A Study of Religions – Hinduism: We Are All Divine
June 21, 2012 38 Comments
Western thought began in ancient Greece where men like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle saw that the universe had a plan and purpose. Eastern thinking says everything is temporary, changing, unreal, ephemeral and our perceptions of the world are misleading and illusory. The physical universe is a hindrance to experiencing The Ultimate Reality, which Eastern religion says is attainable within each individual by realizing intuitively that “self” is Divine and God is impersonal.
Learn what the word Pantheism means:
Pan = everything; Theos = God
Patheism = God is the world and everything in it.
According to the later Vedic literature, the highest goal of Hinduism is union with Brahma (a formless, abstract, eternal being without attributes, who was the beginning of all things, or the impersonal absolute).
A brief history: In 500 B.C, the Varna was established, adding more writings to the already existing Hindu Scriptures. Varna is a rigid castes system, or rather, a social hiercachy. In 1947 India became a nation. The government officially outlawed discrimination against the “untouchables,” the lowest on a social totem pole and considered to be sub-human (thanks to Christian missionaries).
Hinduism is not really one religion, but many religions that interact and blend with one another. There is no founder, no creedal statements of faith and no agreement upon authority. However, contradictory ideas are not a problem. You can believe in no go, many gods or none at all. All reality is seen as “one.” (Please see What’s the Big Deal About Truth for a brief explanation to the dangers of this belief system.) Despite the lack of foundation of agreement, there are two foundational assumptions found in Hinduism: Reincarnation and karma.
Reincarnation is the belief that the atman (a person’s uncreated and eternal soul) must repeatedly be recycled into the world in different bodies (animals, plants or inanimate objects). The process that takes the Hindu through the great wheel of samsra (the thousands or millions of lives, all full of suffering) that each atman must endure before reaching Moksha (the liberation from suffering and union with the infinite). Another, and clearer way to describe samsra would be this: It is a seemingly endless process of being reincarnated. The goal for a Hindu is to be liberated from this and reunite with Brahma.
Karma means “action.” It has to do with the law of cause and effect. This means merit or demerit. Karma from one’s past lives affect a person’s present life, and so on.
The three paths to Moksha are as follows:
1) The path of works (dharma): This is the most difficult path to reach liberation from suffering. It often includes Yoga (which literally means yoking or union). It is an attempt to control one’s consciousness and to make one’s atman (soul) identical to Brahma. A famous Hinduism saying is, “Aham asmi Brahma,” which means, “I am Brahma.
2) The path of knowledge (inna): This is a set of social and religious obligations that must be fulfilled. Those who choose this path must follow the caste occupation, marry within the caste and eat or not eat certain foods. Above all, one must produce or raise a son to perform the sacrificial rituals to your ancestors.
3) The path of passionate devotion: This is where one chooses to worship the gods by sexual acts. Yes, it is the most popular.
We must always be weary of subtle ways pop culture infuses pagan world beliefs into their media. Avatars are associated with Hinduism. An avatar is literally a savior, or an incamation of deity.
According to the Hindu religion, the world as we experience it is mere illusion and Brahma is the only thing that really exists and has meaning. Hinduism began influencing western culture in mid-19th century.
RalphWaldoEmerson was a leading American exponent of transcendentalism, and steeped himself in Hinduism writings. Another name you might recognize is Henry David Thoreau, who was a contemporary of Emerson and fellow transcendentalist and was inspired where he wrote Waldon and other books.
In the 1930’s, the Vedanta Society of Southern California was established. Their rally cry: “Many faiths are but different paths leading to the one reality, God.” The Beatles went to India and were taught transcendental meditation. They brought this back to the United States and other nations and it became very popular.
Teachers of the Vedanta say, “A Hindu would find it easy to accept Christ as a divine incarnation and to worship him unreservedly, exactly as he worships Krishna or another avatar of his choice. But he cannot accept Christ as the only Son of God.”
