Are different religions like different companies with their gods as their product? (PK answered 26)
Transcription (edited) by – Bhaktin Raji Nachiappan
Question – Are different religions like different companies with their gods as their product?
Answer (short) –
- The idea of ‘different religions are like different companies’ is not correct. Looking different religions as different companies is a commercialized idea of religion and God.
- Different religions should rather be seen as different universities or hospitals. Universities may have different syllabus (or hospitals may have different treatments) but the goal is same – to get knowledge (or to get cured).
- Like universities and hospitals, religion too can get commercialized, but the onus is on us to critically examine and choose the right one for our benefit.
Answer (long)– No. Different religions are like different colleges sharing the same knowledge about the same one God. The idea that God is a product and religions are like companies, gives a very distorted and commercialised idea of religion and God. Whereas the reality is that different religions in their original pure expression are meant to provide two things – (i) higher knowledge about God and (ii) experience of God.
Just as different universities/colleges can have slightly different syllabus and may use slightly different books, but the essential knowledge is the same, especially if they are of the same department. For example, different engineering colleges in India may be offering slightly different syllabuses but still they are teaching essentially the same subject. Like that, different religions are like different universities who are sharing the same knowledge of the same one God.
Religions are supposed to provide us not just knowledge about God but experience of God as well. A higher experience of God inspires us to devote ourselves to Him and to love Him. And by loving Him, we get inspired to love all living beings.
To understand better how religions provide such experience we can consider another metaphor – different religions are like different hospitals. The hospital is meant to cure us, so that from a diseased state we come to a healthy state. Our experience of ourselves and of the things around us changes as our health changes. Similarly religions are meant to treat us spiritually and to cure us from selfishness to selflessness. That is the core purpose of the various processes in religion – like prayer, mediation etc.
Religions are meant to cure us from selfishness to selflessness. Just as different hospitals may have different machines, different guidelines, and some may even have different treatment methods (e.g. Allopath/Ayurveda/Naturopathy). But the goal in each hospital is the same i.e. to cure. Based on this, we can also further understand that, although a university is meant to provide education but sometimes it can also become commercialised. Similarly, a hospital is meant to treat people but it can also become commercialised. When that happens, do we just reject education or reject treatment? No. We use our intelligence to find out which university is actually teaching properly or which hospital is curing properly and then take their services.
Similarly it is possible (and indeed it has happened in many cases), that many religions or many institutions within religions have become excessively commercialised and they may appear like companies. They may seem to be thrusting their religious wear on people and may seem like companies. That’s unfortunate, but if we reject God completely, we become deprived of higher happiness. Just as a student who does not go to university remains deprived of knowledge or a patient who does not go to the doctor remains deprived of health.
It is our responsibility to carefully examine and find out which religion or teacher can provide us proper knowledge and higher experience of God. We don’t uncritically accept every university/hospital nor do we indiscriminately reject every university/hospital. Similarly when we see commercialisation in religion, we should avoid both extremes of uncritical acceptance or indiscriminate rejection. Instead we intelligently understand and follow a process by which we can actually know and love God.