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Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama (c) Minette/Wikimedia CC BY 2.0, 2014

In Tibetan Buddhism, we find a similar structure to Catholicism. Junior monks are superior to laypeople, but the smaller number of senior monks have authority over the juniors, and a very small number of lamas (very senior monks) are even more powerful, but only within their own organisation. And so it goes, until we come to the Dalai Lama , who is the supreme head of all the schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Unlike the Pope, however, he is not regarded as infallible.

Other monarchic arrangements can be found in new religious movements, where we usually find that while the founder is still alive, his every wish is obeyed. In fact, this is also what we see when we look back at the history of many of the great religions. Even if a founder of a religion is a very kind and considerate person, we see that their strength of personality and the importance of their message allows them to rule the faithful like a monarch.

When the founder dies, however, there is usually a crisis. Who will rule now? Some founders manage to appoint a successor. Baha'u'llah, the founder of the Baha'i Faith, for example, appointed his son Abdul–Ba'ha. And this arrangement can last a few generations, but soon enough the crisis of management tends to erupt.


What we usually find is that a small group of followers who knew the founder personally tend to take over. At this stage the new religion is an oligarchy – it is ruled by a few people. One thinks of Jesus' disciples, or the companions of Muhammad, or the 500 enlightened monks who gathered to encode the Buddha's teachings after his death. This oligarchic stage can last for a long time, as long as the religion remains capable of producing enigmatic people who are willing to lead.

Christ and the twelve disciples. (c) Public Domain via Los Angeles County Museum of Art/Wikimedia.

In African Religion, one may receive a call from the ancestors to start the long training process to become a healer. This is not a matter for debate: the ancestors will keep on sending you dreams and visions until you submit to their will and start your training. And the ancestors can send their demands to anyone, at any time. To the extent that African religion is managed and directed by these healers, we may call it oligarchic.

Most theistic religions will maintain that God is the ultimate ruler of all human affairs. But in practice, they leave the day–to–day running of the state to human rulers and politicians. But in a few cases, religious institutions have actually taken over the running of the state. This is called a theocracy. A bad choice of term, actually – the word theocracy is Latin for "rule by God", but in reality it boils down to "rule by the priests"!


In some cases, this task of leadership slowly becomes hereditary, being passed from father to son or from mother to daughter. The formerly oligarchic religion is now an aristocracy . Hinduism is a good example of this. If you are born a Brahmin, you will lead the people in religious matters. If you were born anything else, you will not. You must belong to one of the families in the Brahmin caste if you want to become a priest. It is not an automatic process – you will still have to spend many long years in study and preparation. But being born to the right parents is the first step.

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Learning about religion. OpenStax CNX. Apr 18, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11780/1.1
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