Discussion Prompts

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Please generate three discussion threads, each addressing a different one of the following three Discussion Prompts [generating 3 threads total, while giving each thread a clear title (e.g. 'Discussion Topic 1')]

Discussion Prompt 1:

“This [Smith’s previous point that satisfaction of the desire for worldly success is more substantial than pleasure] does not have to be argued for a contemporary Western audience. The Anglo-American temperament is not voluptuous. Visitors from abroad do not find English-speaking peoples enjoying life a great deal, or much bent on doing so – they are too busy. Being enamored not of sensualism but of success, what takes arguing in the West is not that achievement’s rewards exceed those of the senses but that success too has its limitations – that ‘What is he worth?’ does not come down to ‘How much has he got?’ (Smith, 15)

Who are these ‘Anglo-Americans’ to which Smith refers? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-American

Do you agree with this characterization of Anglo-Americans as not “…enjoying life a great deal, or much bent on doing so – they are too busy. ”? Explain your view.

Discussion Prompt 2:

“What is distinctive in Hinduism is the amount of attention it has devoted to identifying basic spiritual personality types and the disciplines that are most likely to work for each. The result is a recognition, pervading the entire religion, that there are multiple paths to God, each calling for its distinctive mode of travel.” (Smith, 28)

What do we think about this claim, that there are multiple paths to God?

A.The use of the singular (i.e. god v. gods) and capitalization, as with a proper name {i.e. (the) God v. (a) god} would seem to imply the same, identical, one and only one God…would that change your mind?

B.The idea of many paths to the same goal (of union with God) might seem to discount the worth or value of the path itself, while some religions place more emphasis on the path than the goal…what do you think?

Discussion Prompt 3:

“The word ‘my’ always implies a distinction between the possessor and what is possessed; when I speak of my book or my jacket, I do not suppose that I am those things. But I also speak of my body, my mind, and my personality, giving evidence thereby that in some sense sense I consider myself as distinct from them as well. What is this “I” that possesses my body and mind, but is not their equivalent?

Again, science tells me that there is almost nothing in my body that was there seven years ago, and my mind and my personality have undergone comparable changes. Yet throughout their manifold revisions, I have remained in some way the same person, the person who believed now this, now that; who once was young and is now old. What is this something in my makeup, more constant than body or mind, that has endured these changes?” (Smith, 30, emphasis mine.)

Please reflect upon Smith's questions, "What is this 'I'?" and "What is this something...that has endured these changes?"

Ask yourself, 'Who am I?' and share your response.

