Essay about Reincarnation and Life

Submitted By T-Trotman
Words: 1554
Pages: 7

T Andrew Trotman
Week 10 Assignment 1
Life After Death
REL 212: World Religions
Professor Dr. James W Wilcox
14 DEC 2014

Throughout the existence of humanity, many aspects of life have guided us towards belief in the unseen, a greater power or creator, and a higher calling. Amongst those calls to higher belief are the realities of death. Death has remained one if the greatest mysteries to riddle human kind throughout our existence, and is likely to continue to do so far into the future. While all indicators suggest that we may have come from the same point of origin, a question remains: Are we all headed to an identical place upon the culmination of life? Religious pursuits have delivered humanity to a wide variation of beliefs upon the nature of a life after death. The major religions found throughout the world tend to follow belief in one of two life cycle models: life as a rope of sorts or a progression of spirit from point ‘A’ at birth to point ‘B’ upon passing, and life as a continuous circle or ring in which the soul cycles between lives with no definitive end or beginning. Amongst newer religions, much less pattern is common. While some might follow the paradigm or even be culminated of older religions, the beliefs of any new religion without another parent religion cannot be forecasted without insight. Not to be left without mention, there are various religions of both age depths in which a portion of followers subscribe to an afterlife belief that is not strictly taught by the religion as a whole. While Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism are their own well-established religions, one of their greatest points of converging belief is within the topic of life after death. Hindu and Jain belief both observe a cycle in reincarnation highly dependent upon previous lives. In said belief, the inner-self moves on to another higher or lower form upon death, which is dependent upon actions and previous life lived. Buddha too accepted the basic notions of the Hindu and Jain afterlife, and their cycle of reincarnation. This essentially spoke that Karma from life will affect the rebirth to come, and that this was a cycle that would continue until one reached spiritual wholeness. All three religions teach ascension to a God-like state or oneness with God beyond the culmination of a life lead in complete spiritual oneness. The greatest divergence in this belief system is Jainism’s hell. “Unlike hell imagery in most other systems, the eight hells of Jainism become progressively colder as they go down. Suffering in these hells is not eternal. Once a soul has been severely punished, he or she is reborn into another form” (Religion Facts, 2004). Confucianism, Daoism (or Taoism), and Shinto are religions that live in an intermediary or grey area just beyond the afterlife teachings of the central religions of reincarnation. “In no area is the lack of a single unified…belief system more evident than in the case of concepts about the afterlife and salvation.” (Hardy, 2014). There is no solid or singular belief in regards to the afterlife and salvation. Some follow the path suggested by Buddhist influence in which there is a cycle of reincarnation. Others believe that there is no need to worry about salvation, because there is nothing to be saved from. Additionally, worrying about salvation gives life to the possibility of damnation, which is undesirable. The goal here is to live a simple life of oneness, and natural unity. Even still, there have been situations in Daoism in which an emperor might have been reported as having been seen ascend directly to heaven. It is also believed that the immortals may live on invisible planes of existence in places that are often difficult or impossible to reach such as mountain summits, impenetrable forests, ocean beds, the sun, the moon, and constellations. While it is not thought for such realms to be impossible to reach, doing such is not common in the least. Shintoism’s