Jainism, Taoism, and Lakhota Beliefs Religion have had a profound impact on the history of nations and how their citizens conduct themselves. Religion has been the cause of wars while also creating a sense of unity. Three religions or beliefs that have influenced today’s world are Jainism, Taoism, and the animistic beliefs of the North American tribe, Lakhota.
Jainism originated in ancient East India. It is a syncretistic religion, which is very similar to Hinduism and Buddhism. A “Jina”, or “those who overcome”, was traditionally believed to have been a giant who lived approximately 8.
4 million years ago. The world’s 4 million Jains are almost entirely located in India. However, there are approximately 1,000 living in Canada.
A specific belief of Jainism is that the universe exists as a series of layers, both heaven,s, and hell. It is said to have no beginning and will have no end. Jains believe these layers are the supreme abode, the upper world, the middle world, the nether world, the Nigoda, universe space, and the space beyond.
The supreme abode is said to be located at eh top of the universe and is where the “free souls” live. The upper world has 30 heavens where celestial beings live. The middle world is the earth and the universe; the nether world has 7 hells with various levels of misery and punishments. The Nigoda, or base, is where the lowest forms of life reside. The Universe space is are layers of clouds that surround the upper world and the space beyond is an infinite volume without soul, matter, time, medium of motion, or medium of rest.
Like Hinduism, Jainism has the belief that everyone is bound within the universe by karm or the accumulated good and evil that one has done, they also share the idea of reincarnation.
The belief in the universe layers affects the daily life of a Jain. How one conducts himself throughout life determines where one will be reincarnated. If a Jain stole, lied, or committed an act of violence frequently, he/she would have bad karma, which would result in their ending up in the nether world. If a Jain avoided falsehood, did not steal from others, remained sexually monogamous to one’s spouse, and did not commit any acts of violence at all during their lifetime, he/she would have good karma, which would result in their ending up in the upper world.
Taoism currently has about 20 million followers and is primarily practiced in Taiwan. About 30,000 Taoists live in North America and about 2,000 live in Canada. Taoism started as a combination of psychology and philosophy but evolved into a religious faith in 440 CE. However, it was destroyed after the Communist victory in 1949. Some religious tolerance has been restored under Deng Xiaoping from 1982 to the present time.
A Taoist belief is to follow the art of “Wu Wei,” which is to let nature take its course and not interfere. Another belief of Taoism is that people must nurture the Ch’i that has been given to them. “Wu Wei,” affects the daily life of a Taoist. They have to allow a river to flow towards the sea unimpeded and cannot build a dam that would interfere with its natural flow. By respecting the Ch’i, Taoists do not pollute water, air, or ground, which is good for people of all religions.
The Sioux tribe, Lakhota, originated in North America in what today is known as the southwest United States. Unlike many religions and beliefs, the Lakhota preserved their spiritual beliefs as an oral tradition instead of a sacred text. Elders often gathered the young around a fire to impart important tales and legends. Some, like the story of the White Buffalo Calf Woman, could take up to seven nights to tell and could only be told when the moon was shining. A belief that is somewhat like the Muslims’ hajj to Mecca is the Lakhota vision quest. In both beliefs, only one hajj or quest vision is mandatory and both are encouraged to enter into a period of fasting and meditation. The Lakhota’s also believed in Wakanpi who were invisible beings who exercised power and control over everything. Humans needed to please these beings. The idea is much like the Christian belief of ‘God.’ These beliefs affected the Lakhota’s daily life. The belief that every young man should make a vision quest in which he seeks a guardian spirit is with him every day as a close and supportive guide for the rest of his life. The belief of Wakanpi also affected the Lakhota’s daily life. To please the Wakanpi, the Lakhotas would do important rituals like the sacred pipe ceremony, which would allow the ‘holy’ men and women to speak directly to the Wakanpi to see what it wants. These rituals would be done weekly and were taken very seriously.
Religions and beliefs have been around since the very beginning. From one of the oldest known beliefs to the most recent cult, religion has influenced the way people live. Religion has unified nations and separated families, caused wars and death, and created a sense of belonging. The Lakhota beliefs, Taoism, and Jainism have affected daily lives and will continue to as long they have followers.