The Key To Religious Harmony
Communal conflicts make some people feel that the world would be better off without religion.But can the human being do without religion? The universally accepted goal of life is the quest for happiness. When man neglects or rejects religion, consciously or unconsciously, his conception of his own self becomes “a lump of chemicals that has by chance come alive.” The quest for happiness then degenerates into a savage struggle for carnal enjoyment. Wealth, women and wine become the only goals of life. Such a conception of life is indi vidually frustrating and globally disastrous. This plight of godless modern society is poignantly caught by Martin Luther King Jr in his comment several decades ago, “We have guided missiles and misguided men.” While science and technology have helped us to control the external world to some extent, control of the inner world is sadly lacking, as can be seen from the alarming increase in depression, hypertension and other mental health disorders as well as addictions, criminality, violence, suicides and homicides. It is genuine spirituality alone that can provide the inner strength and fulfillment that can lead to lasting morality and real character in the individual.
All religions have two aspects – exoteric (external) and esoteric (internal). Most religious practitioners focus fanatically on the exoteric aspects such as rituals, institutions and mindsets, which often differ according to time, place and culture. These superficial religionists are often unaware of the essence of the religion that they profess to follow. Consequently they tend to become sentimental or fundamentalist and have internecine conflicts, riots and crusades. When we dig through the misconceptions, misinterpretations and mistakes that have over the centuries obscured the essential truths of various religions, we find that these core principles are consistently identical and can be briefly summarized as follows:
1. God is the Supreme Father of all living beings and He is the Supreme Owner and Controller of everything.
2. We are accountable for all our actions to God. If we encroach upon the property of God or the rights of the other children of God, we will in time get an appropriate reaction as per the laws of God.
3. We are spirit souls, eternal children of God and our real happiness is not in material acquisition, but in spiritual realization, in lovingly harmonizing ourselves with nature and God.
4. We can easily and effectively achieve this harmony and the resulting highest happiness by chanting the holy names of God – Krishna, Rama, Allah, Christ, Jehovah or any other name as stated in the authorized religious scriptures
These spiritual precepts do not contradict the principle of secularism because secularism should not be misunderstood or misinterpreted as atheism. Secularism basically implies impartiality towards different religions and the above precepts are the common underlying teachings of most major religions of the world.
When people harmonize themselves with the essential principles of their respective religions, then they will be able to celebrate spiritual unity amidst religious diversity.
Srila Prabhupada, the founderacharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), taught globally these same spiritual precepts that formed the essence of the world’s wisdom traditions. He also practically demonstrated the efficacy of spirituality as a means to individual and social transformation by helping “hippies” become “happies” during the period of the counterculture in the West in the 60s and 70s.Even today, thousands of people all over the world are being empowered by this divine knowledge to break free of the shackles of all selfdestructive habits and become selfless spiritual activists, dedicated to the holistic service of God and all living beings.
Therefore, without being misled by uninformed propaganda calling for fanatical adoption or rejection of religion, let us strive to convert ourselves and others from materialists to spiritualists.