The general teaching in Hinduism is that everyone is on the spiritual path. (4 Yogas main) This is understood as a long-term evolution of the soul that proceeds through many lifetimes. Reincarnation teaches that after death we will be reborn as humans (or possibly as animals) and that we have been through many lives leading up to this one.
People who have not progressed far are on the path of desire.
The Path of Desire
- A person seeks pleasure.
Seeking pleasure is fine, as far as it goes. But you find over time that it doesn’t really lead to happiness. It doesn’t even lead to joy, or when it does it’s not usually for reasons that have to do with pleasure. So eventually the person gives up on pleasure for its own sake and starts looking for something deeper.
- The person seeks success. The three forms of success are:
Those are all fine, too. After a while that gets old, so the person starts to look for something more. Now they find…
The Path of Renunciation
Unlike the person who is seeking fame, money or power, the person who does their duty renounces their personal reward. They are doing their duty to the community for the sake of the community and because it is their duty.
Doing one’s duty to the gods is not a thing like it is in other religions. Doing one’s duty to the community is very good. It leads to an increasingly expansive sense of “community” until…
- The person seeks enlightenment. Enlightenment confers the of
It is said that the rest of us slobs who are not enlightened somehow already have these, but are not awake to the fact that we have it. As someone who is not enlightened, I confess I am deeply suspicious of the idea that I “somehow have” everything an enlightened person, like the Buddha or Christ, has.