InstructionsThese 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 2-3 pages (double spaced) 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. Does this change anything for you? If so, how? Don’t be afraid to experiment with ideas.


(Write about 2 of the 4 questions below, OR, you may write about two of your own questions, from the chapter on Hinduism, that were of particular interest to you.)

1. How does Hinduism view human nature and what is the human condition? What prevents human beings from realizing moksha? How does Hinduism view the Self (Atman)?

2. What are the four stages of life in Hinduism and what desires or needs are associated with each stage? (see p.68). Can you identify, in a general sense, with these stages? Do you feel you have passed through one or more of them during the course of your life thus far?

3. Clearly explain the four aims of life, KamaArthaDharma and Moksha (see p. 78). How might the character Gilgamesh (from last week’s lecture) fall into these four categories?

4. What are the three different paths or means of achieving liberation according to Hinduism (see pp. 78-82)? Which path, do you think, fits you and your personality best and why?

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