Eastern Religions Explained

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The Thinking Strings Explained™ series of eBooks offers high-quality, low-cost alternatives to traditional textbook content. Written by respected scholars in their disciplines, Explained™ eBooks are designed to be read on-screen. Their responsive format means they are comfortably read on a computer, a tablet, or smartphone. To facilitate learning, the main point of each paragraph of text precedes it in bold.

Eastern Religions Explained™ includes six chapters that cover the religions most often taught in introductory eastern religions courses—Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and Shinto—along with modules on the academic study of religion, indigenous religions, and on religious pluralism in the 21st century. Students explore the principles and practice of Eastern religious traditions in a clearly organized framework. The text is designed to convey the maximum amount of information in the most user-friendly manner possible. Though clear links are drawn between religions related to one another (e.g., Hinduism and Buddhism), the chapters can be studied in whatever order the instructor prefers.

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Note: Eastern Religions Explained™ is included for student use at no charge with adoption of Revealing® Eastern Religions.

Author: Cynthia Eller, Ph.D. (Claremont Graduate University)

About the author: Revealing® Eastern Religions and Eastern Religions Explained™

Cynthia Eller is Professor of Religion at Claremont Graduate University and Editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. She has written numerous books in the fields of women and religion, ethics, and women’s studies, including Living in the Lap of the Goddess: The Feminist Spirituality Movement in America (Boston: Beacon Press, 1995) and The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Won’t Give Women a Future (Boston: Beacon Press, 2000).

Dr. Eller regularly teaches introductory courses in religion and world religions. Like all religion faculty, she hopes to draw her students into an appreciation of the world’s religions and instill a desire in her students to explore further through upper-division classes.

Highlights

Eastern Religions Explained™ Highlights

  • Students explore the principles and practice of the world’s major contemporary religions in a clearly organized framework.
  • Designed for adoption in college and university world religions courses. Affordable student cost.
  • Instructors who adopt Revealing® Eastern Religions receive access to Eastern Religions Explained™ at no charge to their students.

Contents

Copyright © 2004-2016, Thinking Strings, LLC

Table of Contents

Exploring Religion

What is Religion?

  • Goals: What is Religion?
  • Religion & Religions
  • One Reality or Many?
  • Defining Religion
  • Theoretical, Practical, Sociological
  • Religious Specialists
  • Religious Syncretism
  • Summary: What is Religion?

Types of Religions

  • Goals: Types of Religions
  • Eastern & Western Religions
  • Families of Religions
  • Ethnic & Universal
  • Theisms
  • The Ineffable
  • Atheism & Agnosticism
  • Summary: Types of Religions

Studying Religion

  • Goals: Studying Religion
  • Why Is There Religion?
  • Functionalism
  • Theorists of Religion
  • Ways to Study Religion
  • Belief & Unbelief
  • Why Study Religion?
  • The Religious Quest
  • Summary: Studying Religion

Indigenous Religions

Defining Indigenous Religions

  • Goals: Defining Indigenous Religions
  • The Great World Religions
  • Terms for Indigenous Religions
  • Indigenous Religions & Prehistoric Religion
  • Religion & the Means of Subsistence
  • Significance of Orality
  • Diversity of Indigenous Religions
  • Diversity of Indigenous Religions
  • How Many Practice Indigenous Religion?
  • Summary: Defining Indigenous Religions

Interpreting Indigenous Religions

  • Goals: Interpreting Indigenous Religions
  • What Indigenous Religions Can Teach Us
  • Sacred Time & Sacred Place
  • Deities & Spirits
  • Sacrifice
  • Rites of Passage
  • Divination
  • Healing
  • Afterlife
  • Summary: Interpreting Indigenous Religions

Religions of Australia & the Pacific

  • Goals: Religions of Australia & the Pacific
  • Religions of Oceania
  • Migrations to the South Pacific
  • Life in the South Pacific
  • European Contact
  • Mana
  • Tabu
  • Religious Variety in Oceania
  • Australian Aboriginal Religion
  • Religions of the Pacific Islands
  • Summary: Australia & the Pacific

Case Studies: Religions of Oceania

  • The Yolngu
  • The John Frum Cult
  • The Maori
  • Summary: Case Studies in Oceania

Native North American Religions

  • Goals: Native North American Religions
  • Populating the Americas
  • Native American Diversity
  • Sacred Animals
  • Vision Quests
  • Agricultural Ceremonialism
  • Impact of European Conquest
  • Pan-Indianism
  • Native American Religions Today
  • Growing Up Native American
  • Summary: Native North American Religions

