26 April, 2009

weekly discussion #10 (anthro 101, class)

How does a person express their spiritual journey? What types of communal activities are depicted as part of the spiritual journey? What types of individual activities?

What was one new thing you learned from the film about another particular religion or religious leader?

What do you think the value of understanding other religions is?


I found the book to not relate much to the film at all. However, from what I know from personal study and from what I saw in the film, spiritual journeys are expressed in many different ways. The similarity amoung all religions, so it seems, begins with understanding who you are as an individual in relation to the "big picture."

Across the different religions the group vs. individual levels vary. For instance, in Eastern religions such as Hinduism or Islam the focus is more on group religious activities and spiritual journeys where as with religions such as Christianity (in Protestant, Baptist and Catholic faiths, for example) the focus is more on the individual and their walk with God vs. group practice. Most religions seem to meet as groups, as a general rule, but the way each one addresses "personal relationship with God" varies.

Communal activities include the group praying of Islamic and family shrine gatherings and prayers, as well as Pilgrimage, in the Hindu religion. Christian group activities include daily gatherings for worship and teaching, sometimes weekly bible studies and group teachings.

Individual activities include daily chants in the Hindu religion (though this can also be a group custom) as well as personal study and prayer within Christian religions.


Though this may seem naive and oblivious, one thing I realized was that the Dalai Lama was not only a religious leader but has great political sway and influence as well. I also was never quite aware of how the leadership was passed on after each Dalai Lama has passed away. I came to discover that it is the High Lamas who search and search until they find the home of the boy they believe to be the reincarnation and then put him to a series of affirmation tests to affirm that he is the chosen one.


I think the value in understanding other religions lies in, if nothing else, respect. The fact that individuals take the time to understand other religions, while they may not agree with what they teach or stand for, I believe shows respect in itself. It also lends itself to understanding how certain cultures work. Some cultures are encompassed by the religion of the culture and understanding the cultural religion provides a much greater insight into how that culture works over even just understanding of the culture itself.

1 comment:

Kim Hedrick said...

Great job- would have liked to see you try harder to integrate the reading. Most people found a way after some thought... Very insightful discussion of individual vs. communal pursuits.