Saturday, October 29, 2011

Inter-Faith Study for Peace: Practices, Rituals & Pilgrimages of HINDUS

Hindu practices generally involve seeking awareness of God and sometimes also seeking blessings from Devas. Therefore, Hinduism has developed numerous practices meant to help one think of divinity in the midst of everyday life. Hindus can engage in pūjā (worship or veneration),[81]either at home or at a temple. At home, Hindus often create a shrine with icons dedicated to their chosen form(s) of God. Temples are usually dedicated to a primary deity along with associated subordinate deities though some commemorate multiple deities. Visiting temples is not obligatory,[111] and many visit temples only during religious festivals. Hindus perform their worship through icons (murtis). The icon serves as a tangible link between the worshiper and God.[112] The image is often considered a manifestation of God, since God is immanent. The Padma Puranastates that the mūrti is not to be thought of as mere stone or wood but as a manifest form of the Divinity.[113] A few Hindu sects, such as the Ārya Samāj, do not believe in worshiping God through icons.

The sacred Tulsi plant in front of the house.
Hinduism has a developed system of symbolism and iconography to represent the sacred in art, architecture, literature and worship. These symbols gain their meaning from the scriptures, mythology, or cultural traditions. The syllable Om(which represents the Parabrahman) and the Swastika sign (which symbolizes auspiciousness) have grown to represent Hinduism itself, while other markings such as tilaka identify a follower of the faith. Hinduism associates many symbols, which include the lotus, chakra and veena, with particular deities.
Mantras are invocations, praise and prayers that through their meaning, sound, and chanting style help a devotee focus the mind on holy thoughts or express devotion to God/the deities. Many devotees perform morning ablutions at the bank of a sacred river while chanting the Gayatri Mantra or Mahamrityunjaya mantras.[114] The epic Mahabharata extols Japa(ritualistic chanting) as the greatest duty in the Kali Yuga (what Hindus believe to be the current age).[115] Many adoptJapa as their primary spiritual practice.[115]


Traditional diyas and other prayer items during a Hindu wedding ceremony.
The vast majority of Hindus engage in religious rituals on a daily basis.[116] Most Hindus observe religious rituals at home.[117] but observation of rituals greatly vary among regions, villages, and individuals. Devout Hindus perform daily chores such as worshiping at dawn after bathing (usually at a family shrine, and typically includes lighting a lamp and offering foodstuffs before the images of deities), recitation from religious scripts, singing devotional hymnsmeditation, chanting mantras, reciting scriptures etc.[117] A notable feature in religious ritual is the division between purity and pollution. Religious acts presuppose some degree of impurity or defilement for the practitioner, which must be overcome or neutralised before or during ritual procedures. Purification, usually with water, is thus a typical feature of most religious action.[117] Other characteristics include a belief in the efficacy of sacrifice and concept of merit, gained through the performance of charity or good works, that will accumulate over time and reduce sufferings in the next world.[117]Vedic rites of fire-oblation (yajna) are now only occasional practices, although they are highly revered in theory. In Hindu wedding and burial ceremonies, however, the yajña and chanting of Vedic mantras are still the norm.[118] The rituals, upacharas, change with time. For instance, in the past few hundred years some rituals, such as sacred dance and music offerings in the standard Sodasa Upacharas set prescribed by the Agama Shastra, were replaced by the offerings of rice and sweets.
Occasions like birth, marriage, and death involve what are often elaborate sets of religious customs. In Hinduism, life-cycle rituals include Annaprashan (a baby's first intake of solid food),Upanayanam ("sacred thread ceremony" undergone by upper-caste children at their initiation into formal education) and Śrāddha(ritual of treating people to a meal in return for prayers to 'God' to give peace to the soul of the deceased).[119][120] For most people in India, the betrothal of the young couple and the exact date and time of the wedding are matters decided by the parents in consultation with astrologers.[119] On death, cremation is considered obligatory for all except sanyasishijra, and children under five.[121] Cremation is typically performed by wrapping the corpse in cloth and burning it on a pyre.


Pilgrimage to kedarnath
Following pilgrimage sites are most famous amongst Hindu devotees:
Char Dham (Famous Four Pilgrimage sites): The four holy sites Puri,Rameswaram,Dwarka, and Badrinath (or alternatively the Himalayan towns ofBadrinathKedarnath,Gangotri, and Yamunotri) compose the Char Dham (four abodes) pilgrimage circuit.
Kumbh Mela: The Kumbh Mela (the "pitcher festival") is one of the holiest of Hindu pilgrimages that is held every four years; the location is rotated amongAllahabad,HaridwarNashik, and Ujjain.
Old Holy cities as per Puranic Texts: Varanasi formerly known as Kashi,Allahabadformerly known as Prayag, Haridwar-RishikeshMathura-Vrindavan, and Ayodhya.
Major Temple cities: Puri, which hosts a major Vaishnava Jagannath temple and Rath Yatra celebration; Katra, home to the Vaishno Devi temple; Three comparatively recent temples of fame and huge pilgrimage are Shirdi, home to [Sai_Baba_of_Shirdi]],Tirumala - Tirupati, home to theTirumala Venkateswara Temple; and Sabarimala,whereSwami Ayyappan is worshipped.
Shakti Peethas: Another important set of pilgrimages are the Shakti Peethas, where the Mother Goddess is worshipped, the two principal ones being Kalighat and Kamakhya.
While there are different yet similar pilgrimage routes in different parts of India, all are respected equally well, according to the universality of Hinduism.
Pilgrimage is not mandatory in Hinduism, though many adherents undertake them[122]

