Samsara In World Religions

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Samsara in World Religions

Samsara in World Religions


“The mainstream Western religions certainly have nothing even remotely resembling the Hindu notion of long cycles of births, lives, deaths, and rebirths. What is the function of that idea of Samsara in Hinduism? Do the Western Religions, with which you are familiar, have another way to satisfy this function?” (Jast, 2004).

It is common in Hinduism to believe that all of God's creation does not circle around man. The belief is that different life forms share the universe. There are variations of power and capabilities to each of these life forms and humans may exceed them. However, unfathomable power is granted only to the higher beings and they are the ones assigned the responsibility of keeping the “well-oiled machine” of the universe in order. These entities are called “devas” and are shown respect and hailed in times of need. However, Hindis do believe that even the devas are subservient to one Supreme God. This is where monotheist Hinduism is born. Hinduism is often called polytheist through misconceptions borne out of centuries of misunderstanding. In the same way that other monotheistic religions accept the possibility of supernatural beings along with the concept of God, Hinduism must be considered the same (Jast, 2004).

There are common misunderstandings when it comes to Hindu concepts in Western societies. The practice of approaching Hindu notions with Christian, Jewish and Islamic concepts in mind is common, which often lead to confusion. Hindu teachings of God, heaven, hell, the soul and reincarnation vary entirely from purely monotheistic religions such as Christianity and Islam. It is common knowledge to associate only the Eastern religions with a belief in rebirth, but recent studies have shown the same belief in times as ancient as the days of Pythagoras. He held the widespread belief that the soul could weld itself into an animal after reincarnation. It is believed that this was the reason behind his becoming a vegetarian. Contemporary Christians, followers of Spiritism and believers of esoteric philosophies have also shown acceptance towards the idea of reincarnation. Ancient Western civilization followed religions based on mythos and reincarnation. Orphism was based on the mythological figure of Orpheus. Followers of Orphism believed that if the soul abstained from sinning and stayed away from wine, sex and meat, that their soul could be led to paradise. They believed that only after three good reincarnations, the soul could be saved from rebirth.

Modern monotheistic western society remains skeptic to the concept, and regards it as a highly dubious notion that they have trouble accepting. They believe that evidence gathered by numerous researchers who have devoted their lives is sketchy at best. Verification of experiences of reincarnation has been gathered from people who have recalled past lives, or have experienced near-death experiences. However, this is not sufficient evidence to those requiring cold, hard proof to sell them to the concept of life after birth. To some, the widespread belief ( in reincarnation), both in the past and present, especially in the East, and its ...
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