CHAPTER 10: Salvation--Liberation--Enlightenment
Due to humankind's condition of depravity, ignorance, and bondage
to desire, the task of reaching the goal and purpose of life is no simple
matter. Chains must be broken, sins forgiven, and ignorance dispelled.
Causes of spiritual and physical oppression and bondage must be removed.
Once that is done, people may come into intimate communion with God,
become clear about the truth of reality, have their innate energies
liberated, recover their original selves, and find peace. This process,
and its goal, is called variously salvation, liberation, and
enlightenment. It is the prerequisite for proper fulfillment of the
purposes of life described in Part One.
We begin with a discussion of grace, the divine mercy that wills
our salvation. We are in desperate need of grace, for--according to
religious teachings with a severe view of human fallenness--we are
hopelessly lost, corrupted, and afflicted by evil. The second section
extends the theme to the question of universal salvation: is God's grace
so all-encompassing and irresistible that all humankind will ultimately be
saved? In the remainder of this chapter we gather passages which describe
salvation, liberation, and enlightenment under twelve heads which cover a
broad range of meanings: (1) atonement, forgiveness, and cleansing of
sins; (2) healing of the ills of both body and soul; (3) liberation from
the bondage of sin or the fetters of craving; (4) enlightenment, by which
primordial ignorance is overcome through wisdom; (5) a journey, crossing
the waters of life's suffering to find the shore and solid ground; (6)
reversal of an upside-down world or restoration of a broken reality to its
original trueness; (7) peace and a calm spirit; (8) help and deliverance
in times of distress or oppression; (9) the refining fire to smelt away
impurities of the heart; (10) the experience of being born anew as a new
person and a child of God; (11) eternal life, the state where death has no
sway; and (12) the unitive state of mystic oneness with all Reality.