topic for today’s presentation is Salvation. Salvation is another
metaphysical speculation that needs more light because some people still
believe that if you have not accepted a God or not part of a religion
you could be damned. Actually a religious person came to our home
recently to recruit me but I told her that I was not interested. Her
reaction was “Do you prefer to go to hell when you die?”
Salvation is deliverance from sin
and the effects of sin. The first question that comes to my mind is
“What is the problem?” Why do we need salvation? All the major
religions begin with a human problem then go on to state why we have the
problem and offer a solution to the problem.
The human problem in Christianity is sin. We are sinners because of
inheritance. We inherited the sins of Adam and Eve in the Garden of
Eden. Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating of the fruit of good and evil
which God commanded them not to eat. For their disobedience God cursed
to Christian understanding all people inherited this curse and the
solution is the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and whoever accepts
Jesus as his or her personal savior is washed clean from the curse.
Islam came later and taught that the human problem is not sin but pride.
Islam understands the sinfulness of Adam and Eve but contends that Allah
forgave them and their sin was not carried forward to future
generations. In Islamic understanding we are all born innocent with no
original sin. However we are proud and fail to submit to the will of
Allah. Thus salvation comes to the Muslim through submission to Allah
with the help of the Five Pillars of Islam.
In Hinduism the human problem is ignorance. We are caught up in the
endless cycle of birth and rebirth or samsara because of ignorance. We
are ignorant of many things and we tend to be attached to things and
philosophies because of our ignorance. The solution to the problem of
ignorance is the attainment of moksha. Moksha refers to
liberation from the cycle of birth and rebirth. It also means freedom
from ignorance and suffering, awakening, self knowledge,
self-realization or the experience of cosmic consciousness or unity
consciousness. In Hinduism cosmic consciousness or unity consciousness
is oneness with Brahman, the Ultimate Mystery.
The human problem in Buddhism is suffering and the solution is
awakening. We suffer because we hold on to things that are not
permanent. Salvation comes to us by following the Noble Eight Fold Path.
Analysis of Salvation
The Christian original sin seems to be a cultural idea that probably
developed in the Middle East. Many religions do not have the concept of
original sin and if they did it is not carried forward to future
generations like in Judaism and Islam. The solutions to ignorance and
suffering however could help us to live a better life here on earth and
in the next life. Most of our problems stem from ignorance and the
suffering on earth could be breathtaking sometimes. Through education
and living a spiritual life we may improve our levels of consciousness
and attain enlightenment.