A person who believes that it is impossible to know whether or not a god exists. One can be an agnostic theist or an agnostic atheist and the term is often seen to be seen as a kind of “middle ground" between theism and atheism.
Saints are human beings whose lives have displayed extraordinary holiness and devotion. As such they become examples for others. Indeed some of the faithful may understand them to be intermediaries and seek their help in time of need. Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians honor saints, as do some Muslims. Though in principle Islam recognizes no mediators between human beings and God, the veneration of saints (awliya’; singular wali) is a part of popular Muslim practice. Especially in the Sufi tradition, the tombs of Sufi masters have become centers of pilgrimage.
A priest is the leader of a religious community or congregation, specially trained and often ordained to service, who leads members of the community in the rituals and practice of shared and individual life. Many traditions have forms of priesthood. In the Christian tradition, priests also have a pastoral role as “shepherds” of the flock of parishioners and are trained to be responsible for the religious instruction of the community through preaching and teachings. In some Christian churches, women have been ordained to priesthood along with men. In the Hindu tradition, the English word... Read more about Priest
Enlightenment means awakening to or realizing the true nature of reality. The term is used with various nuances in the Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu traditions to express the spiritual awakening that is the goal of religious life. “The Enlightenment” also refers to 17th and 18th century European philosophical and religious movement emphasizing the role of reason in religious thinking, the importance of religious toleration, and the need to separate religious dogma from political power. For Jews, the term refers also to the 18th and 19th century Haskalah movement aimed at modernizing Jewish life... Read more about enlightenment
Assimilation refers to the process of “making similar,” a process by which people lose their national, cultural, or even religious identity through absorption in the wider society. In the history of American immigration, it has usually meant the absorption for both individuals and groups into a society shaped largely by a dominant Anglo-Saxon Protestant majority.
The soul is the inner spirit, the life-essence of a person, regarded in many religious traditions as Divine. In the Hindu tradition, the atman or pure consciousness within is understood to be one with Brahman, the ultimate reality that pervades the entire universe. In the Jain tradition, every sentient being us understood to possess a jiva, a “life-force,” capable of liberation into its original state of blissful energy. In the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions, the soul is of God, created by God, and capable of relation with God, but not identical with the Divine reality.
A prophet is one who communicates a divine message or vision, sometimes calling people to repentance or awakening, sometimes predicting future events. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all look to Hebrew prophets, including Abraham and Moses. Muslims believe that God has communicated with human beings through the prophets, beginning with Adam, including Jesus, and ending with Muhammad, the final prophet. When Muslims say, “The Prophet,” they refers specifically to Muhammad, seal of the prophets. Many other religious movements have also had prophets, such as the Native American prophets of the... Read more about prophet
In general, orthodox means having a “correct opinion or outlook” and is a term used by people in many religions who claim authority for traditional views and forms of their religion. More specifically, however, Orthodox in the Jewish tradition refers to commitment to the unchanging divine revelation of Torah, with the theological views and scrupulous ritual observances that accompany this understanding of the divine law. In the Christian tradition, Orthodox refers to an entire family of churches, the Eastern Orthodox churches that include traditional liturgical sensibilities as well as a... Read more about orthodox
Meditation is the disciplined practice of quieting and focusing the mind or cultivating the heart’s attention. Different meditation practices commend focusing attention on a word, a prayer, a form, or the breath as a way of practice. Meditation is common in the Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain traditions; forms of meditation are also practiced in the Sikh, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Taoist traditions. Buddhist meditation is the practice of quieting the mind and bringing it to full attention, as did the Buddha in the meditative practice that led to his enlightenment or awakening. Cultivating an... Read more about meditation
Transgender is a term that refers to a range of unconventional relationships to gender. Transgender people do not identify with the sex and gender roles they were assigned at birth, and they may feel that their psychological gender and physical bodies are mismatched. Some transgender people undergo hormonal treatments or gender reassignment surgery in order to take on the bodies and gender roles that they desire. Transgender people are often discriminated against in employment and other social situations. Many Pagan communities, however, are welcoming to transgender people and allow them to... Read more about transgender
Revelation is the gift or disclosure of knowledge, insight, or instruction from God to the human. The term is used in the Jewish tradition to refer to the revelation of Torah, the law; in the Islamic tradition to refer to the revelation of the Qur’an, the word of God. in the Christian tradition to refer to the revelation of Christ, the embodied Word; in the Mormon tradition to refer to the disclosure of the Book of Mormon; in the Baha’i tradition to refer to the manifestation of God to Baha’u’llah. In some usages, the term indicates that true knowledge is bestowed by the agency of the Divine... Read more about Revelation
Prayer is the vocal or silent address to the Divine. It may consist of fixed words, spontaneous words, or rest in silence with no words at all. Some forms of prayer are accompanied with specific postures or gestures, while others are not.
Gongfu (also: kung-fu) is the Chinese term for martial arts. Monks from the Buddhist temple of Shaolin were especially famous for their mastery of the physical skills and spiritual potential of this art.
An altar is a raised platform or stand which bears the central symbols of a religious tradition—whether in a temple, church, shrine, or home—and at which offerings are made, worship is offered, or prayers are said.