Inter-Faith Study for Peace: Trinity, "Father, Son and Holy Spirit", an essential doctrine of mainstream CHRISTIANITY

According to this doctrine, God is not divided in the sense that each person has a third of the whole; rather, each person is considered to be fully God (see Perichoresis). The distinction lies in their relations, the Father being unbegotten; the Son being begotten of the Father; and the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and (in Western theology) from the Son. Regardless of this apparent difference, the three 'persons' are each eternal and omnipotent.

The Trinity is an essential doctrine of mainstream Christianity. "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" represents both the immanence and transcendence of God. God is believed to be infinite and God's presence may be perceived through the actions of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.[61]
The word trias, from which trinity is derived, is first seen in the works of Theophilus of Antioch. He wrote of "the Trinity of God (the Father), His Word (the Son) and His Wisdom (Holy Spirit)".[62] The term may have been in use before this time. Afterwards it appears in Tertullian.[63][64]In the following century the word was in general use. It is found in many passages of Origen.[65]


Trinitarianism denotes those Christians who believe in the concept of the Trinity. Almost all Christian denominations and Churches hold Trinitarian beliefs. Although the words "Trinity" and "Triune" do not appear in the Bible, theologians beginning in the 3rd century developed the term and concept to facilitate comprehension of the New Testament teachings of God as Father, God as Jesus the Son, and God as the Holy Spirit. Since that time, Christian theologians have been careful to emphasize that Trinity does not imply three gods, nor that each member of the Trinity is one-third of an infinite God; Trinity is defined as one God in three Persons.[66]


Nontrinitarianism refers to beliefs systems that reject the doctrine of the Trinity. They are a small minority of Christians. Various nontrinitarian views, such as adoptionism or modalism, existed in early Christianity, leading to the disputes about Christology.[67] Nontrinitarianism later appeared again in the Gnosticism of the Cathars in the 11th through 13th centuries, in the Age of Enlightenment of the 18th century, and in some groups arising during the Second Great Awakening of the 19th century.

Inter-Faith Study for Peace: Nature of Existence & Three Marks of Existence in BUDDHISM

Nature of existence

Debating monks at Sera MonasteryTibet
Buddhist scholars have produced a remarkable quantity of intellectual theories, philosophies and world view concepts (see, for example, AbhidharmaBuddhist philosophy and Reality in Buddhism). Some schools of Buddhism discourage doctrinal study, and some regard it as essential, but most regard it as having a place, at least for some persons at some stages in Buddhist practice.
In the earliest Buddhist teachings, shared to some extent by all extant schools, the concept of liberation (Nirvana)—the goal of the Buddhist path—is closely related to the correct understanding of how the mind causes stress. In awakening to the true nature of clinging, one develops dispassion for the objects of clinging, and is liberated from suffering (dukkha) and the cycle of incessant rebirths (saṃsāra). To this end, the Buddha recommended viewing things as characterized by the three marks of existence.

Three Marks of Existence

The Three Marks of Existence are impermanence, suffering, and not-self.
Impermanence (Pāli: anicca) expresses the Buddhist notion that all compounded or conditioned phenomena (all things and experiences) are inconstant, unsteady, and impermanent. Everything we can experience through our senses is made up of parts, and its existence is dependent on external conditions. Everything is in constant flux, and so conditions and the thing itself are constantly changing. Things are constantly coming into being, and ceasing to be. Since nothing lasts, there is no inherent or fixed nature to any object or experience. According to the doctrine of impermanence, life embodies this flux in the aging process, the cycle of rebirth (saṃsāra), and in any experience of loss. The doctrine asserts that because things are impermanent, attachment to them is futile and leads to suffering (dukkha).
Suffering (Pāli: दुक्ख dukkha; Sanskrit दुःख duḥkha) is also a central concept in Buddhism. The word roughly corresponds to a number of terms in English including sufferingpain, unsatisfactoriness, sorrow, affliction, anxiety, dissatisfaction, discomfort, anguishstress, misery, and frustration. Although the term is often translated as "suffering", its philosophical meaning is more analogous to "disquietude" as in the condition of being disturbed. As such, "suffering" is too narrow a translation with "negative emotional connotations"[40] which can give the impression that the Buddhist view is one of pessimism, but Buddhism seeks to be neither pessimistic nor optimistic, but realistic. In English-language Buddhist literature translated from Pāli, "dukkha" is often left untranslated, so as to encompass its full range of meaning.[41][42][43]
Not-self (Pāli: anatta; Sanskrit: anātman) is the third mark of existence. Upon careful examination, one finds that no phenomenon is really "I" or "mine"; these concepts are in fact constructed by the mind. In the Nikayas anatta is not meant as a metaphysical assertion, but as an approach for gaining release from suffering. In fact, the Buddha rejected both of the metaphysical assertions "I have a Self" and "I have no Self" as ontologicalviews that bind one to suffering.[44] When asked if the self was identical with the body, the Buddha refused to answer. By analyzing the constantly changing physical and mental constituents (skandhas) of a person or object, the practitioner comes to the conclusion that neither the respective parts nor the person as a whole comprise a self.

