Structured Religious System
Whilst life had its roots in chaos since the earliest times humankind has sort structure in all aspects of life.
It seems that without structure humankind would be still be living in the dark ages, we wouldn t be living in harmony with each other, we wouldn t have civilization as we know it today.
From the earliest days all cultures have developed a structured belief or religious system it seems that most cultures needed an outside god to worship and rituals to follow in order to live in harmony.
Whilst all of these systems differ they basically regiment all aspects of life from birth to death.
And promise eternal life in heaven or paradise or what ever it may be if one lives by their standards.
Christians believe that Jesus is both God and man, incarnation of God, and man -gives man two natures, physical and divined that they are united in one person. Thus the mystery of God becoming a human being, Jesus, and suffered and died, and Mary (Jesus s mother) was the mother of God.
God resolved himself to mankind in 3 ways, as God the father, God the sun and the Holy Spirit. From this we can see that Christianity is based on the mystery of the doctrine of the trinity, which cannot be proven and requires Christians to have faith that this the root of Christianity is in fact true.
In following a structured religion it seems that many people need to believe in a power greater than themselves, in order to make life bearable. The promise of life after death (salvation) is very important to these people, without it they fined life meaningless
Christianity is a ritual filled religion, especially Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and most forms of Anglicanism. There is a ritual for all stages of life from birth to death.
In following a structured one needs constant reinforcement of one s basic faith, what better way than to have a ritual based belief system which starts at birth with the celebration of Baptism, which is the entry to Christianity and the first step in developing ones faith. Then as one gets older one is Confirmed which is a deepening of commitment to faith and allows one to receive Holy Communion/the Eucharist, which s the final step to becoming a committed Christian.
From this point on one normally goes to Church weekly and breaks bread and shares wine with the Christian community to which one belongs. So ones life becomes ordered in the structure of the sharing of bread and wine, which is the Body and Blood of Jesus i.e. God.
This sits easy with the person who needs a structured religion. As from here on ones life follows the Christian path to the sacraments of marriage, Holy orders, Reconciliation and extreme unction ( the sacrament of dying). These rituals form an important part of Christianity for the person who is attracted to a structured religion, his or her life is structured from birth to death, through, the sacraments weekly worship, daily prayer and the promise of eternal life.
In any structured religion, particularly Christianity there is a price to pay for salvation and eternal life.
One has a strict moral/ethical code to follow-which probably predates Christianity and has its roots in the Jewish religion, the Sudducees and Essenes.
Based mainly on the Ten Commandments which are the ten laws handed down to Moses from God on Mount Sinai. Over the past two thousand years every possible atrocity has been committed in the name of Christianity from the crusades through the Spanish inquisition to the haulacast. Yet Christianity has survived, mainly due to the fact that human beings need a belief system and need to believe in eternal life.
Today in the twenty and early twenty first century many people are arguing against a structured religion with all its restrictions and ethical dilemmas, eg; euthanasia, abortion, pre marital sex, contraception etc...
Hence the interest in new age Christianity, Charismatic Christianity and the Christian cults, which are less structured. Will the main stream churches adapt or slowly die?
Will we possibly see a less structured Christianity?
Very nature of Christianity has a major impact on society and how we relate socially.
For mankind to have developed to its present highly socialized position. For mankind to be loving, caring, law abiding, God fearing, etc... it needs structure. Whether it be religious, political, philosophical, etc... without structure we would still be in the dark ages.
As man is a unique highly social being he needs structure in all aspects of his life and will always be attracted to a structured religion.
Buddhism is a highly ritualistic -structured religion -or way of life -its appeal lies in the fact that it lends itself to many systems, from Zen which is put into two structured systems Rinzai and Kaon. The Pureland system, the Tantric system, Chinese Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism.
While some of the rituals are different they are all basically religh on the core belief system of inlightenment, Karma meditation -it is easy to see how one can be attracted to Buddhism because even though it is structured it can be adapted to ones personal needs and be adopted to any other religious system. Eg; can be a vegetarian or meditate, etc...
Buddhist ethics is largley about the way of life. The core beliefs of Buddhism (dharma) is about over comming ones earthly cravings and selfishness and until this can be over come one is entrapped by suffering. By denying ones self earthly plesures one discovers a universal truth and in that denial one reaches or attains Nirvana.
Budddhism has no room for a god as the more one looks for outside help the more one is unlikley to find Nirvana.
The real task of the Budddhist is self realisation and any outside interference interferes with his progress, hence there is no guilt or sin in Buddhism and therefore no need for foregiveness. The main or prime purpose it is to get out of the trap of past Karma which lies in the power of each individual. So the Buddhist relies on the doctrine, thus the ethical life is an indevidual task supportedd by communal experiances.
The three jewels (Triratna) Buddhism illistrates this. The ordinary Buddhist says : I take refuge in the doctine, I take refuge in the society of monks .
Buddhism has ten precepts.
h Not to destroy life
h Not to steal
h Not to engage in sexual immorality
h Not to drink alcohol
h Not to eat after noon each day
h Not to dance, sing or go to theatre
h Not to adorn oneself with extravagent clothes, ornaments or perfume
h Not to sleep on comfortable beds
h Not to have money
Buddhism, while being highly structured is also a very individual belief system. One can be at different levels in all aspects ranging from meditation to the position on the wheel of life the amount of Karma one has worked off the number of recincarnations one has lived and the degree of enlightenment one has reached. The ultimate aim being oneness with the universes.
Buddhism is unlike any of the other major religions, whilst highly structured and complicated to the Westerner. It is a way of life and a very personal journey to self realisation.