Case Studies: Native North America

  • Goals: Native North America
  • The Lakota
  • The Zuni
  • Ghost Dance Religion
  • Summary: Native North America

Traditional African Religions

  • Goals: Traditional African Religions
  • The Mother Continent
  • African Religious Diversity
  • Christianity & Islam in Africa
  • Religions in Africa Today
  • Religions of Practice
  • High God
  • Intermediary Spirits
  • Witchcraft, Divination, Magic, Healing
  • African Rites of Passage
  • Summary: Traditional African Religions

Case Studies: African Religions

  • Goals: Case Studies: African Religions
  • The Zulu
  • The Yoruba
  • Mami Wata
  • Summary: Case Studies: African Religions

Afro-Caribbean Religions

  • Goals: Afro-Caribbean Religions
  • Religions of the African Diaspora
  • Santeria
  • History of Haitian Vodou
  • Vodou Cosmology
  • The Lwa
  • The Lwa & Catholic Saints
  • Vodou Practice
  • Becoming Vodou
  • Summary: Afro-Caribbean Religions

Hinduism

Defining & Finding Hinduism

  • Goals: Defining Hinduism
  • Religion in Ancient India
  • Religions of India
  • Hinduism’s Expansiveness
  • How Old is Hinduism?
  • Sanatana Dharma
  • Indian Definition of Hinduism
  • Religious Conflict in India
  • World Distribution
  • Summary: Defining Hinduism

The Birth of Hinduism

  • Goals: The Birth of Hinduism
  • Timeline of Hinduism
  • Indus Civilization
  • Aryan Invasion Theory
  • Caste System
  • Early Vedic Religion & Ritual
  • Vedic Gods
  • Agni & Soma
  • Vedic Scriptures
  • Summary: The Birth of Hinduism

Hinduism After the Vedas

  • Goals: Hinduism After the Vedas
  • Hinduism’s Relationship to Buddhism
  • The Epics
  • Classical Texts
  • Tantric Texts
  • Islam in India
  • Colonial Powers in India
  • Indian Independence
  • Summary: Hinduism After the Vedas

Philosophy of Hinduism

  • Goals: Philosophy of Hinduism
  • Basic Tensions in Hinduism
  • Brahman
  • Atman
  • Maya
  • Karma
  • Reincarnation in Hinduism
  • Samsara
  • Moksha
  • Cosmogenesis & Kaliyuga
  • Summary: Philosophy of Hinduism

Yoga

  • Goals: Yoga
  • Types of Yoga
  • Jnana Yoga
  • Karma Yoga & Arjuna
  • Bhakti Yoga & Mirabai
  • Raja Yoga
  • Hatha Yoga
  • Four Stages of Life
  • Sannyasin
  • Varieties of Yoga
  • Summary: Yoga

Schools of Hindu Philosophy

  • Goals: Schools of Hindu Philosophy
  • Samkhya Philosophy
  • Purusha & Prakriti
  • The Three Gunas
  • Meditation & Consciousness
  • Vedanta
  • Qualified Nondualism
  • Tantric Hinduism
  • Kundalini Yoga
  • Tantra
  • Summary: Schools of Hindu Philosophy

The Hindu Pantheon

  • Goals: The Hindu Pantheon
  • Nature of the Hindu Pantheon
  • The Trimurti
  • Vishnu
  • Rama
  • Krishna
  • Shiva
  • Devi
  • Lesser Deities
  • Summary: The Hindu Pantheon

Puja & Pilgrimage

  • Goals: Puja & Pilgrimage
  • Hindu Practice
  • Hindu Tradition
  • Hindu Devotional Practice
  • Darshan & Puja
  • Procession & Pilgrimage
  • Gurus
  • Temple Worship
  • Music & Chant
  • Hindu Sacred Dance
  • Summary: Puja & Pilgrimage

Hinduism in the West

  • Goals: Hinduism in the West
  • Hinduism Outside India
  • Swami Vivekananda
  • Transcendental Meditation
  • ISKCON
  • Yoga in the West
  • Summary: Hinduism in the Westt

Buddhism

The Life of the Buddha

  • Goals: The Life of the Buddha
  • Siddhartha Gautama
  • Siddhartha’s Context
  • From Birth to Age 30
  • Four Passing Sights
  • Siddhartha as Renunciate
  • Siddhartha’s Awakening
  • Buddha as Teacher
  • Sangha
  • Parinirvana
  • Summary: The Life of the Buddha

