Religions from the same general area seem to influence and mimic one another. Proof of this lies in the scared texts of various religions coexisting beside one another. While those that are next to one another share common attributes, those that are spaced father apart geographically seem to have radical differences in their beliefs and philosophies.
For example the religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam all center around one main God. The religion Judaism was first, which evolved into Christianity, and in turn was molded into Islam. The origins of each religion was not only at the time was greatly affected by the previous religion, but also located in the relative area-Southwestern Asia.
To show some families of these religions, which differ from those of beliefs in other religions, we should begin firstly with the practice of monotheism-or the belief in one God. Each of the religions from Southwest Asia is strictly monotheistic and have definite ideas on how one should act, worship, and pay tribute. Any other way of worshipping in considered wrong. For example, the Ou’ran states that Allah is “Lord of the Words” and in a similar fashion Christianity and Judaism states that “there is but one God, and he is a jealous God”. Both are written in the idea that there is a single God, and all others are false.
Also, there is a strikingly similar notion that God was the beginning of the world, and that he was the creator. While others follow the basic idea, none are so precise then as these religions, that not only specify there was a single God in power, but how he came about making the world. The concepts of heaven also are very precise-if one is good, they will be rewarded, if one is bad, they will go to hell. (Detailed accounts of heaven in the documents would make for a better essay).
However, if one were to explore the religions to South Asia, one would find a radically
difference set of beliefs. The dominant religions of the past were Hinduism and Buddism, and still are today. To begin with Hinduism, it is polytheistic, believing many Gods to be manifestations of the supreme God Brahman. (It would be helpful if the documents provided information of the Indo-Aryans to further explain the origins of Hinduism). The Bagavad Gita, the scared text of the Hindus, is written to not only glorify the 1,000s of Gods that exist, but at the same time to stress that “Brahman” is the supreme God. The famous “chaste” system explains that in order to reach heaven one must go through a cycle of rebirths. Buddhism, much more like a philosophy then a religion, focuses on the idea that one can achieve heaven by letting go of desire, thus allowing oneself to be free of suffering. It has no real focus on God or of the creation of the world. Many of the Buddhist texts are written to encourage man to follow the proper eight ways: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. The concepts of being good to ultimately reach heaven are very similar, as is the concept of heaven, which is often described as “blowing out a candle”. (Concepts of Nirvana would be helpful here, as would the Hindu belief in the creation of the world). However, the excess of Gods, and the lacking of a specific God at all, are a sharp contrast to the religions of Southwestern Asia.
East Asia’s religions are even less like religions then Buddhism-in fact, they are more of philosophies. Confucianism and Taoism focus on the correct “path” in life. Confucius principles stated that each person had their own “Dao” or path in life, and they were responsible for following it. Confucius stated that one should serve his parents and be respectful to his elders outside. One should be “earnest and truthful, and loving to all”. By following the principles and their Dao, they would benefit society and the world. It is the concept of self-sacrifice for the greater good. (The five placements would be helpful here-wife submissive to husband, etc.) In a similar fashion, Taoism is the idea that one should let go of selfishness and live a life of simplicity, following the “way”. While neither has a direct emphasis on God, heaven, or the creation of the world, they are almost identical to each other in beliefs in proper mortals and values. The “way” and the “dao” are the same concept.
Without a doubt, religions in the same geographical areas are similar to one another, and contrast strongly to those that are not coexisting beside them. Perhaps this is due to the common influence and evolution of religions, or the human nature that causes one to assimilate foreign beliefs into their own.