When contemplating one’s time here on Earth, the usual format is a linear span of time; that which includes a beginning, middle, and end. This is how most Western religions think of life, such as Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. The linear aspect of these religions emanates throughout their entire ideologies. Just as life has this straight chain of events, so does the religion itself, and deters connections made between different values and ideas. Hinduism is quite the opposite, speaking in terms of the time line of life and the religion itself. Hinduism is much more cyclical, and necessitates a deeper connection between certain aspects of life.
The idea of a cyclical timeline is a rather foreign idea to Western thought. Growing up in a dominantly Christian country instills ideas of birth, living, and dying as being the three phases of one’s life. Hinduism brings this idea to a very strange spot, however. In a way, it does recognize that a human is born, lives, and dies with in one life span, but the words ‘born’ and ‘dies’ must be taken with a grain of salt. To be ‘born’ in a Hindu perspective is to be re-born, or reincarnated. And to ‘die’, leans more toward the essence of extinguishing, or moksha. A person’s life now, in this moment, is not their only life; they have lived before, and will live again. Not only do specific human lives not have a certain beginning, neither does the religion itself. The fact that Hinduism does not have a founder, but evolved organically, opposes the linear time frame that Christianity, Islam, and Judaism impose.
The creation account itself is usually a very important part of religions, however in Hinduism, it is not. This fact fits very well with the fact that Hinduism, as stated before, is cyclical in nature, “Aruni said: ‘But how, indeed, could it be thus, my dear? How could Being be born from non—being? No, my dear, it was Being alone that existed in the beginning, one only without a second.’” (Upanishads, 2) By not having a creation account, it does not have a beginning, which reinforces its cyclical character. Though this does hint that there was, in fact, a beginning, it also states that there was something being before the beginning, which nullifies it being a beginning at all. The fact that there was no true beginning, according to Hinduism, pushes toward a closer relationship to Earth than a religion that does assert one. By declaring that there was no one person or being that created the Earth, sets it apart from dualistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc.,) in that Being, not a being, but general being, was always present, and always will be.
Another way in which Hinduism creates a closer relationship to the earth is that cyclical nature of life itself. By asserting that a person is an eternal soul on Earth, it follows that we as these souls must take care for the world we live in. We are all apart of the essential Being mentioned before. Everything that is truly being at this moment is apart of the Being, merely in different states. By recognizing this, the Earth and everything in and surrounding it takes on a reflection of oneself, “The wise man beholds all beings in the Self and the Self in all beings; for that reason he does not hate anyone.” (Upanishads, 1) This enforces the idea that if we were to harm anything on Earth, we would, transitively, be harming ourselves.
By necessity, the Hindu people must keep Earth in top-notch condition, as they believe they are to be reincarnated on it essentially forever. By having this cyclical timeline of life, it necessitates that Hindus do good, and keep doing good through out their entire lives. This is because, essentially, to be reincarnated favorably in the next life, one must succeed and do well in this one. This is very different from the Christian, Muslim, or Jewish way of thinking about things, as if one does not live a good life, there are really only two (perhaps three) options; you will go to Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory. Although Hell or Purgatory are both places people do not want to end up in the afterlife, this would be the end-all to a specific persons soul. A Hindu perspective is much more effective when contemplating Earth’s wellbeing, because if you wake up as an endangered animal of some sort, you are bound to feel the effects of the maltreatment.
Incarnation is something that Hinduism and Christianity have in common. However, the way Hinduism incorporates incarnation is much more earthly. By having incarnation, rather reincarnation, apart of the cyclical life style of the Hindu people, it makes everyone equal. Contrary to the Christianity, where incarnation sets the common person apart from divinity, and also divinity from Earth, Hinduism strengthens the bonds between religious belief and it’s people, and also people’s bonds with Earth.
Hinduism creates a very deep connection between Earth and man, by physically and mentally bonding man to Earth, it is essential for him to take care of it. This has an inherent notion to tend to the Earth’s needs and make sure it is fit for lifetimes to come. Christianity and other dualistic religions do not view Earth this way, as they do not believe they will be here for new lives. This is why Hinduism creates much more profound worldview and is very concerned with the environment.