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Adharma is opposition to divine law. Dharma is to the individual what its normal development is to a seed--the orderly fulfillment of an inherent nature and destiny. The Tirukural verses reminds us, "Dharma yields Heaven's honor and Earth's wealth. What is there then that is more fruitful for a man? There is nothing more rewarding than dharma, nor anything more ruinous than its neglect. There are good reasons for Hindus and non-Hindus alike to study and understand the nature of Hinduism. The vast geographical and cultural expanses that separate continents, peoples and religions are becoming increasingly bridged as our world grows closer together.

Revolutions in communications, the Internet, business, travel and global migration are making formerly distant peoples neighbors, sometimes reluctantly. It is crucial, if we are to get along in an increasingly pluralistic world, that Earth's peoples learn about and appreciate the religions, cultures, viewpoints and concerns of their planetary neighbors. The Sanatana Dharma, with its sublime tolerance and belief in the all-pervasiveness of Divinity, has much to contribute in this regard.

Nowhere on Earth have religions lived and thrived in such close and harmonious proximity as in India. For thousands of years India has been a home to followers of virtually every major world religion, the exemplar of tolerance toward all paths. Today over one hundred million Indians are Muslim, for the most part magnanimously accepted by their majority Hindu neighbors. Such religious amity has occurred out of an abiding respect for all genuine religious pursuits. The oft-quoted axiom that conveys this attitude is "Ekam sat anekah panthah," "Truth is one, paths are many.

India's original faith offers a rare look at a peaceful, rational and practical path for making sense of our world, for gaining personal spiritual insight, and as a potential blueprint for grounding our society in a more spiritually rewarding worldview. Hinduism boasts teachings and practices reaching back 8, years and more, its history dwarfing most other religions.

In fact, there is no specific time in history when it began. It is said to have started with time itself. To emphasize the relative ages of the major religions, and the antiquity of Hinduism, Raimon Panikkar, author of The Vedic Experience, cleverly reduced them to proportionate human years, with each years of history representing one year of human life. Viewed this way, Sikhism, the youngest faith, is five years old. Islam, the only teenager, is fourteen.

Christianity just turned twenty. Buddhism, Taoism, Jainism and Confucianism are twenty-five. Zoroastrianism is twenty-six. Shintoism is in its late twenties. Judaism is a mature thirty-seven. Hinduism, whose birthday remains unknown, is at least eighty years old--the white-bearded grandfather of living spirituality on this planet. Unsurprisingly, it is seen by its followers as not merely another religious tradition, but as a way of life and the quintessential foundation of human culture and spirituality.

It is, to Hindus, the most accurate possible description of the way things are--eternal truths, natural principles, inherent in the universe that form the basis of culture and prosperity. Understanding this venerable religion allows all people to fathom the source and essence of human religiosity--to marvel at the oldest example of the Eternal Path that is reflected in all faiths. While million Hindus live in India, forming 85 percent of the population, tens of millions reside across the globe and include followers from nearly every nationality, race and ethnic group in the world.

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The US alone is home to 2. All major religions are based upon a specific set of teachings encoded in sacred scripture. Christianity has the Bible, for example, and Islam has the Koran. Hinduism proudly embraces an incredibly rich collection of scripture; in fact, the largest body of sacred texts known to man. The holiest and most revered are the Vedas and Agamas, two massive compendia of shruti that which is "heard" , revealed by God to illumined sages centuries and millennia ago.

It is said the Vedas are general and the Agamas specific, as the Agamas speak directly to the details of worship, the yogas, mantra, tantra, temple building and such. The most widely known part of the Vedas are the Upanishads, which form the more general philosophical foundations of the faith.

The array of secondary scripture, known as smriti that which is "remembered" , is equally vast, the most prominent and widely celebrated of which are the Itihasas epic dramas and history--specifically the Ramayana and Mahabharata and the Puranas sacred history and mythology. The ever-popular Bhagavad Gita is a small portion of the Mahabharata. The Vedic arts and sciences, including ayurveda, astrology, music, dance, architecture, statecraft, domestic duty and law, are reflected in an assembly of texts known as Vedangas and Upavedas. Moreover, through the ages God-Realized souls, sharing their experience, have poured forth volume upon volume that reveal the wonders of yoga and offer passionate hymns of devotion and illumination.

