Changing the worldview of Eastern mystics

One reason why people do not respond to the Gospel is that they hold a worldview that prevents them from doing so. A worldview is the way a person thinks about the world and his or her place in it, and life as a whole. It comprises beliefs regarding such questions as, who am I? Why am I here? How do I relate to the world around me? What is reality? Why do evil and suffering exist? How do I know what is right and what is wrong? Is there a God? What will happen to me after I die? Traditional Eastern thought on these matters is radically different from Western.1

The Eastern pantheistic worldview2

The most prevalent belief in Asian religions, such as Hinduism,3 Buddhism,4  Taoism,5 Shintoism,6 and modern forms of Eastern mysticism like New Ageism,7 is that ‘god is everything there is’. This is called pantheism. To pantheists, God cannot be separated from the world or the universe, and so God is not a Person, and therefore is not the personal Creator, Lawgiver, Saviour and Judge of the Bible.

In a worldview which says that ‘everything is god’, reality is mystical, spiritual forces underlie everything, and time and space are largely illusory. Man is inside the circle of reality, but is an insignificant part of the whole. His role is to relate harmoniously to nature and to the universe. This is not so much a matter of doctrine as of technique. Not to do so invites misfortune, instead of earning merit. Suffering arises from desire. Peace comes through meditation, by achieving inner harmony, and ultimately from being absorbed into the whole.

In this mystical belief system, man is thought to be basically good. Right and wrong, good and evil, good spirits and evil spirits are not opposed to each other, but are all complementary parts of the whole, and so balance each other. Good spirits must be worshipped in order to bring good luck; evil spirits must be placated lest they bring harm. Thus, adherents may wear lucky charms and worship their ancestors through food offerings, and may also engage in other occult practices.

Sin is conduct that upsets the harmony and disturbs the peace of the whole; it leads to ‘loss of face’.8  ‘History goes in cycles, moving round towards a golden age and then back again into darkness’, and the goal is ‘to escape from the circular process of the wheel of life’.9….

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