There are two things every religion in the world agrees on. First, they all agree there’s something wrong with our world. Second, they all offer some ideal future. But that’s where the similarities end.
In Hinduism the “problem” is Samsara, or the cycle of reincarnation. The goal is Moksha or freedom from this cycle. And the way we experience freedom from Samsara is through: karma marga (the way of action and ritual); jnana marga (the way of knowledge and meditation); bhakti marga (the way of devotion).
As an Eastern religion, Buddhism possesses similarities with Hinduism. Freedom from this continuous cycle of reincarnation, Nirvana, is the goal and it’s achieved through The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.
Four Noble Truths:
1st Noble Truth = Life consists of suffering (dukkha); pain, misery, sorrow, unfulfillment
2nd Noble Truth = Everything is impermanent and ever-changing; we suffer because we desire those things that are impermanent
3rd Noble Truth = The way to liberate oneself from suffering is by eliminating all desire. We must stop craving that which is impermanent
4th Noble Truth = Desire can be eliminated by following the Eightfold Path
1. Right understanding
2. Right thought
ETHICAL CONDUCT (Sila)
3. Right speech
4. Right action
5. Right livelihood
MENTAL DISCIPLINE (Samadhi)
6. Right effort
7. Right awareness
8. Right meditation
With Islam, reaching Paradise basically boils down to:
All three of these directly or implicitly state there’s something wrong with our world and they all offer an ideal future. So does Christianity.
But there’s one thing Christianity has these don’t: GRACE.
For me, this fact isn’t theoretical. It’s experiential. I have had the incredible privilege of talking with people well-versed in these various religions and one talking point I have explored with all of them is the concept of grace. For all of them, shortcomings are compensated for by trying harder or doing better next time. The notion of forgiveness and receiving unmerited favor was foreign to them.
The takeaway for me in all of this was never to forget to emphasize again and again the uniqueness of Christianity that Jesus offers us: a gospel of grace.