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Understanding World Religions

Religion is the driving force behind much of what happens in the world today -- particularly when it comes to the "big three" religions -- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Religious differences have and continue to spark wars, create nations, and spawn ongoing conflict down through the centuries. No matter what religion you adhere to (or even if you claim that you don't adhere to any religion at all), you need to have a basic understanding of the world's religions in order to understand what is happening in the world today so that you can be better informed and a more useful citizen of your nation and of the world. Without some knowledge of religion, you will not understand the underpinnings of what is happening in an increasingly global society.
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Jul 29, 2015

Our quote for today is from Buddha. He said, "There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting."

In this podcast, we are making our way through Garry R. Morgan's book, "Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day."

Our Understanding World Religions topic for today is, "Tibetan Buddhism" 

Tibetan Buddhism may be best known in the West because of the international popularity of its leader, Tenzin Gyatso, the current Dalai Lama. Tibetan Buddhist monks are called lamas, meaning "superior ones." There are two orders of lamas, which the West labels the Red Hats and the Yellow Hats. The Yellow Hats are the larger group and their leader is the Dalai Lama. 

Buddhist missionaries entered Tibet from both India and China in the seventh century AD, at the Tibetan king's invitation. The new religion was quickly adopted and had government support. By the fourteenth century, the monks had become so powerful they took over rule and held it until the 1950 Chinese invasion. At this time, the current Dalai Lama and many followers escaped to India, where they currently live in exile. Unlike his predecessors, Tenzin Gyatso has traveled widely as a spokesman for human rights and international harmony. In 1989, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for peace. 

When a Dalai Lama dies, monks thoroughly search Tibet, checking all boys born within a certain date range to see which might have the traits of the deceased leader. Further tests and divination will be carried out to select which child is the reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lama. Then he will be taken to a monastery and given years of special training to prepare him to take over leadership of the Tibetan community. The death of this Dalai Lama will produce a special challenge, since the Tibetan community is now scattered around the globe and a search of Tibet would be hindered or forbidden by the Chinese authorities. Also, the Chinese government has said China will choose the next Dalai Lama, which most Tibetans are sure to reject. Sadly, the effort to replace a Dalai Lama noted for peace efforts may be marred by violence. 

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