Unformatted Attachment Preview

The World’s Religions Our Great Wisdom Traditions Huston Smith To Alice Longden Smith and Wesley Moreland Smith Missionaries to China for forty-one years When I behold the sacred liao wo*my thoughts return To those who begot me, raised me, and now are tired. I would repay the bounty they have given me, But it is as the sky: it can never be approached. * A species of grass symbolizing parenthood. …the life of religion as a whole is mankind’s most important function. —William James The essence of education is that it be religious. —Alfred North Whitehead We need the courage as well as the inclination to consult, and profit from, the “wisdom traditions of mankind.” —E.F. Schumacher In 1970 I wrote of a “post-traditional world.” Today I believe that only living traditions make it possible to have a world at all. —Robert N. Bellah Contents Epigraph 3 Foreword ix Preface to the Second Edition xi I. Point of Departure 1 Notes. 11 II. Hinduism 12 What People Want. 13 What People Really Want. 19 The Beyond Within. 22 Four Paths to the Goal. 26 The Way to God through Knowledge. 29 The Way to God through Love. 32 The Way to God through Work. 37 The Way to God through Psychophysical Exercises. 41 The Stages of Life. 50 The Stations of Life. 55 “Thou Before Whom All Words Recoil.” 59 Coming of Age in the Universe. 63 The World—Welcome and Farewell. 68 Many Paths to the Same Summit. 72 Appendix on Sikhism. 75 Suggestions for Further Reading. 78 Notes. 78 THE WORLD’S RELIGIONS / v III. Buddhism 82 The Man Who Woke Up. 82 The Silent Sage. 88 The Rebel Saint. 92 The Four Noble Truths. 99 The Eightfold Path. 103 Basic Buddhist Concepts. 112 Big Raft and Little. 119 The Secret of the Flower. 128 The Diamond Thunderbolt. 139 The Image of the Crossing. 144 The Confluence of Buddhism and Hinduism in India. 147 Suggestions for Further Reading. 149 Notes. 149 IV. Confucianism 154 The First Teacher. 154 The Problem Confucius Faced. 159 Rival Answers. 163 Confucius’ Answer. 167 The Content of Deliberate Tradition. 172 The Confucian Project. 180 Ethics or Religion? 183 Impact on China. 187 Suggestions for Further Reading. 193 Notes. 194 V. Taoism 196 vi / HUSTON SMITH The Old Master. 196 The Three Meanings ofTao. 198 Three Approaches to Power and the Taoisms That Follow. 199 Efficient Power: Philosophical Taoism. 199 Augmented Power: Taoist Hygiene and Yoga. 200 Vicarious Power: Religious Taoism. 204 The Mingling of the Powers. 206 Creative Quietude. 207 Other Taoist Values. 211 Conclusion. 218 Suggestions for Further Reading. 219 Notes. 219 VI. Islam 221 Background. 222 The Seal of the Prophets. 223 The Migration That Led to Victory. 228 The Standing Miracle. 231 Basic Theological Concepts. 235 The Five Pillars. 242 Social Teachings. 248 Sufism. 257 Whither Islam? 266 Suggestions for Further Reading. 268 Notes. 269 VII. Judaism 272 Meaning in God. 273 THE WORLD’S RELIGIONS / vii Meaning in Creation. 277 Meaning in Human Existence. 280 Meaning in History. 283 Meaning in Morality. 287 Meaning in Justice. 289 Meaning in Suffering. 294 Meaning in Messianism. 297 The Hallowing of Life. 300 Revelation. 304 The Chosen People. 308 Israel. 311 Suggestions for Further Reading. 316 Notes. 317 VIII. Christianity 319 The Historical Jesus. 319 The Christ of Faith. 325 The End and the Beginning. 331 The Good News. 332 The Mystical Body of Christ. 338 The Mind of the Church. 341 Roman Catholicism. 348 Eastern Orthodoxy. 354 Protestantism. 358 Suggestions for Further Reading. 364 Notes. 365 IX. The Primal Religions 367 viii / HUSTON SMITH The Australian Experience. 368 Orality, Place, and Time. 370 The Primal World. 376 The Symbolic Mind. 379 Conclusion. 382 Suggestions for Further Reading. 384 Notes. 384 X. A Final Examination 386 The Relation between Religions. 386 The Wisdom Traditions. 388 Listening. 392 Notes. 393 Acknowledgments 394 Index 396 About the Author 408 Also By Huston Smith 409 Front Cover 1 Credits 410 Copyright 411 About the Publisher 412 FOREWORD The reissue of this book has the feel of a fortieth-anniversary edition, and it puts me in a distinct mood. If I were at a Pentecostal testimonial meeting—several of which I witnessed as a boy in Missouri and Arkansas—I would rise to my feet and testify. We are familiar with the typical format of such testimonials. It has three parts. Part One: “No one was as deep in the gutter as I was.” Part Two: “But look at me now,” said with wreaths of smiles and an erect carriage that exudes confidence and self-esteem. Then comes the punch line: “Not of my doing! It all came from Above.” The “Above” part I shall keep to myself, but I welcome this opportunity to document the “not of my doing” part. Had the St. Louis station of what evolved into the Public Broadcasting System not asked me in its second year to mount a television series on the world’s religions, I am not sure that I would ever have written a book on the subject. I was teaching those religions but had other writing priorities. The response of the viewing public to that series changed my priorities. Click! Not my initiative. Even if eventually I had written a book on the subject, it would not have been this book. It