Portal:Religion

Introduction

Religion is a social-cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.

Different religions may or may not contain various elements ranging from the divine, sacred things, faith, a supernatural being or supernatural beings or "some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life". Religious practices may include rituals, sermons, commemoration or veneration (of deities), sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trances, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, prayer, music, art, dance, public service, or other aspects of human culture. Religions have sacred histories and narratives, which may be preserved in sacred scriptures, and symbols and holy places, that aim mostly to give a meaning to life. Religions may contain symbolic stories, which are sometimes said by followers to be true, that have the side purpose of explaining the origin of life, the universe, and other things. Traditionally, faith, in addition to reason, has been considered a source of religious beliefs.

There are an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide, but about 84% of the world's population is affiliated with one of the five largest religion groups, namely Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or forms of folk religion. The religiously unaffiliated demographic includes those who do not identify with any particular religion, atheists, and agnostics. While the religiously unaffiliated have grown globally, many of the religiously unaffiliated still have various religious beliefs.

The study of religion encompasses a wide variety of academic disciplines, including theology, comparative religion and social scientific studies. Theories of religion offer various explanations for the origins and workings of religion, including the ontological foundations of religious being and belief.

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Daoism (/ˈdɪzəm/, /ˈd-/), or Taoism (/ˈt-/), is a philosophical or religious tradition of Chinese origin which emphasises living in harmony with the Dao (Chinese: ; pinyin: Dào; literally: 'the Way', also romanized as Tao). The Dao is a fundamental idea in most Chinese philosophical schools; in Daoism, however, it denotes the principle that is the source, pattern and substance of everything that exists. Daoism differs from Confucianism by not emphasising rigid rituals and social order, but is similar in the sense that it is a teaching about the various disciplines for achieving "perfection" by becoming one with the unplanned rhythms of the universe called "the way" or "dao". Daoist ethics vary depending on the particular school, but in general tend to emphasise wu wei (action without intention), "naturalness", simplicity, spontaneity, and the Three Treasures: "compassion", "frugality", and 不敢為天下先 "humility".

The roots of Daoism go back at least to the 4th century BCE. Early Daoism drew its cosmological notions from the School of Yinyang (Naturalists), and was deeply influenced by one of the oldest texts of Chinese culture, the I Ching (Yi Jing), which expounds a philosophical system about how to keep human behavior in accordance with the alternating cycles of nature. The "Legalist" Shen Buhai (c. 400 – c. 337 BCE) may also have been a major influence, expounding a realpolitik of wu wei. The Dao De Jing, a compact book containing teachings attributed to Laozi (老子; Lǎozǐ; Lao³ Tzŭ³), is widely considered the keystone work of the Daoist tradition, together with the later writings of Zhuangzi.

Daoism has had a profound influence on Chinese culture in the course of the centuries, and Daoists (道士; dàoshi, "masters of the Dao"), a title traditionally attributed only to the clergy and not to their lay followers, usually take care to note distinction between their ritual tradition and the practices of Chinese folk religion and non-Taoist vernacular ritual orders, which are often mistakenly identified as pertaining to Daoism. Chinese alchemy (especially neidan), Chinese astrology, Chan (Zen) Buddhism, several martial arts, traditional Chinese medicine, feng shui, and many styles of qigong have been intertwined with Daoism throughout history. Beyond China, Taoism also had influence on surrounding societies in Asia. Read more...
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Lotus with Soal
Credit: Vaikunda Raja

Lotus with Soul is the symbol of Ayyavazhi, a monistic religion, originated in South India in the mid 19th century, centred on Ayya Vaikundar and on his life and teachings as present in Ayyavazhi scriptures.

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