REVERSAL AND RESTORATION
Salvation as restoration refers to the undoing of bad habits, modes
of thinking, ways of behaving, social relations, and political systems
which have grown corrupt and deviated from the proper way. It is a return
to the origin, in order to restore the original way of life according to
the true principles and purposes of God. Salvation is pictured as a great
reversal. God will act to turn the existing social and political order
upside down; no longer will the wealthy and powerful lord it over the
honest and god-fearing. Internally, salvation brings with it the insight
that the way to God is the reverse of the way of the world. Enlightenment
brings, as it were, a one-hundred-and-eighty degree change in orientation.
Some passages describe the great reversal as a political image.
Others describe an inner reversal: dying to self in order to live, seeking
darkness in order to find the light, and abasing the self in order to
become prominent. Further passages speak of returning to an original
harmony or blessedness which was lost: reversal of the Original Sin that
occured at the human fall or a recovery of the original mind which is by
nature enlightened. An important expression of this theme of reversion to
the origin is found in the Buddhist doctrine of Dependent Origination
(paticcasamuppada), which is not just a law of causality but more properly
the insight that all causes leading to downfall must be reversed.
The last will be first, and the first last.
Christianity. Bible, Matthew 20.16
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will
Christianity. Bible, Matthew 23.12
Him who humbles himself, God exalts; him who exalts himself, God humbles;
from him who searches for greatness, greatness flies; him who flies from
greatness, greatness searches out: with him who is importunate with
circumstances, circumstance is importunate; by him who gives way to
circumstance, circumstance stands.
Judaism. Talmud, Erubin 13b
The way of Heaven,
Is it not like stretching a bow?
What is high up is pressed down,
What is low down is lifted up;
What has surplus is reduced,
What is deficient is supplemented.
The way of Heaven,
It reduces those who have surpluses,
To supplement those who are deficient.
The way of man is just not so:
It reduces those who are deficient,
To offer to those who have surpluses.
Who can offer his surpluses to the world?
Only a person of Tao.
Taoism. Tao Te Ching 77
The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble gird on strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The Lord makes poor and and makes rich;
he brings low, he also exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's,
and on them he has set the world.
Matthew 23.12: Cf. Luke 18.10-14, p. 902; Isaiah 2.12-17, p. 410; Proverbs
16.18, p. 408; Matthew 5.5, p. 911; Philippians 2.6-11, p. 535. Erubin
13b: Cf. Isaiah 2.12-17, p. 410; Hosea 6.1-2, p. 525. Tao Te Ching 77:
Cf. Tao Te Ching 56, p. 840.
He will guard the feet of his faithful ones;
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness;
for not by might shall a man prevail.
Judaism and Christianity. Bible, 1 Samuel 2.4-9
Whoever is proud of his royal authority
falls into hell, becomes a dog.
Whoever fancies himself for his beauty
takes birth as a filthy worm.
Whoever proclaims his meritorious deeds
whirls in transmigration, fallen into numerous births.
Whoever is proud of wealth and estates
is thoughtless, blind, senseless.
But whoever in whose heart He, in His grace, lodges humility
finds, says Nanak, liberation in this life,
bliss in the hereafter.
Whoever is proud of his wealth,
Know not even a blade of grass shall accompany him.
Whoever pins his confidence on large hoardes and servants
is destroyed in an instant.
Whoever reckons himself powerful over all
is reduced in an instant to ashes.
Whoever in his pride reckons none as his equal
In the end treated with ignominy by the Master of Law.
Whoever by the Master's grace has his pride anulled,
Says Nanak, finds acceptance at the Divine Portal.
Sikhism. Adi Granth, Gauri Sukhmani 12, M.5, p. 278
Sentient beings wish to return to their origin where their nature will be in
Buddhism. Surangama Sutra
Always to know the standard is called profound and secret virtue.
Virtue becomes deep and far reaching,
And with it all things return to their original natural state.
Then complete harmony will be reached.
Taoism. Tao Te Ching 65
1 Samuel 2.4-9: This is the Song of Hannah. A similar song is sung by
Mary--the Magnificat--in Luke 1.47-55. Cf. Pesahim 50a, p. 355; Isaiah
2.12-17, p. 410. Tao Te Ching 65: Cf. Tao Te Ching 16, p. 840; Chuang Tzu
12, p. 589.
