Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Religion and Humanity

Post of Thread starter:

Friends ! Here I am starting a new topic to understand religion and humanity impartially. Here I request post your views without criticizing any religion or community.
Here I start:
Different religions define life in different manners. There are many similarities and dissimilarities. And this variety is the beauty of world. If everything was alike then it would not have been so attractive. Variety of flowers makes a garden worth seeing.

My Reply:

You brought up a good topic (which is also proved by the fact that there are no responses to it )

There is an old story I remember. A hunter living in the forest once found a wooden bark in the form of a boomerang. It proved to be very helpful to him in his hunting. In the course of time, he slowly started to get attached to that boomerang.

As time went on, that boomerang slowly started to wear down and was no more useful. But as the hunter has become too attached to it, he kept using the same boomerang even though it was not really helping. Eventually he reached point where the boomerang was no use at all and this hunter unable to overcome his attachment to it could not leave it. Hence he no longer had any animals and eventually starved.

The case of humanity and religion is also something like that. Some persons realized various spiritual truths. Then religions came into existence in the form of various practices propounded by those spiritual men to imbibe those spiritual ideals they have realized.

But in the course of the time, the followers started forgetting that various practices are not the end, but the means. It is time Hindus ask themselves: who is a hindu – is it a person who covers himself with vibuthi and rudraksh, but does all the bad things or a person who even while believing in some other god, still is committed to the core to Bharat? Who is closer to Hinduism- is it Kalam or Lalu? Similarly the people of other religions too.

I like this “The Ideal of Universal Religion” and “The Way to Realization of a Universal Religion” lectures of SV very much. Quoting some bits from them:

Unity in variety is the plan of the universe. We are all men, and yet we are all distinct from one another. As a part of humanity I am one with you, and as Mr. So-and-so I am different from you. As a man you are separate from the woman; as a human being you are one with the woman. As a man you are separate from the animal, but as living beings, man, woman, animal, and plant are all one; and as existence, you are one with the whole universe. That universal existence is God, the ultimate Unity in the universe. In Him we are all one. At the same time, in manifestation, these differences must always remain. In our work, in our energies, as they are being manifested outside, these differences must always remain. We find then that if by the idea of a universal religion it is meant that one set of doctrines should be believed in by all mankind it is wholly impossible. It can never be, there can never be a time when all faces will be the same. Again, if we expect that there will be one universal mythology, that is also impossible; it cannot be. Neither can there be one universal ritual. Such a state of things can never come into existence;

What then do I mean by the ideal of a universal religion? I do not mean any one universal philosophy, or any one universal mythology, or any one universal ritual held alike by all;… What can we do then? We can make it run smoothly, we can lessen the friction, we can grease the wheels, as it were. How? By recognising the natural necessity of variation. Just as we have recognised unity by our very nature, so we must also recognise variation. We must learn that truth may be expressed in a hundred thousand ways, and that each of these ways is true as far as it goes. We must learn that the same thing can be viewed from a hundred different standpoints, and yet be the same thing….

…Then arises the question: How can all these varieties be true? If one thing is true, its negation is false. How can contradictory opinions be true at the same time? This is the question which I intend to answer. But I will first ask you: Are all the religions of the world really contradictory? I do not mean the external forms in which great thoughts are clad. I do not mean the different buildings, languages, rituals, books, etc. employed in various religions, but I mean the internal soul of every religion. Every religion has a soul behind it, and that soul may differ from the soul of another religion; but are they contradictory? Do they contradict or supplement each other? — that is the question. I took up the question when I was quite a boy, and have been studying it all my life. Thinking that my conclusion may be of some help to you, I place it before you. I believe that they are not contradictory; they are supplementary. Each religion, as it were, takes up one part of the great universal truth, and spends its whole force in embodying and typifying that part of the great truth. It is, therefore, addition; not exclusion. That is the idea. System after system arises, each one embodying a great idea, and ideals must be added to ideals. And this is the march of humanity. Man never progresses from error to truth, but from truth to truth, from lesser truth to higher truth — but it is never from error to truth. The child may develop more than the father, but was the father inane? The child is the father plus something else. If your present state of knowledge is much greater than it was when you were a child, would you look down upon that stage now? Will you look back and call it inanity? Why, your present stage is the knowledge of the child plus something more.

Then, again, we also know that there may be almost contradictory points of view of the same thing, but they will all indicate the same thing. Suppose a man is journeying towards the sun, and as he advances he takes a photograph of the sun at every stage. When he comes back, he has many photographs of the sun, which he places before us. We see that not two are alike, and yet, who will deny that all these are photographs of the same sun, from different standpoints? Take four photographs of this church from different corners: how different they would look, and yet they would all represent this church. In the same way, we are all looking at truth from different standpoints, which vary according to our birth, education, surroundings, and so on. We are viewing truth, getting as much of it as these circumstances will permit, colouring the truth with our own heart, understanding it with our own intellect, and grasping it with our own mind. We can only know as much of truth as is related to us, as much of it as we are able to receive. This makes the difference between man and man, and occasions sometimes even contradictory ideas; yet we all belong to the same great universal truth



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