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Truth is One Paths are Many
 
A Comparative Study of Various Traditions
& Philosophy of Several World Religions
Will Some One Tell Me What the Great Religions Believe?
A Primer of World Religions - What they are & What they believe
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Comparing Eastern Views and Western Views

In the following analysis, using one of several common religious categorizations, we compare the Eastern religions with the Western ones on many points of belief. The Eastern religions are Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. The Western religions are Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam. We can see immediately that there is a vast difference between Eastern and Western religions, with the Eastern goals being unitive and introspective and the Western goals being dualistic, extroverted. The Eastern mind tends to see God everywhere, in all things, and to see everything as sacred. The Western mind considers it heresy to believe that God pervades all things, and makes a strong difference between what is sacred and what is profane. In general we notice the Eastern holding to karma, reincarnation and liberation, the Western postulating a single life for the soul, followed by reward or punishment. Keep in mind that this is not a comprehensive comparison, as it does not take into account the East Asia religions-Taoism, Confucianism and Shinto.

To discover your own belief patterns, take a pencil and put a check mark next to the view - Eastern or Western - which is closest to your own belief on each of the subjects. We might note here that the Eastern religions described here all originated in India, and that Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism were offshoots of Hinduism. Among the Western faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam all share a common root in Abraham, and in recent times the term Abrahamic has been coined to denote these three world religions. Naturally there are important exceptions to the views expressed (for example, Buddhism does not believe in a Personal God). Nevertheless these broad generalities are useful, as they give a scholarly window into the East and the West.

 
Similarities of Eastern and Western Religions
Eastern View
Western Views

On God and Devas : Belief in a Supreme Deity, maker of all souls and all things and in lesser Deities and Mahadevas.

On God and Devas: Belief in a Supreme Deity, maker of all souls and all things and in the angels and celestial hosts

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On Salvation and God's Will : Salvation is through strict obedience to God's will and the descent of His grace through the enlightened spiritual preceptor.

On Salvation and God's Will: Salvation is through strict obedience to God's will, usually through a messiah, prophet or priest.

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On Good Conduct : To live a virtuous and moral life is essential to futher spiritual progress, for adharmic thoughts, deeds and words keep us from the knowledge of God's closeness.

On Good Conduct : Religion must be based on ethical and moral conduct, for their opposite lead us away from God.

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On the Destiny of the Soul : The purpose of life is to evolve, through experience, into our spiritual destiny. Things of the world are not the purpose of the world.

On the Destiny of the Soul : Man's destiny lies beyond this world, which is but an opportunity for earning eternal joy or suffering.

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On the Nature of Reality : There is more to reality than we experience with the senses. The soul is immortal, deathless and eternal, merging in God.

On the Nature of Reality : There is more reality than the things of this world. The soul is immortal, deathless and eternal, living forever in God's presense.

 
Differences between Eastern and Western Religions
Eastern View
Western Views

On Creation: The universe exists in endless cycles of creation, preservation and destruction. There is no absolute end to the world, neither is there a duality of God and world, but a unity.

On Creation: The world was created by God and at some point in the future will be forever destroyed by Him. He is distinct from it, and rules it from above. Stresses a dualistic nature of the world.

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On the True God: There is but one true and absolute God. All religions speak of Him. All souls are destined to receive God's grace through a process that takes them through diverse experiences on many paths according to their understanding, temperament and maturity of soul. God is pure Love and Consciousness but may be terrifying as well.

On the True God: Western view: There is but one true God and one true religion. Those who accept it will enjoy God's grace; all others, unless they repent and come to my God, will suffer eternally in hell. God is loving as well as wrathful.

 

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On Proof of God's Existence: Proof of God's existence and love lies in direct communion, and indirectly through enlightened gurus, the God-Realized men of all ages, and the revealed scriptures they bring forth in every age.

On Proof of God's Existence: : Proof of God's love and promise for man is in the person of His Prophet and in His unchanging and unique revealed scripture.

