1. Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world!
After Christianity, Islamism and Hinduism, Buddhism has over 360 million followers! The largest populations of Buddhist populations are in China, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar.
2. Buddha isn’t actually a god.
Although he’s in many statues, Buddha himself explicitly denied he was a god. Instead, he’s a role model for study and learning for other practitioners of Buddhism.
3. There is not “one” way to practice Buddhism.
Even though it is listed as one religion, there is no official Buddhism. Everyone practices in a different way. Some involve a higher power, others not. The Dalai Lama is only the leader of the Tibetan Buddhists, and considered a leader of the Gelug School.
4. There is also more than one Buddha.
There are many different perceptions of Buddha, and many different corresponding statues to go along with them. There is the “fat” Buddha from Chinese folktales, also called the Laughing Buddha. There is also another depiction of Buddha in Thailand, India and Korea, and he is quite skinny.
5. If you’re curious about Buddhism, start with being mindful.
Buddhism focuses on the art of being aware in each moment. This is achieved through meditation, breathing practice, and thinking about the “four noble truths”
dukkha - That all forms of being, human and otherwise, are afflicted with suffering.(the truth of suffering)
samudaya - That the cause of this suffering is craving. (the truth of the cause of suffering)
nirhodha - That this suffering has a lasting end is the complete letting go of attachment.(the truth of the end of suffering)
magga - That this Enlightenment is achieved through the Eightfold Path. (the truth of the path that frees us from suffering)
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you along with everyone else are looking at the upcoming German elections with some amount of trepidation. Chancellor Angela Merkel is running for her fourth term and the leadership of Europe has never been more important. Together, the European Union is the largest trading bloc in the world. In other words, the moral cohesion of that union is in a large part, dependent on who takes the lead. That in turn, can influence where the world will look to for leadership.
Germany and Chancellor Merkel have been the driving force behind Europe’s stance towards taking in refugees from the war-torn countries of Syria, Libya and many other countries facing economic stagnation. She also stands in direct opposition to the more autocratic tendencies of American President Trump and Russian President Putin.
But the German election isn’t about a battle of two parties or two personalities. The German elections instead are parliamentary. German citizens will vote for parties rather than individuals. That means each party, whether it be the Christian Democrat Union (CDU - Merkel), the Social Democrats (SD - Schulz), or smaller parties like the far right populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) must win —and then a coalition must be formed.
Remember Volkswagen and the Emissions Scandal? It Might Make a Comeback.
The automotive industry is hugely important to the German economy, but in 2015 investigations showed that Volkswagen was cheating its emissions tests. This has brought concerns to European citizens about whether diesel is safe from an emissions standpoint. The European Commission is bringing a case against Germany for not enforcing clean air regulations. German politicians have a history of working to keep emission regulations lower in order to keep the exports of German cars high. In this last election, Daimler contributed around 100,000 euros each to Chancellor Merkel’s CDU party and the Social Democrats.
Merkel is facing a challenge from Social Democrat Martin Schulz
The largest challenger that Merkel faces is from the Social Democrats. Smaller parties like the Left or the Greens poll just under 10 percent. In the only televised debate, Merkel and Schulz argued about Germany’s relationship with Turkey and the refugee policies that Merkel’s CDU coalition government has adopted. However, Merkel stayed strong on her policy of allowing around one million migrants to enter Germany in 2015. She also agreed that Turkey’s actions do not merit entrance into the European Union.
Hacking Hasn’t Yet Struck Germany
Like in the French and American elections, German officials are on the lookout for leaks and hacking attempts to influence their elections. As of yet, this has not played a role in voting.
The Vote is On September 24
Germans head to the polls on September 24 to decide if they are comfortable with their leadership role in Europe. What do you expect will happen? Will Chancellor Merkel remain in power, will the power shift to parties with more conservative stances on refugees?
PC: Merkel gegen Schulz - Duell auf Augenhöhe? - Politik, from: bundesdeutsche-zeitung.de
DID YOU KNOW THAT . . .
