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Yggdrasil, a modern attempt to reconstruct the Norse world tree which connects the heavens, the world, and the underworld.

Mythological cosmologies often depict the world as centered on an axis mundi and delimited by a boundary such as a world ocean, a world serpent or similar. In some religions, worldliness (also called carnality[citation needed]) is that which relates to this world as opposed to other worlds or realms.

Buddhism

In Buddhism, the world means society, as distinct from the monastery. It refers to the material world, and to worldly gain such as wealth, reputation, jobs, and war. The spiritual world would be the path to enlightenment, and changes would be sought in what we could call the psychological realm.

Christianity

In Christianity, the term often connotes the concept of the fallen and corrupt world order of human society, in contrast to the World to Come. The world is frequently cited alongside the flesh and the Devil as a source of temptation that Christians should flee. Monks speak of striving to be "in this world, but not of this world"—as Jesus said—and the term "worldhood" has been distinguished from "monkhood", the former being the status of merchants, princes, and others who deal with "worldly" things.

This view is clearly expressed by king Alfred the Great of England (d. 899) in his famous Preface to the Cura Pastoralis:

"Therefore I command you to do as I believe you are willing to do, that you free yourself from worldly affairs (Old English: woruldðinga)as often as you can, so that wherever you can establish that wisdom that God gave you, you establish it. Consider what punishments befell us in this world when we neither loved wisdom at all ourselves, nor transmitted it to other men; we had the name alone that we were Christians, and very few had the practices."

Although Hebrew and Greek words meaning "world" are used in Scripture with the normal variety of senses, many examples of its use in this particular sense can be found in the teachings of Jesus according to the Gospel of John, e.g. 7:7, 8:23, 12:25, 14:17, 15:18-19, 17:6-25, 18:36. For contrast, a relatively newer concept is Catholic imagination.

Contemptus mundi is the name given to the recognition that the world, in all its vanity, is nothing more than a futile attempt to hide from God by stifling our desire for the good and the holy.[10] This view has been criticized as a "pastoral of fear" by modern historian Jean Delumeau.[11]

During the Second Vatican Council, there was a novel attempt to develop a positive theological view of the World, which is illustrated by the pastoral optimism of the constitutions Gaudium et spes, Lumen gentium, Unitatis redintegratio and Dignitatis humanae.

Eastern Christianity

In Eastern Christian monasticism or asceticism, the world of mankind is driven by passions. Therefore, the passions of the World are simply called "the world". Each of these passions are a link to the world of mankind or order of human society. Each of these passions must be overcome in order for a person to receive salvation (theosis). The process of theosis is a personal relationship with God. This understanding is taught within the works of ascetics like Evagrius Ponticus, and the most seminal ascetic works read most widely by Eastern Christians, the Philokalia and the Ladder of Divine Ascent (the works of Evagrius and John Climacus are also contained within the Philokalia). At the highest level of world transcendence is hesychasmwhich culminates into the Vision of God.

Orbis Catholicus

Orbis Catholicus is a Latin phrase meaning Catholic world, per the expression Urbi et Orbi, and refers to that area of Christendom under papal supremacy. It is somewhat similar to the phrases secular world, Jewish world and Islamic world.

Islam

Main article: Dunya

Dunya derives from the root word "dana" that means to bring near. In that sense, "dunya" is "what is brought near".