What is "religion"? Watch the video with Karen Armstrong in the "Instructor's Insight" section in

Week 1, and read the textbook materials on the difficulties of trying to define "religion." In light of those materials, what do you think "religion" is? What makes your description better than the alternatives?

week 2

If different Hindus are asked, "How many Gods does Hinduism believe exist?", ANY of the following might (correctly!) be given as an answer — and other correct answers might be given, as well: 3,000,000 300,000 30,000 3000 300 30 3 One None Furthermore, a Hindu who gives one of these answers would ALSO say that ALL the other answers are ALSO correct, although that Hindu would emphasize the superiority of his/her own answer. How is that possible? What does that mean? (Make certain your answer includes the 9th option above.) What do you think you can learn about thinking/talking about the Sacred/"God"/Ultimate Reality from Hindus? What kinds of connections can you identify between their views and yours? (A couple hints as you consider your answer: Brahman is not a God. Brahma is a God.)

week 3

Nirvana" and "Sunyata" Nirvana is NOT a Buddhist term for an "afterlife." In fact, in Buddhism, any desire or hope for an afterlife is viewed as an indication that a person is FAR from "enlightenment." Instead, a desire for an afterlife is a sign of egotism and self-centeredness — the exact opposite of enlightenment. "Sunyata" — a term that is roughly synonymous with Nirvana — means "Nothingness." How — in a Buddhist understanding of Reality — is "Nothingness" the equivalent of "salvation"?

week 4 "Actionless Action (Daosim) and the Practice of Virtue (Confucianism)" Please respond to the following:

•Define wu wei (or actionless action). How is wu wei different from simply being passive and non-decisive? How might wu wei be practical in our daily lives in the West. Provide a rationale for your response.

•Name and define at least 3 Confucian virtues. How might we incorporate such virtues into our lives today to create a better society?
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