 

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On Personal Experience of God: Personal, inner and often mystical experience of God is the crux of religion. Man can and ultimately must know God during earthly life. Individually oriented and introspective.

On Personal Experience of God: It is presumptuous for man to seek personal knowledge of God. The linchpin of religion is not experience but belief and faith, coupled with a virtuous life. Socially oriented and extroverted.

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On the Path to God, and Divine Judgment : Man is free to choose his form of worship, for all paths lead ultimately to God. Sin is only of the mind, not of the soul, which is pure. There is no Judgment Day for God does not judge or punish. He lovingly guides all souls back to Himself.

On the Path to God, and Divine Judgement: Only one path leads to God, others are false and futile. Everyone must convert to the one true religion. Failing that, the soul, laden with sin, will be damned on Judgment Day.

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On Man's Plight: Man's plight is but his soul's immaturity. He is ever on a progressive path which leads from ignorance to knowledge, from death to immortality.

On Man's Plight: Man's plight is due to disobedience to God's will, to nonbelief and nonacceptance of His law.

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On Hell: God is Love and is inextricably one with the soul, guiding it through karmas into the fulfillment of dharma and finally to moksha, liberation. Hell is a lower astral realm, not a physical place; nor is it eternal. Hell exists as a period of karmic intensity or suffering, a state of mind in life or between lives.

On Hell : On Judgment Day the physical body of every soul that ever lived is brought to life, and God consigns pure souls to heaven and sinners to hell, a physical place where the body burns without being consumed and one suffers the anguish of knowing he will never be with God.

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On Evil: There is no intrinsic evil. All is good. All is God. No force in the world or in man opposes God, though the veiling instinctive-intellectual mind keeps us from knowledge of Him.

On Evil: There is indeed genuine evil in the world, a living force which opposes the will of God. This evil is embodied in Satan and his demons, and partially in man as one of his tendencies.

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On Virtue and Salvation: Virtuous conduct and right belief are the foundation stones of religious life, the first step toward higher mystical communion. Liberation requires knowledge and personal attainment, not mere belief.

On Virtue and Salvation : If one obeys God's commands for a moral and ethical life and believes in Him and in His Prophet-for example, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed or Zoroaster-salvation is assured.

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On the Origin of Religion: Religion is cosmic, eternal, transcending human history, which is cyclical. Stress is placed on revelation of God's presence in the here and now.

On the Origin of Religion: Religion is historical, beginning with a prophet or event. Stress is placed on the past and on the rewards or punishments of the future. History is linear, never to be repeated.

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Nature of Doctrines: Doctrines tend to be subtle, complex and even paradoxical. Freedom to worship and to believe in a variety of ways is predominant. Other paths are accepted as God's divine will at work. Universal and tolerant.

Nature of Doctrines: Doctrines tend to be simple, clear and rational. Worship and belief are formalized, exacting and required. Other paths are endured, but not honored. Exclusivist and dogmatic.

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On Liberation and Enlightenment : The goals of enlightenment and liberation are to be found in this life, within the context of time, within man himself. Doctrines may be dual or nondual, dvaitic or advaitic.

On Liberation and Enlightenment : Salvation comes at the end of the world, the end of time, and has nothing to do with enlightenment. Strictly dualistic, dvaitic. Mystical sects, though minor, provide exceptions.

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On the Path to Sainthood: Path to saintliness is through self-discipline, purification, concentration and contemplation. Value is placed on ascetic ideals, individual s‚dhana, yoga and superconscious awakening.

On the Path to Sainthood : Path to saintliness is through self-sacrifice, submission to God and concernfor the welfare of others. Value is placed on good works, social concerns and scriptural study, with little emphasis on yoga or asceticism.

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On the Nature of Worship: Worship is individual, highly ritualistic and meditative, centering around the holy temple and the home shrine all days of the week.

On the Nature of Worship: Worship is congregational, simple in its rituals, centering around the church, synagogue or mosque, mostly on a Sabbath day.

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Truth is One :: Paths are Many
A study comparing the essential beliefs of World Religions
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