likes to think that when we all die, we are reborn as a new person. Of course, you wouldn’t remember anything from your past life, so we don’t realize that we are reborn. I’m not sure if I think the same way, but I like to think there is an Underworld we can continue to exist in after we die. Since I have no religion, I am not restricted in some ways that other people from other religions are. I think that under a religion, you can actually make better choices than if you were not under a religion. When you believe in a religion, you are restrained in some way, and sometimes do things in moderation, but when you don’t believe in a religion, you are unrestrained and can do wild and excessive things.

I don’t believe in a religion, but I do believe that honesty is important in life. I have tried to never tell lies unless in emergencies, because being honest not only helps you, but also helps others. Honesty may get you into trouble, but it still benefits me to know that everyone knows what they need to know, and nothing is being kept from them. It makes me uncomfortable when I tell someone a lie, not to mention I am a terrible liar, so I try to keep myself from lying to others. I also feel guilty for lying, and it makes me feel very bad inside.

I may not believe in a religion, but I still have my beliefs. I personally believe that honesty is something that is the most important part of truly being a good person, because you need to be able to admit your mistakes and tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Others may be different from me and have different opinions about life, but this is my way of believing. Belief: the acceptance that something is true or exists, especially one without proof. I accept the fact that honesty is one of the most important things in my life. I believe in honesty. So, what do you believe in?

Credits:

Created with images by sonja_paetow - "india sculpture art from asia" • sasint - "พระ umbrella eat" • bilyjan - "buddha meditation silence" • Pete Prodoehl - "3D Printed Dreidel" • UCL Mathematical and Physical Sciences - "Biased dreidel" • Cea. - "Anonymous - Lazarus and the Rich Man"

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