Evaluate the impact on human life of at least three different religions you have read so far. Be specific as you discuss how the particular religious tradition affects everyday life. Draw comparisons and contrasts between traditions as appropriate.
What is religion? Endless pages have been dedicated to defining this one word however, there are so many opinions it seems impossible to do so. For the moment that one defines such, another will disagree and render a different opinion. Moreover, it is their prerogative to disagree with their own opinion and fashion a new one. All the same, we know better than to say religion is just opinion. If we ask someone point blank what their opinion is, they will instinctively ask to narrow down the question, “On what?” What if in that moment we define the interrogative by broadening it, “What is your opinion on everything?” The sum of all questions equates to this one definitive question; what is your worldview? Still, we have not quite arrived at a definition. After all, “not all worldviews are religious (Smart, p. 90).” It would seem that religion is about as difficult to define as Zen itself.
Nonetheless, we might assert at this point the following; all religions are worldviews and a worldview that is not a religion may generally be regarded a philosophy. We can also add with a fair degree of certainty, that although it is possible for everyone to share the same opinion on any one item, it is unlikely; and as the number of items increase, the likelihood of subjective congruence is inversely proportional. Another thing to consider is if a religion’s membership can be but one person; as some have said, “I have my own religion.” Therefore, if we are to make any progress on the matter of religion’s influence on humanity, we must advance with nothing more than an opinion and acknowledge that disagreement is likely. It is reasonable to argue that religion is more than pure philosophy; however, what marks the distinction? We might assert that it is the synthesis of ideology and action; however, what ties these ideas and actions together? Thus, for the sake of definition we shall argue that religion is a personal commitment to live in accordance with the ideals of a worldview.
By this definition, a philosophy becomes a religion whenever one or more people commit themselves to live in accordance with its ideals. As such, Buddhism would fall under this definition. On the other hand, Roger Eastman describes Zen Buddhism as “the antipode to logic (The Ways of Religion, p. 134)” and as such, it is certainly not a philosophy in the traditional sense nor is it a religious tradition for that matter. However, if we maintain the definition of religion as stated above, we might ever so delicately blow a Zen soap bubble and call it is a person’s commitment to live in harmony with Zen as we then watch the bubble float away from our lips and pop in the realm of reality.
With such a definition capable of...