- Download PDF
Huston Smith, a well known scholar of world religions has said that we all ultimately want "infinite knowledge, infinite being and infinite bliss."
Do you think this is true? Does Hinduism offer us an answer for these desires? Support your answer with specific examples.
10 Answers | Add Yours
Infinite knowledge is something that I wouldn't want. I would settle for a sense of the divine and other mysteries myself. I also agree that Hinduism is a religion that is about freeing yourself from the chain of rebirth and entering nirvana. I personally think the idea of eternal rest would be pretty boring, so I don't find this aspect of Hinduism particularly appealing.
I'm not sure I'd want infinite wisdom, and certainly not infinite knowledge. What I would want is an ability to pursue knowledge infinitely. I'm not familiar enough with Hinduism to know whether or not it promises this. My sense is that it promises an end to striving, which isn't what I'd want out of an afterlife.
It makes sense to crave the infinite as a way to attain immortality. The infinite is definitively permanent and eternal - it has no end. Man's appetite for life is, perhaps, identical with his appetite for the infinte.
Is this craving also related to knowledge though? I would say that it is only in the ancient sense of knowledge being akin to ownership and physical possession of infinity, i.e., the eternal.
Hinduism, as represented in The Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, certainly presents the individual an opporunity to attain a spiritual knowledge (possession) of the infinite. Sri Krishna directly offers this to Arjuna when he reveals himself in his true form.
To take it a step further, we can say that Hinduism seeks to lead the individual to identify with the infinite godhead, making us all like Sri Krishna - eternal and universal.
It is strange we appear to have the capacity to appreciate and long for those ethereal elements while existing physically. Maybe that is due to our repeated experience of not knowing everything (and such a lack of knowledge leads to tragedy) being finite (we will all die someday) and being unhappy, and at some deep level, we understand these things to not be as things should. They may all be derived from the physical experience of want, and there is no want in the spiritual realm.
I agree that we often long for these things, although at some point many people come to the conclusion that these things are unattainable and adjust their longings accordingly. However, the mere existence of religions suggests that Smith is largely correct. There's a very interesting book by Bernard Becker titled The Denial of Death; it argues that almost all human culture, in various ways, is rooted in a desire to cheat death. Becker argues that we are the only creatures who absolutely know that we are fated to die.
I agree that we long for something infinite. The book of Ecclesiates, in my opinion, says it well. "God has put eternity into our hearts." So, in the end, in my opinion, nothing on earth can satisfy our hearts except an experience of something ineffable. This is why there are so many different religions. They are seeking for something.
I never thought of it as a search for "infinite" wisdom and so on, but yes - there are questions I am looking forward to having answered some day in the future, when I am able to ask questions and obtain answers on a different level. I don't know enough about Hinduism specifically to speak to the question of whether it is more effective in offering answers than any other faith.
I agree with this idea of what we want. I would love for the afterlife to include some way for me to be able to learn and understand everything. Infinite knowledge would then be combined with infinite being (no death, no body, perhaps) to create infinite bliss.
I do not think that Hinduism gives us everything we want.
In the end, your religion to you, and my religion to me.
We’ve answered 323,697 questions. We can answer yours, too.Ask a question