would have been in the standard textbook mode with the normal audience and life span of that particular genre. As it was, the first “draft” of my book was delivered to a television audience, and the director of the series never let me forget that audience. This is not a classroom where you have a captive audience, he kept reminding me. If you lose their attention for thirty seconds they will switch stations and you won’t get them back. So, make your points if you must—you’re a professor so you have to make points. But illustrate them immediately, with an example, an anecdote, a fragment of poetry, something that will connect x / HUSTON SMITH your point to things your audience can relate to. That advice—at the time it felt more like a command—has made all the difference. There are many books on world religions that in their own ways are better than mine. But if they haven’t received the audience that mine has, it is because they didn’t grow out of television series with directors as severely wise as Mayo Simon. It’s a miracle that we have remained close friends after all these years, seeing as how I still cannot get his scathing verdicts on the dry runs of my programs out of my ears. “Doesn’t sound too red-hot to me,” he would say, meaning back to the drawing boards. Click. Not of my doing. If the feminist movement—not of my doing, despite pointed prods from my wife—had not come along, The Religions of Man (as the book was originally titled) would never have been rewritten in inclusive gender with the explicative “man” deleted from its title. The rewriting had the important corollary of providing the opportunity for me to add to the text things that I had learned from thirty years of additional teaching. I am especially glad that I will not go to my grave having let stand a book on religions that omitted its primal, oral, tribal members. If the directors of Labyrinth Publishing in London and Harper San Francisco had not decided that the time was ripe for a book on the world’s great religious art and asked me to abridge The World’s Religions to provide its accompanying text, The Illustrated World’s Religions would not have come into existence. Once more, not of my doing. Finally, without the careful shepherding that the book has received from HarperCollins at every step of its odyssey, it is difficult for me to imagine that there could have been this happy occasion of a fortieth-anniversary printing. Recently, in going through old papers, I came upon a letter that its original editor, Virginia Hilu, wrote to me in 1958 when the book was first published, and the best way I can think of to document the solicitous shepherding I refer to is to quote its closing paragraph: I have re-read your book several times over the summer. When you are an old man, I am certain you will look back on its author with a great deal of affection, admiration, and respect. I do, provided that the “not of my doing” part is solidly in place. Huston Smith Berkeley, California December 1998 PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION In the years that have elapsed since this book first appeared, people have grown more sensitive to the gender biases in language; so I have changed the book’s original title, The Religions of Man, to The World’s Religions. No book can include all of the world’s religions. Here the major ones—as determined by their longevity, historical impact, and number of current adherents—are dealt with individually, and smaller, tribal ones considered as a class. In addition to switching to gender-inclusive language, I have added a short note on Sikhism and sections on Tibetan Buddhism and Sufism, the mystical dimension of Islam. A section on “The Confucian Project” has been inserted, Taoist materials have been considerably reworked, the chapter on Judaism now includes a section on Messianism, and the historical Jesus is treated in greater detail. I have also added a short concluding chapter on the oral traditions. This is partly to acknowledge that the historical religions the book covers are latecomers; for the bulk of human history, religion was lived in tribal and virtually timeless mode. A strong supporting reason, however, is to allow us to affirm our human past. Recent decades have witnessed a revival of concern for the feminine and the earth, concerns that the historical religions (with the exception of Taoism) tended to lose sight of, but which tribal religions have retained. The somewhat informal—though not unserious—tone of the book derives from the fact that it evolved from a television series xii / HUSTON SMITH on what is now the Public Broadcasting System. Mention of that allows me to acknowledge again my indebtedness to Mayo Simon, my producer, for what success in communication the book achieves. The book’s aim remains the same as the one we set for that series: to carry intelligent laypeople into the heart of the world’s great enduring faiths to the point where they might see, and even feel, why and how they guide and motivate the lives of those who live by them. Huston Smith Berkeley, California May 1991 I. POINT OF DEPARTURE Although the individuals that I name are now only memories for me, I begin