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Philosophical Concepts in Buddhism and Zenism

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1. Can a religion exist without a belief in the direct relevance of God or gods? If so, how would this kind of religion differ from one in which the deity is important?

2. To what extent are religions simply systematic responses to the problem of pain and suffering? What other problems or realities do religious impulses address?

3. The concept of enlightenment is very significant in Buddhism. How has this word been used in the West and what does it mean today?

4. What is the sound of one hand clapping? What did you look like before you were born? What is your original face?

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Solution Summary

This solution is comprised of answers to particular questions on the direct relevance of God or gods, the problem of pain and suffering, what enlightenment means for today, as well as responses on Zen concepts on the sound of one hand clapping, what we looked like before we were born, and what was our original face.

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1. Before examining whether a religion can exist without a belief in the direct relevance of God or gods, examine first what "religion" is. You will find varying "definitions," however, it would be beneficial for you to examine the "traits" of religion. For example, "religion," in different parts of the world, includes sociological, psychological, and historical factors primarily based on culture (or cultural norms) which tends to form ones belief system/spirituality. In light of the above, you will be able to expose the direct relevance of God or gods in the religion that you are examining.

One interesting fact that I found from my own research is that some atheist scholars are also very thorough in articulating "religion." A belief system incorporates factors that can and cannot be based on a deity. Religious beliefs and belief systems are guided by attitude and again, cultural norms. In my travels, I have observed that even the three major religions change slightly in their preaching and teachings according to the country/culture it is being exercised in.

When examining the differences between a religion without a deity and one with a deity, it would be important to examine the origination of the said religion or belief system. The origins of Buddhism derive from the teachings of one man. The teachings of this one man were not likely labelled "Buddhism" while he was teaching. This man was revered as an enlightened teacher. You ...

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