The creation of Hindu scripture continues to this day, as contemporary masters reiterate the timeless truths to guide souls on the path to Divinity. A clear sign that a person is a Hindu is that he embraces Hindu scripture as his guide and solace through life. While the Vedas are accepted by all denominations, each lineage defines which other scriptures are regarded as central and authoritative for its followers.

Further, each devotee freely chooses and follows one or more favorite scriptures within his tradition, be it a selection of Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Tirumantiram or the writings of his own guru. This free-flowing, diversified approach to scripture is unique to the Hindu faith. Scripture here, however, does not have the same place as it does in many other faiths. For genuine spiritual progress to take place, its wisdom must not be merely studied and preached, but lived and experienced as one's own.

Some descriptions of Hinduism wrongly state that Hindus do not believe in a one Supreme Being but worship a multiplicity of supreme Gods. A common way that this misconception shows up is in the idea that Hindus worship a trinity of Gods: Brahma, the Creator, Vishnu, the Preserver, and Siva, the Destroyer. To the Hindu, these three are aspects of the one Supreme Being.

Understanding Christianity - The Hindu Way

Indeed, with its vast array of Divinities, Hinduism may, to an outsider, appear polytheistic--a term avidly employed as a criticism of choice, as if the idea of many Gods were primitive and false. But ask any Hindu, and he will tell you that he worships the One Supreme Being, just as do Christians, Jews, Muslims and those of nearly all major faiths.

If he is a Saivite, he calls that God Siva. If he is a Smarta Hindu, he will worship as supreme one Deity chosen from a specific pantheon of Gods. If a Vaishnava Hindu, he will revere Vishnu or one of His earthly incarnations, called avatars, especially Krishna or Rama. Thus, it is impossible to say all Hindus believe this or that. Some venerate God as male, others as female, while still others hold that God is not limited by gender, which is an aspect of physical bodies. This freedom, we could say, makes for the richest understanding and perception of God.

Hindus accept all genuine spiritual paths--from pure monism, which concludes that "God alone exists," to theistic dualism, which asks, "When shall I know His Grace? God is unimaginably transcendent yet ubiquitously immanent in all things. He is creator and He is the creation. He is not a remote God who rules from above, but an intimate Lord who abides within all as the essence of everything. There is no corner of creation in which God is not present.

He is farther away than the farthest star and closer than our breath. If His presence were to be removed from any one thing, that thing would cease to exist. A crucial point, often overlooked, is that having one Supreme God does not repudiate the existence of lesser Divinities. Just as Christianity acknowledges great spiritual beings who dwell near God, such as the cherubim and seraphim possessing both human and animal features , so Hindus revere Mahadevas, or "great angels," who were created by the Supreme Lord and who serve and adore Him. Each denomination worships the Supreme God and its own pantheon of divine beings.

The elephant-faced Lord Ganesha is among the most popular, and is perhaps the only Deity worshiped by Hindus of all denominations. There are Gods and Goddesses of strength, yoga, learning, art, music, wealth and culture. There are also minor divinities, village Gods and Goddesses, who are invoked for protection, health and such earthy matters as a fruitful harvest.

What does Hinduism say about the soul? The driving imperative to know oneself--to answer the questions "Who am I? Hindu teachings on the nature of self are as philosophically profound as they are pragmatic. We are more than our physical body, our mind, emotions and intellect, with which we so intimately identify every moment of our life, but which are temporary, imperfect and limiting.

Our true self is our immortal soul, the eternal, perfect and unlimited inner essence, a pure being of scintillating light unseen by the human eye, undetectable by any of the human senses, which are its tools for living in this physical world. Our soul is the source of all our higher functions, including knowledge, will and love.

