Salvation in many religious traditions is associated with the idea of liberation and with a process of saving a person who believes and chooses the right path according to the religious dogmas and traditions. As a result, a person can hope for liberation, transformation, and fulfillment of his needs and for making the union with the Absolute power or God because only this power can save and protect a person (King 7698; Molloy 14-16).
Still, a different vision is characteristic of Buddhism, where salvation is not discussed as God’s gift or glory because Buddhists are oriented to self-salvation (Holder 95). Therefore, it is possible to state that the discussion of the Buddhist vision of salvation can add to understanding the phenomenon of salvation as a path chosen by a person to be saved or avoid the world’s sufferings.
Focusing on the discussion of the concept of salvation in Buddhism, it is important to state that salvation is the emancipation of a person from the attachment to the reality and from the person’s focus on individual needs and desires while orienting to practices that can help a person liberate oneself.
In Buddhism, the idea of salvation is reflected in the concept of Nirvana, and it is the main argument to state that Buddhists focus on self-salvation in their practice. Nirvana is a state when a person is free from any world’s sufferings and any personal desires and feelings (Hanh 24). It is a state of absolute peace (“10 Questions for the Dalai Lama”).
While discussing salvation as liberation and emancipation, it is important to pay attention to the fact that Nirvana is a state when a person is absolutely free and detached from the world with its problems, conditions, systems, and structures (Pojman and Rea 632). Buddhists see the state of Nirvana as the full salvation. However, it is important to note that Nirvana is a result of the person’s individual completion of the path to salvation.
The Buddhist view of salvation adds significantly to the discussion of this characteristic of religion because one can focus on salvation as an individual path during which it is necessary to follow certain rules and norms. Traditionally, the hope for salvation is associated with the believers’ focus on their faith, on following rituals, and on choosing the Good in order to see God’s glory and receive a chance for salvation (Gregg 54). In Buddhism, only the individual’s actions and thoughts are necessary conditions to achieve Nirvana.
This state of absolute peace is not associated with the traditional state of fulfillment of all human needs. Buddhists focus on transforming their minds and ways of thinking and seeing in order to achieve the ultimate salvation (Holder 102). At this stage, it is necessary to become detached from desires as the causes of all sufferings in the person’s reality, and this emancipation from sufferings as the state of the peace is associated with Nirvana.
In this case, Buddhists try to find the way to Nirvana while concentrating on their thoughts, visions, and actions rather than in the divine forces. From this point, the transformation of the person’s mind is the main condition that is necessary in order to achieve salvation. Buddhists see the root of their sufferings in their consciousness or mind because of the persons’ focus on desires and needs (Hanh 57).
Salvation in many religious traditions is discussed as the fulfillment of humans’ needs because of God’s grace, but in Buddhism, salvation is the state when a person is free from any desires, needs, and feelings because of changes in understanding the power of the humans’ consciousness.
According to Holder, Buddhism “redirects the religious life toward the practice of moral and psychological transformation” (Holder 95). Thus, only a person can help oneself on the path to salvation while practicing meditation and focusing on detaching from the destructive selfhood (“10 Questions for the Dalai Lama”; Holder 98). Meditation is one of the steps in transforming the mind in order to become free from desires.
In order to find salvation, believers should follow certain practices and focus on their faith. In Buddhism, people should focus not only on meditation as the practice to transform the mind but also on their knowledge of the Four Noble Truths in order to step on the path to salvation known as Nirvana. The Four Noble Truths reflect the main principles that are necessary to be followed on the way to salvation. According to the First Noble Truth, the suffering is associated with the reality in which humans live (Molloy 132).
Following the Second Noble Truth, it is possible to state that sufferings are related to humans’ inner desires. The Third Noble Truth provides the idea that humans can avoid sufferings while focusing on avoiding their desires. Thus, the Fourth Noble Truth presents the discussion of steps that are necessary in order to detach from the personal destructive desires (Molloy 133-134). These Truths provide the basic laws for Buddhists that are important in order to achieve the inner peace leading to Nirvana or salvation in this religious tradition.
The other important condition to achieve salvation is the focus on living according to the dhamma understood as the natural law or as the sum of teachings necessary to follow in order to achieve harmony. The life according to the laws of nature leads a person to the desired salvation, and following dhamma, a person should remember that nothing is stable in the world (Molloy 129).
From this point, the changes of nature are associated with the transformation of the personal mind, and the principle of dhamma supports the idea that salvation is achievable through the constant process of the personal transformation in order to purify karma and realize the intention of the self-salvation through meditation and observation.
From this point, Buddhist teachings regarding the concept of salvation can be discussed as practical because Buddhism provides rather useful rules for a person in order to guide him on the way to self-salvation. In this case, the Buddhist vision of salvation is rather philosophical than religious in its nature because the salvation of the person is associated with his work at changing his psychological and physical state.
Referring to the role of the Four Noble Truths in the religion, it is possible to state that the concept of salvation is extremely important in Buddhism because the purpose of salvation can be discussed as the reason to follow the Four Noble Truths. Nevertheless, the understanding of salvation in Buddhism is more personal and connected with the idea of escaping from individualization and from existence full of suffering.
10 Questions for the Dalai Lama. 2006. Web.
Gregg, Heather Selma. The Path to Salvation. Boston: Potomac Books, Inc., 2014. Print.
Hanh, Thich Nhat. The Art of Power. New York: Harper One, 2008. Print.
Holder, John. Early Buddhist Discourses. New York: Hackett Publishing, 2006. Print.
King, Winston. “Religion”. The Encyclopedia of Religion. Ed. Lindsay Jones. Detroit: Macmillan Reference, 2005. 7692-7701. Print.
Molloy, Michael. Experiencing the World’s Religions: Tradition, Challenge, and Change. New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2013. Print.
Pojman, Louis, and Michael Rea. Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology. New York: Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.