What I Learned Taking A Class About My Own Religion
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What I Learned Taking A Class About My Own Religion

It's not as easy as you think it would be.

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What I Learned Taking A Class About My Own Religion

“Dis u?” a friend texted me, with the image of a class flyer attached. I zoomed in on the picture to see if was a brochure for the new “ASIA 238: Introduction to Jainism” course. I laughed to myself and responded to the text, attempting to convince my friend to take the class with me.

While the Jain Center of Houston had been working for months with Rice University and the Chao Center for Religious Studies to implement a course on Jainism, it was advertised to the students on pretty short notice. My best friend, also a practicing Jain, and I frantically changed around our schedules to accommodate the new class — dropping this class since it conflicted with the time of the new class, but making sure to add another class to fulfill the requirement of the class we just dropped, etc.

So while I walked into the class on Tuesday morning and realized I was one of four students enrolled, I was slightly disappointed; but that disappointment was quickly dissipated when I told myself that the fact a class about Jainism was even being offered was a huge accomplishment.

Now, you’re probably thinking, this girl is such a scrub. She’s literally taking a class about the religion she practices, probably in it for the easy A; what a typical pre-med.

And to that, I say, you’re only partially right, so let me explain the rest.

Yes, I figured I would be able to get an A in a class about something I’ve practiced every day for the past 20 years of my life. But at the same time, there was so much still to learn. While I’ve learned the fundamentals and the practices of my religion, I’ve learned it from my family, close friends, or literature written by scholars. But now, I’m sitting in a class with a Caucasian professor telling me her thoughts about an ancient Indian religion she has been researching for many years.

To be completely honest, it’s a mind-boggling experience. Learning about any religion, specifically ,the one you choose to practice provides an academic and objective setting to discuss theories and philosophies in a different light from which you’re used to. It forces you to open your mind and views about something that seems so rudimentary. For example, so many concepts and rituals I grew up simply accepting them as they are; but now I've had the opportunity to learn the history and background as to why that is significant, strengthening my faith and understanding so I'm no longer a "blind follower."

So it’s important to push your beliefs and principles further, to look at a situation from another person’s eyes. And you’ll be amazed how much you know, and more likely how much you didn’t know. It’s been only three weeks of school, and already during every class I exchange glances with my friend, both of us thinking, “Woah, I didn’t know that about Jainism.” And there’s still so much more to come.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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