Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Building Bridges: A World Religions Program for 8th-9th Grades

Taking It Home: Introduction to Eastern Religions

All things are within me, and on self-examination, I find no greater joy than to be true to myself. We should do our best to treat others as we wish to be treated. Nothing is more appropriate than to seek after goodness. — Mencius, Confucian philosopher (372-289 BCE)

IN TODAY'S WORKSHOP... we discussed the almost simultaneous birth of five religions in Asia between 600 and 500 BCE. We examined fundamental concepts of Confucianism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, and Taoism and discovered some beliefs and practices they share.


Do we "take things with us?" Whether or not you believe in the doctrine of karma, do you believe there is spiritual baggage from our actions?


  • One fundamental agreement among four of the five world religions birthed in Asia between 600 and 500 BCE is gender equality, that women and men have equal capabilities. What do the religions of your family members and friends say about gender equality? Are all professions of faith—including the ministry—open to all genders?
  • Fortune cookie inserts are sometimes silly or meaningless. However, simple statements can have deep meaning, even if they are funny. Here is an interesting idea for fun or as a fundraiser for any group. Schedule a time with family or friends to write sayings to go in fortune cookies. Write things that are simple or funny but have a meaningful message, too. For Valentine's Day, you might write sayings about love and relationships. Mother's Day, Father's Day, and Chinese New Year (February or March) are also good opportunities, as is Halloween. For a graduation, collect wisdom from and for the graduating class. Then make fortune cookies together; find a recipe online at Fortune Cookie Recipe 1 or Fortune Cookie Recipe 2. Stuff the fortune cookies and serve them to friends or sell them for a fundraiser. Of course, this is best done without any humorous references to respected Chinese philosopher, Confucius.
  • Do you include interesting quotes as part of your email signature or on your Facebook page? Add a saying attributed to Confucius and see how friends respond.
  • The I Ching is an ancient book of revelation—at least 3,000 years old. Find someone experienced in this art associated with Confucianism and have them help you ask the I Ching a question...if you dare!
  • Confucianism advises that we keep loving foundations in five relationships: parent/child, older sibling/younger sibling, between spouses, between friends, and ruler/subject. How are you doing in these relationships? If you feel that one or more is not as loving as you would like, how can you fix it? Notice that most of the relationships can be found in the home, which Confucius considered the cradle of a strong ethical being. The one that noticeably is not in the home is ruler/subject. One modern way of expressing this here would be representative/voter. Do you communicate with your political representative? Are they held accountable for responding to you in a humane and loving way? You might also think of your relationships with teachers or coaches in this way.
  • Covering three schools of thought in one workshop only allows for a basic introduction. Here are a few good places to find out more: Religious Tolerance (at; BeliefNet (at; (at; and the BBC website.
  • Jains are vegetarians. So are many Buddhists. So are many UUs. A Jain website for young children has a song (sung to the tune of "Old MacDonald Had a Farm") to teach young people that you can be vegetarian and still enjoy an array of food. Listen to "I Am A Vegetarian" by Nimisha Asthagiri.