It is neither male nor female. The essence of our soul, which was never created, is immanent love and transcendent reality and is identical and eternally one with God. The Vedas explain, "The soul is born and unfolds in a body, with dreams and desires and the food of life. And then it is reborn in new bodies, in accordance with its former works. The quality of the soul determines its future body; earthly or airy, heavy or light. The Vedas teach that the Divine resides in all beings. Our true, spiritual essence is, like God, eternal, blissful, good, wise and beautiful by nature.

The joining of God and the soul is known as yoga. We spend so much of our time pursuing beauty, knowledge and bliss in the world, not knowing that these objects of our desire are already within us as attributes of our own soul. If we turn our focus within through worship and meditation, identifying with our true spiritual self, we can discover an infinite inner treasure that easily rivals the greatest wealth of this world.

Hinduism is a mystical religion, leading the devotee to personally experience the Truth within, finally reaching the pinnacle of consciousness where the realization is attained that man and God are one. As divine souls, we are evolving into union with God through the process of reincarnation. We are immortal souls living and growing in the great school of earthly experience in which we have lived many lives. Knowing this gives followers a great security, eliminating the fear and dread of death. The Hindu does not take death to be the end of existence, as does the atheist.

Nor does he look upon life as a singular opportunity, to be followed by eternal heavenly existence for those souls who do well, and by unending hell for those who do not. Death for the Hindu is the most exalted of experiences, a profound transition from this world to the next, simultaneously an end and a new beginning. Despite the heartening glory of our true nature spoken of in scripture, most souls are unaware of their spiritual self. This ignorance or "veiling grace" is seen in Hinduism as God's purposeful limiting of awareness, which allows us to evolve.

It is this narrowing of our awareness, coupled with a sense of individualized ego, that allows us to look upon the world and our part in it from a practical, human point of view. The ultimate goal of life, in the Hindu view, is called moksha, liberation from rebirth. This comes when earthly karma has been resolved, dharma has been well performed and God is fully realized. All souls, without exception, are destined to achieve the highest states of enlightenment, perfect spiritual maturity and liberation, but not necessarily in this life.

Hindus understand this and do not delude themselves that this life is the last. While seeking and attaining profound realizations, they know there is much to be done in fulfilling life's other three goals: righteousness, wealth and pleasure. In some Hindu traditions, the destiny of the soul after liberation is perceived as eternal and blissful enjoyment of God's presence in the heavenly realms, a form of salvation given by God through grace, similar to most Abrahamic faiths.

In others, the soul's destiny is perfect union in God or in the Infinite All, a state of oneness. From the Hindu perspective, the world is the place where our destiny is shaped, our desires fulfilled and our soul matured. Without the world, known as maya, the soul could not evolve through experience. In the world, we grow from ignorance into wisdom, from darkness into light and from a consciousness of death to immortality. The whole world is an ashram in which all are evolving spiritually. We must love the world, which is God's creation. Those who despise, hate and fear the world do not understand the intrinsic goodness of all.

The world is a glorious place, not to be feared. The Vedas advise, "Behold the universe in the glory of God, and all that lives and moves on Earth. Leaving the transient, find joy in the Eternal. There is a false concept, commonly found in academic texts, that Hinduism is world-negating. This depiction was foisted upon the world by 19th-century Western missionary Orientalists traveling in India for the first time and reporting back about its starkest and strangest aspects, not unlike what Western journalists tend to do today. The wild-looking, world-renouncing yogis, taking refuge in caves, denying the senses and thus the world, were of sensational interest, and their world-abandonment became, through the scholars' eyes, characteristic of the entire religion.

Hinduism's essential, time-tested monastic tradition makes it no more world-negating than Christianity or Buddhism, which likewise have traditions of renunciate men and women living apart from the world in spiritual pursuits. While Sanatana Dharma proudly upholds such severe ways of life for the few, it is very much a family-oriented faith that supports acquisition of wealth, the pursuit of life's pleasures and a full engagement in society's spiritual, intellectual and emotional joys.

