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The major difference between “old/established” religions and “new” religions lies in the name. However, it is not to be found strictly in the chronological position of the two in the temporal sense, but rather in the stage of development. Thus, when we call Buddhism an “old” religion, although the tradition is indeed millennia old, we are primarily referencing its advanced developmental stage, characterized by organization, hierarchy, rules and codes, as well as wide social acceptance. The above devices generally emerge to fill the vacuum created after the founder’s death, who provided the driving force of the nascent religious movement. All religions begin as new religions. All religions face competition from rival movements. As these religions grow “old” they must either adapt to changing social conditions or face replacement by a “new” religion that better addresses the issues of the day. Adaptability characterizes most successful religions. If “old” religions are adaptable and familiar, “new” religions are full of zeal. “New” religions, by their mere existence, challenge the established authority of “old” religions and implicitly dare the established religions to return to the zeal that existed when they were “new.” Therefore, the key difference is not to be found by linear plotting of religions in chronological order on a timeline, but in understanding the cyclical progression of religious development. The “old” religions are “new” religions that have survived the competition.

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