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The Future of Religions

Religion is slowly losing its grip in the affairs of men. While many people still adhere to one religion, it has slowly lost its appeal in its teachings especially in spiritual values in exchange for more practical values adaptive of living in a fast-paced and competitive environment. Religions base their teachings, and therefore their practicality, in the salvation of the soul—an integral part of human life. Most religions teach that the salvation of the soul depends on how one lives his or her life. Salvation, therefore, is the fruit of living the expectations in a reward-and-punishment system.

Teachings of salvation include the concepts of heaven and hell, or an escape in an eternal cycle of life, death and rebirth. Christianity is just one of many religions that have its concepts of heaven and hell. Christians held that there is life after death and depending of how one lives his or her life on earth, that life will be spent in either heaven or in hell. Those who have lived their lives according to Christian teachings would spend eternal life in heaven, together with all the angels and the saints, and be eternally reunited with God.

It must be noted that a person need not be a Christian to enter the gates of heaven. A person living according to his conscience and does good to his neighbors is living according to Christian teaching, regardless of which religion the person belongs, and could therefore enter the Kingdom of God. Those who live otherwise are eternally punished in the fires of hell. In addition to heaven and hell, some Christian sects believe in purgatory—a place where the souls of those who die in a state of grace but are not sufficiently free of sin are purified before being admitted to heaven.

It is said that these souls are not so sinful as to be punished with eternal suffering in hell such that they must be purified first to enter heaven. Other religions have different concepts of enforcing its reward-and-punishment system. One such system is Buddhism which teaches that sentient beings undergo an eternal cycle of birth and rebirth which on should strive to escape. Buddhists believe that life is characterized by suffering which is caused by attachments to worldly pleasures.

To end suffering, one must be freed of desire which will ultimately lead to Enlightenment. To help adherents, Gautama Buddha laid out the Noble Eightfold Path that leads to the cessation of suffering which eventually will lead to the liberation of the soul from the eternal cycle of birth and rebirth. The Noble eightfold Path requires that man have the right view, the right intention, the right speech, right actions, right livelihood, the right effort, the right mindfulness and the right concentration.

The implication of Buddha’s teaching is that man will continually be reborn and experience suffering with each rebirth until he reach a stage of Enlightenment, which can be achieved only through noble acts. The teachings of religions are met with criticisms, especially when science has exposed some flaws in its teachings. As a result, religions are slowly losing their adherents. The demands of living in a fast-paced and highly competitive environment have also reduced the time of adherents to meet with the demands of religion.

However, just as people struggle against globalization, there will be calls for a countermovement away from materialism and technology back to spiritual values. While the world seems to be leading into a place with one civilization as product of globalization, there will eventually be a monotheistic devotion accepted by all who view the world as “One World” and will look upon others as their kindred. As a result, rewards-and-punishment system will continue to be a part of religious concept, regardless of consequences, may it be through the ideas of heaven and hell or through other ideas of salvation.

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