Inter-Faith Study for Peace: Understanding the Five Pillars of ISLAM considered obligatory for Muslims


The Pillars of Islam (arkan al-Islam; also arkan ad-din, "pillars of religion") are five basic acts in Islam, considered obligatory for all believers. TheQuran presents them as a framework for worship and a sign of commitment to the faith. They are (1) the shahadah (creed), (2) daily prayers (salat), (3) almsgiving (zakah), (4) fasting during Ramadan and (5) the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) at least once in a lifetime. The Shiaand Sunni sects both agree on the essential details for the performance of these acts.[51]


The Shahadah,[52] which is the basic creed of Islam that must be recited under oath with the specific statement: "'ašhadu 'al-lā ilāha illā-llāhu wa 'ašhadu 'anna muħammadan rasūlu-llāh", or "I testify there are no gods other than God alone and I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of God." This testament is a foundation for all other beliefs and practices in Islam. Muslims must repeat the shahadah in prayer, and non-Muslims wishing to convert to Islam are required to recite the creed.[53]


Muslims praying
Ritual prayers, called Ṣalāh or Ṣalāt (Arabicصلاة), must be performed five times a day. Salah is intended to focus the mind on God, and is seen as a personal communication with him that expresses gratitude andworship. Salah is compulsory but flexibility in the specifics is allowed depending on circumstances. The prayers are recited in the Arabic language, and consist of verses from the Qur'an.[54]
A mosque is a place of worship for Muslims, who often refer to it by its Arabic name, masjid. The wordmosque in English refers to all types of buildings dedicated to Islamic worship, although there is a distinction in Arabic between the smaller, privately owned mosque and the larger, "collective" mosque (masjid jāmi`).[55] Although the primary purpose of the mosque is to serve as a place of prayer, it is also important to the Muslim community as a place to meet and study. Modern mosques have evolved greatly from the early designs of the 7th century, and contain a variety of architectural elements such asminarets.[56]


Fasting, (Arabicصوم‎ ṣawm), from food and drink (among other things) must be performed from dawn to dusk during the month of Ramadhan. The fast is to encourage a feeling of nearness to God, and during it Muslims should express their gratitude for and dependence on him, atone for their past sins, and think of the needy. Sawm is not obligatory for several groups for whom it would constitute an undue burden. For others, flexibility is allowed depending on circumstances, but missed fasts usually must be made up quickly.[57]


"Zakāt" (Arabicزكاة‎ zakāh "alms") is giving a fixed portion of accumulated wealth by those who can afford it to help the poor or needy, and also to assist the spread of Islam. It is considered a religious obligation (as opposed to voluntary charity) that the well-off owe to the needy because their wealth is seen as a "trust from God's bounty". The Qur'an and the hadith also suggest a Muslim give even more as an act of voluntary alms-giving (ṣadaqah).[58]
The Kaaba during Hajj


The pilgrimage, called the ḥajj (Arabicحج‎ ḥaǧǧ) during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah in the city of Mecca. Every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it must make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in his or her lifetime. Rituals of the Hajj include walking seven times around the Kaaba, touching the black stone if possible, walking or running seven times between Mount Safa andMount Marwah, and symbolically stoning the Devil in Mina.[59]

Be the Peace Leader

Be the Peace Leader
Pray for Peace by Amb Zara Jane Juan

Come & Join Inter-Faith Prayers & Inter-Cultural Dialogue for Peace

Come! Share your Peace! - Ambassador Zara Jane Juan, Sailing for Peace

2012 Video International Day of Peace Vigil by Sailing for Peace

Sailing for Peace Worldwide Peace Vigil

Sailing for Peace Worldwide Peace Vigil
Prayer Vigil for Vatican as Pope expresses sorrow over terrorist attacks and prayed that God will sustain all men of goodwill who courageously roll up their sleeves to deal with the plague of terrorism and this bloodstain which is gripping the world in a shadow of fear and bewilderment

Amb. Zara Jane Juan, Peace Ambassador

Amb. Zara Jane Juan, Peace Ambassador
I choose to be a Missionary of the Interfaith, Interracial, Intercultural Sailing for Peace Program inspired and guided by the discipline and life of the Virgin Mary of the Catholic Church. I am a Catholic, a Lady Datin of the Muslims, a Buddhist in my Healthy Lifestyle and a Hindu in Purifying my Soul. With Free Thinking and Scientific Approach to my Peace Work, my life on the over-all is a whirlwind of Faith and Fate. I refuse donations to my peace work to prevent corruption but rather I decided to live a very simple so that I can fund it personally through my own personal income as Professional Resource Speaker, Author, Visual Artist, Playwright and Director

JESUS CHRIST - 7 LAST WORDS - Lenten Recollection for Christians