The vast majority of followers are engaged in family life, firmly grounded in responsibilities in the world. Young Hindu adults are encouraged to marry; marriages are encouraged to yield an abundance of children; children are guided to live in virtue, fulfill duty and contribute to the community. The emphasis is not on self-fulfillment and freedom but on duty and the welfare of the community, as expressed in the phrase, "Bahujan hitaya, bahujan sukhaya," meaning "the welfare of the many and the happiness of the many.

Hindu scriptures speak of three worlds of existence: the physical, subtle and causal. The physical plane is the world of gross or material substance in which phenomena are perceived by the five senses. It is the most limited of worlds, the least permanent and the most subject to change. The subtle plane is the mental-emotional sphere that we function in through thought and feeling and reside in fully during sleep and after death. It is the astral world that exists within the physical plane.

The causal plane pulsates at the core of being, deep within the subtle plane.

Beschreibung des Verlags

It is the superconscious world where the Gods and highly evolved souls live and can be accessed through yoga and temple worship. Hindus believe that God created the world and all things in it. He creates and sustains from moment to moment every atom of the seen physical and unseen spiritual universe. Everything is within Him. He is within everything. God created us. He created time and gravity, the vast spaces and the uncounted stars. Creation is not the making of a separate thing, but an emanation of Himself. God creates, constantly sustains the form of His creations and absorbs them back into Himself.

According to Hinduism, the creation, preservation and dissolution of the universe is an endless cycle. The creation and preservation portion of each cycle is a period of approximately trillion years, at which point Mahapralaya, the Great Dissolution, occurs. Mahapralaya is the absorption of all existence--including time, space and individual consciousness, all the worlds and their inhabitants--in God, a return of all things to the source, sometimes likened to the water of a river returning to the sea.

Then God alone exists until He again issues forth creation. Hinduism has three sustaining pillars: temple worship, scripture and the guru-disciple tradition. Around these all spiritual disciplines revolve, including prayer, meditation and ritual worship in the home and temple, study of scripture, recitation of mantras, pilgrimage to holy places, austerity, selfless service, generous giving, good conduct and the various yogas.

Festivals and singing of holy hymns are dynamic activities. Temples hold a central place of importance in Hindu life. Whether they be small village sanctuaries or towering citadels, they are esteemed as God's consecrated abode. In the temple Hindus draw close to the Divine and find a refuge from the world. God's grace, permeating everywhere, is most easily known within these holy precincts.

It is in this purified milieu, where the three worlds physical, astral and causal commune most perfectly, that devotees can establish harmony with God, the Gods and their angelic helpers, called devas.

Traditional temples are specially sanctified, possessing a ray of spiritual energy connecting them to the celestial worlds. Temple rituals, performed by Hindu priests, take the form of puja, a ceremony in which the ringing of bells, passing of flames, presenting of offerings and intoning of chants invoke the devas and Gods, who then come to bless and help the devotees. Personal worship during puja may be an expression of festive celebration of important events in life, of adoration and thanksgiving, penance and confession, prayerful supplication and requests, or contemplation at the deepest levels of superconsciousness.

The stone or metal Deity images enshrined in the temple are not mere symbols of God and the Gods; they are not mere inert idols but the forms through which divine love, power and blessings flood forth from the inner world of the Gods into this physical world. Devout Hindus adore the image as the Deity's physical body, knowing that the God or Goddess is actually present and conscious in it during puja, aware of devotees' thoughts and feelings and even sensing the priest's gentle touch on the metal or stone.

Priests, known as pujaris, hold a central place of honor and importance. Each temple has its own staff of priests. Best-selling author and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins puts forward his explanation based on such findings. Ironically, it is also science that has recently given a new impetus to teleological thinking by providing data strongly suggesting the impossibility of random development in the creation of the universe and the appearance of life e.

While scientific approaches to the meaning of life aim to describe relevant empirical facts about human existence, philosophers are concerned about the relationship between ideas such as the proper interpretation of empirical data. Philosophers have considered such questions as: "Is the question 'What is the meaning of life? Whether the answer to the question about a divine creator is yes, no, or "not applicable," the question will come up.

