Posts Tagged ‘Taoism’

A little poll for the blog’s readers: What kind of religions you find most negative? What most positive?

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In answering these questions let’s use this Western classification and add two more categories in it:

1. Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Bahá’i faith).

2. Indian religions (Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism).

3. East Asian religions (Taoism and Confucianism).

4. African diasporic religions (practiced in the Americas, imported as a result of the Atlantic slave trade of the 16th to 18th centuries, building on traditional religions of Central and West Africa).

5. Indigenous ethnic religions (Includes among others African traditional religions, Asian shamanism, Native American religions, Austronesian and Australian Aboriginal traditions, Chinese folk religion, and postwar Shinto).

6. Iranian religions (This category includes Zoroastrianism, Yazdanism, Ahl-e Haqq and historical traditions of Gnosticism).

7. New religious movement (This is the term applied to any religious faith which has emerged since the 19th century, often syncretizing, re-interpreting or reviving aspects of older traditions: Hindu reform movements, Eckankar, Ayyavazhi, Pentecostalism, polytheistic reconstructionism, and so forth.

8. New Age/Western esotericism (This is not included in the classicification I referred to above, but I see this category important enough to include it in here. This category includes religions/movements that loosely fall into categories of “new age” and/or “western esotericism“. This includes theosophy, neo paganism, satanism, Thelema, and other such religions/movements that has emerged since the late 19th century).

9. Atheism (This is not included in the classification I referred to above and atheism at its best form -as I see it- is of course no religion at all. Many atheists seem to have “a religious zeal” in their views though and it is because of this that I decided to include this category as a “black horse” in this poll).

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The classifications are a bit rough and the used terms/religions/movements does not always fit perfectly under them, but I guess you get the picture.

In considering the questions think of the best and the worst examples of all religions/movements, as well as the “fruits of the trees”: How different religions/movements are effecting the world where we live in and how they effect lives of practitioners of these religions/movements.

You are most welcome to elaborate your answers in comments section below.

[Note: You should see polls for most negative and most positive religions below. If you don’t see both of them the poll service is most likely having some technical problems. That happens from time to time. If you want to vote and don’t see both polls below, check the page later again].

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There is an interesting documentary in the making: My Swastika. The director Dominick Crowley has said  about the documentary that “My Swastika is a documentary dealing with the controversy, history and social impact of the symbol of  swastika. The production itself is an academic production, non-sensationalized, and we are trying to be 100% factual and truthful about the image and we avoid any sensationalism; media, journalism, anything that kind of pop-culture or sensationalist”. I am really looking forward to seeing the final result of that project. Thus far there are out there the documentary’s trailer and behind the scenes clip. The project has also two Facebook pages, this one and especially this one.

The documentary made me think about the symbol again. The controversy about swastika is historically of course a fairly new one, thanks to the Nazis who tainted the general perception of this ancient symbol in the Western culture. Before the Nazis the symbol was used throughout the world for ages and it continues to be widely used in Eastern religions.

But what does the symbol stand for? Where has this universal symbol originated from? There are lots of ideas about these things. Generally, swastika seems to stand for a good luck and it is considered to be a holy symbol. The theories about the origins the symbol vary a lot. One theory about the origin of swastika that I haven’t seen to be pondered about a lot is that of a celestial origin, of Ursa Minor’s and Ursa Major’s rotational positions (equinoxes and solstices) around the pole star. I am somewhat surprised that this theory has not got that much attention.

If you look at the nightsky it seems to rotate around the pole star that stays in a fixed position. One of the most visible if not the most visible constellation that can be seen in the nightsky and that connects nicely with the  Northern pole star is that of Ursa Major. I might get a bit poetical here, but thinking of the importance of a yearly cycle of life for people in pre-industrial, agricultural age, the yearly cycle seems to be very important. It is about a whole cycle of life here on Earth, and thus something holy, since holy refers to something that from a special angle covers all of life. You can find swastika right from the nightsky. This idea can be found nicely from Ph.D. Joscelyn Godwin’s The Polar Myth.

Illustration from Godwin's book, p. 147

Here are some notes about what some present day Taoist practitioners have to say about the Big Dipper (Ursa Major), its origin and function in Taoism, and about its meaning in Taoist astrology. A to Z Japanese Buddhist sanctuary has some interesting notes about Northern Polestar and the Big Dipper as well. There are of course many sites about swastika in Buddhism too, for example here and here.

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