2. An Analysis of Religious Development in Christian and Zen Buddhist Contexts

Natalie Williams Valparaiso University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Jim Nelson Valparaiso University
Modern religions seem to pride themselves on their distinct characteristics when compared to others. However, traditions that seem distinct frequently on closer examination are found to share a number of similarities. In this study, we highlight this phenomenon through an examination of ideas about spiritual development in the Christian as well as the Zen Buddhist traditions through a consideration of St. Augustine’s Confessions as well as the Zen Buddhist visual representation of development in the Ten Oxherding Pictures . In Books 1-9 of the Confessions, Augustine outlines his spiritual journey and life in detail, beginning from infancy. Throughout his work, he delves into the deeper meanings behind the journey of man, and outlines his own struggle with fully grasping and understanding the ways of God. In the Oxherding pictures, the images begin with the process of searching for the ox, or searching for a way our of the human predicament. These images serve as a representation of the struggles that one faces in search of enlightenment. The visuals especially serve as a symbolic representation of this path. Through the analysis of these seemingly different religious ideals, one can see that the root of their thoughts are, in reality, quite similar. Both works symbolically represent the struggles of grasping with issues that are difficult and fundamental to their respective religions. One can, therefore, use this skill of recognizing religious connections to develop a new appreciation and understanding of religious development as a whole.
Poster Presentation

When & Where

Irwin Library Lower Level