Hinduism and Buddhism believe in reincarnation

29.03.2021 14:04

"Not only at Easter: the afterlife is a concern of all religions"

Viola van Melis Center for Science Communication
Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics” at the Westphalian Wilhelms University of Münster

Religious scholar Schmidt-Leukel examines ideas of the afterlife of world religions - "All traditions seek an answer to the human question: What comes after death?" - Concepts of heaven and hell also in Buddhism and Hinduism - Part 3 of the research podcast "Religion and Politics" by the Cluster of Excellence

According to scientists, ideas of an afterlife, as Christians celebrate Easter in the resurrection faith, shape many religions. “Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists have also developed diverse ideas about the afterlife - as an answer to the great question of humanity: Does something come after death? And if so, what? ”Says the religious scholar and theologian Prof. Dr. Perry Schmidt-Leukel from the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics” at the University of Münster. Theology must deal with such questions today in the context of the faith of all religions, that is, in an "interreligious theology". “In the religions, belief in an afterlife was usually linked to belief in an imperishable, absolute reality,” says Schmidt-Leukel, who examines ideas about the afterlife as part of his concept of interreligious theology.

"Supreme bliss in the eternal view of God"

In the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions, the afterlife is linked to ideas of supreme bliss in the eternal view of God, says the scientist. “There is no longer any death or suffering here.” The Bible and Koran speak of the hereafter as “an eternal feast”. They choose images like that of a refreshing garden in the Koran or a “golden city” in the New Testament. “The people of antiquity and the Middle Ages were partly aware,” says Schmidt-Leukel, “that it was a question of imagery. Most of the times, drastic depictions of hell as a place of endless punishment were seen as realistic. ”This point shows how strongly beliefs are subject to historical change: That the idea of ​​eternal torture is incompatible with the mercy of God was in Christianity well into the 20th century a minority opinion. Today many large churches also officially agree to this. "In evangelical and Pentecostal groups, however, the idea of ​​physical punishment from hell plays a central role to this day," says Schmidt-Leukel. “The fear of hell often served to distinguish it from other religions, because it was not infrequently assumed that all people with a 'wrong' belief go to hell.” Perry Schmidt-Leukel reports on the concept of the afterlife and the concept of interreligious theology also in episode 3 of the research podcast “Religion and Politics” on the current topic year “Belonging and demarcation”.

"Even religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism, which do not believe in a personal creator god, expect a life after death in the form of rebirth," explains the scientist. However, there are overlaps. Certain forms of belief in rebirth can also be found in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. And in Buddhism and Hinduism there is the idea of ​​rebirth in heavenly worlds and numerous hells. However, you don't stay there forever. “Part of reincarnation is that one is reborn as an animal or a ghost, but also as an inhabitant of hell or heaven. These forms of existence are not final: the goal is to ultimately overcome the cycle of reincarnation and enter timeless nirvana. "

Patchwork Religiosity and Interreligious Theology

"Great religious traditions have always absorbed numerous influences from other religions," says the religious scholar. This process of religious intermingling is intensifying in the present. “Quite a few people today cultivate a patchwork religiosity. In their personal beliefs they combine elements of different religious traditions. “Various studies have shown that around a fifth of Christians today believe in reincarnation. But that's just one example. Individual religiosity is fed by a wide variety of religious sources - through reading, traveling and personal acquaintances. ”Believers have always only known parts of their religious tradition and individually charged individual aspects with meaning. In this respect, religiosity is always “patchwork” in the individual. But in western countries these patches often - if by no means always - came from a tradition. “Today people have access to so many different worlds of imagination than ever before in human history. Thomas Aquinas may not even have read the Koran; but we can get literature from very many religious traditions in any bookstore. "

"The subject of 'life after death' is one of the classic topics of theology, it must be viewed today in an interreligious manner and no longer only on the basis of its own traditions." It is no longer up to date, "if theologies only use the scriptures of their own religion study and not include the broad religious tradition of mankind in central religious questions. ”No other science can afford to ignore relevant data. An interreligious theology that shows the inner lines of connection between the religions is essential. It draws not only on Christian sources, but also on the texts and traditions of other religions. This also applies to the growing global network. “Interreligious theology, however, must not be misunderstood as the theology of a worldwide 'unified religion'. It is a newer way of doing theology: learning through constant exchange between different denominational and religious perspectives. "(Sca / vvm)

Additional Information:

https: //www.uni-muenster.de/Religion-und-Ppolitik/podcastundvideo/Ostern_und_Jens ... To the podcast episode

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