Taboos in Religion, Reincarnation, and other Beliefs
According to www.Dictionary.com, a taboo is defined as a religious or social custom that prohibits or forbids discussion of a particular practice or association with a particular person, place, or thing. One can find taboos across all religions, as religion is a code of morals, practices, and beliefs that a person adheres to with the aim of leading a better life; sometimes, the religions promise a happy, fulfilled afterlife. This precedent for living is essential to the functionality of religion because, without a sense of right and wrong, how can one establish a guideline of ethics to reach the desired afterlife? Today, let’s examine the taboos of Buddhism, Hinduism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Confucianism, Taoism, and Druidism.
According to buddhamind.info, in Buddhism, marriages are typically arranged by parents, due to the belief that the parents are wiser than their children. Buddhists also believe that it is the family’s right to decide, given that their marriage will unite the two families. It is hard to find many taboos in Buddhism, as its modern interpretation focuses more on scientific explanations for individual experiences. However, according to www.trinity-health.org, Buddhists believe that life is full of disappointments, illnesses, and desires. The only method to emancipate oneself from these afflictions and avoid reincarnation is to rid oneself of all desires and attain a higher state of being, often referred to as ‘becoming one’. Consequently, those who truly believe would consider desiring something a taboo, since this could potentially lead to reincarnation rather than enlightenment. Hence, Buddhists should strive towards attaining this higher state, in order to break free from the cycle of reincarnation.
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In Hinduism, the cow, a sacred animal, holds significant importance. Consequently, the most notable taboo in this culture is the consumption of beef. According to beliefnet.net, cows are regarded as symbols of the religion. In many Indian cities, cows are omnipresent and untouchable, due to protective laws. Moreover, Hindus have entrenched gender roles in their society, with segregated schooling to restrict interactions between girls and boys. Like many other religions, Hinduism strictly forbids extramarital sex. If a child is known to be born out of wedlock, they are ostracized. Feet are also regarded as unholy, thereby impelling individuals to remove their shoes before entering a temple. It is considered disrespectful to step on books or papers, as these are seen as embodiments of divine teachings. A menstruating woman is viewed as unclean, and during this time, she is not allowed to cook or clean. In extreme cases, she may even be asked to temporarily leave the house until the end of her menstrual cycle.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, though relatively new in terms of historical presence, maintain and practice several traditional taboos that accompany many religions. For instance, according to www.religionfacts.com, Jehovah’s Witnesses harbor a strongly negative stance against homosexuality, premarital sex, incest, and pornography. They also hold the belief that war is sinful unless it pertains to the final Armageddon—only under such circumstances and when called upon by Jehovah—are they permitted to participate. Thus, Jehovah’s Witnesses abstain from joining the military. Greed is another prominent taboo, with a particular emphasis on gambling. However, akin to Christianity, sins can be absolved. Accepting blood transfusions is also taboo due to New Testament writings instructing followers to abstain from blood.
Confucianism, founded in 500 B.C., has played a crucial role in shaping Chinese culture.