Introduction to Hinduism

Nevertheless, philosophy and religion significantly differ in much of their approach to the question. Hence, they will be treated separately. Essentialist views generally start with the assumption that there is a common essence in human beings, human nature, and that this nature is the starting point for any evaluation of the meaning of life. In classic philosophy, from Plato 's idealism to Descartes ' rationalism , humans have been seen as rational beings or "rational animals.

Reason , in that context, also has a strong value-oriented and ethical connotation. Philosophers such as Socrates , Plato, Descartes, Spinoza , and many others had views about what sort of life is best and hence most meaningful. Aristotle believed that the pursuit of happiness is the Highest Good, and that such is achievable through our uniquely human capacity to reason. The notion of the highest good as the rational aim in life can still be found in later thinkers like Kant.

A strong ethical connotation can be found in the Ancient Stoics , while Epicureanism saw the meaning of life in the search for the highest pleasure or happiness. All these views have in common the assumption that it is possible to discover, and then practice, whatever is seen as the highest good through rational insight, hence the term "philosophy"—the love of wisdom. With Plato, the wisdom to discover the true meaning of life is found in connection with the notion of the immortal soul that completes its course in earthly life once it liberates itself from the futile earthly goals.

1. Introduction - -- CRITICAL LIMITS --

In medieval and modern philosophy , the Platonic and Aristotelian views were incorporated in a worldview centered on the theistic concept of the Will of God as the determinant factor for the meaning of our life, which was then seen as achieving moral perfection in ways pleasing to God. Modern philosophy came to experience considerable struggle in its attempt to make this view compatible with the rational discourse of a philosophy free of any prejudice.

With Kant, the given of a God and his will fell away as a possible rational certainty. This development would gradually lead to the later supremacy of an existentialist discussion of the meaning of life, since such a position starts with the self and its choices, rather than with a purpose given "from above. Existentialist views concerning the meaning of life are based on the idea that it is only personal choices and commitments that can give any meaning to life since, for an individual, life can only be his or her life, and not an abstractly given entity.

By going this route, existentialist thinkers seek to avoid the trappings of dogmatism and pursue a more genuine route. That road, however, is inevitably filled with doubt and hesitation. With the refusal of committing oneself to an externally given ideal comes the limitation of certainty to that alone which one chooses. Presenting essentialism and existentialism as strictly divided currents would undoubtedly amount to a caricature, hence such a distinction can only be seen as defining a general trend.

It is very clear, however, that philosophical thought from the mid-nineteenth century on has been strongly marked by the influence of existentialism. These developments also need to be studied in the context of modern and contemporary historical events leading to the World Wars. The individual is then left with the burning question whether there still remains an even more fundamental, self-transcending meaning to existence.

For Kierkegaard, an individual can have a meaningful life or at least one free of despair if the individual relates the self in an unconditional commitment despite the inherent vulnerability of doing so in the midst our doubt. Genuine meaning is thus possible once the individual reaches the third, or religious, stage of life. Although not generally categorized as an existentialist philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer offered his own bleak answer to "what is the meaning of life?

The essence of reality is thus seen by Schopenhauer as totally negative, the only promise of salvation, deliverance, or at least escape from suffering being found in world-denying existential attitudes such as aesthetic contemplation, sympathy for others, and asceticism. Twentieth-century thinkers like Martin Heidegger and Jean-Paul Sartre are representative of a more extreme form of existentialism where the existential approach takes place within the framework of atheism , rather than Christianity. Gabriel Marcel , on the other hand, is an example of Christian existentialism.

Existentialism is thus an orientation of the mind that can be filled with the greatest variety of content, leading to vastly different conclusions.


Skepticism has always been a strong undercurrent in the history of thought, as uncertainty about meaning and purpose has always existed even in the context of the strongest commitment to a certain view. Skepticism can also be called an everyday existential reality for every human being, alongside whatever commitments or certainties there may be.

