Tag Archives: Islam

World Religions – A Summary (Part V)

In my last post I discussed the Adventure segment of the road to happiness.  The Adventure being divided into: The Call, The Adventure, and The Return.

Th call is a summons to the adventure requiring the cardinal virtues of wisdom and courage earned during the Journey.

The Adventure is the trials and temptations to secure the boon – a gift for society.  This requires the preparation, self-esteem, and confidence earned during the Journey and the cardinal virtue of moderation, earned during the Journey or along the Adventure.

The Return requires the cardinal virtue of justice, earned during the Journey or along the Adventure and the virtue of love of neighbor.  With these virtues the geo may return with the boon for society and attain happiness for himself/herself.

While the virtue required of the adventure are similar to those expressed in the religions of the East, the call or summons at the commencement of the Adventure and the required love at the end of the adventure I believe are unique to the West.

It is both the call to the hero and the love towards the hero that may be the two most significant differences between the religions of the East and the West.  It is these two actions that merge the happiness of the individual with the flourishing of society.  Both outcomes are the same.  They are the same thing.  The happiness of the individual = the flourishing of society.  In other words, the individual who has reached happiness becomes immersed with universal principles.  The individual is able to pass between the everyday and the spiritual without anxiety, fear, or harm.  The same happiness as expressed by the Eastern religions.

The love of neighbor towards the returning hero is the same love expressed in the Christian faith.  And what about the call or summons to begin the adventure?  Well, it is the same – only in reverse.

World Religions – A Summary (Part IV)

In my previous post I discussed the unique aspect of the West: the Adventure.

The Adventure begins with a call or summons to begin a discovery.  The call requires the cardinal virtues of wisdom and courage: wisdom to look forward and recognize the call, and courage to leap into the adventure that is illuminated by wisdom.  Both of those virtues had to be attained prior to the adventure; as such, the Journey segment was needed to develop these virtues.

The adventure itself is the trials and temptations encountered to secure the boon, which was the reason for the adventure in the first place.  The training and exposure activities of the Journey, coupled with the cardinal virtue of moderation earned during the Journey or the Adventure, are required to seize the boon.

The return back to the everyday world requires the cardinal virtue of justice and the love of the hero’s neighbor.  Justice is the concern for the community of the adventurer earned during the Journey or the Adventure.  Without this virtue, the adventurer would simply remain in the adventure, refusing to return.  The love of his/her neighbor is what pulls the hero across back to the everyday world with the boon intact.

So, what does this all mean.  Well, the adventure is the connection between the Journey (shared by all religions) and happiness (shared by all religions).  This Western concept (not shared by all religions) is what pushes the individual to the top of Maslow’s pyramid – self-actualization.  It is a concept of great myths as uncovered by Joseph Campbell.  It is what brings happiness to the individual and flourishing to society.  The flourishing then can be used to help others prepare for their road to happiness.

Final comments in my next post.


World Religions – A Summary (Part III)

In my previous post I mentioned how the Eastern Religions are similar to the West regarding the Journey segment of the road to happiness.  The Journey is the education/training, involvement with others, and exposure to risks in one’s job and elsewhere that are needed to secure a livelihood, develop self-esteem and confidence, and establish the many virtues that will be needed at a later date.

The Journey, can be viewed as the preparation for attainment of happiness, which is the freedom from fear and anxiety as well as a connection to God or universal values.  The leap from the everyday world of the Journey to the attainment of happiness is what I believe separates the religions.  It appears to me that the belief in Allah is the connection between the Journey and happiness for Islam.  Wisdom, ethical conduct, and concentration (the three segments of the Noble Eightfold Path) is the connection for Buddhism.  For the Hindu faith, dharma, or the virtues, is the connection between the Journey, or the “Good Life,” and happiness, or moksha.

However, in the West the Adventure is the connection between the Journey and the attainment of happiness.  This Adventure has three segments: the Call, the Adventure, and the Return.  These three segments correspond to the final three galleries found in my book.

The Call is a summons to the adventure.  Some people may never receive the call or they may not recognize it: they will remain at the end of the Journey to live an everyday existence.  Some may recognize the call but ignore it: their life will be one of disintegration. Finally, there are those who accept the call and begin the adventure.