Philosophy of Buddhism

  • Goals: Philosophy of Buddhism
  • The Four Noble Truths
  • The Five Precepts
  • The Three Jewels
  • Dharma
  • Dependent Co-Arising
  • No Self (Anatta)
  • Nirvana
  • Arhat
  • Reincarnation in Buddhism
  • Summary: Philosophy of Buddhism

The First 400 Years

  • Goals: The First 400 Years
  • Transmission & Spread of Buddhism
  • King Asoka
  • Schools of Buddhism
  • Major Branches of Buddhism
  • Buddhism in First Century CE
  • Summary: The First 400 Years

Theravada Buddhism

  • Goals: Theravada Buddhism
  • Pali Canon (Tipitaka)
  • Becoming an Arhat
  • Women in Theravada Buddhism
  • Theravadan Meditation
  • Theravadan Iconography
  • Worship of the Buddha
  • Sri Lanka
  • Major Theravadan Temples
  • Thailand
  • Summary: Theravada Buddhism

Mahayana Buddhism

  • Goals: Mahayana Buddhism
  • The Bodhisattva Ideal
  • The Buddhist Pantheon
  • Three-Body Doctrine (Trikaya)
  • Skillful Means (Upaya)
  • Mahayana Scriptures
  • Mahayana Buddhist Philosophy
  • Summary: Mahayana Buddhism

Vajrayana Buddhism

  • Goals: Vajrayana Buddhism
  • Origin of Vajrayana Buddhism
  • Buddhism in Tibet
  • Tantric Buddhism
  • Buddhist Mantras
  • Vajrayana Iconography
  • Vajrayana Meditation
  • Tibetan Deities
  • Milarepa
  • Summary: Vajrayana Buddhism

Mahayana Buddhism in China

  • Goals: Mahayana in China
  • Buddhism Enters China
  • Chan (Zen) Buddhism
  • Pure Land Buddhism
  • Huayan Buddhism
  • Master Xu Yun
  • Chinese Buddhist Iconography
  • Buddhism in China Today
  • Mahayana in Korea
  • Mahayana in Vietnam
  • Summary: Mahayana in China

Mahayana Buddhism in Japan

  • Goals: Mahayana in Japan
  • Buddhism Enters Japan
  • Nara Period
  • Shingon Buddhism
  • Tendai Buddhism
  • Kamakura Period
  • Jodo Shu Buddhism
  • Nichiren Buddhism
  • Zen Buddhism
  • Devotional Practice
  • Summary: Mahayana in Japan

Buddhism in the West

  • Goals: Buddhism in the West
  • Schools of Buddhism in the West
  • Insight Meditation Society
  • Shambhala
  • City of 10,000 Buddhas
  • Plum Village
  • Engaged Buddhism
  • Women in Western Buddhism
  • Summary: Buddhism in the West

Sikhism

Emergence of Sikhism

  • Goals: Emergence of Sikhism
  • The Sikh Religion
  • The Punjab
  • Blending Hinduism & Islam
  • Guru Nanak
  • Summary: Emergence of Sikhism

Life of Guru Nanak

  • Goals: Life of Guru Nanak
  • Guru Nanak’s Family
  • Birth of Guru Nanak
  • Nanak as a Young Man
  • Nanak’s Epiphany
  • Nanak’s Travels
  • Nanak’s Travels
  • Nanak’s Ashram
  • Nanak’s Death
  • Summary: Life of Guru Nanak

Sikh Theology

  • Goals: Sikh Theology
  • Sikh Monotheism
  • A Personal God
  • The Sikh View of Human Nature
  • Reincarnation & Liberation
  • Union with God
  • Summary: Sikh Theology

The Ten Gurus

  • Goals: The Ten Gurus
  • The First Guru
  • The Second Guru
  • The Third Guru
  • The Fourth Guru
  • The Fifth Guru
  • The Sixth Guru
  • The Seventh & Eighth Gurus
  • The Ninth Guru
  • The Tenth Guru
  • Summary: The Ten Gurus

The Khalsa

  • Goals: The Khalsa
  • Founding the Khalsa
  • Sikh Identity
  • The Warrior Ideal
  • Sikh/Muslim Conflict
  • Summary: The Khalsa

Sikh Scripture

  • Goals: Sikh Scripture
  • Adi Granth
  • Mul Mantra
  • Authors of the Granth
  • Translations of the Granth
  • Dasam Granth
  • Other Sikh Scriptures
  • Summary: Sikh Scripture

