The Spiritual Life is an interfaith web-based community that celebrates and honors the many paths to God. We are dedicated to teaching and expressing a positive and practical approach to life. Our beliefs are in harmony with the basic tenets of the world’s most popular religions and spiritual traditions. As a loving and supportive spiritual community we encourage each person to pray regularly, think clearly, feel openly, and love expansively.

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Soka Gakkai flag

Soka Gakkai

Soka Gakkai Soka Gakkai (創価学会, Sōka Gakkai, “Value-Creation Society”) is a Japanese Buddhist religious movement based on the teachings of the 13th-century Japanese priest Nichiren as taught by its first three presidents Tsunesaburō Makiguchi, Jōsei Toda, and Daisaku Ikeda. It is the largest of the Japanese new religions and claims the largest membership among Nichiren Buddhist groups. “The organization bases its teachings...

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Man Between Fall and Ascension

Man Between Fall and Ascension This article covers the relationship of man between fall and ascension. Ibn Sina, called Avicenna in the West, summarizes man’s earthly life in his poem on the human soul as follows: It descended upon thee from out of the regions above, That exalted, ineffable, glorious,...

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Satipatthana

Satipatthana Satipatthana (Satipaṭṭhāna; smṛtyupasthāna) is an important Buddhist term which means “the establishment of mindfulness“ or “presence of mindfulness,” or alternatively “foundations of mindfulness,” aiding the development of a wholesome state of mind. In the Buddhist tradition, especially Theravada Buddhism, applying mindful attention to four domains, the body, feelings, the mind,...

Kamakura Daibutsu of Kōtoku-in temple in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan

Shingon Buddhism

Shingon Buddhism Shingon Buddhism (真言宗, Shingon-shū) is one of the major schools of Buddhism in Japan and one of the few surviving Vajrayana lineages in East Asia, originally spread from India to China through traveling monks such as Vajrabodhi and Amoghavajra. Known in Chinese as the Tangmi (唐密; the Esoteric School in Tang Dynasty of China), these esoteric teachings would later flourish in...

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Religious Nationalism

Religious Nationalism Religious nationalism is the relationship of nationalism to a particular religious belief, dogma, or affiliation. This relationship can be broken down into two aspects: the politicisation of religion and the influence of religion on politics. In the former aspect, a shared religion can be seen to contribute to a sense of national unity, a common bond among...

A Buddhist painting displaying Impermanence

Impermanence

Impermanence Impermanence, also known as the philosophical problem of change, is a philosophical concept addressed in a variety of religions and philosophies. In Eastern philosophy it is notable for its role in the Buddhist three marks of existence. It is also an element of Hinduism. In Western philosophy, it is most famously known through its first appearance in Greek philosophy in the writings of Heraclitus and in...

Mahatma Gandhi visiting Madras (now Chennai) in 1933 on an India-wide tour for Dalit (he used Harijan) causes. His writings, and speeches during such tours, discussed the discriminated-against castes of India.

Caste System In India

Caste System In India The caste system in India is the paradigmatic ethnographic example of caste. It has its origins in ancient India and was transformed by various ruling elites in medieval, early-modern, and modern India, especially the Mughal Empire and the British Raj. It is today the basis of affirmative action programmes in India. The caste system consists...

Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda Swami Vivekananda (12 January 1863 – 4 July 1902), born Narendranath Datta, was an Indian Hindu monk, philosopher, and author. He was a chief disciple of the 19th-century Indian mystic Ramakrishna. Influenced by Western esotericism, he was a key figure in the introduction of the Indian darsanas (teachings, practices) of Vedanta...

Murti of Shankara at the SAT Temple in Santa Cruz, California

Adi Shankara

Adi Shankara Adi Shankara (8th cent. CE), also called Adi Shankaracharya (आदि शङ्कर, आदि शङ्कराचार्य, Ādi Śaṅkarācāryaḥ, ‘First Shankara’), was an Indian Vedic scholar and teacher (acharya), whose works present a harmonizing reading of the sastras, with liberating knowledge of the self at its core, synthesizing the Advaita Vedanta teachings of his time. Due to his later fame,...

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Mimamsa

Mimamsa or Mīmāṃsā Mimamsa or Mīmāṁsā (मीमांसा) is a Sanskrit word that means “reflection“ or “critical investigation” and thus refers to a tradition of contemplation which reflected on the meanings of certain Vedic texts. This tradition is also known as Pūrva-Mīmāṁsā because of its focus on the earlier (pūrva) Vedic texts dealing with ritual actions, and...