1. Muslim ≠ Arab?
Only 20% of Muslims are Arabs! The supermajority (or 60 percent or so) come from the Asia-Pacific region. – Pew Research
2. Not only is Jesus is mentioned five times more in the Quran than Mohammed is, but Jesus is also the most mentioned person in the Quran? - Wikipedia
3. Wearing a veil is not required in Islam?
Instead, it is more of a custom, depending on where you live. In Saudi Arabia and Iran, it is required; however, there are actually more Muslim countries that outright ban the wearing of the veils than there are that require them. – The New Encyclopedia of Islam
4. “Science and math as we know it wouldn't even exist without Islam?"
"The Islamic Golden Age caused a revolution in virtually every field of human thought, during which they invented algebra -- and advanced everything from geography and exploration to the arts, architecture, philosophy, urban development, medicine and health” – Cracked.
5. The Founding Fathers of the United States and Islam go way back?
For example, Thomas Jefferson, owned a copy of the Quran, with which he taught himself Arabic. He also hosted the first White House Iftar during Ramadan (Journey into America). Not only that, but Sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah of Morocco was the first world figure to recognize the independence of the United States of America from Great Britain in 1777 (Cracked).
NOW YOU KNOW!
1. Did you know that Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world?
The origins of Hinduism date back to 2300 – 1500 BCE – that’s up to over 4,000 years ago! (CNN)
2. The word "Hindu" derives from the name of the River Indus, which flows through northern India. (Thought Co).
3. Unlike many religions, Hinduism does not have a founder.
It grew out of cultural and religious changes in India. (CNN)
4. Hinduism is the 3rd largest religion in the world, after Christianity and Islam. (CNN).
5. Hinduism teaches reincarnation - the belief that all living organisms continue eternally in cycles of birth, death, and rebirth. This is where the term you’ve all heard – Karma- comes into play. Hindus believe that existence of this cycle is governed by Karma.
6. So what exactly is Karma?
Karma is the belief that all of life is governed by a system of cause and effect, action and reaction, in which one's deeds have corresponding effects on the future. Once the weight of all bad karma is removed, the karmic wheel of reincarnation ceases to turn, and the soul (Atman) is released and the seeker is reunited with Brahman, or the supreme existence or absolute reality – thereby achieving the goal of Moksha - the release of the Atman from the cycle of rebirth. (Religion Facts).
7. Contrary to popular belief, Hindus actually only believe in one God – Brahman.
Brahman is the eternal origin who is the cause and foundation of all existence. The other gods of the Hindu faith represent different forms of Brahman. The 3 most important Hindu gods (forms of Brahman) are: Brahma (Creator), Vishnu (Preserver), Shiva (Destroyer) (BBC).
8. Hindus can worship both male and female gods.
However, they also believe that the ultimate divine energy exists beyond these descriptions and categories – that the divine soul is present and active in all living things. Therefore, all living creatures are important to Hindus, especially cows.
9. A common misconception is that Hindus worship cows. They don’t.
“We respect, honor and adore the cow. By honoring this gentle animal, who gives more than she takes, we honor all creatures.” Hindus consider cows to be sacred, for they provide humans with life sustaining milk. To the Hindu, the cow symbolizes all other creatures. The cow is a symbol of the Earth, the nourisher, the ever-giving, undemanding provider. (NHSF).
10. Following up with #8 and # 9, most forms of Hinduism include the practice of vegetarianism.
The primary reason is the practice of ahimsa (nonviolence), which forbids violent actions against animals. (UUA).
11. Hindus do not usually proselytize (attempt to convert others to their religion). (CliffNotes).
12. Like Judaism, the Hindu place of communal worship is called a Temple.
13. In Hinduism, the dead are cremated.
It is believed that this will help their soul to escape quickly from the body. (BBC).
14. Like in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, pilgrimages are an important aspect of Hinduism. (Brittanica).
Popular pilgrimage sites are often located in spots of great natural beauty thought to be pleasing to deities as well as humans. Many are located within India.
15. It is no secret that yoga came out of India. However, did you know that the word Yoga first appears in the Vedas (sacred Hindu Script)?
In Hinduism, there are four paths or yogas that a Hindu can take to achieve Moksha. They are the paths of: Knowledge (Jnana-Yoga), Meditation (Dhyana-yoga), Devotion (Bhakti-yoga), and Good Works (Karma-yoga). (Sivananda Yoga).
NOW YOU KNOW!
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