Sikhism in India and the Diaspora

  • Goals: Sikhism in India and the Diaspora
  • Sikhism after Guru Gobind Singh
  • Ranjit Singh
  • Sikhs and the British Empire
  • The Partition of India
  • Sikh Separatism
  • Sikhs in the Punjab Today
  • Sikhs in the Diaspora
  • Variants of Sikhism
  • Summary: Sikhism in India and the Diaspora

Rituals and Rites of Passage

  • Goals: Rituals and Rites of Passage
  • Sikh Worship
  • The Gurdwara
  • The Langar
  • Birth
  • Initiation
  • Marriage
  • Death
  • Summary: Rituals and Rites of Passage

Sikh Holidays

  • Goals: Sikh Holidays
  • The Cycle of Sikh Holidays
  • Baisakh
  • Hola
  • Diwali
  • Sikh Commemorations
  • Sikh Processions
  • Sikh Pilgrimage
  • Summary: Sikh Holidays

Daoism

Ancient Chinese Religion

  • Goals: Ancient Chinese Religion
  • China’s Indigenous Religions
  • The Warring States Period
  • Ancient Chinese Religions
  • Ancient Chinese Philosophy
  • Daoism & Confucianism
  • Summary: Ancient Chinese Religion

Beginnings of Daoism

  • Goals: Beginnings of Daoism
  • Laozi
  • Origins of the Dao Te Ching
  • The Dao Te Ching
  • Zhuangzi
  • Transliterating Chinese
  • Summary: Beginnings of Daoism

Philosophy of the Dao

  • Goals: Philosophy of the Dao
  • What is the Dao?
  • The Ten Thousand Things
  • The Ineffable Dao
  • Wu-Wei
  • The Nature of Human Beings
  • Yin & Yang
  • The Importance of Nature
  • Summary: Philosophy of the Dao

Daoism as a Religion

  • Goals: Daoism as a Religion
  • Philosophy or Religion?
  • Celestial Master Daoism
  • Magic & Alchemy
  • Supreme Clarity Daoism
  • Numinous Treasure Daoism
  • Summary: Daoism as a Religion

Daoist Pantheon

  • Goals: Daoist Pantheon
  • Basic Features
  • Hierarchy of the Pantheon
  • Major Deities
  • Kwan Yin
  • Land God
  • God of Wealth
  • The Eight Immortals
  • Ho Hsien Ku
  • Other Daoist Deities
  • Summary: Daoist Pantheon

Second Millennium CE

  • Goals: Second Millennium CE
  • Later Sects of Daoism
  • Orthodox Unity Daoism
  • Integral Perfection Daoism
  • White Cloud Abbey
  • Daoist Temples
  • Wang Ling Guan
  • Daoist Priesthood
  • Summary: Second Millennium CE

Daoist Meditation & Medicine

  • Goals: Daoist Meditation & Medicine
  • Breathing Exercises
  • The Spiritual Embryo
  • Holding the Ones
  • T’ai-chi Ch’uan
  • Daoist Martial Arts
  • Traditional Medicine & Acupuncture
  • Herbology
  • Macrobiotic Diet
  • Summary: Meditation & Medicine

Daoist Ritual Practices

  • Goals: Daoist Ritual Practices
  • Chinese Festivals
  • Chinese Astrology
  • Feng Shui
  • Yijing
  • Calligraphy
  • Healing Rituals
  • Ancestor Veneration
  • Chiao
  • Summary: Daoist Ritual Practices

Daoism in the Modern Era

  • Goals: Daoism in the Modern Era
  • The Decline of Daoism
  • Daoism Under the Manchus
  • Daoism & Western Imperialism
  • T’ai-p’ing Rebellion
  • The Communist Revolution
  • Daoism in China Today
  • Daoism Outside Mainland China
  • Summary: Daoism in the Modern Era

Confucianism

The Life of Confucius

  • Goals: The Life of Confucius
  • Early Life of Confucius
  • Confucius as a Young Man
  • Teacher & Philosopher
  • Summary: The Life of Confucius

Fundamentals of Confucianism

  • Goals: Fundamentals
  • A Moral Philosophy
  • Confucianism as a Religion
  • Five Great Relationships
  • Rectification of Names
  • Five Virtues
  • Male Dominance in Confucianism
  • Human Nature in Confucianism
  • Confucian Ideals for Government
  • Yin & Yang in Confucianism
  • Summary: Fundamentals

