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cometaryorbit

"hope of salvation and rebirth"

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Posted (edited)

People in WoT swear "by my hope of salvation and rebirth". But what does that mean to them? Reincarnation seems to be general knowledge in WoT (Rand thinks at one point "he was Lews Therin reborn, but everyone was someone reborn") and there doesn't seem to be any idea of a heaven or hell equivalent (well, there's Shayol Ghul/the Dark One's prison, but it doesn't seem to be imagined as a place that non-Forsaken people can end up).

So what does "salvation" mean to them? What are they being 'saved' from?

Am I missing something and there's some idea of the Dark One eating the souls of the wicked/oathbreakers or something?

Edited by cometaryorbit
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Posted (edited)

Good question! I'm not aware of any specific references which would answer this. Instead I have four broad ideas that might do it:

  1. It could be related to the Dark One's potential influence and capacity to remove people's souls from the Wheel proper-- once you're his, you're his, eternally, to be spun back into the Wheel in his service.
  2. It could also be related to the idea expressed by Rand's epiphany at the peak of Dragonmount, that past errors can be redeemed (or at least not repeated) in future turnings of the Wheel, and that suffering in one lifetime need not be present in the next.
  3. It could also be related to the idea that people can be reborn into better or worse circumstances. Being reborn into slavery or some depraved circumstance isn't great, but I don't have any textual evidence in mind that really supports it.
  4. Finally, balefire removed massive numbers of people from the Pattern entirely during the War of Power. Even though those events are at the extreme end of memory, they were probably devastating and frightening enough to live on as a common saying for much longer.

Of course virtually no people in WoT seem to know much about spirituality or religion, despite everyone adhering to the correct spiritual view of the world, and it doesn't factor into their day-to-day activities very much. The first suggestion seems out of reach for most people, requiring pretty specific knowledge about how the Wheel and the Dark One operate, but there are always Darkfriends who could reinforce or inject that knowledge into circulation. The second seems accessible enough in that it's not very specific and follows directly from the (universally accepted) idea of reincarnation. The third seems most accessible of all, and is even less specific. The fourth is plausible but reduces the comment to a figure of speech. That's not very satisfying, but possible, especially given the lack of spiritual reflection most people engage in; sort of like people saying "damn it" and not really expressing what those would mean if parsed.

As for reincarnation, that's easier. While people assume it happens they don't really have evidence that it does or will happen for them. It's just the one spiritual/religious belief that runs through their lives.

 

*Edit: I hadn't realized one of the examples I gave would be interpreted as an effort to get around rules or would merit a report; I've just removed that bit entirely. I apologize if anyone was offended or upset, as that was not my intent. I just wrote one of the first examples I thought of that seemed broadly accessible and understandable.

Edited by Returned
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It is a prayer that people say, because they are not actually sure while they are alive that they will be reborn. They hope it is true, due to fate being a massive part of their world. 

Readers know that everyone will be reborn, even those that are victims of balefire. 

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