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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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Our Lady of Vladimir (12th century)
The Eastern Orthodox Church is a Christian body that views itself as the historical continuation of the original Christian community established by Jesus and the Twelve Apostles, preserving the traditions of the early church unchanged, accepting the canonicity of the first seven ecumenical councils held between the 4th and the 8th centuries, and maintaining the unbroken link between its clergy and the Apostles by means of Apostolic Succession.

The Orthodox Church is organized into numerous autocephalous "jurisdictions" or "particular churches", the largest single one of which in terms of membership is the Russian Orthodox Church. Other major jurisdictions include the Greek, Serbian, Bulgarian and Romanian churches. Each of these has its own synod of bishops to act as governors. The Orthodox Church holds the Patriarch of Constantinople to be the first among equals among the Orthodox episcopacy.

Based on the numbers of adherents, Eastern Orthodoxy is the second largest Christian communion in the world after the Roman Catholic Church, and the third largest grouping if Protestantism is counted as a whole. Estimates of the number of Eastern Orthodox Christians worldwide range from 50 million to 350 million, with 220 million being one of the most commonly cited figures.

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Abbey of Senanque, located in France, Provence, Vaucluse, Gordes village.
Credit: Greudin

The Cistercian Abbey of Senanque, home of a Roman Catholic order of enclosed monks looking to cultivate a monastic community in which they could carry out their lives in stricter observance of The Rules of Saint Benedict.

Selected religious figure or deity

Ṣubḥ-i-Azal (Morning of Eternity) (1831–1912, born Mírzá Yaḥyá Núrí) was a Persian religious leader of Azali Bábism.

Mirza Yahya was born in 1831 to Kuchak Khanum-i-Karmanshahi (Ruhi, A Brief Biography) and Mírzá Buzurg-i-Núrí, in the province of Mazandaran, and a younger-half-brother of Mírzá Husayn `Ali, better known as Bahá'u'lláh. His mother died while giving birth to him, and his father died in 1834 when Mirza Yahya was three years old. His father is buried at Vadi-al-Islam in Najaf. Mirza Yahya was committed to the care of his stepmother Khadíjih Khánum, the mother of Bahá'u'lláh.In 1844, at about the age of 14, he became a follower of the Báb.

Did you know...

  • ...that the Akilam is the longest Ballad form of literary work in the world?
  • ...that the Ugaritic Yam is in many ways the mythic predecessor to the Abrahamic Satan?

On this day...

July 3:

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Ayyavazhi Lotus with Soul
 தாழக்கிடப்பாரை தற்காப்பதுவே தர்மம்

To uplift the lowly is Dharma.

Selected scripture

The Tao Te Ching (Chinese: 道德經 [About this sound  Listen ]), roughly translatable as The Book of the Way and its Virtue, is a Chinese classic text. According to tradition, it was written around 600 BCE by the Taoist sage Laozi (or Lao Tzu, "Old Master"), a record-keeper at the Zhou Dynasty court. A careful reading of the text, however, suggests that it is a compilation of maxims sharing similar themes. The text's authenticity, authorship, and date of composition or compilation are still debated.

The Tao Te Ching is fundamental to the Taoist school (Daojia 道家) of Chinese philosophy and strongly influenced other schools as well, such as Legalism and Neo-Confucianism. This ancient book is also central in Chinese religion, not only for Taoism (Daojiao 道教) but Chinese Buddhism, which when first introduced into China was largely interpreted through the use of Taoist words and concepts. Many Chinese artists, including poets, painters, calligraphers, and even gardeners have used the Tao Te Ching as a source of inspiration. Its influence has also spread widely outside East Asia, aided by hundreds of translations into Western languages.

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