What is religion, how can it be defined in terms that we may easily understand, and yet which retain a universality of meaning? Each culture, each society, yes, virtually each individual, has his own concept of religion. To some this concept of religion may take the form of rites or practices. To others, it may take the form of thoughts, as in certain forms of yoga.
Prophets lay down certain rules and regulations to help masses lead better lives and to incline them towards GOD. Gradually, these rules become the tenets of an organized religion, but the idealistic spirit and motive force which prevail during the founder’s life-time disappear gradually after his death. That is why an organization cannot bring spiritual truth nearer and why religion is always a personal concern. Religious organization become like archaeological department trying to resuscitate the past. Dogmas invented centuries after the founder’s death, frequently differ startlingly but the fundamentals of all religion are really the same, because all issue from the same source – GOD.
To understand God we must progress from the lower levels of understanding to the higher, until we understand God in terms of Dharma, not in terms of man, mind, or spirit, but in term of something special which has no body, no heart or mind, no form and is not under the power of time or space, something which cannot be explained by conventional language, but which must be explained in terms of religious language of the kind that is used in highly competent religious circles.
All religions exist for the good of mankind. All religions teach and exhort mankind to live and behave as decent human beings. It is incumbent that all religions should consider getting together, not in rivalry but in unity, cooperation and understanding to make people realize and appreciate the value of spiritual aspects of life, the value of devotion and the basic principles of religions such as the ideal of truth, justice, dedicated service, charity, loving kindness and good will towards mankind. These concepts and principles are universal in character and should be generally acceptable to all religionists.
Admittedly, we have our differences in our various concepts and beliefs; nevertheless, we have a vast universal common ground – the eradication of evil, the spread of goodwill amongst men, and the search for peace, eternal bliss and salvation. These are common aims of all religions. Many of the intrinsic religions’ principles enshrined in various religions are also similar in character. It is our duty to respect the other man’s religious belief whatever our religious belief may be. Religious tolerance is absolutely essential and necessary for the sake of harmonious and peaceful living.
All religions have one common aim – to be of service to mankind and the spiritual ‘upliftment’ of humanity. All religions preach good will and proclaim the brotherhood of men. These common aims and ideals, for the good of humanity, should transcend whatever differences that may exist in respect of religious beliefs, concepts and practices.
There must be unity in diversity. We must not try to ridicule the man with the mote in his eye forgetting the beam that is obstructing our own eyes.
The right approach
What is meant by the term religion? Well all of us know that it connotes a form of worship. But then, what is the nature of worship itself? If it limits and binds down our mind faculty to a very narrow spectrum of thought, then the purpose of religion is defeated. For, the search of the profound truth entails the liberation of the mind form all forms of bondage, be it in the form of dogmas or a set of assumptions. Instead of releasing the human mind to allow the surfacing of the divine sixth sense, many follow too hard and fast rules and beliefs in a very blind fashion. It is this folly that makes one religionist claim superiority of his religion over any other religions. The correct path of enlightenment would lead us to understand the oneness of truth and that the various institutionalized religions are merely the superficialities of truth. As such, they may appear vastly different to the person who sees but does not perceive, (that the core of all religions are the same). Let not covers blind us and mislead us. Religions are just the superficial presentations of truth and that they are only means to an end but not the end itself. Many seekers of truth prefer to discard the coats of religion. This does not mean disbelief in all religions but rather belief in all.
For a beginner, it is ideal for him to adopt certain assumptions in the form of a religion and using that as a stepping-stone he proceeds to seek the divine truth. That is to say that he adopts convergent thinking, then diverge and re-converge on some points. This should go on and on until the ultimate goal. It is just like knowing what is within four walls first, then proceed out of the four walls to know what is within a wider enclosure, and so on, until finally we step out of the city limit. But let not the four walls deceive us into thinking that there is nothing more outside the four walls. The superficialities of truth or what we call religions are just like four walls. The various religions only reveal what is within the four walls for fear of creating confusion and awe. But let not religion blinds us from what is outside the four walls.
- Author Unknown