Unit 3 = Looking for Meaning

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1 Unit 3 = Looking for Meaning (Christianity & Buddhism) Key concepts (must learn) God God is One, all powerful (omnipotent), All knowing (omniscient) Creator of the world, creatures and humans, can be seen as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He wants a relationship with all humans. He will judge the world. Symbolism A sign is something which has a particular meaning. e.g. an emblem or token. It is something that points, represents, or explains something else. Awe Being completely overwhelmed by a sense of God s presence. Being so filled with amazement or wonder that you feel humble and insignificant. Being struck by the beauty of something that you are left almost breathless and speechless. Having a sense of fear, and at the same time reverence. Revelation Something shown or explained that was previously hidden. Something which/ or someone who enables others to learn more, or see something for themselves, about God, life, or eternity. Agnostic A person who is not sure if there is such a thing as God. Someone who feels that proof of God is beyond human knowledge. Atheist A person who believes that there is no God and that there is no need to believe in God. Atheists believe that God is not real and is sure that ideas if God have been imagined.

2 What is the purpose of life? Christian View For Christians the purpose of life is to love God and Love one s neighbour. They can do this by following the way of Jesus. Buddhist view Buddhists believe that the purpose of life is to reach Nirvana. Nirvana is a state of peaceful nothingness. Some Buddhists seek this through meditation on the life and teachings of the Buddha. Some join the community of monks and nuns (sangha) and some follow Buddhist practices in everyday life. Christian views God Christians believe in ONE God (monotheism). They believe that God is all powerful (omnipotent). They believe that God created the world and everything in it. They believe that God is all knowing (omniscient), nothing happens in the world without God s knowledge and permission. They believe that God is eternal. They believe that God is present in all life. He is all around us. They believe that Jesus was the human form of God (incarnation). They see God in three parts: Father, Son (Jesus), and Holy Spirit. This is called the Trinity. God is all loving and kind. At the end of time God will judge the world. Those who repent of their sins and show belief in God and Jesus will be given eternal life (heaven). Those who do not will be in hell. (More detail later).

3 Jesus Jesus came to teach people God s will for them, and to show them what life would be like in the Kingdom of God. For Christians, the Kingdom of God (Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew s Gospel) is both an inner change of heart and a symbol of peace on earth. Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah (Christ) for Christians, is important. He not only taught people about God, he showed them what God is like. Jesus was put to death on the cross. This was the crucifixion. The cross is an important symbol for Christians. Christianity says that because Jesus (who was God) chose to die because he loved humanity and wanted to save them, all people were forgiven their sins and so had a chance to go to heaven. Christianity teaches that death was not the end for Jesus. They believe that he rose from the dead three days after being put in the tomb. This is the resurrection. Christians believe that Jesus was not just a man in the past, but is a living saviour, relevant to their lives today. His resurrection was the overcoming of sin and death, so bringing new life and hope into the world. IMPORTANT - NEED TO LEARN: Jesus is often called Lord and Redeemer. LORD This means that: He is equal with God. He is ruler of the world and heaven He is the One who directs or guides a believer s life. REDEEMER This means that: He is the one who paid the ransom price to set others free (Crucifixiondied for the sins of humanity). He is the bringer of forgiveness. He is the One who gives eternal life.

4 How do Christians experience God? Christians believe that they can experience God through: Miracles e.g. a life is saved. An inner feeling. You sense God s presence. Act of benevolence (kindness) e.g. helping others, giving to charity etc.. Looking at the natural beauty and wonder of the world and all that has been created. getting in touch with God, as God is the Creator. Worship a direct relationship with God. Prayer a way of thinking about God, praising/thanking God, asking for God s help and guidance. Reading sacred/holy texts Christians feel that the Bible has come from God. It is the word of God, which is full of guidance which is relevant for any situation one may be faced with. It is a book that inspires Christians to lead a good life. How do Christians respond to God? Christians believe that they have a close relationship to God, and feel that they are here to serve Him. Christians do this in a variety of different ways: Prayer Worship Preaching and teaching sharing the faith with others and helping each other to grow in faith. Pilgrimage Make a religious journey in order to feel closer to God. Places of pilgrimage are deeply rooted with the faith. Acts of kindness maybe donating money to charity. Show compassion to others Love thy neighbour. Vocation For some people they feel they need to devote their life and work to God by becoming a vicar or priest etc. Following the rules and teachings of the religion. Commitment not give up your faith in difficult times. Study learn more about the history and teachings of the religion.

