The Sacred in the Profane

Susan Starr Sered

in Priestess, Mother, Sacred Sister

Published in print December 1996 | ISBN: 9780195104677
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199853267 | DOI:
The Sacred in the Profane

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One of the standard categories used by historians of religion to evaluate religions is “this-worldly” versus “other-worldly.” This-worldly religion emphasizes life in the here and now, relationships between people, and the alleviation of suffering in this world during this lifetime. Other-worldly religion focuses attention on life after death, future redemption, and mystical truth. Although no religion is totally this-worldly or totally other-worldly, many scholars find that this terminology is useful in showing us where particular religions invest the most energy, thought, and time. Other-worldly religions may be less ritually rich, or may direct their rituals toward self-perfection and future salvation. Women's religions, attentive to alleviating suffering in the here and now, are characterized by a this-worldly orientation. It is of interest to compare Buddhism to the women's religions that are situated in Buddhist societies. Women's religions in Buddhist societies challenge the other-worldly inclination of Buddhism.

Keywords: this-worldly religion; other-worldly religion; women; religions; Buddhism; life after death; rituals; salvation; suffering

Chapter.  7537 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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