Hinduism and Judaism

Hinduism And Judaism

Hinduism And Judaism Hinduism and Judaism are among the oldest existing religions in the world, although Judaism came much later. The two share some similarities and interactions throughout both the ancient and modern worlds. Theological similarities Scholarly efforts to compare Hinduism and Judaism were popular during the Enlightenment era, in the process of arguing the deistic worldview. Hananya Goodman states that Hinduism...

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Samskara

Samskara (rite of passage) Samskara (saṃskāra or samskara) are rites of passage in a human being’s life described in ancient Sanskrit texts, as well as a concept in the karma theory of Indian philosophies. The word literally means “putting together, making perfect, getting ready, to prepare”, or “a sacred or sanctifying ceremony” in ancient...

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What Is Hinduism?

What Is Hinduism? Hinduism, known as Sanātana Dharma, (सनातन धर्म) and Vaidika-Dharma by most Hindus, is a worldwide religious tradition rooted in Indian culture and based on the teachings of the Vedas. Hinduism is the third largest religion, with a following of over one billion people, encompassing many diverse beliefs and schools. The scholarly estimates...

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Sanatana Dharma

Sanatana Dharma Sanatana Dharma or Sanātana Dharma (सनातन धर्म, meaning “eternal dharma“, “eternal order“) is an endonym used by scholars to refer to Hinduism. It refers to the “eternal” truth and teachings of Hinduism. It can also be translated as “the natural and eternal way to live”. The term is used in Indian...

Praying at the feet of a statue of Bahubali

What Is Jainism?

What Is Jainism? Jainism, traditionally known as Jain Dharma, is a dharmic religion with its origins in the prehistory of India, still practiced today by several million people. Jainism has as its religious ideal the perfection of man’s nature. The universe is seen as being eternal—having no beginning and no end—precluding God from being...

Guru Gobind Singh's birthplace in Patna, Bihar.

Guru Gobind Singh

Guru Gobind Singh Guru Gobind Singh (22 December 1666 – 7 October 1708), born Gobind Das or Gobind Rai was the tenth Sikh Guru, a spiritual master, warrior, poet, and philosopher. When his father, Guru Tegh Bahadur, was executed by Aurangzeb, Guru Gobind Singh was formally installed as the leader of the Sikhs at the age of nine, becoming the tenth and...

Folios from a Janamsakhi published in the 19th century, now at Asian Art Museum San Francisco.

Janamsakhis

Janamsakhis The Janamsakhis (ਜਨਮਸਾਖੀ, Janam-sākhī, lit. birth stories), are legendary biographies of Guru Nanak – the founder of Sikhism. Popular in Sikh history, these texts are considered by scholars as imaginary hagiographies of his life story, full of miracles and travels, built on a Sikh oral tradition and some historical facts. The first Janamsakhis were composed between 50...

Udasis protected many Sikh Gurdwaras in the 18th century, managed them in the 19th century. They built simple shrines far from Punjab. Above: an Udasi shrine in Nepal.

Sects Of Sikhism

Sects Of Sikhism Sects of Sikhism or Sub-traditions, also known as Samparda in Punjabi language are sub-traditions within Sikhism that believe in different approaches to practicing the religion. While all sampradas believe in Waheguru and one creator, do not believe in idol worship or caste system, different interpretation have emerged over time, some of...

Pedigree of Sikh Gurus

Sikh Gurus

Sikh Gurus The Sikh Gurus (ਸਿੱਖ ਗੁਰੂ) are the spiritual masters of Sikhism, who established this religion over the course of about two and a half centuries, beginning in 1469. The year 1469 marks the birth of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. He was succeeded by nine other gurus until, in...

A page from a Janamsakhi manuscript with the story about Guru Nanak at a school.

Singh Sabha Movement

Singh Sabha Movement The Singh Sabha Movement was a Sikh movement that began in Punjab in the 1870s in reaction to the proselytising activities of Christians, Hindu reform movements (Brahmo Samajis, Arya Samaj) and Muslims (Aligarh movement and Ahmadiyah). The movement was founded in an era when the Sikh Empire had been dissolved and annexed by the British, the Khalsa had lost its prestige,...