All the latest news and articles from the OCRS

Dhikr in the Sufi Tradition

16 November 2018 | Luke Burns

In the centuries following the death of Muhammad, the Arabian peninsula was altered dramatically. The nomadic tribes, whose previous relationships had been mercurial and often violent, had become unified in a great empire, intended (at least by the devout) to reflect the great unity of Allah. Yet there were numerous difficulties in governing such a vast and culturally diverse area, not least of which was managing political power in accordance with Islam.

The foundations of modern yoga

1 October 2018 | Luke Burns

We are faced with a difficult task when it comes to defining contemporary yoga, since there are numerous variants, countless schools, and a broad spectrum of teaching. In Western nations such as the United Kingdom, it’s more likely to be found in health clubs and gyms, where the focus is placed upon the development of physical fitness and emotional stability. An example can be found on the official website of Iyengar Yoga (a variant of Hatha Yoga), which describes the benefits of their technique as “good health, mental peace, emotional equanimity and intellectual clarity” with no reference to the liberation of the purusha from prakriti, despite citing Patanjali’s ashtanga yoga as the original source of the wisdom.

Literary bias in Celebrity Big Brother

25 August 2018 | Luke Burns

One of the important parts of studying religion is to be open to observations all the time (even if you’re curled up watching TV). On a recent episode of Celebrity Big Brother in the UK, two contestants were having a conversation about religion that caught our interest. Rodrigo: I heard that you are a Scientologist, is that right? Kirstie: Yes R: Can you tell me, what is it exactly? Because we see so much about it on the press, and there are so much controversy about it, and I just don’t understand.

Thematic approaches to the study of religion

19 July 2018 | Luke Burns

There are, broadly speaking, two ways to approach religion as an academic subject. The first is based on a sort of family tree model; it looks a bit like this. Religion ==Christianity ----Catholicism ----Eastern Orthodoxy ......Greek Orthodox Church ......Russian Orthodox Church ----Protestantism ......Methodism ......Evangelism And so on. It’s useful from a historical perspective, because we can easily trace back along a tradition’s lineage to see where it diverged from its closest neighbour.