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Instructions: These 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 and other assigned materials.  Essays must be submitted on Canvas and should be a minimum of 1000-1200 words in length.  Make sure you include references (direct quotations and paraphrasing) from William Young’s text.  If you cite a source other than our class textbook, 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.

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Answer 3 out of the 4 questions below:

  1. What is the human predicament, or problem, according to Confucianism?  How do we, as humans, move towards perfect harmony, both individually, and within society? Do you agree with the Confucian idea that individual perfection can only be achieved within a community?  In your own life, how have your relationships with family or friends positively or negatively impacted your own internal growth as an individual?
  2. In the Confucian Analects, there is the following saying: “The Master said, ‘Enough! I have yet to see anyone who can recognize his own errors and bring charges against himself within.’”  What does this suggest about the difficulty of true self-examination?  What does it suggest about the difficulty of seeing the negative aspects of ourselves without flinching, or looking away?
  3. What is the meaning of Dao?  How does Daoism view human nature?  What is the human predicament, or problem, according to Daoist teachings, and how do we, as humans, achieve harmony with the Dao?
  4. The Daoist philosopher Zhuangzi was reported to have asked, “Where can I find a man who has forgotten words?  I would like to have a word with him.”  Based on your reading of Young’s chapter on Daoism, what do you think Zhuangzi meant by this?  How does this saying reflect Daoist philosophy of life?

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