We are living in a time of seemingly constant tensions between people of various faiths and beliefs. There are daily clashes of cultures and world views that often result in horrific violence. In such a time, it is especially important to remember that we actually can find common spiritual ground if we so choose. Those of us on the path, the seekers of Light, should strive to bear this in mind, whatever appears to be occurring in the world, and be careful not to disparage others because of their spiritual views.
There are many religions in the world — some might say, too many. And it may be the case that not all of them have been inspired by Divine Spirit. Yet, it is clear that many religions have links to true Divinity and are part of a primal human tradition — they are emanations of a universal impulse to harmony and joy; peace and love; unity and freedom. The truly inspired religions of the world are an expression of Divine Wisdom — however, that doesn’t mean that we can extract from them what some might call Absolute Truth. This is not because Truth is not real, but because whatever process we, as beings dwelling in a material world, might use for such an extraction is likely to be flawed. Also, the central teachings of most of these religions have become distorted over the centuries, and have moved far from their original mission and purpose. Relying on distorted views and faulty thought processes is not likely to help in a demonstration of pure and absolute truth. Despite this, religion and religious teachings or all kinds serve as a spiritual guide for billions of people around the world and are, therefore, deserving of respect.
Now, some of us might believe that many of these religions, many of these teachings, just do not represent the current needs of humanity anymore and are possibly even detrimental to social evolution. Religious teachings born of an earlier age might not be compatible with the world as it is today – a world dominated by technology, mass communication and an assumed multicultural mind set. The current world has the potential to be free of rampaging disease, warrior cults, extreme poverty and geographical isolation. In fact, the current world has the potential to carry humanity out into the vastness of space to dwell upon and colonize other star systems. Religious views formulated at a time when most people had to compete for every acre of land and every natural resource simple doesn’t fit in with the expansive world view held by the current majority of humanity. Nevertheless, as followers of the path, we should not outright condemn them. There are lessons that can be learned even from the most tribal of belief systems. As seekers of Light we should try to find within them that certain something that continues to help people rise up toward a higher plane of awareness.
Mystically speaking, all the inspired religions of the past and present are destined to eventually manifest a Universal Religion that will be a synthesis of their most beautiful principles. Aspects of acceptance, tolerance, humility, and especially love and kindness will merge into a single dominant perspective that will serve as the focus of belief of all people. Whether someone follows Christ, Buddha, Krishna or some other spiritual being love, cooperation and harmony will be the center of spiritual life. But whatever the roots of the religious belief, we will have to be careful to separate out any intent to control, dominate or subjugate others. The unified spiritual belief cannot allow for oppression or violence. Men and women must feel free to express themselves and seek to achieve their individual goals without fear of being forced to submit to doctrine or idealism. Extremist views simply cannot exist alongside dreams of love, freedom and self-expression. As seekers of Light, we can play a primary role in making this happen by serving as examples of harmony and tolerance when we speak of our own spirituality.
A useful exercise for all of us is to learn as much as possible about the messages proclaimed by spiritual masters throughout the ages such as Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Krishna and even the traditions of the ancient Greeks, Romans, Norse, Polynesian, Native American, and other world cultures that inspired and encouraged humanity over the millennia. We should be aware of their legacy to the world and the heritage they bring forth. The light these people and cultures have brought to humanity must be preserved in its purer state and conveyed to future generations. The lives, teachings and works of all people that contributed to our civilization and have filled humanity with hopes and dreams of better times are examples for all of us who seek knowledge and enlightenment. The words and actions of past ages are a great source of true wisdom.
One of the greatest causes of conflict among people has always been religious intolerance and the idea that people must be forced to submit to the teaching of any one person or tradition. Consider world history: How many wars have been fought for the imagined glory of the Divine? And, how many crimes and atrocities have been committed in the name of some individual realization of God or another? These wars and crimes generally originate in fanaticism – that is, a conviction that one’s own religion, one’s own perspective on divinity is the only True religion, the only path to salvation, and is superior to all others. Of course, this is nonsense – no religion represents Absolute Truth — it can’t because no principle of Divinity can represent the aspiration of all humanity at any one time. Such a conviction, whether acted upon or not, generates particularly negative karma for those who teach or defend it. As seekers of Light, we must release ourselves from such beliefs and strive to be tolerant in our mystical quest. That doesn’t mean we have to embrace, accept or support all the various beliefs and religions – in fact we would be wise to reject any beliefs that lead to submission or cruelty — but we should remember that in the eyes of the Divine Spirit all people are brothers and sisters and all are evolving toward the same goal: the perfection of their soul.