Religions may differ in specific aspects of their belief, but they all agree that there is a higher power permeating the universe. We can be more in tune with this higher power by setting aside our egos and desires to follow this cosmic will.
In Christianity, grace takes place when God guides the actions of human beings, replacing their will with His own. Islam itself translates into “submission” to God’s will. Inshallah or God Willing is a repeated refrain.
Hindus and Buddhists believe that you must surrender the ego-self to receive grace. The Taoist virtue of wu wei (actionless action or effortless effort) is similar to Christian grace — the belief that by putting the ego-will in abeyance, the Tao will flow effortlessly through an individual and harmoniously coincide with the ways of nature.
Superficially it might appear that according to the western traditions, grace is unmerited mercy given by God and is driven by faith, whereas according to the eastern traditions, grace is earned by sincere spiritual discipline and given by God to those who completely surrender their ego. However, all religions suggest ways to attain divine grace.
Bowing is a simple and physically actionable form of self surrender that is part of prescribed rituals for most religions. Be it via use of holy sacraments for catholics, sinner’s prayers of faith for evangelicals, austere self-discipline for buddhist, or bhakti (selfless devotion) for hindus; all religions view seeking grace as the prerequisite for salvation, or self-realization, or Nirvana –- the ultimate longing of the devouts.
The commonality in all religious beliefs is that grace is available to all but self-effort to seek divine grace and surrendering to His will is the key for God-realization. You let go and Let God.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
—The New Testament (Ephesians 2:8-9), Christian text
“It was He who made His tranquility descend into the hearts of the believers, to add faith to their faith.”
—Qur’an (48:4), Islamic text
“You are born with grace. There is nothing for you to do to deserve grace; it is an ordained state of generosity, goodness, and purity that already resides in your consciousness.”
–Shoni Labowitz, Rabbi and author
“Bowing helps to eliminate our self-centered ideas. This is not so easy. It is difficult to get rid of these ideas, and bowing is a very valuable practice. The result is not the point; it is the effort to improve ourselves that is valuable. There is no end to this practice.”
—Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Buddhist monk and teacher
“Better indeed is knowledge than mechanical practice. Better than knowledge is meditation. But better still is surrender of attachment to results, because there follows immediate peace.”
—The Bhagavad Gita (12:12), Hindu text
“It is said, ‘One who follows the Tao daily does less and less. As he does less and less, he eventually arrives at actionless action. Having achieved actionless action, there is nothing which is not done.’”
—The Book of Chuang Tzu, Daoist text