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Anthropologists who specialize in the study of preliterate societies have always been faced with the difficult problem of defining what kinds of phenomena can be called religions. At first sight religions are very simple to understand. There are special places for it – temples, churches, mosques (mečetė). And there are special people to deal with it – priests, imams, rabbies.

There are many definitions of religion. The most simple would be: religions involve the belief in supernatural forces. The problem with this definition is in the difficulty of distinguishing natural and supernatural forces. Other scientists talk about 2 types of practices and beliefs: sacred and profane.

To define religion on the whole one must not pay attention to other cultural differences. You must find something that is common in all religions of the world.

There are really many religions in the world. The most popular are Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Protestantism, Lutheran beliefs. And there are tribes in America and Africa which has their own gods. In Carribean islands voodoo cult and shamanism is very popular. Now it is thought to be very dangerous because of the poisonous elements used in rituals. In Mexico there are also many indian tribes which use mescalit – hallucinative mushrooms for their transcendental meditations. This type of religious belief is very popular and hard to understand for foreigners.


Buddhism is a philosophy of life expounded by Gautama Buddha (Buddha means “Enlightened one”), who lived and taught in northern India in the 6th Century B.C. The Buddha was not a god and the philosophy of Buddhism does not entail any theistic word-view. The techings of the Buddha are aimed solely to liberate sentient (išvaduoti jaučiančius) beings from suffering.

Gautama Buddha taught the foru noble truths: that there is suffering, that suffering has a cause, that suffering has an end and that there is a path that leads to the end of suffering. He saw that all phenomena in life are impermanent and that our attachment to the idea of substantial and enduring self is an illusion which is the principle cause of suffering.

Freedom from self liberates the heart from greed, hatred and delusion and opens the mind to wisdom and the heart to kindness and compassion.


Ritual like religion is another word which has caused many problems for anthropologists.


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