Portal:Religion

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Religion is the adherence to codified beliefs and rituals that generally involve a faith in a spiritual nature and a study of inherited ancestral traditions, knowledge and wisdom related to understanding human life. The term "religion" refers to both the personal practices related to faith as well as to the larger shared systems of belief.

In the larger sense, religion is a communal system for the coherence of belief—typically focused on a system of thought, unseen being, person, or object, that is considered to be supernatural, sacred, divine, or of the highest truth. Moral codes, practices, values, institutions, traditions, and rituals are often traditionally associated with the core belief, and these may have some overlap with concepts in secular philosophy. Religion can also be described as a way of life.

The development of religion has taken many forms in various cultures. "Organized religion" generally refers to an organization of people supporting the exercise of some religion with a prescribed set of beliefs, often taking the form of a legal entity (see religion-supporting organization). Other religions believe in personal revelation and responsibility. "Religion" is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system," but is more socially defined than that of personal convictions.

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Clothed statues of Matsu / Mazu (Chinese goddess of the Sea)
Chinese folk religion comprises the religion practiced in much of China for thousands of years which included ancestor worship and drew heavily upon concepts and beings within Chinese mythology. Chinese folk religion is sometimes seen as a constituent part of Chinese traditional religion, but more often, the two are regarded as synonymous. It is estimated that there are at least 850 million adherents to Chinese folk religion worldwide.

Chinese folk religion is composed of a combination of religious practices, including ancestor worship or veneration, Buddhism and Taoism. Chinese folk religion also retains traces of some of its ancestral neolithic belief systems which include animal worship, as well as and worship of the sun, moon, earth, the heavens, and various stars. It has been practiced alongside Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism by Chinese people throughout the world for thousands of years.

Worship, legends, festivals and various devotions associated with different folk gods and goddesses form an important part of Chinese culture even today. The worship of secondary gods does not conflict with an individual's chosen religion, but is accepted as a complementary adjunct to Buddhism, Confucianism or Taoism.

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The tree of life as represented in Kabbalah, containing the Sephiroth.
Credit: Masterhomer

The Tree of Life (Heb. עץ החיים Etz haChayim), in the Book of Genesis, is a tree in the Garden of Eden whose fruit gives everlasting life, i.e. immortality. After eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the biblical account states that Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden of Eden to prevent them from eating of the Tree of Life.

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An 1886 depiction of Odin by Georg von Rosen.
Odin (Old Norse Óðinn) is considered the chief god in Norse mythology and Norse paganism, like the Anglo-Saxon Woden it is descended from Proto-Germanic *Wōdinaz or *Wōđanaz. His name is related to óðr, meaning "excitation," "fury" or "poetry," and his role, like many of the Norse pantheon, is complex: he is god of wisdom, war, battle, and death. He is also attested as being a god of magic, poetry, prophecy, victory, and the hunt.

Odin is an ambivalent deity. Old Norse (Viking Age) connotations of Odin lie with "poetry, inspiration" as well as with "fury, madness." Odin left one of his eyes in the purifying waters of Mímir's spring in order to gain the wisdom of the ages. Odin gives to worthy poets the mead of inspiration, made by the dwarves, from the vessel Óð-rœrir.

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Love hinders death. Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.
Leo Tolstoy, Thoughts of Prince Andrew in War and Peace, Bk XIII, Ch. 16

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Bagua with name and nature
The I Ching (also spelled Yi Jing, Yijing, or Yi King ; also called "Book of Changes" or "Classic of Changes") is the oldest of the Chinese classic texts. A symbol system designed to identify order in what seem like chance events, it describes an ancient system of cosmology and philosophy that is at the heart of Chinese cultural beliefs. The philosophy centers on the ideas of the dynamic balance of opposites, the evolution of events as a process, and acceptance of the inevitability of change (see Philosophy, below). In Western cultures, the I Ching is regarded by some as simply a system of divination; many believe it expresses the wisdom and philosophy of ancient China.

The book consists of a series of symbols, rules for manipulating these symbols, poems, and commentary.

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