The Paths To Salvation In The Bhagavad Gita
The Paths to Salvation in the Bhagavad Gita
The first path is the path of action. As quoted “who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction is enlightened among men” (Iv. 18). Therefore, a man is involved in action whether directly or indirectly. It is clear that Bhagavad Gita advocates for actions which are “free from desire and purpose, wishes, jealousy, and abandoning all the possessions” (Iv.19- 22). Arguably, most people are guided by wishes, desire, and purpose while executing different tasks in their life; however, it may come the point when one is possessed with jealousy especially when their friends or enemies might be doing well as opposed to them. Through jealousy, humans have ended up executing harmful actions to fellow humans such as deceiving or killing to fulfill their wishes.
In the path of action, Bhagavad Gita advocates for the human to execute tasks without looking at the “fruits’ of the actions (Iv. 20). It may be interpreted that humans are supposed to approach any situation a fair way and be satisfied by the results. The most significant aspect in the path of action is the restraining of the mind and soul while executing actions. A rightful action is the one in which the mind is fixed in doing the acts of worship (Iv. 23). The assertion that doing acts of worship melts away other actions could imply that an individual is perceived to be pure even if their bodily actions do not suggest so.
The path of knowledge is the second path to salvation. It is out of the knowledge that an individual will act in a disciplined manner. It may be argued that it largely depends on the path of knowledge. In one of the quotes, “His actions burnt up in the fire of knowledge…” (Iv. 19) Reveals that human should first seek knowledge which will guide them in discerning whether an action is right or wrong. Through knowledge, leaders are established and adopt the right way of guiding their followers. Although the path of action could lead an individual to salvation, the ignorant and fools are deemed to be attached to actions while neglecting discipline (Iv. 25-26).
The path of knowledge leads an individual to the establishment of the “Self” (Iv. 21). Evidently, most people have been influenced to act in a certain manner to make others happy. However, an individual who seeks knowledge will find means of creating their happiness. Bhagavad Gate asserts that “the enjoyments that spring from (outside) contacts are nothing but sources of misery.” (Iv. 22). It is true that individual actions spring from their mind. Thus, a knowledgeable individual will differentiate from the actions which benefit the souls from the ones which destroy it. As quoted, “religious men whose minds are controlled….comes to knowers of the self” (Iv. 26). It may be interpreted that wise can control their bodies alongside their souls thereby attaining salvation.
The last path to salvation is the path of devotion. It can be argued that the god, son of Kunti, does not discriminate against anything offered to him as long as the giver is devoted to the worship. Evidently, the worshippers are encouraged to show devotion their actions by offering whatever may seem right before their eyes. The path of devotion “frees an individual from the bonds of action” (Iv. 28). This path gives hope to the worshippers who could have demonstrated neglect in their actions given that “a single devotion is regarded as righteous in spite of all” (31). In the path of devotion, worshippers are required to worship, pay homage to only “one” god. It could be true that the “gods” detest sharing their pride or might with other “gods.’ The worshippers are promised to reach the highest goals despite their original background by making sure that no devotee is lost (Iv. 31).
The Four Noble Truths
Buddha believed in the truths behind suffering of humans, the origin of suffering, cessation of suffering, and the path towards the cessation of the suffering. According to Buddha’s teaching, every pain and suffering that accompanied an individual could be attributed to their actions. Notably, desire and ignorance are the primary causes of most of the human suffering. It is true that human desires for pleasure and material goods are unquenchable. Mental suffering if not physical suffering accompanies an individual who may not be able to afford for his desires.
The four Noble Truths reveal that Buddhism may be understood from a philosophical and religious point of view. The First Noble Truth, for instance, identifies the presence of suffering in human life. In human life, suffering may come in many forms including sickness, old age, and death. However, some suffering may be inflicted upon an individual out of their desire and cravings which may be unfulfilled. Thus, humans should be ready to acknowledge the presence of suffering in their life before finding its causes.
The Second Noble Truth may be interpreted from a philosophical and a religious point of view. According to Buddhist, suffering befalls an individual out of their desires. From a religious perspective, the teaching could be contrasted to other religions such as Christianity which believes that man’s desire led to his fall. The teaching could be used to demonstrate how individuals who seek to fulfill their bodily desires end up suffering. From a philosophical point of view, suffering could befall individuals who are not willing to seek knowledge and wisdom before acting. It is through insight that an individual perceives the world as it should be. Additionally, knowledge helps such an individual to understand how vices such as hatred, greed, and envy could result in their suffering.
The Third Noble truth may be understood from the end of the religion. Although the Buddhist believe in the purification of mind, shunning all evil and doing good as the end of suffering in human’s life, the teachings do not reveal what happens after the death of an individual. It is also difficult to establish how an individual is liberated from their suffering in their quest to do good things. Therefore, it may be argued that Buddhism ends when the believer dies.
The Fourth Noble Truth lays the foundation for the eight divisions which are assumed to be the paths to the cessation of suffering in Buddhism. The eight divisions which encompass the right understanding, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration may be addressed from philosophical and religious points of view. Many religions have set out what they would be regarded as the ethical guidelines for the believers’ relationships and the relationship with their “gods.” It is evident that Buddha never saw suffering as brought about by the “gods.”
How religious Buddhism can be reconciled with philosophical Buddhism
The teachings of Buddha on suffering could not appeal to anyone. For instance, arguing that an individual who suffers from chronic diseases should question their desires may fall short of reasoning that individuals may find themselves in sufferings they cannot be held accountable. Evidently, the Fourth Noble Truth may not be used in ending such suffering. Therefore Buddha’s teachings fall short of explaining natural sufferings.
Religious Buddhism would call for meditation as a strategy to develop insight into the followers. Unfortunately, no single follower may have the same insight as for the other through meditation. Religious Buddhism should embrace a set of beliefs which may guide its followers. It may be difficult for the Buddhist followers to assert that following the teachings such as right understanding and the right speech amounts to Buddhism religion. These are purely philosophical stances which are defined to ensure that good relations among people are enhanced. The truth may be diverse for different people, thus, sticking to the belief that one truth overrides others may be short of the truth about nature.
The fact that Buddhist teachings call upon the followers to search for the truth makes it difficult to define Buddhism from a religious perspective. As a religion, Buddhism falls short of addressing human life apart from suffering. However, the teaching could derive a religion in which believers strive to empower themselves from their thoughts and relations with fellow human beings.