How has your own understanding of different religious traditions been impacted?

Discussion Forum

1) Using my notes and video links as resources, discuss Zoroastrianism. For instance, how does this faith relate to the Abrahamic traditions? (5 points)
2) Using my notes and video links as resources, discuss Sikhism. How is this faith similar or different from other traditions we have studied this semester. (5 points)

(These first 2 questions are basically the same as the weekly discussions you have been doing all semester)

3) Every religious tradition has had splits among its followers, regarding the true meaning of the faith and the best way to worship. In your opinion, why do these splits occur? And do these splits strengthen or weaken the overall message of a faith tradition over time? (5 points)
4) As we have seen this semester, many faith traditions have stories of miraculous conception and birth stories. In your own opinion, why is this? For instance, as I wrote in notes earlier in the semester, were babies truly born in these miraculous ways in the past, or were our ancestors just creative storytellers? (5 points)
5) What are some of the major lessons you will take from this class? How has your own understanding of different religious traditions been impacted? (10 points)

This week we will look at some lesser-known faiths: Zoroastrianism and Sikhism

• Zoroastrianism is an ancient tradition from the Persian Empire (modern-day Iran).
• The founder of this tradition was Zoroaster, also known as Zarathustra (he may not have been an actual person, similar to Lao Tzu or Mahavira)
Zoroastrianism was the dominant religion in Persia for nearly 1,000 years
• Zoroastrianism teaches that there is an all-powerful god in the universe, named Ahura Mazda (yes, if you drive a Mazda…the company took its name from this god)
• While Ahura Mazda wants all humans to follow a good path, there is another being, Angra Mainyu, that seeks to tempt humans into doing bad things
• The motto of the faith is “Good thoughts, good words, good deeds”
• One is to live a life of kindness and goodness toward others
• After death, there will be a judgment day for all human beings. This will occur after a final battle in which Ahura Mazda defeats Angra Mainyu
• Before this final battle, a savior of the world will be born by a virgin, who will raise the dead and prepare them for judgment
• After judgment, the goodwill go to a heavenly place and the wicked to a hellish place
• Sound familiar? Although not well known, many of the ideas of Zoroastrianism have become part of the Abrahamic religions
Scholars have suggested these ideas were passed to the Jewish people when they were held in captivity in Persia (727 BCE to 537 BCE). This period in the life of Israel is written about in the books of Esther, Ezra, Daniel, Isaiah, Nehemiah, and Chronicles

See the video below for more on Zoroastrianism (Links to an external site.)

*Sikhism began in India under Guru Nanak, who was born in 1469
* He was followed by 9 other human gurus. The last of these pronounced the Sikh scriptures as the final Guru needed for the world
* It has grown to be the 5th largest religion in the world
* Guru Nanak taught at a time when most people in India were Hindus, but the empire itself was controlled by Muslims. So in some ways Sikhism borrows from both of these faiths
* Sikhs believe in an all-powerful spirit that created the universe, in karma and reincarnation, and that humans should seek God, but we are distracted from this by our own egos and greed. Liberation or enlightenment is the ultimate goal
* Places of worship (gurdwara) are open to anyone of any religion or caste. They also serve free vegetarian meals to anyone who wants it (the Golden Temple in India feeds 100,000 people a day) (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)

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How has your own understanding of different religious traditions been impacted


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