Hinduism and Buddhism Reflection Paper Guidelines
Here are some tips and guidelines as you write your reflection papers:
- Papers should be about two (2) pages. The bulk of this is likely going to focus on the primary texts, though if your questions are complex they may take up more space.
- Focus on 2-3 main themes. You could, for example, focus on a key passage and draw out 2-3 main ideas from that one passage, but be sure to put it in the context of the whole work.
- Discussion Questions: These could go in a variety of directions, e.g. 1) Clarifying the text: What does it mean when it states X? 2) Further implications: How would this apply to questions of war?
Tips for Writing Reflection Paper:
- Avoid informal language: No “You” “Very” “So” “Really”
- Cut unnecessary words: Pull the Weeds!
— It’s good to have some transitions between ideas and paragraphs, but keep it concise and clear
— Good ideas shine more clearly when unnecessary phrases are not obscuring them
— Avoid explanations of process, e.g.: “This week we read the Laws of Manu, and I found it really interesting that …”
- Structure your writing:
— Use topic sentences that alert the reader what the paragraph will be about
— Focus on one main idea per paragraph – see symbol ¶when I comment on your papers – this means it should be a new paragraph.
WEEKLY REFLECTION: EXAMPLE 1
Precis #2 – Pope Francis: Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home (Chapters 1-3)
In this first portion of his encyclical letter, Pope Francis focuses on describing in general terms what is going on in our world today with regard to climate change and eliminating poverty. He describes first the effects of climate change that we’re feeling now such as rising sea levels and increasing pollution of major water systems. He then describes the global inequality we’ve created in the name of “progress” and how as Christians we need to acknowledge and help our fellow man to achieve a better quality of life. He also describes how the Catholic faith directly relates to our treatment of the land through Genesis, and how the Bible has been misconstrued to promote the exploitation of the Earth rather than respect for it.
The first, and I believe most important, theme throughout these first three chapters is the idea of “use and throw away” culture first mentioned on page 8. He describes modernity as using the natural world under a sense of relativism “which sees everything as irrelevant unless it serves one’s immediate interests” (pg. 59).
Pope Francis suggests that today’s culture, therefore, exploits the natural world for our own benefit, not the good of our common planet and that we waste so much of what we take. He goes so far as to say that the “deified market” (pg. 27) is what rules over our choices in how we treat the environment. He states that we were made in the likeness of God to cooperate and till the land, but not exploit it. There is “a relationship of mutual responsibility between human beings and nature” (pg. 33) and “no creature is self-sufficient” (pg. 42). Therefore, we must take care of nature and all of its creatures and it will take care of us.
Continuing on this theme of mutual responsibility, the next key point Pope Francis includes is that of loving relationships between humans. He states that we must take care of each other on this Earth, and that by damaging the environment, we are most hurting the poorest and most vulnerable members of our population. He states, “Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary,” (pg. 32) meaning that everybody has a place on this Earth and nobody should be treated as being of a lower class because everyone is equal in God’s eyes.
He quotes St. John Paul II in saying that, “God gave the earth to the whole human race for the sustenance of all its members, without excluding or favoring anyone” (pg. 45). Therefore, everyone needs to be thought of when we dive into ecological issues because it affects every person on this planet. Ignoring the poor and vulnerable would be a crime against humanity and a sin against God.
Two questions I would like to discuss are: 1) Are we killing future populations now with our egregious consumption (pg. 46) or is this an overstatement? Can we reverse our effects? 2) How can technology be properly utilized in a caring world without feeding into the technocratic paradigm that the Pope so fears?
WEEKLY REFLECTION: EXAMPLE 2
In the seventh chapter of “Resisting Structural Evil,” the primary focus is on how neighbor love can be the driving force to change the world’s problems. One of the main quotes is that “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (165). A problem with the world, however is that good and evil are commonly intertwined, so even good acts may have unintended negative consequences (166). Moe-Lobeda discusses how love can have various meanings that can lead to confusion regarding the “ethical implications” (168). She relates love to God in that both are very knowable but yet unknowable at the same time.
Next, the author discusses the foundation of love and states that “God’s love is the foundation or root of human love for God, self, others, and Earth” (169). In addition, the love of God that is in all of us represents a “boundless power to love” (170). She believes that God’s love and thus the love inside of us is transformative (170) and thus power and love are interconnected because in order to implement love, you need something powerful (171). Neighbor love is a disposition that is “cultivated in one’s practices” (172).
Thus, in order for this neighbor-love to develop, people must practice it. Moe-Lobeda believes that love is such a strong force and that “not to follow the call to love then is, in some way, deadly” (172). In order for this love to have a global impact, we need to recognize “the fact that all life is interrelated” (175). More specifically, “public and private are not necessarily distinct” and “love’s relevance extends far beyond the interpersonal to the social structure” (177).
The next point the author makes is that neighbor love can create justice. Regarding social justice, “where exploitation and oppression exist, love requires action to replace structures of injustice with structures of justice” (180). As mentioned earlier, for social justice to occur, the society must observe structural changes. Love is thus “an emotion that motivates justice” (183).
In chapter eight, the focus is the direct measures of how neighbor-love can change ecology and the economy.Moe-Lobeda starts off the chapter with a powerful statement: “humankind is utterly dependent upon otherkind. They are taking care of us” (198). She says how humans are “mud creatures” that are “made from the very elements that existed with the big bang some 13.7 billion years ago and that comprise the soil” (199). Due to this interconnectedness, “we are called to love the other-than-human parts of God’s beloved creation, as well as the human” (200).
The nonhuman parts of the Earth should teach us how to act. As mentioned earlier in the book, human beings need to have a mindset change and believe that change is possible. First, we must “situate our human economies in the Earth’s great economy” (203). In addition, our idea of growth needs to be changed to something more ecologically sustainable. Moe-Lobeda again discusses the ecological debt that richer people owe towards the poorer people impacted the most. Rich people almost have to help the poor because how could they be expected to develop eco-friendly methods when they are fighting to survive.
Furthermore, corporations need to not be treated like people with rights because they surely don’t act like people. Also, the corruption of factories and corporations in poor areas must end and decreased focus on profit should occur. The corporations aren’t held very accountable, even though their actions impact numerous people. Further, the principle of “rule by the people” has to now extend into the economic realm towards an “economic democracy.”
- Do you believe that this love that Moe-Lobeda discusses is as powerful as she makes it seem?
- Have you ever heard of corporation having personal rights? What do you think of this?
- Do you think that the “intertwined” nature of the world is really a powerful motivating force?
Last Updated on February 11, 2019 by EssayPro