this second edition of this book with the four paragraphs that launched its first edition. I write these opening lines on a day widely celebrated throughout Christendom as World-Wide Communion Sunday. The sermon in the service I attended this morning dwelt on Christianity as a world phenomenon. From mud huts in Africa to the Canadian tundra, Christians are kneeling today to receive the elements of the Holy Eucharist. It is an impressive picture. Still, as I listened with half my mind, the other half wandered to the wider company of God-seekers. I thought of the Yemenite Jews I watched six months ago in their synagogue in Jerusalem: dark-skinned men sitting shoeless and cross-legged on the floor, wrapped in the prayer shawls their ancestors wore in the desert. They are there today, at least a quorum of ten, morning and evening, swaying backwards and forwards like camel riders as they recite their Torah, following a form they inherit unconsciously from the centuries when their fathers were forbidden to ride the desert horse and developed this pretense in compensation. Yalcin, the Muslim architect who guided me through the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, has completed his month’s Ramadan fast, which was beginning while we were together; but he too is praying today, five times as he prostrates himself toward Mecca. Swami Ramakrishna, in his tiny house by the Ganges at the foot of the Himalayas, will not speak today. He will continue the devotional silence that, with the exception of three days each year, he has kept for five years. By this hour U Nu is probably facing the delegations, crises, and 1 2 / HUSTON SMITH cabinet meetings that are the lot of a prime minister, but from four to six this morning, before the world broke over him, he too was alone with the eternal in the privacy of the Buddhist shrine that adjoins his home in Rangoon. Dai Jo and Lai San, Zen monks in Kyoto, were ahead of him by an hour. They have been up since three this morning, and until eleven tonight will spend most of the day sitting immovable in the lotus position as they seek with intense absorption to plumb the Buddha-nature that lies at the center of their being. What a strange fellowship this is, the God-seekers in every land, lifting their voices in the most disparate ways imaginable to the God of all life. How does it sound from above? Like bedlam, or do the strains blend in strange, ethereal harmony? Does one faith carry the lead, or do the parts share in counterpoint and antiphony where not in full-throated chorus? We cannot know. All we can do is try to listen carefully and with full attention to each voice in turn as it addresses the divine. Such listening defines the purpose of this book. It may be wondered if the purpose is not too broad. The religions we propose to consider belt the world. Their histories stretch back thousands of years, and they are motivating more people today than ever before. Is it possible to listen seriously to them within the compass of a single book? The answer is that it is, because we shall be listening for well-defined themes. These must be listed at the outset or the pictures that emerge from these pages will be distorted. 1. This is not a textbook in the history of religions. This explains the scarcity of names, dates, and social influences in what follows. There are useful books that focus on such material.1 This one too could have been swollen with their facts and figures, but it is not its intent to do their job in addition to its own. Historical facts are limited here to the minimum that is needed to locate in space and time the ideas the book focuses on. Every attempt has been made to keep scholarship out of sight—in foundations that must be sturdy, but not as scaffolding that would obscure the structures being examined. 2. Even in the realm of meanings the book does not attempt to give a rounded view of the religions considered, for each hosts differences that are too numerous to be delineated in a single chapter. One need only think of Christendom. Eastern Orthodox Christians worship in ornate cathedrals, while Quakers consider even steeples THE WORLD’S RELIGIONS / 3 desecrations. There are Christian mystics and Christians who reject mysticism. There are Christian Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christian Unitarians. How is it possible to say in a manageable chapter what Christianity means to all Christians? The answer, of course, is that it is not possible—selection is unavoidable. The question facing an author is not whether to select among points of view; the questions are how many to present, and which ones. In this book the first question is answered economically; I try to do reasonable justice to several perspectives instead of attempting to catalogue them all. In the case of Islam, this has meant ignoring Sunni/Shi’ite and traditional/modernist divisions, while noting different attitudes toward Sufism. In Buddhism I distinguish its Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana traditions, but the major schools within Mahayana are bypassed. The subdivisions never exceed three lest trees obscure the woods. Put the matter this way: If you