Confucius said, "To subdue one's self and return to propriety, is perfect
virtue. If a man can for one day subdue himself and return to propriety,
all under heaven will ascribe perfect virtue to him."
Confucianism. Analects 12.1.1
For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the
dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
Christianity. Bible, 1 Corinthians 15.21-22
Why are idolators lustful? Because they did not stand at Mount Sinai.
For when the serpent came upon Eve he injected lust into her; as for the
Israelites who stood at Mount Sinai, their lustfulness departed; but as
for the idolators who did not stand at Mount Sinai, their lustfulness did
Judaism. Talmud, Shabbat 145b-146a
To save a sick man is to restore him to the status he had before the
sickness occurred. To save a drowning man is to restore him to the state
he was in before he began to drown. Likewise, to save a man fallen into
sin means to restore him to the original sinless position which he enjoyed
in the beginning. Therefore, God's providence of salvation is the
providence of restoration.
Unification Church. Divine Principle I.3.2.1
Just as if, brethren, a man faring through the forest, through the great
wood should see an ancient path, and ancient road traversed by men of
former days... And that man, brethren, should bring word to the prince,
"Pardon, Lord, know this. I have seen as I fared through the forest,
through the great wood, an ancient path, an ancient road traversed by men
of former days. I have been along it, and going along it I have seen an
ancient city, an ancient prince's domain, wherein dwelt men of former
days, having gardens, groves, pools, foundations of walls, a goodly spot.
Lord, restore that city." And, brethren, the prince or his minister
should restore that city. That city should thereafter become prosperous
and flourishing, populous, teeming with folk, grown and thriving. Even so
have I, brethren, seen an ancient Path, an ancient road traversed by the
rightly enlightened ones of former times.
Buddhism. Samyutta Nikaya ii.106
Analects 12.1.1: On the human being's original state as one of propriety,
see Book of Rites 38.18, p. 215; Doctrine of the Mean 1.4-5, pp. 228f.;
Mencius II.A.6, p. 216. 1 Corinthians 15.21-22: Cf. Revelation 1.18, p.
648; also Romans 5.12-19. This and the following two passages describe
salvation as a reversal of the primordial Human Fall. Paul is arguing
from the Jewish doctrine that the Human Fall brought death into the world;
cf. Genesis Rabbah 8.11, p. 427; 10.4, p. 1113; Wisdom of Solomon 2.23-24,
p. 427. Shabbat 145b-146a: The Israelites who stood at Mount Sinai are
understood to include all Jews whenever and wherever they live. On lust
as the infirmity of soul brought on through the Fall, see Genesis Rabbah
18.6, p. 428; 10.4, p. 1113. Divine Principle I.3.2.1: Restoration is
through "indemnity," which means to lay conditions of faith, obedience,
and sacrifice, thereby reversing Adam's unbelief, rebellion, and selfish
heart at the time of the Fall; see Sun Myung Moon, 9-11-72, p. 772.
Restoration also means to make reparations for the sins of the individual,
family, nation, and so on, that have accrued through the course of
If you wish to untie a knot, you must first understand how it was tied.
Buddhism. Surangama Sutra
I will teach you Dhamma: If this is, that comes to be; from the arising of
this, that arises; if this is not, that does not come to be; from the
stopping of this, that is stopped.
Buddhism. Majjhima Nikaya ii.32
The world, O Kaccana, is for the most part bound up in a seeking,
attach- ment, and proclivity, but a monk does not sympathize with this
seeking and attachment, nor with the mental affirmation, proclivity, and
prejudice which affirms an Ego. He does not doubt or question that it is
only evil that springs into existence, and only evil that ceases from
existence, and his conviction of this fact is dependent on no one besides
himself. This, O Kaccana, is what constitutes Right Belief.
That things have being, O Kaccana, constitutes one extreme of
doctrine; that things have no being is the other extreme. These extremes
have been avoided by the Tathagata, and it is a Middle doctrine he
On ignorance depends karma;
On karma depends consciousness;
On consciousness depends name and form;
On name and form depend the six organs of sense;
On the six organs of sense depends contact;
On contact depends sensation;
On sensation depends desire;
On desire depends attachment;
On attachment depends existence;
On existence depends birth;
On birth depend old age and death, sorrow, lamentation, misery,
grief, and despair. Thus does this entire aggregation of misery arise.
