Professor Mark Wessner
Introduction to World Religions
22 November 2013
Hinduism and Christianity: Life Goals and Meditation
Every religion has its own specific beliefs and teachings concerning morality and life goals and mediation/prayer practices. For example, Hinduism believes in the continuous cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth, until broken by good deeds. Christianity believes in a singular life, death and ultimate judgment. Meditation and prayer is a very important aspect of both and stands to be a pillar to which believer’s base their faith. Being two of largest religions in the world, they prove to have the greatest influences concerning death and prayer practices both internationally and domestically. In this research paper, the morality or life goals and the practice of prayers/spiritual meditation within Christianity and Hinduism will be compared and contrasted.
Goals of Hinduism
Unlike many faith based systems, the idea of life’s goals are much more complicated when placed under the terms of the Hindu faith. Because the main belief is in reincarnation, the answer contains steps to the rebirth of the believer, either higher or lower on the karmic scale for reincarnation. This scale is based on deeds, either positive or negative during one’s lives that directly affect reincarnation. “Karma run wheel of birth, death, and rebirth…” (Fisher, 2011) Karma, as most have heard, is the direct action and reaction of karmatic retribution that determines a believer’s status upon rebirth and during life. The scale is sliding, meaning that the more good deeds that are done, the better the believers’ status and rebirth will become. The more bad deeds and the opposite is true. This ideology is especially prudent when the breaking of the physical life or samsara reaches fruition through just and good deeds through many reincarnations, or Moksha is achieved. Moksha is liberation from the limitations of space, time, and matter through realization of the immortal Absolute. (Fisher, 2011). By placing the ultimate goal of life so heavily on completed good deeds, the believer is then catapulted into a constant mindset of love and moral servitude towards man. This concept is especially evident within the daily teachings of the Hindu faith. According to Sri Gupal Meshta, “Man’s only prospect is to sew positive morality into the world and in turn, harvest that which he has planted throughout many lives.”
Stages of the Hindu Life
The Hinduism believer’s life is broken down into four stages that, when successfully coupled with positive moral works, ultimately culminates with obtaining God and Maksha. The first stage is celibacy and learning, this lasts until 25 years of age. The second stage is man’s acceptance of the responsibility of a married house holder and provider. This stage is held in high esteem, as the house head makes all other stages possible by supplying fiscal means and supporting the society in which he lives. Hinduism considers the house holder and his family to be a pillar of the success of the faith in society, as referred to by Sri Gupal Meshta; “Treasure in samsara is measured by children’s success and faith, good natured children with strong moral stature is the only testament to a man’s success as a house holder.” The third stage is retirement; after children have successfully moved on to begin their own lives. This stage is considered one of rest, after a long life. It is also the stage in which man readies himself for the fourth and final stage of life. The Final stage, and possibly, the most outward showing of devotion, is a complete resignation from the physical reality. One’s only occupation is to seek God full-time and only live on whatever is attainable from day to day.
Personal Paths in Hinduism
Although the four life stages are strongly rooted, the means of attaining God are much more flexible than Christianity and based more personally on the believer’s psychological makeup. The