How Different religions define "need"

From the Quora discussion "What defines the concept of "need" in various spiritual and religious traditions?"

Thanks for the A2A Jeff.

An interesting question that has me doubling back on my own thoughts a bit. Hmmm. Well here is my take....

- There is "meeting the needs of others" (Bud, Chr, Isl, Hin, Jud, etc.) in the sense of service to them in multiple contexts - compassion towards everyone in society, as a loving duty to one's community of faith, as a responsibility to one's family, as an obligation to do what is prosocially just and right, and so on. This often refers to material generosity, or to basic physical needs (food, shelter, clothing, etc.), but also counsel, emotional comfort, encouragement, patience, forgiveness, affection and other supportive actions. So psychosocial "needs" as well. Whether it is called compassion or charity or service or dāna or agape or tzedakah or whatever, the relatively consistent idea seems to be to relinquish acquisitiveness, self-protective egotism and indifference in favor of an outpouring of caring via whatever material, emotional and spiritual resources are available to the giver (and most notably in the form of wise actions that are discerning as to the type of support that should be provided).

- There are also needs that would be defined as "things that are required to achieve spiritual objectives." So, for example, a Christian "needs" to confess their sins and be baptized; a Buddhist "needs" to take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha; a Muslim "needs" to perform the Hajj at least once; a Hindu "needs" to practice the Pancha Nitya Karmas. These are of course just examples from different traditions, and are not intended to be equivalent in import, but hopefully you see the point I am trying to make.

So there are physical, emotional, spiritual and social "needs" here, all involved with both subsistence and transcendence, and all suggestive or demonstrative of a love that is both interpersonal and transpersonal. In the language of nearly all of the traditions I have studied, the central "need" behind all of this is to practice an unrestrained and unconditional love that recognizes, celebrates and serves that noble, sacred something in all beings - be it Ruh, Buddha nature, Divine spark, atman/Brahman, spirit of Christ, potential for enlightenment...or what have you. And of course that need is mirrored on the receiving side as well - the need to be loved. So there is really only one need that infuses and informs all others, and while the causation of that need is ineffable, its expression - its evidence in intentions, feelings, words, actions and other reification - results in shared qualities of praxis across nearly all major religions. So, it seems to me, there is much more commonality than contrast in those essential characteristics.

My 2 cents, and in any case a worthwhile mulling opportunity. Thanks.


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