Trivial things that religion makes you do.

Discussion in 'Comparative Religion' started by Sorcerer, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

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    OK, most religions make you do things which are fairly stupid but not onerous:

    Muslims: Shaving, pork, dick, gays, blasphemy. Let's ignore beheadings and stuff.
    Jews: Shaving (optional, depending), pork, dick, gays, blasphemy, cooking, loo paper. See muslims.
    Hindus: Beef.
    Sikhs: Headgear, knives, combs, shaving.
    Catholics: Contraception, gays, fish on Fridays, blasphemy.
    Anglicans: Blasphemy.
    Buddists: Meditation, insects, robes, chewing.
    Jaines (don't know what they are): Insects, plants, speech.

    So: Blasphemy 4, Gays 3, Pork 2, dick 2, shaving 2, insects 2, rest nowhere.

    This is incomplete, so updates please.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2014
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  3. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

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    Um... "dick?"
     
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  5. Olinguito Registered Member

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    Circumcision, I suppose.
     
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  7. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

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    Wow, you guys are smart, you figured it out. Just as well this is a science forum.

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  8. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Let's not forget freespeech in the form of blasphemy. Christians, Jews AND Muslims are all on board for this one, traditionally stoning people who even said anything bad about God, the Church or his priests. Even nowadays woe unto you if you are a cartoonist who makes fun of Mohammed in a cartoon: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/jan/04/danish-cartoonist-axe-attack Religion has always had a hard time with free speech. A well-articulated retort or lampoon is the one thing it just isn't prepared to deal with. So it kills in response. Something it's always done rather well.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2014
  9. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    You are a bit kind to Jews I think. Orthodox Jews not only have to have 2 completely separate sets of cooking utensils, one for meat and one for dairy products (and if you cross-contaminate, you have to bury the item in the garden for several months), but they cannot even tear off sheets of lavatory paper on the Sabbath. They have to prepare a stack of pre-torn sheets the day before.
     
  10. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

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    I've added blasphemy and the bit about the Jews. I didn't know about the cooking thing, I must say.
     
  11. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Well to be fair it is only Orthodox, I think and there seem to be many varieties of Jewish observance, as there are in Christendom. But the cooking one is quite serious. I understand it comes from a biblical injunction not to "seethe a kid in its mother's milk". You will not find Jewish cooking ever mixes dairy products with meat or fish. But their religion does love its rules and regulations. Probably why there are so many capable Jewish lawyers.
     
  12. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

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    No bacon and eggs then? Oh, wait.....

    Hey, doesn't anyone know anything about the Buddhists? There must be some stuff they have to do too.
     
  13. Olinguito Registered Member

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    Meditation.
     
  14. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    I think I heard somewhere that some monks brush the ground in front of them with a broom, lest they accidentally kill any tiny creatures that might be in their path. Sort of a noble gesture, if a futile one.

    I do recall travelling in a train in Thailand when a swarm of giant flying ants - the size of wasps- came through the open windows.An armed policeman on the train tenderly picked one of them up from the floor by its wings, smiled at me and said "velly dangerlous one", before gently setting it free out of the window. Somehow I don't see a New York traffic cop behaving like that. That policeman, like many of his peers, had spent a year as a Buddhist monk before joining the police.
     
  15. Olinguito Registered Member

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    Jains do that too – to an even greater extent.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jainism#Non-violence
     
  16. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

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    Thanks guys. Added Jains, whatever they are, and the other stuff. We're really getting on here now.

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  17. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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  18. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    One can add the seven deadly sins, which one need to be avoided. These are lust, greed, gluttony, sloth, wrath, envy and pride.

    Fish on Friday is healthy for you since is healthy to have fish oils at least once a week.
     
  19. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

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    Can you be specific about which groups need to do the 7 sins stuff so I can update the table? If everyone has to do it I can just put a blanket note at the bottom. Thanks.

    I just had pan-fried salmon for lunch, actually, and very healthy it was.
     
  20. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

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    Can you be specific about which groups need to do the 7 sins stuff so I can update the table? If everyone has to do it I can just put a blanket note at the bottom. Thanks.

    I just had pan-fried salmon for lunch, actually, and very healthy it was.

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  21. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    This is a Christian concept.

