Talk:Comparing Eastern and Western religious traditions

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Can we talk about this? While I admit that my lists were overly simplistic, I was aiming to create a table that would provide the reader with an overview of some basic similarities and differences between Eastern and Western religions...considering that is the title of this article. While it is not always the case, "Eastern Religions" to tend to encourage the "individual" to seek enlightenment, and they encourage practices (like staring at a wall for 9 hours by yourself in a cave) that could certainly be called individual. This is in contrast to many Western Religions which see whole communities of people being lifted to some exalted state...like a messianic ideal in Judaism, or the Rapture in Christianity. Again, while my presentation may have left something to be desired, it was what I thought could be a start to someone (either myself or someone else) eventually developing a clearly explained chart comparing east and west. I take some offense to the word "nonsense" and the fact that the whole thing was just wiped out without any possible positive contribution or alternative. I'm somewhat new to Wikipedia, so I don't know the best way to go about changing this...if I should put it back in there myself, or find other people who would support reverting back to what I had, or at least finding someone less full of nonsense than I to be wise enough to put more accurate information in there. Any thoughts, or suggestions?

The issue I had is that the dichotomy you presented was not only simplistic, but seemed completely artificial. For example, I'm not sure what was meant by "the feminine principle" being considered "superior" in the Tao Te Ching - if i recall correctly talk about Yin and Yang is surprisingly absent is the Tao Te Ching itself. And what exactly does "less historical" mean when talking about eastern religions? they're just as old as any other religions, if not older. I think the problem here is not so much what you wrote, but the idea of east vs. west in religion itself. The differences are pretty much all down to a cultural perception, not actual definable ways in which they differ as a group. For example the categorization of both Chinese philosophy and Dharma religion as "eastern" is most likely purely a result of Buddhism in China. If Buddhism had spread to Europe instead, would we still be counting it as related to Chinese thought? --86.135.181.94 13:15, 6 September 2005 (UTC)

This is good, thanks for engaging in this discussion. My thoughts...You wrote "I think the problem here is not so much what you wrote, but the idea of east vs. west in religion itself." Ok, but if that's the problem the why bother having the article in the first place? The point of the article is to solve the "problem" and discuss and present an approach for comparing east and west. The first thing that needs to happen is to define what East and West are...because it is somewhat arbitrary, but scholars have done it and it works. The next thing to be clear about is that while religions do have an intimate connection with cultures, there is a way of looking at a cultural-religious context through a certain lense, and that's what we try to do. I was using a very common classification of Judaism, Christianity and Islam as the major Western Religions, and Buddhism/Zen, Hinduism, and Taoism as the major Eastern Religions. Even the Buddhism that is not in China, with this nomenclature, would be considered Eastern. Islam is kind of on the fence, but scholars generally agree that the Islamic world (while now occupying a large part of "the East) is a Western religion. If Buddhism spread to Europe (which it has) and America or Africa, it would still be considered Eastern, because this is where it was founded and formed. American Buddhism is clearly a different kind of Buddhism, but we consider it essentially Eastern in its beginnings. I don't consider Buddhism necessarily related to Chinese thought anyway. It fused with Chinese thought later, but a large part of it has never touched Chinese thought...but I would still call it Eastern, because the Buddha lived in present day Nepal which we generally would consider in the East. What I meant when I said that Eastern religions were more feminine, was that if you look at the Big 3, both East and West, you will find evidence of them tended to favor either masculine or feminine language and energies. It is pretty clear that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have pushed the male agenda, and words like "God, the father." tend to give me the impression that this religion (as a Western Religion) favors masculine energies over feminine ones. Taoism in particular as an Eastern religion, emphasizes the feminine in their most famous text, the Tao te Ching. In chapter 6, it says "The heart of Tao is immortal, the mysterious fertile mother of us all." In chapter 28, it says "To know the masculine and yet cleave to the feminine is to be the womb for the world." This is pretty clear to me. What I meant when I said that Eastern religions were less historical was not that they weren't as old, but they they not refer back, in their theology, to actual historical events. For Jews and Christians, there are definite moments in history that inform their theological outlook...the Exodus, the Crucifixion. Also, Western religions, because of their environment are more aware of critical-historical and literary modes of thinking and therefore put more emphasis on sacred texts, and recording events. The East on the other hand, at least theologically, doesn't refer back to any particular events. Instead, these religions are mostly timeless, ahistorical, and apolitical, and they encourage enlightenment here and now. Yes, Hinduism and Buddhism have ideas of rebirth and reincarnation which affect the theology, but they still do not refer to any particular rebirth, or serious political event. Eastern traditions have lacked the necessary critical-historical, and academic tools that the West has developed but this changing now that Asian Studies and Eastern Religions is a popular department in a lot of universities. This still doesn't change the fact that for a very long time historical understanding was not very important for These Eastern religions. Eastern religions are older, or as old as Western traditions, and that's not what I was saying at all. Again, I admit to putting a very rough sketch into the article, but I hope that some of this clarification could lead to a fuller article.

