I am drawn to the contemplation of my path of researching religions from a metaphysical point of view and taking a more academic view of the main religions of the world. Early in childhood, I was told to honor other people’s religious views, but I never really knew what that meant; beyond the fact that I wasn’t expected to make fun of the way other people practiced their faith. This course has given me a new appreciation for other people’s religious views, and I have also developed a deeper understanding of myself and my place in society through Integrated Life Practice (ILP). Even though I thought I knew a lot about the world’s religions coming into this class, I have learned that religions do have commonalities, that they have history and traditions, and that they intertwine with modern society.
Our first studies of the world’s religions and the commonalities they all share taught me that some of the ideas that I once held as true were different from what I once thought and, because of this, I gained a different point of view. From my first essay, I learned about how all religions are inclusive in the way they deal with people. All religions, as I wrote in my first essay, have a commonality that “harmony and unity are among the things that each champion” and that “each encourages people within that faith not to cause harm others in any way just as they would wish not to be harmed” (“The World’s Religions – Point of Departure”). These are values which are common to all religions, no matter where or by whom they are practiced. I have also come to understand that no religion is “the” religion. All of them are equal across the generations and traditions, with which they are practiced.
While reading about the subjects presented during this course, I have also learned a lot about the history and traditions of religions around the world. I was particularly touched and amazed by the oral traditions of the Native Americans who kept and keep their culture, religion, and beliefs alive through passing the stories down from generation to generation. I also understand that sometimes “there were no written documents related to religious ideas” and that “people believed that spoken word was part of the speaker’s life” (“Philosophy: Early Religion”). This is a practice that has not changed significantly over the centuries. Although modern influences have lessened the importance of these practices and the use of written language has also contributed to the downfall of tradition, it still lives on.
In studying the three main religions practiced in the modern world, namely Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, I have gained a greater respect for their tenets and beliefs and how they intertwine with modern society. Studying about the struggles within the Christian religion over the centuries, I have learned that “power is not good for anyone in the society because it is likely to compromise morality” (“Christianity as a Faith 2”). This is true with religions as well as within society. Religions are practiced by frail and often flawed human beings whose personal beliefs often interfere with there being able to remain true to the precepts of their religion. Judaism is a religion that has beliefs rooted in thousands of years of existence. For example, Jews believe rituals play a significant role in life (“The World’s Religions: Judaism”), because it sanctifies the existence of humankind. Jews are devout when it comes to their rituals and practices. As for the Islamic religion, I was interested that Islam experienced a “Golden Age” (“Origin and Development of Islam”) just when Christianity was going through the Dark Ages. Learning of the interconnectivity of all three religions has been an eye-opening experience for me.
One of the most important and enlightening parts of this course for me was the ILP sessions. Prior to choosing ILP, I did some research into what an ILP was. I was informed by reading the descriptions of ILP by Terry Patten, where he said ILP was a “tool that one can utilize to consciously elevate their awareness” (“My Experiences and Lessons from the Integrated Life Practice”). I was also greatly encouraged by the fact that the ILP plan, basically, is a plan developed by an individual to improve the quality of his or her life. My experiences with ILP were all positive. My enrollment in the Body Mind Movement Training Program was instrumental in providing me with a basis for what I needed to improve my life. The experiences I gathered in the ILP were very beneficial to me as a person. One of the many important lessons I learned during the ILP was that I, formerly, had a negative attitude towards the examined life because I believed that flexibility in life was part of the western culture. I learned that western culture does have some underlying principles and that does not mean absolute liberalism as I had believed. Overall, the experiences I obtained in the ILP have changed my perception towards my body, spirituality, philosophy, and other people, especially those who are committed to religion and culture.
Throughout this course, I learned much about what the spiritual and philosophical worlds have to offer us in our daily lives. I have learned that religious beliefs are deeply rooted in our being and that they provide us with a compass, around which to live our daily lives. I have also learned that while all of us are unique, we all share certain traits that bind us together as human beings. Our need for community, our religious beliefs, and our basic belief in the righteousness of a supreme being, no matter in what form they appear, are things that make us uniquely human. I have been enriched by this course both spiritually and philosophically. Learning that life’s problems are not as big as I used to believe will be one of the big take-aways from my experiences in this class. Lastly, I am indebted to professor and his ideas for opening my eyes to an alternate path and view of life in general.
Name, Author’s. “Christianity as a Faith 2.” Course Name/Number, Date.
—. “My Experiences and Lessons from the Integrated Life Practice.” Course Name/Number, Date.
—. “Origin and Development of Islam.” Course Name/Number, Date.
—. “Philosophy: Early Religion.” Course Name/Number, Date.
—. “The World’s Religions: Judaism.” Course Name/Number, Date.
—. “The World’s Religions – Point of Departure.” Course Name/Number, Date.