(Last updated November 8th, 1998)
At around the end of the first week of June 1998, I started to send out a questionnaire to as many religious organisations and philosophies as I could find contact information for in my local library. In the end, this amounted to just over fifty different faiths and philosophies that have at least one official representative in Great Britain and Ireland. My thanks go out to those who took the time to reply. I asked the following three questions:
1) By what name does your faith/philosophy/organisation prefer to be known?
2) What are your views on the following:
3) Do you have an "official" website where further information can be found? If not, then can I publish the E-Mail address of an individual/organisation that can be contacted for more info.? If neither, then a normal mailing address will suffice.
There now follows an alphabetical list of the replies I have received so far. (Some organisations have replied, but declined to take part in the survey - those who did so, but provided a web address will be listed at the end.)
2a) "The Buddha was not interested in discussing unnecessary metaphysical questions which are purely speculative and which create imaginary problems." When Malunkyaputta, one of his followers, demanded the answers to ten metaphysical problems relating to the nature of the Universe, the Buddha's reply was summed up by "...if anyone says: 'I will not lead the holy life under the Blessed One until he explains these questions,' he may die with these questions unanswered by the Tathagata.". The Buddha goes on to say that he has deliberately not explained these things "Because it is not useful, it is not fundamentally connected with the spiritual holy life, is not conducive to aversion, detachment, cessation, tranquility, deep penetration, full realisation, Nirvana." (*)
2b) 'We' are here from a Buddhist perspective because of the proximate cause or condition of ignorance (avijja). Ignorance as to the true (underlying) nature of life produces 'dukkha' (dissatisfaction, unhappiness etc.) and rebecoming (bhava) until such time as we begin to see things anew and to understand the 'laws' by which things proceed. Seeing things thus with wisdom generates compassion and compassion necessarily involves us in the sufferings of mankind and indeed all living things.
2c) "...according to the karma theory, the effects of a volitional action may continue to manifest themselves even in a life after death ... We have seen earlier that a being is nothing but a combination of physical and mental forces or energies. What we call death is the total non-functioning of the physical body. Do all these forces and energies stop altogether (at death)? ... Will, volition, desire to exist ... is the greatest force, the greatest energy in the world. According to Buddhism this force does not stop (with death); but it continues ... in another form, producing re-existence which is called rebirth ... As long as there is this 'thirst' to be and to become, the cycle of continuity (samsara) goes on. It can only stop when its driving force, this 'thirst', is cut off through wisdom which sees Reality, Truth, Nirvana." (*)
(* Information extracted from "What the Buddha Taught", by Walpola Sri Rahula, ISBN 1-85168-142-6)
The Buddhist Society
Contact address = 58 Eccleston Square, London SW1V 1PH
2a) (No information supplied)
2b) "I believe that sins committed can only be rectified by the sinner himself or herself, through the redemptive power of Jesus Christ, by repentance and service to others."" (*TGWBaP, section 8) "The practical aspect of Christian Spiritualism - in caring for the sick and deprived - as shown in the past throughout the Movement, helped to create a strong foundation ... Spiritual Healing is one of the practical ways in which Christian Spiritualists endeavour to follow the behest of the Master, who said: 'Go forth and do likewise'." (From "What Is Christian Spiritualism?" by Annette Clifton)
2c) "I believe in the survival of the human soul and its individuality after physical death" (*TGWBaP, section 4) "I believe in the Communion with God, with His Angelic Ministers, and with the soul functioning in conditions other than the earth life." (*TGWBaP, s.5) "I believe that all forms of life created by God intermingle, are interdependent, and evolve until perfection is attained." (*TGWBaP, s.6)
(* TGWBaP = 'The Greater World Belief and Pledge')
The Greater World Christian Spiritualist Association
E-Mail contact = firstname.lastname@example.org
2a) "The shape of the universe resembles the figure of a man standing with his feet apart. This is a three-dimensional shape. The central, cylindrical part is the home or abode of all 'mobile' life. The top part of the universe is the home or abode of liberated souls and is called siddhashila. Below the siddhashila lies the abode of celestial beings. Humans and animals live in the central hemisphere, at the centre of which is a mountain called Meru. The lower part is inhabited by hellish beings."* … "According to the Jain literature this universe is always in existence and will exist forever. (in one form or the other). There is no divine force behind this. Every matter has it’s own quality and this quality will undergo innumerable changes."* … "Jainism says that everything that happens is governed by physics and mathematics. Things take place because every matter, atom or minute particle (be it a million times smaller than the atom) has the quality of transformation. Man's own thoughts are also made up of karma particles which change man's density."*
