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ISE Experiencing the World's Religions


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Table of Contents

Table of Contents:


Chapter 1 Understanding Religion  


What Is Religion?  

Key Characteristics of Religion

The Sacred

Religious Symbolism

Speculations on the Sources of Religions

Patterns among Religions  

First Pattern: Views of the World and Life

Second Pattern: Focus of Beliefs and Practices

Third Pattern: Views of Male and Female

Multidisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Religion  

The Study of Religion

Recent Theories

Key Critical Issues  

Why Study the Major Religions of the World?  

The Journey

Reading: Discovering Mystery


Chapter 2 Indigenous Religions  


Discovering Indigenous Religions  

Past Obstacles to the Appreciation of Indigenous Religions

The Modern Recovery of Indigenous Religions

Studying Indigenous Religions: Learning from Patterns  

Human Relationships with the Natural World

Sacred Time and Sacred Space

Respect for Origins, Gods, and Ancestors

Sacred Practices in Indigenous Religions  

Life-Cycle Ceremonies

Taboo and Sacrifice

Shamanism, Trance, and Spiritual Powers

Artifacts and Artistic Expression in Indigenous Religions

Personal Experience: Gods in Hawai`i  

Indigenous Religions Today  

Reading: The Importance of Dreams


Chapter 3 Hinduism  


The Origins of Hinduism  

The Earliest Stage of Indian Religion

The Religion of the Vedic Period

The Vedas

The Upanishads and the Axis Age  

The Origin of the Upanishads

Important Concepts of the Upanishads

Living Spiritually in the Everyday World  

The Bhagavad Gita

The Caste System

The Stages of Life

The Goals of Life

The Yogas

Devotional Hinduism  

The Trimurti: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva

Worship of the Divine Feminine: Devi

The Guru as Object of Devotion

Devotion to Animals

Other Forms of Religious Devotion

Personal Experience: A Visit to Self-Realization Fellowship Lakeside Shrine

Hinduism and the Arts  

Hinduism: Modern Challenges  

Mohandas Gandhi

Contemporary Issues

Hindu Influence beyond India

Reading: Ramakrishna and the Experience of God


Chapter 4 Buddhism  


The Beginnings of Buddhism: The Life of the Buddha  

The Basic Teachings of Buddhism  

The Three Marks of Reality

The Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path

The Infl uence of Indian Thought on Early Buddhist Teachings  

Ahimsa: “Do No Harm”

The Soul and Karma


The Early Development of Buddhism  

Theravada Buddhism: The Way of the Elders  

Theravada Teachings and Literature

Theravada Art and Architecture

Mahayana Buddhism: The “Big Vehicle”  

New Ideals: Compassion and the Bodhisattva

Mahayana Thought and Worldview

Mahayana Literature

The Spread of Mahayana in East Asia

Some Major Schools of Mahayana

Vajrayana Buddhism: The “Diamond Vehicle”  

Origins, Practice, and Literature of Tibetan Buddhism

Ritual and the Arts

Personal Experience: New Year’s Day at Wat Saket

Buddhism and the Modern World  

Reading: Approaching the End


Chapter 5 Jainism and Sikhism  


Shared Origins  



Mahavira and the Origins of Jainism  


Jain Ethics  

The Development of Jainism and Its Branches  





Jain Practices  

Jain Scriptures  

Jain Art and Architecture  



Nanak and the Origins of Sikhism  

The Worldview and Teachings of Nanak  

The Development of Sikhism  

Sikh Scriptures  

Sikhism and the Modern World  

Personal Experience: A Visit to the Golden Temple  

Reading: The Eternal Law


Chapter 6 Daoism and Confucianism  


Basic Elements of Traditional Chinese Beliefs  


The Origins of Daoism  

Laozi (Lao Tzu)

The Daodejing

Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu)

