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Eastern Religion & Philosophy

Buddhism Islamic Philosophy Taoism Confucianism



The term refers to the collect faiths that originated in India.
Hinduism does not have a clear origin.

There is not one holy book or text.

There is not a single founder.


The supreme being and creator of the universe. Parvati, Sakti- wife
Ganesha-child Nandi- Bull

Sakti- wife of Siva, the

female part of the universe. Destroyer or destructive force in this realm.

Vishnu- Is a personal

god. Protector in this realm The Buddha was an incarnation of the God Vishnu according to Hindus.

Those who know it,

do not speak it Those who speak it, do not know it.

Vedic Scriptures
Are writing that reveal the hidden nature of reality.
The Vedas were the religious writings of the

Aryans, a nomadic people that invaded India in the around 1500 B.C. Hold the universe to be one, monism.

What is the meaning of Life?

According to some versions of Hinduism the purpose of life is to find enlightenment.
Most people cannot discover these truths in

one lifetime- as such we are reincarnated.

Samsara- The cycle of birth and death.
Humans are basically good, but are caught up

in a cycle of desire of and suffering that is a direct result of ignorance and ego. Humans are tormented by many desires. Desire is the root of evil.

Karma- chain of causes & consequences
Actions we perform today can have

consequences for us far into the future all of our actions will eventually have consequences.

Nirvana- permanent liberation from life
Liberation from the cycle of samsara, we

cease to exist and become one with the universe.


Four Noble Truths

Eightfold Path

A philosophical tradition, founded by Gautama Siddhartha Buddha in the fifth century b.c., that took on various forms as a religion and spread throughout Asia.
Buddhism attempts to help the individual conquer the suffering and mutability of human existence through the elimination of desire and ego and attainment of the state of nirvana.

The way or practice recommended in Buddhism

Eightfold Path

that includes: Right View, Right Aim, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Living, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Contemplation.

Four Noble Truths

Buddha's answer to the central problem of life (1) There is suffering; (2) suffering has specific and identifiable causes; (3) suffering

can be ended; (4) the way to end suffering is through enlightened living, as expressed in the Eightfold Path.

Different planes of reality

For some Buddist, this plane of existence is not the only one.
You can be reincarnated as a higher or lower

being, depending upon your karma at death.

Islamic Philosophy
Al-Farabi Avicenna

A further development of Platonic philosophy under the influence of Aristotelian and Pythagorean philosophy and Christian

mysticism; it flourished between the third and sixth centuries, stressing a mystical intuition of the highest One or God, a transcendent source of all being.

A ninth-century Islamic

thinker, used Greek ideas to define God as an absolute and transcendent being. God created the world by means of his will. All of reality comes from God.

A ninth-century Islamic philosopher, posited the philosopher-prophet as the one providing the necessary illumination for his society. Also claimed God to be Absolute Being, and that God was the first cause.
He based this view on Aristotles argument of

the unmoved mover.

A tenth-century Islamic thinker, felt that there is a parallelism between philosophy and theology.

Arabian physician and philosopher, born in 980; died at Hamadan, in Northern Persia, 1037. Avicenna was actually Persian, not Arabian.

Roots of his Philosophy

Avicenna's philosophy, like that of his predecessors among the Arabians, is Aristoteleanism mingled with neo-Platonism,

an exposition of Aristotle's teaching in the light of the Commentaries of Thomistius, Simplicius, and other neo-Platonists.

A late eleventh-century and early-twelfthcentury Islamic philosopher, attacked Avicenna regarding the eternity of the world

and the reduction of religious law to a mere symbol of higher truths.

Arabian philosopher, astronomer, and writer on jurisprudence; born in 1126; died at Morocco, 1198. A twelfth-century Islamic thinker, was thought of as holding two separate truths, that of religion and that of philosophy.

Knowledge thru Faith

Averroes openly admitted his inability to hold on philosophic grounds the doctrine of individual immortality, being content to

maintain it as a religious tenet. Averroes' greatest influence was as a commentator.

Represents a mystical, theosophical, and ascetic strain of Muslim belief that seeks union with God (Allah).

Mulla Sadra
A late sixteenth- and early-seventeenthcentury thinker who was influenced by the mystical tendencies in Neo-Platonism,

sought a return to the first principle of being.

A late-fifteenth- and early-sixteenth-century Indian poet, was considered one of the great mystical poets in the tradition of Sufism.

Lao Tzu
Chuang Tzu Yin and Yang

Taoism is based on the idea that behind all material things and all the change in the world lies one fundamental, universal

principle: the Way or Tao.

Tao Continued
This principle gives rise to all existence and governs everything, all change and all life. Behind the bewildering multiplicity and

contradictions of the world lies a single unity, the Tao. The purpose of human life, then, is to live life according to the Tao, which requires passivity, calm, non-striving (wu wei ), humility, and lack of planning, for to plan is to go against the Tao.

Lao Tzu
Founder of Taoism, held

that the Tao is ineffable and beyond our ability to alter. He emphasized the importance of effortless nonstriving.

Tao Te Ching
The whole world recognizes the beautiful as the beautiful, yet this is the ugly; the whole world recognizes the good as the good, yet

this is bad. Thus Something and Nothing produce each other. The difficult and the easy complement each other

Seek peace
Lao Tzu believed that human life, like everything else in the universe, is constantly influenced by outside forces. He believed "simplicity" to be the key to truth and freedom. Lao Tzu encouraged his followers to observe, and seek to understand the laws of nature; to develop intuition and build up personal power; and to use that power to lead life with love, and without force.