5 If God is real, and is all powerful, all knowing and all loving why do so many bad things happen in the world? Key words Sanctity of Life The belief that all life is sacred and unique. Human beings are made in God s image there is a little bit of God in us. Humans have a soul. Humans have a special relationship with God and God wants us to develop that relationship. God has a plan for each person it is the individual s role to find that plan and live according to that plan. Humans have a higher consciousness than animals able to make moral choices, able to tell the difference between right and wrong. Free Will The belief that humans are free to choose how to live and behave, and that they are not the same as animals. Christians believe that God gave life. He is the creator. For this reason they also believe in the sanctity of life. Christians also believe that God did not create us to be puppets. Instead we were created with the freedom to choose how to behave, and with the knowledge to recognise the difference between good and bad. This means that humans have huge responsibilities with the choices they make during their lifetime. It also makes humans accountable for everything that happens whether it is good or bad. What about suffering? Many people chose not to believe in God because of the suffering that is in the world. They can not see God being all powerful, all knowing and all loving when there is evil and suffering in the world, especially innocent suffering.

6 The story of Job

7

8 Many Christians would argue that Free Will was given to humans to behave how they wish. Sometimes suffering results, but you can t have free will without that risk. Maybe God chooses not to interfere with the free will he has given. Maybe there is a purpose to all suffering. Good can come out of suffering. We just can t see it yet. Maybe God knows more than us. God can see the whole picture. God knows what is good in the long run for everyone. Suffering from natural disasters is the result of human beings interfering with nature e.g. deforestation, pollution, climate control, and not the blame of God. Sometimes they are called human-made suffering. Buddhist Views Buddhists do not believe in God. Buddhism is a path that seeks to lead individuals from a life constricted by greed, hatred and ignorance to one liberated (freed) by generosity, compassion and insight. Its aim is to overcome suffering and to promote happiness. Buddhism does not require a belief in God, but simply a willingness to commit oneself to follow the life of the Buddha (Siddhartha Goutama), his teachings (dharma) and to the community of his followers (sangha). Each person is expected to examine and test out the teachings of Buddhism and to follow the path of Buddhism in his/her own way. On a personal level, Buddhism is about being awake, being alert and taking responsibility for your life. Being awake - Buddhists believe that everyone has the potential to become enlightened, to be fully awake to the reality of life. Being alert - Buddhists seek to avoid things which dull the mind. They aim to develop awareness of themselves, their feelings and the world around them. Taking responsibility for your life Buddhists believe that life is always changing and therefore all people have the ability to respond to it creatively.

9 Buddhist teachings about suffering. The four Nobel Truths The Buddha claimed that if you want to remove suffering, you must first examine and understand what conditions lead to suffering. He claimed that there are four ways to examine and understand suffering. These are called the Four Noble Truths 1) All life involves suffering. a. The actual pain and distress that comes because of sickness, old age, death and any other injuries that can come to human beings e.g. breaking a leg. (This form of suffering is called dukkha, and is inevitable (going to happen/can not be avoided), because the human body is limited and fragile). b. The frustration and unhappiness with life nothing is exactly as we wish it to be. (Life is not perfect). 2) The origin of suffering. Suffering is caused by greed, hatred and ignorance, (basically being selfish). We are never content with what we have got. E.g. humans are forever saying things like: I will be happy when I get or I d be happy if only I.. This grasping shows that people feel a kind of inner emptiness and want to fill it. The more they grasp, the more they suffer. 3) The end of suffering. The only way to end suffering is to stop craving and lose your selfish desires. You must also accept that suffering is part of life. 4) The way that leads to the end of suffering. There is a path to follow that will help you lose your selfish desires and cravings. It is called the eightfold path and it sets out practical ways of living. (Following the eightfold path will bring Buddhists closer to achieving Nirvana).

