Editor’s note: “Spiritual leaders answer” is a weekly column inviting Kaua‘i’s religious and spiritual leaders to share their doctrine’s perspective on a suggested subject. Every Friday a topic is printed inviting a response. Submissions are edited for content and length. Thoughts or suggestions for future topics are always welcome. Next week’s topic is the ocean. The topic at the end of the column is for the following week.
Lama Tashi Dundrup
Kaua‘i Dharma Center
This Catholic word means to be saved or granted access to a heavenly realm or to be born again. Spiritually, according to the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni, this is not necessary and in some cases is counterproductive or delusional. Our relative mind or nature is caught in a loop of emotional involvement in which we believe or think about the phenomenal world, which we are perceiving through our five senses.
This emotional habit or preoccupation distorts what we perceive and think about to be real, when in fact it is totally illusory. This is called ignorance, stupidity or bewilderment and is the cause of immense pain and suffering in the human, animal and spirit worlds and destruction of our natural habitat.
The antidote or medicinal remedy to this is acquired through the spiritual discipline of our mind, body and speech. This spiritual discipline basically is to discover the mind, which is the heart’s true ultimate nature of clarity or awareness. This inherent or intrinsic state of awareness breaks the habit of emotional involvement to what we think or believe and to what we perceive through the five senses as being real. Therefore, the result is the removal of all pain and suffering which we call Buddhahood and some call salvation.
Pastor Wayne Patton
Anahola Baptist Church
The most important question we can ever ask is this one: What must I do to be saved? The answer is: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). This is the teaching of Scripture. We can never be saved from death and judgment on the basis of our own merits. It is not going to church. It is not trying to live a good life. It is not works of righteousness that we do, but according to God’s mercy that He saves us. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8, 9). The Bible says, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
What does it mean to believe in Jesus? It means to acknowledge Christ as Lord and to place your life in His hands.
There is a well-worn story that illustrates being saved by faith. In the 1850s there was a French daredevil with the stage name of Blondin who made several visits to Niagara Falls where he would thrill the crowds by performing feats on a high-wire stretched over the falls. One of his favorite stunts was to cross the tightrope pushing a wheelbarrow. On one occasion, he stopped at the edge of the falls to chat with the pop-eyed crowds who had gathered to watch him.
“Do you believe I can walk over the falls on this little rope?” he asked. A man in the crowd said, “Yes, certainly.”
“Do you believe I can walk over the falls on this rope pushing a wheelbarrow?”
“Yes, I do believe that!” replied the man.
“Do you believe I can walk over the falls pushing a wheelbarrow with someone in it?”
“Yes,” said the man. “I’ve seen you do it before.”
“Then, kind sir,” challenged the daredevil, “would you mind assisting me by getting into the wheelbarrow?”
To which the man answered: “Not on your life!”
True saving faith means getting into the wheelbarrow. It is not just a matter of intellectual assent but of life commitment. It means that we know the content of the gospel; we believe it with our minds; and we are giving ourselves to it with our hearts and lives. Salvation is centered in Christ, conveyed through Scripture and claimed by faith.
Rev. James Fung
Lihu‘e Christian Church
A man, walking along in the journey of life, fell into a deep, dark pit. He tried his darndest to climb out, but he couldn’t. He thought it through, using all of his brain power, but he couldn’t find a solution. He needed help, to be saved from this predicament.
Over time, there were people who came by and realized that he was at the bottom of the hole. One person said, “You should have been more careful.”
Another said, “Things could be worse. Count your blessings. There are those who have it much tougher than you.”
Another offered, “Maybe God is trying to tell you something?”
Yet another said, “You have to give up the hope of getting free — only then will you be truly free.”
And then Jesus came by, climbed down into the pit, and climbing on his shoulders, the man was able to get out of his dire predicament.
The Christian faith tells us that God loves us so much that he sent his son into the predicament of our troubled lives, going the distance, giving his life for us on the cross that we might be saved from an aimless and purposeless life and from the darkness and loneliness of eternal separation from God.
People don’t need more advice or more analysis — they need to be loved. That’s what God had in mind when he sent Christ into our world.
Baha’is of Kaua‘i
Baha’is do not think of salvation in terms of salvation from the stain of “original sin,” nor does it protect us from some external evil force or devil. Rather, it delivers people from the captivity to their own lower nature, a captivity that breeds private despair and threatens social destruction. Salvation means drawing nearer to God and progressing on the path to a deep and satisfying happiness.
Baha’is believe that salvation is a process and not a one-time event. The process of acquiring spiritual virtues makes us more and more fit to enter the next world. The main aim of life should be to perfect these spiritual attributes; the more these are perfected, the closer humans become to God. And it is this closeness to God that is the heaven or paradise referred to in the scriptures of all religions. Failing to develop these virtues means humans separate themselves from God, and that is hell. Thus heaven and hell are not distinct places — they are spiritual conditions both in this world and in the afterlife. Human progress along this path occurs partly as the result of the individual’s own efforts and partly due to the grace of God during this life.
Baha’u’llah repeatedly stressed that only revealed religion can save us from our imperfections. It is because God has sent his Manifestations to show us the path to spiritual development and to touch our hearts with the spirit of God’s love that we are able to realize our true potential and make the effort to be united with God. This is the “salvation” that religion brings.
Topic for two weeks from today
• Will you speak to us on compassion?
• Spiritual leaders are invited to e-mail responses of three to five paragraphs to afrainier@ thegardenisland.com.
• Deadline: 5 p.m. Tuesday.