Confucian Texts

  • Goals: Confucian Texts
  • Significance of Confucian Texts
  • The Five Classics
  • The Book of Rites
  • The Four Books
  • The Analects
  • The Great Learning
  • The Book of Mencius
  • Summary: Confucian Texts

Early Confucian History

  • Goals: Early Confucian History
  • After Confucius
  • Mencius
  • Mozi
  • Xunzi
  • The Han Dynasty
  • Confucian Religion
  • Veneration of Confucius
  • Confucian Priesthood
  • Summary: Early Confucian History

The Modern Era

  • Goals: The Modern Era
  • Confucianism & Buddhism
  • Neo-Confucianism
  • The Great Ultimate
  • Sitting Meditation
  • Becoming a Sage
  • Wang Yangming
  • Reforms in Confucianism
  • Confucianism in the Modern Era
  • Summary: The Modern Era

Shinto

Early Japanese Religion

  • Goals: Early Japanese Religion
  • Indigenous Japanese Religion
  • The Japanese People
  • Prehistoric Japan
  • Early Shinto
  • Shamanism
  • Early Shinto Gods & Goddesses
  • Summary: Early Japanese Religion

Shinto After Buddhism

  • Goals: Shinto After Buddhism
  • Shinto & Chinese Religions
  • Shinto & Buddhism
  • Shinto Writings
  • Separating Shinto & Buddhism
  • Meiji Restoration
  • State Shinto
  • After World War II
  • Summary: Shinto After Buddhism

Key Characteristics of Shinto

  • Goals: Key Characteristics
  • Major Concerns of Shinto
  • Purity
  • Tradition in Shinto
  • Honoring Nature
  • The Land of Japan
  • An Optimistic Religion
  • Orthopraxis in Shinto
  • Summary: Key Characteristics

Shinto Mythology

  • Goals: Shinto Mythology
  • Origin Myth of Shinto
  • Izanami & Izanagi
  • The Birth of Fire
  • Izanagi’s Return
  • The Birth of Amaterasu
  • The Heavenly Rock Cave
  • Amaterasu’s Descendants
  • Summary: Shinto Mythology

Kami

  • Goals: Kami
  • Definition of Kami
  • Types of Kami
  • Traits of Kami
  • The Kami & Humans
  • The Waving Cat
  • Kami Iconography
  • Summary: Kami

Shinto Shrines

  • Goals: Shinto Shrines
  • Shinto Shrines in Japan Today
  • Torii
  • Shimenawa
  • Shrine Architecture
  • Features of Shinto Shrines
  • Enshrined Kami
  • The Three Treasures
  • Summary: Shinto Shrines

Shinto Worship

  • Goals: Shinto Worship
  • Worshipping the Kami
  • Visiting a Shrine
  • Oracles & Charms
  • Occasions for Visiting a Shrine
  • Shinto Funerals
  • Priest-Led Worship
  • The Shinto Priesthood
  • Shinto Worship at Home
  • Summary: Shinto Worship

Shinto Festivals

  • Goals: Shinto Festivals
  • Occasions for Festivals
  • New Year’s Festivals
  • Rice Festivals
  • Other Shinto Festivals
  • Processions in Shinto
  • Shinto Dance & Theater
  • Shinto Pilgrimage
  • Summary: Shinto Festivals

Religious Blending in Japan

  • Goals: Religious Blending in Japan
  • Who Practices Shinto?
  • Taoist Elements in Shinto
  • Confucian Elements in Shinto
  • Buddhist Elements in Shinto
  • New Religious Movements in Japan
  • Shinto Outside Japan
  • Summary: Religious Blending in Japan

Religious Pluralism

The World’s Religions

  • Goals: The World’s Religions
  • Making Meaningful Comparisons
  • Universal & Ethnic Religions
  • Orthopraxis & Orthodoxy
  • Sacred Time
  • Founders, Prophets, & Teachers
  • Sex, Life, & Death
  • One God or Many?
  • Summary: The World’s Religions

New Religious Movements

  • Goals: New Religious Movements
  • Religious Change
  • Millennial Movements
  • Universalist Religions
  • Nature Religions
  • New Age Religions
  • Summary: New Religious Movements

Religion in the 21st Century

  • Goals: The 21st Century
  • The Secularization Thesis
  • Fundamentalism
  • Interreligious Dialogue
  • Women’s Religious Leadership
  • Religion in Popular Culture
  • Looking Forward
  • Summary: The 21st Century