2b) Jains are expected to live by five vows: Ahimsa (Not to cause injury to any living being), Satya (Speaking the truth), Asteya (Refraining from theft), Brahmacharya (Refraining from any wrongful sexual activities) and Aparigraha (Limiting one's possessions). Their motto is "Ahimsa paramo dharma" ("Non-violence is the supreme religion") "Non-violence, self control and penance are necessary to shed Karma particles (This is right conduct)"*
2c) "We enter in to the cycle of births and deaths because of our Karma which also decides higher or lower forms of existence. Total destruction of all the Karma is possible. When the soul is clear of all the Karma it becomes 'liberated soul', in other words it attains Moksha or Nirvana"*
(* Extracts from 'JAINISM And…' by Vinod Kapashi)
Contact address = Vinod Kapashi, 11 Lindsay Drive, Kenton, Middlesex HA3 0TA, United Kingdom
The Pagan Federation
2) "The P.F. represents many different native religions which get grouped together under Paganism eg Wicca, Druidism, Asatru, Shamanism etc. We therefore have no written or agreed creed between us, and there are wide differences between individuals on a similar path."
The Pagan Federation
Website = http://www.paganfed.demon.co.uk
E-Mail contact = Secretary@paganfed.demon.co.uk
2) "Unitarians are not bound by a creed. Every person is expected to make up his or her own mind on religious questions through the exercise of reason and by listening to his or her conscience. It is not possible therefore to give answers … as different Unitarians will say different things, based on their view."
The General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches
Website = http://www.unitarian.org.uk
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
2a) We are concerned only with the Earth upon which we live. Under the direction of God the Father, Jesus Christ created the Earth out of unorganised matter. We believe this planet was not the first nor the last to be so created.
2b) Having come to this Earth from a world of spirit in order to gain a mortal body and be tested, we believe that men will be punished for their own sins and not for Adam's transgression in the Garden of Eden. But that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
2c) At death, the spirit leaves the body, the righteous to live in paradise to await Christ's Second Coming and their own resurrection. Following the ensuing Millennium, will come the final Judgement Day when all will be assigned a place according to their works.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Website = http://www.lds.org
The Bahá’i Community of the United Kingdom
2a) The universe is part of God's creation. God being Himself eternal and uncreated, the universe itself has always existed in some form. As far as our human comprehension is concerned, the universe is a physical entity whose nature is being gradually revealed by astronomical and scientific study. However, as stated, it is itself only part of creation.
2b) Humankind is created to know, love, and worship God. Part of this knowledge involves developing the positive qualities of love, fellowship, care for others, honesty, devotion etc. The obligations that fall upon humankind are to recognise this, and to put it into action, not least through service to others.
2c) After death the individual proceeds to the next stage of his/her spiritual development, in which he or she will make use of the positive qualities developed in this life. There is no reincarnation. Judgement will consist in awareness of the good and evil done in this life.
The Bahá’i Faith
Website = http://www.bahai.org
Share International (Esotericism)
2a) Esotericism postulates that God is the sum total of all the laws, and all the energies governed by these laws, which make up everything in the manifested and unmanifested universe - all that we see and cannot see. Man, in turn, is a spark of God, a spirit expressing itself through its Soul (or higher Self) and a personality, which is composed of the mental, emotional, and physical bodies. (*)
2b) An individual who takes the fifth (resurrection) initiation is called a 'Master', meaning that he has passed through all the experiences that life in this world offers and, in the process, has aquired total mastery over himself...The Masters, together forming the spiritual Heirachy, are the custodians of the Divine Plan for this planet. (*)
2c) Life after life, the Law of Cause and Effect (or 'karma') draws the soul back into incarnation until, gradually, the individual is able to express his or her innate divinity. The stages of this progressive self-mastery are known as 'Initiations'. (*)
(* Taken from the article "Esoteric Philosophy...in brief", published in "The Emergence", the newsletter of Share International.)
