Tutor profile: Alex O.
If Buddhism and Catholicism are both such popular and enduring global religions, how can they be so different?
It might help to break this question down into some simpler, more parsable questions. How different are these religions? In what ways are they similar? What aspects of each religion are useful to examine for this question? How does the religion function in the practitioner? Who are the subjects of each religion and what do the relationships between entities look like? So, how different are they? Pretty different! Different gods, myths, practices, holy sites, teachings/texts, attire, music, ritual ceremonies, and education processes. Cosmetic, aesthetic, and practical differences between these two religions are plentiful, so I think it will be more exciting to explore the ways in which they are similar. And perhaps we can examine one way that they are fundamentally different, aside from the ways listed above which I consider to be more indicative of form rather than essential function. Buddhist meditation and Catholic confession can be seen as exemplifying practices for their respective religions. Contained in each is the full palate of beliefs, practices, and dynamics between practitioner and deity. Both of these practices are common, essential, and transformational in their respective religions. By examining the nature of each practice, we can see more clearly how Buddhism and Catholicism are the same and how they differ. The principal functions and activities in both Buddhist Meditation and Catholic confession are forgiveness and acceptance. The instruction to a Buddhist meditator is to unconditionally accept whatever sensations and feelings arise during a Zazen (Japanese term for Zen Buddhist meditation). Implied here is the noticing of all sensations and feelings. Notice, accept, heal. It is easy to notice and accept pleasant feelings and sensations. The important and difficult practice is noticing, accepting, and forgiving unpleasant ones. In Catholic confession, the worshipper will confess "sins" to a priest. What are sins? Could they be looked at as actions which are judged negatively by both ourselves and our community? They are actions whose personal, internal consequences manifest themselves as unpleasant, festering, or lingering. Upon confession of these sins, a Catholic worshipper is forgiven and accepted by God. So the functions of these two activities are similar. Noticing, accepting, and forgiving. The difference between Buddhism and Catholicism manifests in who is doing those actions. In Buddhism, it is the meditator who notices, accepts, and forgives her own imperfections. In Catholicism, the worshipper notices his imperfections, yet outsources acceptance and forgiveness to a divine power, God or Jesus. Based on these activities, I think the two religions are pretty similar and may actually indicate a fundamental human need. Perhaps the reason why any suffering individual would seek out a religion is to articulate the nature of their own suffering, and then experience that suffering as acceptable and forgiven. This may be an answer to why each religion is so popular throughout the world and throughout history. This need to find forgiveness for that which we judge ourselves harshly, to find peace inside one's own soul is fundamental to the human experience. Catholicism and Buddhism - perhaps any religion - are like gloves. One may fit your hand better than the other. Considering which entity enacts acceptance in each religion, how is the experience of the Catholic and the Buddhist different? How do the religious communities indicate this difference? Another point worth exploring is that many people do not choose their religions; they are born into them. Instead of the individual tailoring a religion to meet her needs, often a religion forms an individual into the person they become. How much is religion an expression of humans? How much are humans an expression of religion?
Subject: Religious Studies
How do I write well?
When I think about this question, poetry comes to mind. The questions in poetry, for me, are always, "What's going on? What am I writing about? When I read what I've written, do I feel? What do I feel?" When I write, my first effort is to settle down as much as I can into a state of feeling, intuition, meditation, etc... Usually in this way, I can begin to write honestly and fearlessly, with as little idealistic conditioning as possible. I think good writing and poetry is honest descriptions. There is beauty in honesty and that will always show up. Sometimes I dress up my writing and it's never as good that way. I think the 'audience' as a whole is more capable than we often give them credit for. Whether this is a person watching a movie or reading a book, that person will be able to feel and decipher the truth of what they're consuming. So as writers, we ought to leave that up to them!! That way there's real life in what we write. Don't cover everything, don't say everything - just be honest. In my life, I'm often confused. My experience is part of reality, part of the truth, missing things. So write honestly and be OK with leaving things out; the more effectively I can write from my unresolved and incomplete feelings from my own life, the more the complexity and vibrance of life will show up in my writing. And the more compelling it will be.
Subject: Culinary Arts
How do I make the best grilled cheese in the world?
First, notice how excited you are to be making a grilled cheese! Let alone the best one in the world! What a delicious food! No one can resist a grilled cheese. Next, choose your cheeses - I like a combination of cheddar, port salut, and parmesan. Ideally you've got some sourdough on hand - we can cover how to make sourdough if you don't know how! Cut some thick slices, then heat up a generous amount of butter in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Toss the slices in and then layer the cheese on one piece. Make sure you use a lot of cheese, that way as the sandwich cooks, the cheese will spill out of the sides and crisp up, creating a delicious skirt of fried cheese. Put the other slice on top and put a lid on the skillet. Turn the heat down to low and cook for 10-15 minutes, flipping occasionally. The slow cooking time and low heat will allow all the cheese to melt fully and the longer the time in the pan, the crustier and more delicious the toasted sourdough will get!! Serve with some tomato soup!!!
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