Folks, this is the kicker. This is where the passage in the Bible that talks about people telling God on judgment day, “I did all these things in your name,” yet God still punishes them to eternity in Hell, comes into effect. We can believe in Jesus and still go to Hell, because Jesus demands our undivided praise and worship. He will not share the throne with another. This is why, when I share the Gospel with people, I make it clear that in order to become a Christian, you can believe only in Jesus Christ. He will not share His glory with another, and understandably so! I don’t want someone else’s name on the cover of my book - I wrote it. But the thing is, if your stance with God is not a comfort to you; if you feel like you’re living right, but there’s a subtle uneasiness in your soul concerning your eternal fate, then that could be the mercy of God tapping you on the chest, trying to get your attention.
Consider Gandhi. He could not believe there was any “mysterious or miraculous virtue” in Christ’s death on the cross – He could not accept the Christian answer to the problem of sin, yet he felt a deep hunger for real salvation from sin. But like other Hindus, he could not see Jesus as God, but rather just one of many incarnations, or avatars, of Vishnu.
In all actuality, Hinduism is more of a philosophy than a theology. Hindus search for Brahma within themselves. Each person is “god” (or part of “god”).
I am not going to climb up on a virtual soapbox and proclaim that the cries of Hinduism are all lies from the pit of Hell. Instead I am just going to extend a thought for those who deduce by logic.
Hinduism claims that you must repeat life over and over until you have been cleansed and you can be with Brahma. If we follow this, that means we are all suffering consequences from our previous life as we breathe. This could be the worst it gets. This could be our Hell, and let me say, as much as I hate paying bills and clocking in and out from work, this is not as bad as I thought Hell would be. In fact, with enough trips to the Disneyland and a hiking excursion here and there, Hell (or, my personal suffering) is turning out to be pretty nice.
But that’s the problem. Because while I’m living this reincarnated life, I keep getting hounded by this guy Jesus with words he spoke 2,000 years ago talking about a Hell that is eternal and firey and lonely, not to mention painful and absolutely horrifying… and did I mention eternal? When I put piece those slices of imagry together, do you know what I come up with? I come up with a Hell where I am chained inside an oven, unable to die, but able to feel the skin melting off my body, but it just won’t fall. And to top it off, there’s snakes (or as the Bible puts it, worms), crawling all over me, slithering. Tickling. Biting. Snakes are my greatest fear. And as if it can get worse, I’m screaming at the top of my lungs, but I know for a fact that no one is around who can or will deliver me. I have no hope, and I absolutely know it without a shadow of a doubt. I never sleep, though I’m tired. I never rest, though I’m exhausted and thirsty. I never eat, though I’m famished beyond repair. I’m always and forever burning, my flesh sizzling like metal soaking in acid. And I never lose my fear of the snakes that continually slither around my naked body. I’ve been scared of snakes all my life on earth, and I will never learn to get used to them in Hell.
I don’t know about you, but I would rather not take my chances believing that I can get to Heaven any other way than Jesus. Because He is the one figure in all of religious history who makes the biggest threat and demands the most. But lest we tremble before Him in vain, let us not forget that He also gave the most. He is the only religious figure in history who gave His life for anyone who would follow Him. Buddha, Mohammed, Krishna, Brahma, none of them gave a rip about you, and they’re either dead or non-existent.
I’m crying as I’m writing this, because I’m realizing that Jesus didn’t ask enough of us, as far as I’m concerned. He’s only asking for our devotion. He doesn’t want you to change your dietary habits or obtain a certain amount of knowledge, or fulfill some good-deed quota. He just wants your love, just as He has already given you His. And He promises an eternity of bliss and Life if only we will accept Him as the one and only, unrivaled God of the universe.
I’m sorry for toeing the soapbox, but hear the truth and receive it. Give up your sins; you know what they are. I have to repent from something new every day. But it’s because it’s the least Jesus can ask for. He could have asked for so much more. He could have had us die for our own sins, or be reincarnated for thousands or millions of years until we earned purity. But He paid the price that you owe for your sins. The least you can do is thank Him and accept Him.
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