were trying to describe Christianity to an intelligent and interested but busy Thailander, how many denominations would you include? It would be difficult to ignore the differences between Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Protestant, but you would probably not get into what separates Baptists from Presbyterians. When we turn to which views to present, the guideline has been relevance to the interests of the intended reader. Three considerations have figured in determining this relevance. First, there is the simple matter of numbers. There are some faiths that every citizen should be acquainted with, simply because hundreds of millions of people live by them. The second consideration has been relevance to the modern mind. Because the ultimate benefit that may accrue from a book such as this is help in the ordering of the reader’s own life, I have given priority to what (with caution yet a certain confidence) we may regard as these religions’ contemporary expressions. The third consideration is universality. Every religion mixes universal principles with local peculiarities. The former, when lifted out and made clear, speak to what is generically human in us all. The latter, rich compounds of rites and legends, are not easy for outsiders to comprehend. It is one of the illusions of rationalism that the universal principles of religion are more important than the rites and rituals that feed them; to make that claim is like contending that the branches and leaves of a tree are more important than the roots from which they grow. But for this book, principles are more important 4 / HUSTON SMITH than contexts, if for no other reason than that they are what the author has spent his years working with. I have read books that have brought contexts themselves to life: Heather Wood’s Third Class Ticket for India, Lin Yu-tang’s My Country and My People for China, and Shalom Rabinowitz’s The Old Country for Eastern European Jews. Perhaps someday someone will write a book about the great religions that roots them to their social settings. This, though, is a book I shall read, not write. I know my limitations and attend to areas from which ideas can be extracted. 3. This book is not a balanced account of its subject. The warning is important. I wince to think of the shock if the reader were to close the chapter on Hinduism and step directly into the Hinduism described by Nehru as “a religion that enslaves you”: its Kali Temple in Calcutta, the curse of her caste system, her two million cows revered to the point of nuisance, her fakirs offering their bodies as sacrifice to bedbugs. Or what if the reader were transported to Bali, with its theaters named the Vishnu-Hollywood and its bookstores that do brisk business in Klasik Comics, in which Hindu gods and goddesses mow down hosts of unsightly demons with cosmic ray guns? I know the contrast. I sense it sharply between what I have written of Taoism and the Taoism that surrounded me as a boy in China: its almost complete submergence in augury, necromancy, and superstition. It is like the contrast between the Silent Christ and the Grand Inquisitor, or between the stillness of Bethlehem and department stores blaring “Silent Night” to promote Christmas shopping. The full story of religion is not rose-colored; often it is crude. Wisdom and charity are intermittent, and the net result is profoundly ambiguous. A balanced view of religion would include human sacrifice and scapegoating, fanaticism and persecution, the Christian Crusades and the holy wars of Islam. It would include witch hunts in Massachusetts, monkey trials in Tennessee, and snake worship in the Ozarks. The list would have no end. Why then are these things not included in the pages that follow? My answer is so simple that it may sound ingenuous. This is a book about values. Probably as much bad music as good has been composed in the course of human history, but we do not expect courses in music appreciation to give it equal attention. Time being at a premium, we assume that they will attend ...
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Lincolvin
School: UT Austin

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Running head: DISCUSSION PROMPTS

1

Discussion prompts
Name of student
Name of professor
Name of course
Name of institution
Date

DISCUSSION PROMPTS

2

Discussion prompt 1
Anglo-Americans refers to those people who speak English as their first language or their mother
tongue. These people do not necessarily have to be whites but those people who move to the
English speaking countries and begin to speak the English language and with time when they have
offspring they learn English as their first or native language (Relethford, 2003). The AngloAmericans do not seem to be enjoying life but are viewed to focus much on their worldly success
according to Smith. Also, these people are viewed to focus so much towards success rather than
pleasure since they are mostly viewed be migrants who leave their native countries and settle in
these countries wi...

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Anonymous
awesome work thanks

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