“Although Hindus disagree on how to reach the religious goal, there is considerable consensus on both the human problem and its solution. The problem is samsara, which literally means wandering on or flowing by but in this context refers to the vicious cycle of life, death, and rebirth. We are born and die, and then we are born and die again. And so it goes for the cosmos itself, which flows equally endlessly through its own cycle of creation, destruction, and re-creation. In the West, belief in reincarnation is growing rapidly. More than one out of every four Americans and Europeans believes that the soul takes on another body after death. But for Westerners reincarnation is usually seen as a reward rather than a punishment: perhaps in your next life you can buy that Porsche or marry that hottie or land that six-figure salary. Hindus, however, have classically seen reincarnation as a problem rather than an opportunity: this world is a vale of tears, and whatever happiness we might cobble together here is transitory and impermanent. Even heaven is subject to the flux and frustrations of the iron law of samsara. It, too, was created and will be destroyed, as will whatever gods reside there. The Hindu goal, therefore, is not to escape from this world to some heavenly paradise, but to escape from heaven and earth altogether. Hindus call this goal moksha, which literally means release and in this case refers to spiritual liberation—freeing the soul from bondage to samsara and its unsatisfactoriness. This is the closest Hinduism gets to the Christian notion of salvation. But to refer to moksha as salvation is incorrect, since the concept of salvation implies salvation from sin, and Hindus do not believe in sin and so harbor no desire to be saved from it. What needs escaping is not sin but samsara. And moksha, not salvation, is that escape.” – Excerpt from God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World–and Why Their Differences Matter by Stephen Prothero

1 COMMENT

  1. Read this book. It is an excellent way to treat the world religions in a time where it is cliche to say “all religions are one”. Found you on google+, but glad to see you are here on wordpress (me too). Look forward to reading more of your blog and staying abreast of new posts.

    • Thanks for the comment, jbertetta! I agree with you wholeheartedly; it is an excellent book! And thanks for the follow too. More fresh posts to come very soon. 🙂