To some, it takes on the role of doubt to be overcome or endured. To others, it leads to a negative conclusion concerning our possibility of making any credible claim about the meaning of our life. Skepticism in philosophy has existed since antiquity where it formed several schools of thought in Greece and in Rome. Until recent times, however, overt skepticism has remained a minority position. With the collapse of traditional certainties, skepticism has become increasingly prominent in social and cultural life.

Ironically, because of its very nature of denying the possibility of certain knowledge, it is not a position that has produced major thinkers, at least not in its pure form. The philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein and logical positivism , as well as the whole tradition of analytical philosophy represent a particular form of skepticism in that they challenge the very meaningfulness of questions like "the meaning of life," questions that do not involve verifiable statements.

Whereas skepticism denies the possibility of certain knowledge and thus rejects any affirmative statement about the meaning of life, nihilism amounts to a flat denial of such meaning or value. Friedrich Nietzsche characterized nihilism as emptying the world and especially human existence of meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, or essential value. The term nihilism itself comes from the Latin nihil, which means "nothing. Nihilism thus explores the notion of existence without meaning. Though nihilism tends toward defeatism, one can find strength and reason for celebration in the varied and unique human relationships it explores.

From a nihilist point of view, morals are valueless and only hold a place in society as false ideals created by various forces. The characteristic that distinguishes nihilism from other skeptical or relativist philosophies is that, rather than merely insisting that values are subjective or even unwarranted, nihilism declares that nothing is of value, as the name implies. Pragmatic philosophers suggest that rather than a truth about life, we should seek a useful understanding of life. William James argued that truth could be made but not sought.

Thus, the meaning of life is a belief about the purpose of life that does not contradict one's experience of a purposeful life. Roughly, this could be applied as: "The meaning of life is those purposes which cause you to value it. Pragmatism is a school of philosophy which originated in the United States in the late s. Pragmatism is characterized by the insistence on consequences, utility and practicality as vital components of truth. Pragmatism objects to the view that human concepts and intellect represent reality, and therefore stands in opposition to both formalist and rationalist schools of philosophy.

Rather, pragmatism holds that it is only in the struggle of intelligent organisms with the surrounding environment that theories and data acquire significance. Pragmatism does not hold, however, that just anything that is useful or practical should be regarded as true, or anything that helps us to survive merely in the short-term; pragmatists argue that what should be taken as true is that which most contributes to the most human good over the longest course.

In practice, this means that for pragmatists, theoretical claims should be tied to verification practices—i. Human purpose is determined by humans, completely without supernatural influence. Nor does knowledge come from supernatural sources, it flows from human observation, experimentation, and rational analysis preferably utilizing the scientific method: the nature of the universe is what we discern it to be. As are ethical values, which are derived from human needs and interests as tested by experience.

Enlightened self-interest is at the core of humanism. The most significant thing in life is the human being , and by extension, the human race and the environment in which we live. The happiness of the individual is inextricably linked to the well-being of humanity as a whole, in part because we are social animals which find meaning in relationships, and because cultural progress benefits everybody who lives in that culture.

When the world improves, life in general improves, so, while the individual desires to live well and fully, humanists feel it is important to do so in a way that will enhance the well-being of all. While the evolution of the human species is still for the most part a function of nature, the evolution of humanity is in our hands and it is our responsibility to progress it toward its highest ideals. In the same way, humanism itself is evolving, because humanists recognize that values and ideals, and therefore the meaning of life, are subject to change as our understanding improves.

Atheism in its strictest sense means the belief that no God or Supreme Being of any type or number exists, and by extension that neither the universe nor its inhabitants were created by such a Being. Because atheists reject supernatural explanations for the existence of life, lacking a deistic source, they commonly point to blind abiogenesis as the most likely source for the origin of life. As for the purpose of life, there is no one particular atheistic view. Some atheists argue that since there are no gods to tell us what to value, we are left to decide for ourselves.