Basic Early Teachings  

Daoism and the Quest for Longevity  

The Development of Daoism  

Daoism and the Arts  

Daoism and the Modern World  


The Dao in Confucianism  

The Life of Confucius  

Living According to Confucian Values  

The Five Great Relationships

The Confucian Virtues

Confucian Literature  

The Development of Confucianism  

Schools of Philosophy

The Development of Confucianism as a Religious System

Confucianism and the Arts  

Personal Experience: Qing Ming, a Ceremony in Spring  

Confucianism and the Modern World  

Reading: On Cloud-Like Wandering


Chapter 7 Shinto  


The Origins of Shinto  

The Historical Development of Shinto  

Accommodation with Buddhism and Confucianism

Shinto and Japanese National Identity

Essentials of Shinto Belief  

Shinto Religious Practice  

Worship at Shrines

Celebration of the New Year

Observances of the Seasons and Nature

Other Practices

Personal Experience: An Unexpected Shrine

Shinto and the Arts  


Music and Dance

Shinto Off shoots: The New Religions  

Shinto and the Modern World  

Reading: Loving the Whole Earth


Chapter 8 Judaism  


An Overview of Jewish History  

The Hebrew Bible  

Biblical History  

In the Beginning: Stories of Origins

The World of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs

Moses and the Law

The Judges and Kings

Exile and Captivity

Return to Jerusalem and the Second Temple

Cultural Conflict during the Second Temple Era  

The Seleucid Period

Responses to Outside Influences

The Development of Rabbinical Judaism  

The Canon of Scripture and the Talmud

Islam and Medieval Judaism

The Kabbalah

Christianity and Medieval Judaism

Questioning and Reform  

Judaism and the Modern World  

Hitler and the Holocaust

Creation of the State of Israel

Personal Experience: A Visit to Masada

Jewish Belief  

Religious Practice  

The Jewish Sabbath

Holy Days

Jewish Dietary Practices

Other Religious Practices 318

Divisions within Contemporary Judaism  

Culturally Based Divisions

Observance-Based Divisions

Jewish Identity and the Future of Judaism  

Reading: What it Means to be Fully Alive


Chapter 9 Christianity  


The Life and Teachings of Jesus  

Jesus in the New Testament Gospels

The Two Great Commandments

Early Christian Beliefs and History  

Paul and Pauline Christianity

The New Testament: Its Structure and Artistry

The Christian Canon

The Early Spread of Christianity  

Infl uences on Christianity at the End of the Roman Empire  


Benedict and the Monastic Ideal

The Eastern Orthodox Church  

Early Development

Monasticism in the Eastern Church

Eastern Orthodox Beliefs

Personal Experience: Mar Saba Monastery

Christianity in the Middle Ages  

Christian Mysticism

The Crusades, the Inquisition, and Christian Control

The Late Middle Ages

The Protestant Reformation  

Martin Luther

Forms of Protestantism

The Development of Christianity Following the

Protestant Reformation  

The Catholic Reformation (Counter Reformation)

The International Spread of Christianity

Nontraditional Christianity

Christian Practice  

Sacraments and Other Rituals

The Christian Year

Devotion to Mary

Christianity and the Arts  




Christianity Faces the Modern World  

The Challenges of Science and Secularism

Contemporary Influences and Developments

Reading: How Saint Frances Made Brother Masseo Twirl Around


Chapter 10 Islam  


The Life and Teachings of Muhammad  

Essentials of Islam  

The Five Pillars of Islam

Additional Islamic Religious Practices

Scripture: The Qur’an

The Historical Development of Islam  

Expansion and Consolidation

The Shiite and Sunni Division within Islam

Sufism: Islamic Mysticism  

Sufi Beliefs

Al-Ghazali and Sufi Brotherhoods

Sufi Practice and Poetry

Personal Experience: A Visit to a Mosque     

Islamic Law and Philosophy  

Islamic Law and Legal Institutions

Islamic Philosophy and Theology

Islam and the Arts  


Fine Art

Islam and the Modern World  

Islam and Contemporary Life

Islam and the Roles of Women

The Challenge of Secularism

A Range of Solutions

Islam in the West and Beyond

Reading: The Merciful


Chapter 11 Alternative Paths  


Origins of New Religions  

Contemporary Paganism: Wicca and Druidism  

Religions of the Yoruba Tradition: Santería, Voodoo, and Candomblé  



Falun Gong  

Cao Dai  



New Religious Movements: A Special Role  

Personal Experience: Celebrating the Goddess  

Reading: The Goal of Scientology


Chapter 12 The Modern Search  


Modern Infl uences on the Future of Religion  

The New World Order

Multiculturalism and Interfaith Dialogue

Women’s Rights Movements

Reassessment of Human Sexuality

Science and Technology

Science and Ethical Issues


Environmental Challenges

The Recurring Challenges of Change  

Environmentalism: A Religious Phenomenon?  

Eclectic Spirituality  


Reverence and Respect

Contemplative Practices

Personal Experience: Supper Together 

Reading: Learning From A Tree


Answer Key  





About the Author

Michael Molloy has made the study of religion his life's work. Fascination with religion began with interest in the architecture of temples, mosques, churches, and shrines. Experiencing ceremonies at those places led to a love of religious music and art. In his early graduate work, he focused on the imagery of clouds and darkness in mystical literature. In his doctoral work, he examined the mystical thought of Aldous Huxley, after Huxley had been influenced by Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism. To do this, he interviewed Huxley's wife Laura, Huxley's sister-in-law, and friends of Huxley. Molloy received a grant from the East-West Center in Hawai`i to study there, and he received his doctorate from the University of Hawai`i. During this time, he studied in Japan with Abe Masao in Kyoto and with Sobharani Basu at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi. He practiced Zen meditation at Bushinji in Shikoku and later received a certificate from the Oomoto School of Traditional Japanese Arts in Kameoka, Japan. He has written Experiencing the World's Religions (McGraw-Hill) and The Christian Experience (Bloomsbury). Currently he is writing a memoir of his grandparents and parents and their religious background.Molloy has taught many philosophy and religion courses, including World Religions, Asian Philosophies, Western Mysticism, Greek and Roman Philosophy, Ethics, Nietzsche, Religion and the Meaning of Existence, and Indian Philosophy. He is a Professor Emeritus of the University of Hawai`i.   To complement his academic work, he has had three exhibitions of his paintings"Landscapes of the Mind," "Luminous Darkness," and "Renaissance." He co-directed two radio series ofi nterviews with musicians, writers, and artists on KAIM-FM and Hawai`i Public Radio. He worked on the Inari Shrine Preservation Committee to move the shrine to a new location and then to renovate it.  

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