The Adventure is outside of the normal everyday world.  It is full of trials with setbacks or even defeat.  The goal of the adventure is to capture the boon and return to the everyday world.  Some may fail and never return.  Some may capture the boon but not wish to return finding the world of the adventure more comforting than the everyday world.  A few will capture the boon, decide to return, and will be aided by others in the return.  It is at this moment that the individual realizes happiness and, equally important, society flourishes from the many benefits of the boon.

The adventurer need not be a mythical hero; most likely, the hero is a normal everyday person, who may go unnoticed by others.  The boon may be something as simple as being a good mother or father, teacher, community leader, artist, etc.  The list is endless.  However, the everyday hero is one who accepted the call, used all the preparation and virtues earned during his/her Journey to fight for the boon, and with the aid of others, was able to return to the family or community with the boon intact.

Finally, one final virtue must be mentioned: love of neighbor.  It is this love for the adventurer that pulls him/her from within the adventure back to the everyday world.  It is this love that presents the returning adventurer with his/her happiness and the flourishing of the family or community.

More thoughts in my next post.


World Religions – A Summary (Part II)

As mentioned in my previous post, the world religions share much in common regarding the road to happiness and even the definition of happiness.  And all the religions mention how difficult it is for individuals to reach happiness.

In my book I discuss the two segments of the road to happiness: the Journey and the Adventure.  The Journey encompasses the first three galleries of the “Prose/Art” Exposition: Preparation, Involvement, and Exposure.  These three galleries are similar to the Hindu “Good Life,” the Buddhist “right livelihood,” and the Islamic recognition of the need for wealth for food, clothing, shelter, protection, social cooperation and kindness, and the pursuit of knowledge.

The end of the Journey is represented by a well-balanced life, full education and training/preparation, self-esteem, recognition, and appreciation.  Many virtues have been attained (wisdom, courage, humility, etc.) during this time.  These attributes of one’s life and the acquired virtues are reflected in the religions of the East as needed prior to gaining spiritual enlightenment or connection with God.

However, there appears to be one feature unique to the West: the Adventure.  The Adventure is that stage of the road to happiness between the Journey and happiness.

More in my next post.


World Religions – A Summary

In my last nine post I discussed the road to happiness as promoted by three Middle-Eastern and Eastern religious traditions: Islam (Middle East and North Africa), Hinduism (India and Nepal), and Buddhism (Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand).

According the Pew Forum, theses three Eastern traditions represented 45.3% of the world population in 2010.  When you add Christianity (The Americas, Europe, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand) and Judaism (North America and Israel) the number increases to 77%.  Finally, when you add in those without a religious affiliation (those primarily from China and North Korea), the number increases to 93.3%.  For the remaining 6.7% of the world whose religion I did not discuss, I apologize.

Let us first discuss the similarities among the three major religions and that of the West.

1) Happiness is the freedom from suffering, fear, and anxiety during our lifetimes.  It is also a spiritual enlightenment, or experience, or transcendence, or connection with God.  Is some cases it is a joining with God in his kingdom after death.

2) Many virtues are needed to reach happiness.  Wisdom, ethical conduct, compassion, and love are among the virtues needed if one is to reach happiness.  Excluding Buddhism, there is a recognition of the realities of everyday existence.  These realities require an occupation to feed, house, and cloth one’s family, and to provide protection from the harm of others.

3) Excluding perhaps Buddhism, there is a need for knowledge and self-esteem if one is to lead a life aimed at attaining happiness.

4) All have a guide for traveling the road: Buddhism has the Noble Eightfold Path; Hinduism has dharma; Islam has Divine Will, and the West has virtues and the adventure.

5) Excluding Buddhism and Islam, the segments of the path to happiness are arranged in a hierarchy.  First education and training, then social skills, then a job leading to self-esteem with recognition and prestige.  Perhaps this is followed by a desire for knowledge and aesthetic pleasures.

These similarities are comforting.  They lend support for a shared understanding of the path to happiness.  Even the great thinkers and the masters of the fine arts from the West support these requirements shared by the world’s religions.

Next post, those requirements that are different.


