Sacred Threads

An Asian Religions Curriculum for High School Youth (Updated Revision)

Sacred Threads is a 20-Session curriculum designed for Unitarian Universalist high school religious education classes (9th to 12th grades).

Sacred Threads helps youth identify unique elements of modern Asian religions and recognize characteristics that these religions share with each other and with Unitarian Universalism. It helps youth explore how attributes of these other religions have relevance to their own spiritual journeys. Sacred Threads also helps youth understand the nature of religion in human society, both as it influences their own lives as well as the relations among communities and nations.

Students first identify basic characteristics common to religions of primitive cultures and the nature of thinking that generally leads people to establish religions. Students then discuss the religions of India (Hinduism, Hinayana Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism), the religions of China (Mahayana Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Chinese Folk Religions), and the religions of Japan (Shintoism and Zen).

Session 1: The Primal Religions
Session 2: The Power of Belief
Session 3: Demographic Perspective on World Religions
Session 4: Dharma – Basics of Classical Hinduism
Session 5: Atman and the Paths to God
Session 6: Yoga
Session 7: Everyday Lives of Hindus
Session 8: Evolution of Modern Hinduism
Session 9: Ahimsa and the Jains
Session 10: Sikhism and Syncretism
Session 11: Mandalas
Session 12: The Life of Buddha
Session 13: The Roots of Indian Buddhism
Session 14: Spread of Buddhism
Session 15: Early Chinese Wisdom and Synchronicity
Session 16: Popular Taoism (Yin/Yang)
Session 17: Philosophical Taoism
Session 18: Essentials of Confucianism
Session 19: Environment and Religions – Japanese Culture (Shinto)
Session 20: The Japanese Tea Ceremony

Youth enjoy an intellectual challenge, so long as it does not replicate the school experience they face throughout the week. Sacred Threads focuses on issues rarely covered in school curricula and encourages youth to challenge their assumptions and process new ideas. The classroom technique most used is facilitated discussion prompted by brainstorming Sessions and questions to challenge thinking processes. Participants are empowered to take discussions where they lead.

Many UU youth have studied world religions, including holidays, deities, and rituals. Youth have the ability, the desire, and the scholastic background to discuss theological elements of these religions and make informed choices about their own religious selves. Sacred Threads facilitates their understanding of what it means to be religious, particularly in Eastern cultures, including:

  • paths Asian religions use toward understanding and/or becoming one with their “God”;
  • how Asian religions view the characteristics of human existence in the greater scheme of the cosmos; and
  • how Asian religions answer speculative issues, such as our purpose in life.