-Jbruce

I'll state right off that I think the East/West taxonomy is amorphous beyond meaning, a European colonialist construction. Comments such as the following seem to confirm its continued utility in this respect and demand answering and consideration in any wikipaedia entry on this subject. Perhaps this article should be geared more toward understanding the (entirely and provably modern) construction of this idea of East and West.
"What I meant when I said that Eastern religions were more feminine, was that if you look at the Big 3, both East and West, you will find evidence of them tended to favor either masculine or feminine language and energies." -Jbruce
Subjective and trite. What on earth is meant by "language and energies"? A cursory examination of the supposed "Eastern" religions finds misogyny ingrained in Vaishnivite Hinduism, Buddhism (extra precepts, anyone?), not to mention patriarchy as absolutely axiomatic to Confucianism. This feminization of the East is a political relic of Max Muller-enabled 19th century imperialism, no matter how much it still appeals to some today.
"The East on the other hand, at least theologically, doesn't refer back to any particular events. Instead, these religions are mostly timeless, ahistorical, and apolitical, and they encourage enlightenment here and now." -Jbruce
I'm sorry, but this is uneducated and bigotted rubbish. This Chicago School drivel can be challenged on every front. First and foremost is that the linear hyperhistoricization in Christian thought is a 19th century phenomenon, later theologically essentialized by Tillich. There are plenty of "timeless" strands in Abrahamic religions' mysticisms. Likewise, divine manifestation in human form and within human time is a _central_ component of many non-Abrahamic religions. Look at the incarnations of Visnu. Take the salvation through dharma and merit of Theravada, often stressed as real because the virgin-born "Buddha walked the earth". Or Daoism, which holds the proper reckoning of time to be essential in religious praxis, records several historical events as theologically fundemental (birth of Taishang Laojun as Li Er, the revelation to Zhang Daoling, numerous ascensions, etc.), and even incorporates several messianic movements. One need only utter the Hindu word "kalpa" to dispell the idea of timelessness and ahistoricity. As for "apolitical", this makes no sense in any human context whatsoever. Of course all religions have political dimensions! It's a rare Buddhist who is so arrogant as to expect enlightenment "here and now"; the VAST majority of Buddhists either engage in the religious politics of merit-making to hope that some other life they MIGHT get enlightenment, or they follow various faith practices so Amitabha can save them by rebirth in a Pureland (where they can hear the dharma and MIGHT get enlightened... someday). And if you'd mention Eliade, I can only again invoke Confucianism as the most ritualistic, literalistic, patriarchal religions ever made which also includes a linear understanding of time with a historical-reification basis (in the era of the wu Di).
"Eastern traditions have lacked the necessary critical-historical, and academic tools that the West has developed but this changing now that Asian Studies and Eastern Religions is a popular department in a lot of universities. This still doesn't change the fact that for a very long time historical understanding was not very important for These Eastern religions."
This is a laughable proclamation, given both the complete irrelevance of modern academic religious studies efforts to most Christian and Muslim faith as well as the AMPLE evidence of critical and comparative religious projects in non-Abrahamic environments. Never heard of Nagarjuna and the Kushan religious debates? Every Mahayana Buddhist has. How about comparitive religion in the 1500 year old Sanjiao He Yi movement, both in Daoist and Confucian contexts? Heck, the entire history of the Sramanas and Nikaya heresies comes down to us from non-Abrahamic religious historians. How did they acquire an interest in such historical items if they were so busy being ahistorical? Regardless, the fact is that virtually no religion, Abrahamic or otherwise, looks like a university department of Religious Studies, neither in theology nor ideology. So stop expecting them to be.
I'm sorry, Jbruce, but the above quotes are about as accurate and trite as the urban myths about Eskimos' thousand words for snow. Sadly, such go far to confirming for me that the primary effect of Religious Studies academia is still skewed in society to reinforce the bigotries of Western (read Christian) exceptionalism and "natural" dominance. An honest analysis of "Eastern and Western" religion can only bear out the fact of its colonialist agenda. The taxonomy is amorphous and politically slanted, utterly USELESS for anything except a remembrance of recent (but now passe) theories of religious Darwinism as used by those seeking to self-justify their cultures' brutal imperialism (ie Karl "Only-A-Nazi-in-Theory" Jung). - AuntyEntity Dec. 3 2006


Reliable sources for the term dharmic religions?[edit]

Where are the reliable sources that use the term dharmic religions in the context of this article? Dharmic religions is a now deleted obscure neologism and should not be used throughout Wikipedia. a good alternative is Indian religions. The number of google scholar results for "Indian religions"+"Indian religion" is (45.600 + 84.200) while it is only (492+475) for "dharmic religions" +"dharmic religion". See Wikipedia:Deletion_review/Log/2007_September_8. Andries 19:21, 9 September 2007 (UTC)