Islam and Happiness (Part III)

The path to happiness within the Islamic tradition has similarities with the West’s path to happiness. There is the recognition of the difficulties of the everyday world and the need to work hard to safeguard against poverty, ill-health, and harm.  There is also the recognition of the need to be sociable and kind to others.  In addition to this harmony and cooperation with others, the pursuit of knowledge and self-confidence is also required.  These actions are very similar to those of the West; in fact, they are nearly identical to the Journey portion of the road to happiness expressed in my book.  One major difference does exist: the actions in the West follow a hierarchy of one level leading to the next.  In Islam, such a hierarchy does not exist, which makes the completion of the steps more uncertain.

The above attributes allow the followers of Islam to recognize their Divine Destiny as expressed by the Divine Will.  It is the faith in Allah that allows the Divine Will to direct followers to the freedom from pain, fear, and anxiety in the everyday world, as well as the kingdom of Allah in the spiritual world.

Following the Divine Will has similarities in the West; for example, the possible attainment of freedom from everyday fears and anxiety.  Also, the spiritual welcoming into the kingdom of God for those who are to be saved.  In addition, the Divine Will is based on virtues that are intended to help the individual travel the road to happiness.

However, there is one main difference: this occurs at the beginning of the Adventure, which is the road after the Journey.  In the West, the Adventure begins with a call or summons.  This call can be ignored or accepted, if sent.  If accepted, the individual begins a series of trials to secure a boon or gift for the benefit of one’s family or community.  If the adventurer returns to the everyday world with the boon intact (which requires the love of others for the adventurer) then the adventurer attains happiness and the family or community flourishes.

It is this call to adventure, and required love of one’s neighbor, both of which are needed to reach happiness, that does not appear in the Islamic tradition.

Some final thoughts about the three Eastern/Middle-Eastern traditions regarding the road to happiness in my next post.

Islam and Happiness (Part II)

In my previous post, I discussed the actions that are necessary to find happiness according to the Islamic tradition.

Many of the steps are similar to those required in the traditions of the West: 1) accumulation of wealth necessary to satisfy the physiological needs and the safety needs as expressed by Maslow (e.g., food, shelter, hygiene, protection from harm), 2) cooperation and harmony with others similar to Maslow’s belongingness needs, 3) well-balanced life with emotional stability, 4) pursuit of knowledge, 5) and self-confidence similar to Maslow’s self-esteem need.

While these steps are not arranged in a hierarchy, they do represent the first four needs of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  In fact they are very similar to the first three galleries of my book – the Journey section of the road to happiness.  You could say that the above steps are necessary if one is to begin the second segment of the road to happiness – the adventure.

In the Islamic tradition, having taken the above steps leads one to the recognition of the Divine Destiny as presented by the Divine Will.  It is the Divine Will that leads one to happiness – or the Divine Destiny.  One part of that Devine Destiny is the freedom from fear, pain, and anxiety on earth.  However, the Divine Will and Divine Destiny can only be recognized through a sound belief and devotion to Allah – the Divine Guidance.

Final thoughts in the next post.

Islam and Happiness

As mentioned in my previous six posts, I am not an expert on Eastern religions.  I have tried to give a brief but accurate representation of the path to happiness as expressed in the Buddhist and Hindu traditions.  I would now like to turn to Islam – a Middle Eastern and North African religion.

In reviewing several authoritative references regarding the path to happiness as expressed in the Islamic tradition, I would like to discuss actions that support the pursuit of happiness, the Day of Judgement, as expressed in Islam:

1) Sound belief in Allah – Divine Guidance.  This action leads men in the right direction.  Faith in Allah develops reason and the way to truth – Divine Destiny.  This leads man to acquire good qualities and to aim for perfection.  The Divine Will is what directs the individual to the correct path in life.

2) Worship and devotion to Allah – leads to humility and encourages social welfare through attendance at worship services.  This leads to kindness to others.

3) Live within the limits of today.  The pursuit of wealth is important to protect one from starvation, ill-health, lack of warmth and shelter, and attack from others (safety).  The path to happiness, which is the preparation for the Day of Judgement, does not mean that one should neglect the everyday life.

4) Cooperation and harmony with others.  This includes family, schools, place of work, neighbors, and society in general.

5) Emotional stability – well-balanced life and approach to others in society.

6) Pursuit of knowledge

7) Self-confidence or self-esteem

8) Repentance

If the above actions are undertaken, then it is believed that one will experience freedom from fear and anxiety.  It is this freedom that is happiness on earth leading to happiness on the Judgement Day.

More to come in the next post.