The way
Look, it cannot be seen - it is beyond form. Listen, it cannot be heard - it is beyond sound.

Grasp, it cannot be held - it is intangible. These three are indefinable, they are one. From above it is not bright;

The way Continued.

From below it is not dark: Unbroken thread beyond description. It returns to nothingness. Form of the formless, Image of the imageless, It is called indefinable and beyond imagination. Stand before it - there is no beginning. Follow it and there is no end. Stay with the Tao, Move with the present. Knowing the ancient beginning is the essence of Tao.

Chuang Tzu
The most important Taoist after Lao Tzu and stressed the equality of opposites and the danger of usefulness.

Sun Tzu
Sun Tzu A sixth-century B.C. Taoist philosopher and general, applied Taoist philosophy to military strategy. Some scholars have concluded that Sun Tzu's work was actually authored by unknown Chinese philosophers and that Sun Tzu did not actually exist as a historical figure. There is more evidence to support this theory than the traditional one of Sun Tzu as an individual historical figure.

Yin and Yang

Contractive and expansive forces in the universe.

The universe divided

The essentials of the yin-yang school are as follows: the universe is run by a single principle, the Tao, or Great Ultimate. This

principle is divided into two opposite principles, or two principles which oppose one another in their actions, yin and yang. All the opposites one perceives in the universe can be reduced to one of the opposite forces.

5 agents or causes
The yin and yang accomplish changes in the universe through the five material agents, or wu hsing , which both produce one another and overcome one another. All change in the universe can be explained by the workings of yin and yang and the progress of the five material agents as they either produce one another or overcome one another. Yin-yang and the five agents explain all events within the universe..

Everything is explained
All phenomena can be understood using yinyang and the five agents: the movements of the stars, the workings of the body, the

nature of foods, the qualities of music, the ethical qualities of humans, the progress of time, the operations of government, and even the nature of historical change.

Let the stars be your guide?

All things follow this order so that all things can be related to one another in some way: one can use the stars to determine what kind

of policy to pursue in government, for instance.

Male and female

The yin and yang represent all the opposite principles one finds in the universe. Under yang are the principles of maleness, the sun,

creation, heat, light, Heaven, dominance, and so on, and under yin are the principles of femaleness, the moon, completion, cold, darkness, material forms, submission, and so on.

Heaven and Earth

Each of these opposites produce the other: Heaven creates the ideas of things under yang, the earth produces their material forms

under yin, and vice versa; creation occurs under the principle of yang, the completion of the created thing occurs under yin, and vice versa, and so on.

Cyclical existence
This production of yin from yang and yang from yin occurs cyclically and constantly, so that no one principle continually dominates the other or determines the other. All opposites that one experienceshealth and sickness, wealth and poverty, power and submissioncan be explained in reference to the temporary dominance of one principle over the other. Since no one principle dominates eternally, that means that all conditions are subject to change into their opposites.


Founder of the most dominant system of Chinese thought, emphasized the perfectibility of people as well as their ability to affect things for the better.
Confucius himself had a simple moral and political teaching: to love others; to honor one's parents; to do what is right instead of what is of

advantage; to practice "reciprocity," i.e. "don't do to others what you would not want yourself"; to rule by moral example instead of by force and violence; and so forth.

Govern not kill

Confucius thought that a ruler who had to resort to force had already failed as a ruler -"Your job is to govern, not to kill" (Analects

XII:19). This was not a principle that Chinese rulers always obeyed, but it was the ideal of benevolent rule.

Self Control
Confucius thought that government by laws and punishments could keep people in line, but government by example of virtue and

good manners would enable them to control themselves (Analects II:3). "The way the wind blows, that's the way the grass bends" (Analects XII:19).

No need for Money

Although Confucius himself says, "Wealth and high station are what men desire" (Analects, IV:5), later Confucians turned

warnings against the temptation of profit into a condemnation of profit, which meant that their influence was often turned against the development of Chinese industry and commerce.

Later followers did not follow the way.

Confucians themselves were perfectly happy to seek "high station," while stiffling the ability of ordinary Chinese to produce

"wealth." Over time, this was an evil influence in Chinese history.

A Confucian thinker second in importance to Confucius. One cannot discuss Confucianism without at least mentioning the man the Chinese call "The Second Sage," Meng Tzu, or, in Latinized form, Mencius (372-289 B.C.) Mencius, like Confucius, concerned himself entirely with political theory and political practice; he spent his life bouncing from one feudal court to another trying to find some ruler who would follow his teachings.

Did not change his Government

Like Confucius he was largely unsuccessful in his endeavor. In fact, China had degenerated precipitously in Mencius's time: individual

states were preying on and conquering others and the rulers of the time had no patience for what they considered prattling about the ancients and their ways.

Radical Thinker
Mencius several times throughout Chinese history has been regarded as a potentially "dangerous" author, leading at times to

outright banning of his book. This is because Mencius developed a very early form of what was to be called in modern times the "social contract."

Purse your purpose

Mencius also highlighted other desirable qualities such as a steadfastness of purpose that enables one to follow what is proper without being swayed by fear or uncertainty. He urged that one should cultivate oneself so that one follows what is proper and willingly accepts unfavorable conditions of life that are not within one's control or are of such a nature that altering them requires improper conduct. One should devote effort to ethical pursuits and not worry about these external conditions of life.