10 Eightfold path: i) Understand the Four Noble Truths ii) Right intentions (behaving good/kind) iii) Using kind words. No gossip. iv) Right actions (following the 5 precepts). v) Doing a job that does not harm others. vi) Working hard to do good things. vii) Thinking before you speak viii) Using meditation to train your mind to be calm and focused. The 5 precepts 1) Avoid taking life. 2) Avoid taking what is not given. 3) Avoid sexual misconduct 4) Avoid speaking falsely 5) Avoid drink and drugs. Christian Views - Resurrection Life after Death Christians believe that when Jesus rose from the dead he overcame the power of death forever. Those who believe in him therefore will also be resurrected to new life. At the end of all time and all things, Jesus will return as judge (Judgement day), those who have lived according to his commands and those who repent of their sins and declare a new belief in Jesus will be able to join God (heaven). Those who have not will be separated from God (hell). Buddhist views Rebirth Buddhists believe that this life is one of many- so many that they can not be counted. At death, life passes to a new body just as a flame of a dying candle can light a new one. There is no soul, only a continuous process where one life leads to the next, until greed, hatred and ignorance have been removed. This leads to nirvana, a peaceful state of nothing.

11 Samsara & Karma The cycle of rebirth is called samsara. Buddhists believe that we are trapped on a wheel of life. This means that we are re-born many times to give us the opportunity to reach nirvana. Buddhists believe that there are six different realms in which we can be reborn, and that each life we live has a purpose of teaching us a particular lesson. The realms (Wheel of Life) 1) The realm of gods This is a beautiful dream world where everything is provided. (gods are beings who are superior to humans, but are not enlightened). 2) The realm of asuras angry beings that are constantly at war with one another, fighting to get what they want. 3) The realm of pretas (hungry ghosts) beings who always want more and are never satisfied. They have enormous stomachs, with knives sticking out of them, and tiny mouths. 4) The hell realms some are hot, some are cold; all express human suffering and despair. 5) The animal realm where the main concern is the basic requirements of food, sex and material comfort. Beings in this realm seem to be quite happy as long as their needs are being met. 6) The human realm. Buddhists believe that beings do not remain permanently in any one realm, but move from one to another. (Buddhists do not see the realms as separate places, but as different conditions in which people live, or different states of mind). Each human has been in each of the realms in the past, and is likely to be so again at some point in the future. This belief urges humans to be compassionate, kind and non violent towards all other forms of life.

12 It is seen to be lucky to be born in the human realm, because it is the middle realm in which there is enough suffering to motivate humans to seek enlightenment, and enough freedom in which to achieve enlightenment in order to escape the cycle of rebirth. Humans should therefore use their life wisely as it may be cut short at any time by death. It should not be fritted away. In order to escape the cycle of life, death and re-birth (samsara) you must be in the human realm and you must make a mature decision not to react to life by craving and grasping. If you can not do this, you will remain in the cycle of samsara. Karma The realm beings move into from one life to the next depends on the laws of karma. (This means that beings are reborn according to the nature and quality of their past actions). For example: Acts of hatred and violence tend to lead to rebirth in hell. Acts full of delusion and confusion tend to lead to rebirth as an animal. Acts of greed tend to lead to rebirth as a hungry ghost. If bad actions are not serious enough to lead to a lower rebirth (animal, ghost, hell), they affect the nature of a human rebirth. For example: Stinginess leads to being poor in the next life. Injuring beings leads to frequent illness in the next life. Anger leads to being ugly in the next life. With karma, all intentional actions matter, both good and bad, for they leave a trace on the being (psyche) which will lead to future results. People make their own destiny by their actions. Good and bad rebirths are not seen as rewards and punishments, they are seen as natural results of certain kind of actions. It is important to understand that a moral life is not necessarily immediately followed by a good rebirth, if a strong evil action of a past life has not yet brought its results. Similarly, an immoral life is not necessarily immediately followed by a bad rebirth. However, the appropriate results will come in time. This illustrates that karma does not just bring results in the next life: an

13 action is said to have effects later in the present life, the next life, and also in some subsequent ones. Natural disasters occur because of nature, no other reason. People involved/hurt by this suffering are not being punished because of previous karma. To understand and come to terms with this type of suffering Buddhists have to work through the Four Noble Truths. Suffering is not part of Karma. Karma determines future realms in which one will be reborn. (Suffering happens to everyone, it is unavoidable until one gains enlightenment/nirvana). Suicide This is the word for taking one s own life intentionally. Most suicides happen because of despair or desperation. Why would someone want to take their own life? Depression, schizophrenia or other forms of mental illness where the sufferer is unable to see any hope for the future. Serious difficulties in coping with life, such as drink, drug or money problems, where the person cannot see any solution other than suicide. Bereavement, where a loved one dies and the person feels there is no point in carrying on living. Bullying, where someone is made to feel so insecure and frightened that they decide they would prefer to be dead. Old age, when a person is unable to live independently and feels that it would be better for everyone if death came more quickly. Serious incurable illness, when someone is in a great deal of pain or is deteriorating quickly, and they believe it is better to end life with dignity that to let it drag on.

