Thursday, February 4, 2010

Many Paths to the Summit

The first religion I'm covering in my World Religions course is Hinduism. Hinduism has several unique features. First, it has no single founder. Secondly, it is not an "organized" religion as it has no central organizing authority. Therefore, there are a great varieties of beliefs and practices under the Hinduism umbrella.

What I most appreciate about Hinduism is that it offers a variety of spiritual paths to achieve "moksha," a word meaning "liberation." The goal of Hinduism is the liberation of the soul ("atman") and union with the Universal Spirit (Brahman). Christianity, Buddhism and several other religions are considered valid spiritual paths by Hindus.

One of the the images that comes from Hinduism is that there are many paths that lead to the same summit. Not everyone has to take the same path to reach the goal. Another Hindu image is of many streams flowing into one large river.

I appreciate this gift of celebrating diverse spiritual paths. We do not need to convert others to our own path. We can affirm them in their own choice of a spiritual path. I think the religious world would be a better place if we practiced the "live and let live" spirituality of Hinduism.

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