    However I would question whether the seven deadly sins really qualifiy as "trivial things that religion makes you do". Avoiding these things is far from trivial, and I think many people, on reflection, might consider that avoiding at least some of them could be rather sound advice.

    A bit different from being forbidden to tear sheets of lavatory paper on Saturdays, at least.
     
  22. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

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    Actually you do have a point there. I'll leave them out then, as long as it doesn't upset wellwisher. Actually I nearly left out hating gay people, which is not really trivial either, in fact it's a very unpleasant thing to do. Anyway, it's done now so I'll leave it.
     
  23. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I think that in order to intelligently condemn some of these practices as 'stupid', one would first need to understand their contexts and motivations.

    Meditation basically means mind-training. It fosters the awareness of and the ability to consciously control one's own mental states. In Buddhism there are two basic kinds of meditation (which in turn have countless variants). One of them is called 'Samatha'. It isn't unique to Buddhism and is found in many sorts of Indian yoga. It's basically training in concentration, in focusing on a chosen object in such a way that the mind doesn't jump around crazily as it so often does. The other kind of meditation is called 'Vipassana' and it is more specific to Buddhism. This kind of meditation is often called 'mindfulness' and it's basically just a process of non-judgemental observation of how one's own mental states evolve. One observes the arising and subsiding of functional and disfunctional states, such that one can gently intervene so as to head off disfunctional states and foster functional ones.

    Non-Buddhists might choose to dismiss these practices as 'trivial' or 'stupid', but they are central and fundamental to what most varieties of Buddhism are trying to accomplish.

    I'm not sure what you mean by 'insects'. There are prohibitions in the Vinaya (the Buddhist monastic rule) about gratuitiously killing small sentient beings like insects. That's a basic ethical practice, fundamentally associated both with compassion and with feelings of fellowship with all of sentient life.

    There are lots of other rules in the Vinaya that you could have mentioned that probably do seem 'trivial' to outsiders. There are rules about how one's monastic robe should be worn, even rules about how to chew one's food. In a way, these things are trivial to Buddhists too. So why are they there? It gets back to mindfulness. These are monks that we are talking about, not laypeople, and the Buddhist monastic rules are conceived as 'rules of training'. They are intended to make the monks focus on the small details of what they are doing, in such a way as to be fully aware and present in the moment.

    Jains are an ancient Indian religion that may be older than both Hinduism and Buddhism. It still exists today and there are maybe 4-5 million Jains in India. (Not only in India, there's a big Jain temple here in Silicon Valley).

    Outwardly, Jains appear very similar to Buddhists. They have monastics who wear similar robes and have shaven heads. Both Buddhism and Jainism don't revolve around a central 'God'-concept. Maybe the most obvious doctrinal difference is that the Jains believe in the existence of souls while the Buddhists don't. (I should add that ancient and medieval Jain philosophers developed some very interesting logical ideas that contemporary Western logicians are just begnning to fully appreciate.)

    Jain monastic practice is similar to Buddhist monastic practice, albeit a little more extreme. The Jains do tend to avoid agricultural occupations for fear that their work might kill small beings in the soil. That led the Jain community in India to focus on urban occupations like trade, resulting in the Jain community being quite prosperous today.

    You mentioned 'speech'. Both the Buddhists and the Jains place considerable emphasis on 'right speech'. 'Right speech' starts with honesty, with telling the truth and avoiding lies. It progresses to avoiding hostile and divisive speech. That doesn't mean that Jains and Buddhists have to agree with whatever other people say. It just means that they should express their disagreements in a friendly and compassionate manner. They should try to avoid generating unnecessary animosity. They mustn't let themselves get caught up in childish ego-contests.

    That's not the least bit trivial or stupid. On one level it's basic rhetoric. If person A disagrees with person B, person A isn't going to win person B's agreement by insulting him or by putting him down. What person A needs to do is make person B want to agree. That's how persuasion works. Turning disagreements into ego-contests almost guarantees that agreement will never happen.

    And from the Buddhist and Jain perspective it reaches a lot deeper than mere rhetoric, it's part of one's own inner-work. That's because the kind of ego-involvement that leads a person into flame-battles is also what leads to the arising of disfunctional psychological states and the suffering whose elimination is the ultimate goal.
     

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