My Dear Hindu Brothers and Sisters,
I am writing this letter to ask you a couple questions about some of your beliefs which I can’t come to reconcile, in the hope that I will get some answers and thoughts. From my basic study of Hinduism, I have become aware that Hinduism is a complex belief system, with many different sects as with most religions. Thus, I am going to stick to the main beliefs. I agree with Hindu ideology on a number of beliefs one of which is the idea that humans have an eternal soul. At the same time, there are a number of ideas in Hinduism I can’t come to reconcile. I try to explain them below.
Problem of Evil
My first dilemma with the Hindu ideology is the problem of evil. In Christian belief, the problem of evil is dealt with in this manner; the creation is separate from the creator(God). Therefore, even though evil (whatever way you cash it as) permeates the creation, the creator remains perfectly holy. But in Hindu ideology we humans are one with the Divine(Brahman)? How do you reconcile this fact? For me it’s seems heart-breaking as if that is the case then what is our hope of escape from evil in the afterlife? As that would mean evil is present and is brought into the One/Divine/God(Brahman).
Karma vs Forgiveness and Mercy
Another part of the Hindu ideology I can’t come to reconcile is related to karma and reincarnation. If I’m right, Hindu belief necessitates the belief that reincarnations(Samsara) serve the goal of teaching the soul, through life’s journey’s, so that our souls can be liberated(Moksha) and return to the divine source(Brahman). Now here’s what I can’t reconcile. If each soul had at its initial incarnation perfect karma, yet each soul failed to return to the source even while having had perfect karma. Instead, each soul is locked in the ongoing cycle of reincarnation. If the soul had not learned its lessons after experiencing perfect karma, how can it do so with imperfect karma? It seems to me that no matter how many reincarnations, no human being can really learn from past experiences and ultimately never make those mistakes ever again. I don’t know about you, but as sad as it is, there are so many things that despite the fact that I know them to be wrong and have bad consequences, I still do them sometimes.
Furthermore, when I examine Hinduism and the law of Karma. I find that the law of karma is like a law of nature — every cause has its effect and there is no place for mercy. If Hinduism is true, then the actions that bind us to this illusory realm keep accumulating, and the prospect of escape is hopelessly remote. However, when I examine Christianity I see a personal God who loves perfectly and offers forgiveness from all our wrongdoings. In the book of Matthew 11:28, Jesus spoke the words below to a group of people who felt burdened by the impossibility of attaining ‘salvation/liberation’ through their own efforts.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Also, Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son; where the son turned his back on his father and severed their relationship, but when the Son returns after having wasted all of his inheritance, his Father runs into his arms and kisses him and holds a feast to celebrate his return (Luke 15:11-32), is an excellent illustration of the personal nature of the Christian God. A God who showers us with forgiveness when we recognize and admit our wrongs.
Lack of Self identity
From my study of Hinduism, I learnt that to know the impersonal Brahman of Hinduism is to merge into the oneness of Brahman and to lose one’s identity as a distinct and separate individual. However, when I observe human nature, it seems to me that we all have a craving to stand out. When I was still in secondary school pretty much everyone hated wearing uniforms even though they were mandatory. And even when we wore them everyone found a way of standing out either by having a unique hairstyle, wristwatch, bracelet, perfume etc. This behaviour remains present even as we get older. Whether we admit it or not we naturally find joy in the fact that there are certain traits or characteristics that are unique to us as individuals and there is a drive within each of us, that makes us want to cling to those traits with all our might. It seems to me that the explanation provided by Hinduism for this behaviour is; the drive to stand out is as a result of ignorance of our separatist egos. For me that just doesn’t cut it, because if that is the case we remain guilty of this throughout our lives.
It is a pretty much a unanimous agreement amongst mankind that we are most fulfilled as persons not when we have a lot of money, or better clothes but when we are in a friendship or love relationship? Since that is the case, it’s clear to me that only a relationship with the God of all the universe who is personal, holy, and loving will provide the ultimate fulfilment. Such a fulfilling relationship is precisely what the God of the Bible offers everyone, and Hinduism doesn’t. And it’s a relationship that will last for eternity (see John 14:2-3; 17:3; Rev. 21:3).
Finally, my dear Hindu brother’s and sister’s, I would love to hear back from you on your answers and thoughts regarding my questions. Thank you