But on the complete fading out and cessation of ignorance ceases
On the cessation of karma ceases consciousness;
On the cessation of consciousness ceases name and form;
On the cessation of name and form cease the six organs of sense;
On the cessation of the six organs of sense ceases contact;
On the cessation of contact ceases sensation;
On the cessation of sensation ceases desire;
On the cessation of desire ceases attachment;
On the cessation of attachment ceases existence;
On the cessation of existence ceases birth;
On the cessation of birth cease old age and death, sorrow,
lamentation, misery, grief, and despair. Thus does this entire
aggregation of misery cease.
Buddhism. Samyutta Nikaya xxii.90
Samyutta Nikaya ii.106: Cf. Lankavatara Sutra, p. 155. Majjhima Nikaya
ii.32: This is a short formula for the doctrine of Dependent Origination
(Pali paticcasamuppada. A more complete formulation follows.
For whoever would save his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Christianity. Bible, Matthew 16.25
The sage awakes to light in the night of all creatures. That which the
world calls day is the night of ignorance to the wise.
Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 2.69
The Way out into the light often looks dark,
The way that goes ahead often looks as if it went back.
The way that is least hilly often looks as if it went up and down,
The virtue that is really loftiest looks like an abyss,
What is sheerest white looks sullied.
Taoism. Tao Te Ching 41
Sights, sounds, tastes, odors, things touched and objects of mind are,
without exception, pleasing, delightful, and charming--so long as one can
say "They are";
These are considered a source of happiness by the world with its gods--and
when they cease, this is by them considered suffering.
The cessation of phenomenal existence is seen as a source of happiness by
us ariyans--this insight of those who can see is the reverse of that of
the whole world:
What others say is a source of happiness, that, we say, is suffering; what
others say is suffering, that, we know, as a source of happiness. Behold
this doctrine, hard to understand, wherein the ignorant are bewildered.
Buddhism. Samyutta Nikaya iv.127-28
Samyutta Nikaya xxii.90: This enumerates all twelve links in the chain of
Dependent Origination, first forwards to show the origin of ill, then
back- wards to show its cessation. 'Right Belief' is the first step in
the Noble Eightfold Path (see pp. 170f.), namely to understand the Four
Noble Truths, of which Dependent Origination is a more detailed
explanation. Cf. Buddhacarita 14, pp. 611-12. Matthew 16.25: Cf. Mark
8.34-36, p. 897; John 12.24-25, p. 897; Hadith of Muslim, p. 878;
Philippians 2.6-11, p. 616; Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah, Arabic 7, p. 897.
Tao Te Ching 41: Note the pun on the way out, which is the Way (Tao).
Bhagavad Gita 2.69: Cf. Samanasuttam 135-36, p. 912.
To yield is to to be preserved whole.
To be bent is to become straight
To be empty is to be full.
To be worn out is to be renewed.
To have little is to possess.
To have plenty is to be perplexed.
Therefore the sage embraces the One
And becomes the model of the world.
He does not show himself; therefore he is luminous.
He does not justify himself; therefore he becomes prominent.
He does not boast of himself; therefore he is given credit.
He does not brag; therefore he can endure for long.
It is precisely because he does not compete that the world cannot compete with
Is the ancient saying, "To yield is to be preserved whole" empty words?
Truly he will be preserved, and all will come to him.
Taoism. Tao Te Ching 22
"Blessed One, what is meant by this term Nirvana?" Replied the Buddha,
"When the self-nature and the habit-energy of all the
sense-discriminations, includ- ing ego (alaya), intellect (manas), and the
faculty of judgment (manovijnana), from which issue the habit-energy of
wrong speculations--when all these go through a revulsion, I and all the
Buddhas declare that there is Nirvana. The way and the self-nature of
this Nirvana is emptiness, which is the state of reality."
Buddhism. Lankavatara Sutra 38
Tao Te Ching 22: Cf. Tao Te Ching 28, pp. 912f.; 48, p. 898; I Ching,
Great Commentary 2.5.2-3, p. 177; Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah, Arabic 7,
p. 897. Lankavatara Sutra 38: This 'revulsion,' turning all previous ways
of thinking upside-down, is the sudden enlightenment of the Zen school.
For comparable Theravada passages, see Udana 49, p. 535; Anguttara Nikaya
v.322, p. 552.