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Some believe that life is nothing more than a byproduct of insensate natural forces and has no underlying meaning or grand purpose. Other atheists are indifferent towards the question, believing that talking about meaning without specifying "meaning to whom" is an incoherent or incomplete thought this can also fit with the idea of choosing the meaning of life for oneself.

These answers also remain independently as core statements based on the claim to be the product of revelation or enlightenment, rather than human reflection. Judaism regards life as a precious gift from God ; precious not only because it is a gift from God, but because, for humans, there is a uniqueness attached to that gift. Of all the creatures on Earth, humans are created in the image of God. Our lives are sacred and precious because we carry within us the divine image, and with it, unlimited potential.

While Judaism teaches about elevating yourself in spirituality, connecting to God, it also teaches that you are to love your neighbor: "Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself" Leviticus We are to practice it in this world Olam Hazeh to prepare ourselves for Olam Haba the world to come.

Kabbalah takes it one step further. The Zohar states that the reason for life is to better one's soul. The soul descends to this world and endures the trials of this life, so that it can reach a higher spiritual state upon its return to the source. Christians draw many of their beliefs from the Bible, and believe that loving God and one's neighbor is the meaning of life. In order to achieve this, one would ask God for the forgiveness of one's own sins, and one would also forgive the sins of one's fellow humans.

By forgiving and loving one's neighbor, one can receive God into one's heart: "But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked" Luke Christianity believes in an eternal afterlife , and declares that it is an unearned gift from God through the love of Jesus Christ , which is to be received or forfeited by faith Ephesians ; Romans ; John ; Christians believe they are being tested and purified so that they may have a place of responsibility with Jesus in the eternal Kingdom to come.

What the Christian does in this life will determine his place of responsibility with Jesus in the eternal Kingdom to come. Jesus encouraged Christians to be overcomers, so that they might share in the glorious reign with him in the life to come: "To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne" Revelation The Bible states that it is God "in whom we live and move and have our being" Acts , and that to fear God is the beginning of wisdom , and to depart from evil is the beginning of understanding Job The Bible also says, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" 1 Corinthians In Islam the ultimate objective of man is to seek the pleasure of Allah by living in accordance with the divine guidelines as stated in the Qur'an and the tradition of the Prophet.

The Qur'an clearly states that the whole purpose behind the creation of man is for glorifying and worshipping Allah: "I only created jinn and man to worship Me" Qur'an Worshiping in Islam means to testify to the oneness of God in his lordship, names and attributes. Part of the divine guidelines, however, is almsgiving zakat , one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Also regarding the ethic of reciprocity among fellow humans, the Prophet teaches that "None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself" An-Nawawi's Forty Hadiths The esoteric Muslim view, generally held by Sufis , the universe exists only for God's pleasure.

For Hindus, the purpose of life is described by the purusharthas , the four ends of human life. Dharma connotes general moral and ethical ideas such as honesty, responsibility, respect, and care for others, which people fulfill in the course of life as a householder and contributing member of society. Those who renounce home and career practice a life of meditation and austerities to reach Moksha. Hinduism is an extremely diverse religion.

Brahman is described as "The One Without a Second"; hence these schools are called " non-dualist. Other Hindu schools, such as the dualist Dvaita Vedanta and other bhakti schools, understand Brahman as a Supreme Being who possesses personality. Jainism teaches that every human is responsible for his or her actions. The Jain view of karma is that every action, every word, every thought produces, besides its visible, an invisible, transcendental effect on the soul.

The ethical system of Jainism promotes self-discipline above all else. By following the ascetic teachings of the Tirthankara or Jina, the 24 enlightened spiritual masters, a human can reach a point of enlightenment , where he or she attains infinite knowledge and is delivered from the cycle of reincarnation beyond the yoke of karma. That state is called Siddhashila. Although Jainism does not teach the existence of God s , the ascetic teachings of the Tirthankara are highly developed regarding right faith, right knowledge, and right conduct.

The meaning of life consists in achievement of complete enlightenment and bliss in Siddhashila by practicing them.