Found in old Saint Paul's Church, Baltimore 1692*
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble, it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
|The capsulated summary of the studied religions provided below is extracted from web postings of the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. Each description has been kept very short so that it is easy to read straight through all of them and get a general impression of the diversity of spiritual paths. As a result, a great many things have been omitted.|
Hinduism - 4000 to 2500 BCE
The origins of Hinduism can be traced to the Indus Valley civilization sometime between 4000 and 2500 BCE. Though believed by many to be a polytheistic religion, the basis of Hinduism is the belief in the unity of everything. This totality is called Brahman. The purpose of life is to realize that we are part of God and by doing so we can leave this plane of existance and rejoin with God. This enlightenment can only be achieved by going through cycles of birth, life and death known as samsara. One's progress towards enlightenment is measured by his karma. This is the accumulation of all one's good and bad deeds and this determines the person's next reincarnation. Selfless acts and thoughts as well as devotion to God help one to be reborn at a higher level. Bad acts and thoughts will cause one to be born at a lower level, as a person or even an animal.
Hindus follow a strict caste system which determines the standing of each person. The caste one is born into is the result of the karma from their previous life. Only members of the highest caste, the Brahmins, may perform the Hindu religious rituals and hold positions of authority within the temples.
Buddhism - 560 to 490 BCE
Buddhism developed out of the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama who, in 535 BCE, reached enlightenment and assumed the title Buddha. He promoted 'The Middle Way' as the path to enlightenment rather than the extremes of mortification of the flesh or hedonism. Long after his death the Buddha's teachings were written down. This collection is called the Tripitaka. Buddhists believe in reincarnation and that one must go through cycles of birth, life, and death. After many such cycles, if a person releases their attachment to desire and the self, they can attain Nirvana. Buddhists do not believe in any type of God, the need for a savior, prayer, or eternal life after death. Since the time of the Buddha, Buddhism has integrated many regional religious rituals, beliefs and customs into it as it has spread throughout Asia. This has occurred with little conflict due to the philosophical nature of Buddhism.
Confucianism - 500 BCE
K'ung Fu Tzu (Confucius) was born in 551 BCE in the state of Lu in China. He traveled throughout China giving advice to its rulers and teaching. His teachings and writings dealt with individual morality and ethics, and the proper exercise of political power. He stressed the following values:
Taoism - 440 CE
Taoism was founded by Lao-Tse, a contemporary of Confucius in China. Taoism began as a combination of psychology and philosophy which Lao-Tse hoped would help end the constant feudal warfare and other conflicts of his time. His writings, the Tao-te-Ching, describe the nature of life, the way to peace and how a ruler should lead his life. Taoism became a religion in 440 CE when it was adopted as a state religion.
Judaism - 2000 BCE
Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Baha'i faith all originated with a divine covenant between the God of the ancient Israelites and Abraham around 2000 BCE. The next leader of the the Israelites, Moses, led his people out of captivity in Egypt and received the Law from God. Joshua later led them into the promised land where Samuel established the Israelite kingdom with Saul as its first king. King David established Jerusalem and King Solomon built the first temple there. In 70 CE the temple was destroyed and the Jews were scattered throughout the world until 1948 when the state of Israel was formed.
Christianity - 30+ CE
Christianity started out as a breakaway sect of Judaism nearly 2000 years ago. Jesus, the son of the Virgin Mary and her husband Joseph, was bothered by many of the laws and practices of his native Jewish faith and began preaching his own message of God and religion. During his travels he was joined by twelve others who became his disciples and followed him in his journeys and learned from him. He performed many miracles during this time and related many of his teachings in the form of parables. Among his best known sayings are to "love thy neighbor" and "turn the other cheek." At one point he revealed that he was the Son of God sent to earth to save mankind from our sins. This he did by being crucified on the cross for his teachings. He then rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples and told them to go forth and spread his message.
Islam - 622 CE
Islam was founded in 622 CE by Mohammed the Prophet, in Medina. Though it is the youngest of the world's great religions many Muslims do not view it as a new religion. They belief that it is the same faith taught by the prophets, Abraham, David, Moses and Jesus. The role of Mohammed as the last prophet was to formalize and clarify the faith and purify it by removing ideas which were added in error. The two sacred texts of Islam are the Qu'ran, which are the words of Allah "the One True God" as given to Mohammed, and the Hadith, which is a collection of Mohammed's sayings. The duties of all Muslims are known as the Five Pillars of Islam and are:Much of the material on this page was adapted from the descriptions of the different world religions at the web site of the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. Please visit their site if you would like more information on these faiths. They also have many links to resources on the net for each faith.
Comparative View of World Religions
As Viewed by Biblical Christianity
Reference: paraphrased selection from 17 faiths compared to Biblical Christianity, Christianity, Cults & Religions, 1996 Rose Publishing.
Rose Publishing states that "The final proofreading was done by Paul Carden, executive director of the Centers for Apologetics Research and former co-host for six years of the "Bible Answer Man" radio program sponsored by CRI (Christian Research Institute, San Juan Capistrano, CA). Other researchers who provided information and proofread rough drafts: Dr. James Bjornstad, Institute for Contemporary Christianity; Robert Bowman, Atlanta Christian Apologetics Project; H. Wayne House, author; Eric Pement, Sr. Editor, Cornerstone; and Brad Sparks, apologetics researcher."
As Viewed by Various Christian Support GroupsThe following links are to sites that in one way or the other attempt to promote Christianity to non-Christians or provide information and counter arguments to Christians about other religions.
As Viewed by Non-ChristiansThe following links are provided to a few sites that attempt to inform believers and non-believers about their faith in contrast to Christianity. Note that it appears difficult via the search engines to find much in this regard... seems like a) Christians are more ambitious missionaries than other religions, or b) advocates of non-Christian religions are less likely to publish English text on the web, or c) both a and b above.
A Somewhat Independent View
The following sites do a reasonable job in depicting various spiritual and religious activities in a largely independent and non-judgmental way.