14 Feelings of being under pressure, when someone believes that they are letting everyone down because they are not living up to other people s expectations. Christian views Most Christians believe that it is wrong for a person to make a choice to commit suicide, although at the same time they recognise that people who try to take their own life have gone beyond the stage where they are able to make sensible decisions. Christian teachings God chooses when we are born and when we die; it is wrong for us to think we know better. If we suffer pain, loneliness or depression, this might be for a reason. Many Christians believe that they become closer to God through suffering, and in a way they share in the suffering of Jesus. They believe that God sometimes allows people to suffer so that they learn, and suicide is a refusal to learn the things God is trying to teach. Suicide is selfish, because it causes so much pain to the people who are left behind. They might be left feeling that the person who committed suicide did not care about them, or they might spend many years blaming themselves for the death. It is often harder to get over the death of someone who commits suicide, that the death of someone killed in an accident. One of the commandments teaches You shall not murder. Christians might believe that suicide is a form of murder, even if the murderer and the victim are the same person. The most famous example of suicide in the bible is the suicide of Judas after he had betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. He could not live with the guilt of handing Jesus to the Romans with the ultimate sign of betrayal the kiss which should be a symbol of love. It does not say in the Bible if Judas was right or wrong to kill himself.

15 St Paul describes the body a temple which should be looked after. At the time the Temple was the most holy of places the place where God lived, therefore it should be respected. Likewise the body should be respected, not killed. Most Christians believe that the right response to suicide is to try to be loving and forgiving. People who attempt suicide should be helped, not condemned. The Samaritans A group of people who provide confidential, emotional support to any person who needs it, in the hope of preventing suicide. It also tries to increase public awareness of suicide and depression so that people will be more understanding and better able to help each other. It is run by volunteers, who are available to chat and listen (via telephone/ ). They do not give advice, own opinions or any religious beliefs but support the caller in the hope they will find out their own answers. Anyone can become a Samaritan once they have had training. You do not have to be a Christian or belong to any religion. You just have to be a good listener and have patience and understanding. Many Christians do however become Samaritans, as they believe it is a good way to show compassion, unconditional love, to other people who need it. It is a way of putting their religious belief of Love thy neighbour into action. Euthanasia The work comes from two Greek words meaning gentle death. It is often referred to as mercy killing and means bringing a peaceful end to the dying process. Key Terms (You must know the difference) Voluntary /Active Euthanasia This is illegal in Britain. Actively helping someone to die when they have asked for this, in order to avoid more suffering. E.g. the lethal injection.

16 Passive Euthanasia When a form of treatment allowing a person to be kept alive (life support machine) or resuscitated, is withdrawn, especially when someone is considered to be brain dead. Compulsory Euthanasia Ending the life of someone who has not asked for it. E.g the Nazi ethnic cleansing of the Jews, elderly, disabled etc There are important issued to consider when thinking about euthanasia: The final stage of life is important to the individual, the family and others (although some would see it as acceptable to control or ease pain). The hospice movement, with care of the dying and their families is preferred by many as an alternative. Allowing death to occur, or switching off a life support machine when there is no possibility of independent life, is not the same as deliberately causing death. It is not always appropriate to prolong life at all costs non treatment is an option in some circumstances, and this is not the same as deliberately taking a life. E.g. not resuscitating or not putting someone of life support in the first place. Christian views As a rule Christians do not agree with euthanasia, especially Roman Catholics. They believe that: To take life is to play at being God. Life is sacred, a gift from God. Only God should take life away. Whatever circumstances a person faces in life, God is always there and will give support and comfort. To ask for or to assist in euthanasia is to become involved with murder.

17 However, some Christians (Church or England), will allow a life support machine to be turned off when there is no possibility of independent life, and they believe that prolonging life is not always the right choice, so sometimes not putting someone on life support or not resuscitating, is accepted. Buddhist views on Suicide and Euthanasia Buddhist belief in karma states that no one can escape pain and suffering by putting an end to this body. If the person has not been enlightened or reached the state of nirvana, then the bad karma of breaking the first and most important precept (Avoid taking life) will follow on in a future life.

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