For instance, the other evening I was watching the Republican presidential candidates on national TV. A few of the candidates espoused their religious convictions. Well, we all admire men of conviction. At least to a point, even if you don’t believe Religion has value.

What does raise one’s eyebrow, is when a presidential candidate emphasis the point, that a person’s religious convictions will definitely affect his governing strategy. I say, yes and no. I still think religion has value.

Critics tried to hang that number on John F. Kennedy, when he ran for the presidency. They thought the Pope would be giving him orders about running the government. JFK set his critics straight. He told them that he doesn’t take orders from the Pope when it comes to running the United State of America. You recall, JFK was a Roman Catholic and he believed religion has value.

It’s obviously a terrible abuse of religion when senior men, who know better, use religion as a weapon to get their followers to martyr themselves for the sake of a political cause. Yeah, like they are doing in the Middle East. I suppose anything can be rationalized. Nevertheless, it is very difficult to swallow. I suppose to the terrorists, religion has value in a perverted way.

Culture has a tremendous influence on religion and the people involved.

Take the pre-historic period. You had all kinds of religions going on. Most of those religions dealt with surviving the very harsh environment that was the “world” back then.

You had gods for just about everything. Just about all of it pertained to surviving…like having enough food to eat. Not being torn apart by the wild beasts of the land. Or, not being killed by other people or tribes. There was a definite purpose and reason for religion. The focus was “outward”…physical survival.

As time progressed, and culture and society evolved, religion became an excellent tool to help people become “civilized. The aristocracy of the times recognized that religion had a strong influence on its subjects. Thus, society and its culture, was encouraged along religious lines.

All religions provide for peoples’ needs.

Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shinto, Christianity, and Islam historically speaking, followed each other in time frames. They all provided their peoples’ needs, certainly culturally speaking.

o where was this more self evident then in Hinduism. The art of developing an introspective life within oneself for the sake of acquiring wisdom in order to master ones outer world and oneself became a guiding light. Subsequently, men of unusual skills developed, which are referred to as Yogis.

Shortly thereafter, Buddhism took a strong hold on India, China and eventually Japan. Buddhism served the needs of its culture regarding dealing with the extreme hardships of life.

Martial Arts and Buddhism.

I was an active martial artist for ten years. Consequently, I have great respect for Buddhism. Especially, I like the use it was put to in Japan. Specifically, Zen Buddhism. And, I will tell you why. The ruling aristocracy of the times, made sure that the Zen teachings were internalized by the Samurai Class of society.

The Samurais were the soldiers of those times. Their role in society was to protect the rulers, the people of influence and wealth. We know these aristocrats as Shoguns. Basically, the Samurai was a man of the sword. He literally lived and died by the sword. Through the teachings of Zen Buddhism, the Samurai learned to live with the idea and reality of his immanent death.

Subsequently, the Shogun had a fearless warrior. He wasn’t afraid of death. And, ironically, this made the Samurai an incredible fighter with the sword. Why? Not fearing death, freed him to boldly execute the skills of superb swordsmanship.