Website = http://www.shareintl.org
Family Federation for World Peace and Unification
2a) The Universe (a phenomenal being) was created by God (a causal being) in periods of time. Science has to discover how the Universe came into being. The material aspect of the Universe is the Corporeal World. It corresponds to man's physical body and follows physical laws. The non-material aspect of the Universe is the Incorporeal World. It corresponds to man's spiritual body and follows spiritual laws. The Universe (all things) is to be the object of man's true love.
2b) Man & woman (phenomenal beings) have a distinct design/form. Since purpose determines design/form we conclude that mankind serves a purpose - namely to be the object of God's true love. While growing from babies to adults Adam & Eve needed to obey God's commandments, thus fulfilling human responsibility. As a true couple, raising true children, they should have become True Parents, thus fulfilling God's Ideal of True Love. God's providence of restoration (His work of salvation) is to recover what was lost by Adam & Eve.
2c) After death men judge themselves according to what they have done on earth. In order to grow spiritually after death (resurrect) they must co-operate with men on earth. This is the reason why Jesus said that John the Baptist is Elijah (Mt 17:4,13).
2a) Allah (i.e. God) created the universe. He commanded 'Be!' and it came into being.
2b) The purpose of mankind is to 'worship' Allah; this means doing as He commanded, avoiding what He has forbidden, living our lives in the manner He has shown us through His final prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him).
2c) After death, our souls will remain in our graves until the Day of Resurrection. This is followed by the Day of Judgement: the successful will spend eternity in Heaven, the unsuccessful will remain forever in Hell.
(for information on the relationship of Islam to the paranormal, the Muslim Educational Trust recommend the book "Exorcist Tradition in Islam" by Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, as the most reliable and recent work in English on the subject.)
The World Zoroastrian Organisation
2a) Ahura Mazda (God) informs Prophet Zarathushtra "It is through My Spiritual Power and through My Thought, through which Life comes forth so that Creation's purpose be fulfilled." To understand the nature of the Universe, man must understand that there are innumerable planets and solar systems in infinite cosmic space where life exists in a wide range of forms. Life is a form of cosmic energy which will always appear whenever favourable conditions exist.
2b) Prophet Zarathushtra enjoins mankind to work together with the Eternal Spirit of God in spreading and maintaining the Kingdom of Righteousness against all attacks of evil. This ideal gives mankind its place as collaborators with God in distributing His Blessings over the world. It is obligatory for mankind to lead a life of good thoughts, good words and good deeds, practice Unity in Diversity, help the poor, perform industrious deeds, struggle against all temptations and handicaps of life and have absolute faith in God's decrees in weal and woe.
2c) In Zoroastrian Eschatology, there is no mention of re-incarnation. The doctrine of reward and punishment in this life stretches onwards into next. Man is his own saviour; he makes his own heaven or hell. In after-life, they are not locations but best and worst mental states, but there is no eternal damnation. After a period of punishment and rewards, eternal joy shall reign forever.
The World Zoroastrian Organisation
135 Tennison Road, South Norwood, London SE25 5NF
The Church of Christ
2a) God created the universe and all things therein. (Genesis 1-2; Romans 1:18-32; Psalm 19:1-6; Job 12:7-9)
2b) Here to praise God; must obey His will. (Ecclesiastics 12:1,13-14; Matthew 7:21-23)
2c) Judgment, eternal condemnation or eternal blessedness. (2 Thess.1:6-10 Forafter all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed-- for our testimony to you was believed.)
The Church of Christ
Other web addresses supplied:
Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania - http://www.watchtower.org