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Spiritual Preparation, Workshop 7: Introduction to Eastern Religions

In "Building Bridges," a Tapestry of Faith program

The word "religion" derives from the Latin religare, meaning to bind or tie fast—to connect. All religions emerge to serve this function. Religions last when they continue to connect their adherents, and the five religions introduced in this workshop have each lasted more than 2,500 years. Think of how many journeys these faiths have supported, how many lives enriched, how many with courage emboldened, how many hearts replenished.

These Eastern faiths share some fundamental principles which are less apparent in Western faiths, for example, the high value placed on duty, the sense of connection with ancestors, and behavior guidelines based on a goal of societal harmony. Remarkably, all five took hold in the Eastern hemisphere within 100 years of one another.

Once you have read the workshop, try a time-travel reflection. You may want to light a candle and sit quietly for 15 minutes or so. Consider how your Unitarian Universalist faith fulfills the functions of a religion. How does it connect you with yourself, your family and community, perhaps something greater? Now, mentally transport yourself to what is now Iran, India, or China, in the year 600 BCE. Try to imagine what your life would be like. Your basic, human needs would be the same needs you have now. But, your life would be quite different. How you would meet your basic physical needs? How do you think the religion emerging around you in 600 BCE might meet your spiritual needs? Take time to acknowledge the appeal and the enduring vitality of these Eastern religions and the many millions of connections they have brought to humanity.

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Last updated on Wednesday, October 29, 2014.

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