Religion, the Spiritual Journey, and the Five Stages of the Soul
Instructions: These reflection papers are a chance for you to think through and relate to the assigned readings in your own way. Think of this paper as a kind of “journal” in which you reflect on the ideas in the readings. The study and practice of religion is a highly personal experience and each person comes to the Qur’an, the Bible, the Bhagavad-Gita or any other religious text in his or her own way. Therefore, you are encouraged to be creative and to write about your own personal experiences, relating them to the faith practices and wisdom traditions we will be studying this semester. However, be aware that creativity and chaos are not synonymous—in other words, you need to make sure the ideas and thoughts expressed in your paper are coherent and understandable, and most importantly, that they directly relate to the readings. Essays must be typed in 12-point font and should be 500 words in length. When you cite a source, be sure to include the title of the book and page number. If you cite a source other than our class textbooks, include a bibliography at the end of the paper.
Some of you may be very familiar with one particular religion we are discussing this semester. If this applies to you, try (if only for the short period of weeks we are in this class together) to look at your own religion with “new eyes.” For example, if you are a Christian, try to consider how a Buddhist might see your religion. If you an Atheist, try considering life from a Muslim’s perspective. Don’t be afraid to experiment with ideas.
Prompt: (Please address/reflect on ALL questions from both sections in your essay)
1.) Drawing on Young’s discussion in chapter 1 of The World’s Religions, discuss how religion has been understood and described. How would you define or describe religion or the sacred? If you consider yourself a religious person, what aspects of your religion hold the most meaning for you? Why? If you don’t consider yourself religious, are there other ways that you connect to the sacred? Finally, if you don’t connect with any religious tradition, or any sense of the spiritual or sacred, how then do you view religion or spirituality?
2.) Consider the story “The Hymn of the Pearl,” cited by Moody in The Five Stages of the Soul (p. 59). Why does he tell this story? What does this story suggest about the human being’s tendency to forget his or her divine nature? How does the story relate to the stage of the Call? Do you identify with this story? Have you ever experienced what Moody refers to as “the Call?” Please explain.
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