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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

what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
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 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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