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To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one's family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one's own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.

-Buddha



One Mountain, Many Paths?

There is an analogy often used to explain the world's religions, both in terms of their relationships to each other and their relationship to God, or the gods, or Ultimate Reality. Each religion, so it is said, is like a path up a mountain. Some are straight, some take many curves; some are steeply sloped, others more gently; some are rocky and hard to follow, others smooth and well-tread. Whatever the case, all lead to the same peak, by whatever name it is called. By this line of thinking, the differences that characterize the world's religions -differences that sometimes lead to tension and conflict - are merely superficial, matters of personal preference that have nothing to do with the substance of each faith, nor do they offer any insight into the relative value of their respective truth claims. All of them are ultimately leading to the same destination, and one need only pick the path deemed most personally suitable and follow it, while respecting the right of others to have the freedom to make and pursue their own choice as well.

The purpose of this class is to explore this analogy and the assumptions that lie behind it, allowing each religion to speak for itself with respect to its relationship to the others and its relationship to the "things that matter," whatever each religion proposes those things to be. Such an approach, which is hopefully characterized by a spirit of openess, generosity, and objectivity, is taken precisely because it is the approach deemed most in keeping with the spirit of Catholic thought at its very best- a spirit undistorted both by modern preoccupations with tolerance at the expense of justice and certainty, and by the anti-rational and reactionary rigidity that is itself so ironically characteristic of the religious "fundamentalisms" that have emerged as a result of those preoccupations.

The starting point, in other words, is not the assumption that all religions are basically the same regardless of what each says, but that each religion means precisely what it says, and should be understood on its own terms. Furthermore, each religion is its own best judge of the extent to which it is or should be compatible with other faiths.


Course Outline

Eastern Religions

  • What is Religion?
    • Religion as worldview, as opposed to making a place for religion in one's worldview
  • Hinduism
    • History
    • Sacred Texts
    • Significant Adherents
    • Contemporary Issues
  • Buddhism
    • History
    • Sacred Texts
    • The Buddha; The Dalai Lama
  • Confucianism
    • History
    • Sacred Texts
    • Confucius & Successors
  • Daoism
    • History
    • Sacred Texts
    • Lao-tzu and Successors

Religions of Abraham

  • Judaism
    • History
    • Sacred Texts
    • Contemporary Issues
  • Christianity
    • History
    • Sacred Texts
    • Key Thinkers
    • Contemporary Issues
  • Islam
    • History
    • Sacred Texts
    • Key Thinkers
    • Contemporary Issues
 
 

  updated 12.02.14 home | about | sources | theo10 | foundations | interreligious