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Final Exam Question Paper


Question One
Buddhist Sangha simply pertains to the community of monks and nuns who followed Buddha. For others, the Sangha includes the entire community of Buddha followers. The word Sangha in simple terms means assembly or association and traditionally, it refers to the association of monks and nuns. On the other hand, in modern traditions, it also includes laypeople. It is considered to be an important part of the meditation practice. Believers who take refuge in the sangha find safety and strength and take part in and interact with the sangha to grow. The early Buddhist sangha changed and became a religious and educational institution. Buddhist sangha is characterized by various fundamental features, such as sangha.

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One of the most important characteristics of Buddhist sangha is its role among the followers. Buddhist sangha was founded in prehistoric time to be a standard-bearer of dhamma. This role also entailed leading and teaching by example to assist others to enlightenment and understanding. The sangha community has played an active role from the past through to the presents and its valuable influence to humanity continues to be acknowledged. This feature also highlights its role in upholding the virtue and preserving the significance of Buddhist teachings. In other words, Buddhist sangha acts as a type of paradigm of an ideal society.

Most religions are led by ministers, imams, priests, rabbis, and shamans among others and entail a single person leading a group of devout individuals; however, the sangha comprises of monks and nuns who represent the Buddhist clergies. This is an important characteristic that differentiates Buddhist sangha from other traditional religions. Ideally, these monks and nuns pass core values and essential Buddha teachings to the subsequent generations of monastics and laypeople Buddhist teachings. As a unique and important characteristic of Buddhist sangha, monks and nuns have distinct responsibilities as compared to priests and ministers from other traditions. Unlike other religions, they spent their homeless life of wandering monastics and settled down in monasteries only during the rainy seasons. Further, the Buddha’s disciples (laypeople) who followed Buddha’s teachings in most cases remained as householders.

Buddhist sangha comprised of three systematically arranged and accumulated teachings divisions; the Vinaya Pitaka, the Sutta Pitaka, and the Abhidhamma Pitaka. Each division defined an important concept and teachings; for example, the Vinaya Pitaka, also known as the basket of discipline pertains to the rules and customs of the sangha. It is the textual framework upon which the sangha (monastic community) is founded. It comprises of the rules governing the life of the monks and nuns and the host of conventions of custom, which maintains harmonious interactions (“What Is Theravada Buddhism?”). The relations are not limited to among monastics, but also included between the monastics and lay supporters. The Sutta Pitaka also is known as the basket of discourses pertains to the readings and words by Buddha and his closest devotees. It consists of over 10,000 sermons, which were delivered by buddha and his close followers during and after his 45-year teaching career. It also includes extra verse contributed by sangha members. Lastly, the Abhidhamma Pitaka, also called the basket of special doctrine comprises of detailed psycho-rational scrutiny of the Dhamma (“What Is Theravada Buddhism?”). The textual framework offers a detailed analysis of the basic natural principle that administrates psychological and physical processes. In simple terms, it offers a theoretical framework to illustrate the causal underpinnings of the Buddhist path to awakening. The three books combined provide guidance through Buddhist teachings.

Question Two
Modern societies comprise of diverse religions, which are simply different interpretations and understandings of the same one true reality. With respect to many religious standpoints, there exist significant distinct sentiments among the people regarding religion and people’s beliefs. Overall, all these religions teach the same thing and are mainly based on the existence of a superior being. Religious diversity is evident in many ways and all religious just interpret the same one true thing different; for instance, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism settle that there is a sole Deity or Divinity. On the other hand, Hinduism characteristically distinguishes multiple gods and goddesses, but some varieties of Hinduism count these divinities as facets of a single superior being. Some Hinduism strands are henotheistic, which means they worship one God but recognize many other gods and goddesses.

Religions also illustrate differences in regards to their view of the human person. For example, many forms of Islam and Christianity share the ultimate goal of subjective immortality in the presence of Supernatural being. On the other hand, some forms of Eastern thought’s, such as Theravada Buddhism fundamental goal is to comprehend that there is no essential self. Religious diversity also exists within the fundamental theistic systems. Christian believers differ in regards to their perception and expression of the nature of God; for example, some Christians see God as all-controlling, whereas others as self-limiting. Muslims also show some differences among themselves based on the same divine feature. Most of these differences are evident in the interpretation and understanding of the Quran and definition of the best way to apply the core Islamic values in modern settings; for example, the status of women among Muslim communities differ and is also different from that of Christians.

Religious diversity is also evident based on different beliefs and rules that uphold these creeds. Different convictions across the world do not share dietetical practices, but most of them show some similarities. In other words, each religion has its own rituals and history attached to its beliefs. For instance, some forms of rituals, such as fasting are specific for one religion (Christians), whereas others are practiced throughout. All religions have gathering places (for example, churches and mosques), sacred days (Easter, Ramadhan, and Christmas), and scriptures (Quran and Bible). Each religion has specific instructions and values that guide its followers. In regards to history, three of the world’s most common religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) share a common origin as they trace their early development to Abraham from the Holy Scripture. In essence, religious diversity is based on many factors, such as history, rituals, and belief system.

Response to these religious diversities is based on the notion that there exists no divine reality as all religions refer to the divinity that is most likely nonexistent. Religious relativists argue that when considering mutually incompatible religious claims regarding the reality, there is no one truth and often results in conflicting truth-claims, which can either be true or false. On the other hand, most current deliberations about religious diversity assume a reality model of truth, which means that there is a truth to the matter.

Works Cited
“What Is Theravada Buddhism?”. Accesstoinsight.Org, 2005, https://www.accesstoinsight.org/theravada.html.

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