Why do people fight in the name of religion?

by January 1, 2012

Question: Why do people fight in the name of religion?

Answer: Because people use the religions not to improve themselves, but to prove themselves.

The different religions of the world are basically different means to help us to a common end: falling in love with God.  An essential symptom of those who are attracted to God is that they lose attraction to worldly allurements like pleasures and treasures, positions and possessions. The greatest worldly allurement is the allurement of the ego, which unrelentingly impels us to think of ourselves as superior to others. Those who love God cherish no love for their egos; for them, proving the superiority of their own path holds far lesser importance than treading that path and increasing their own love for God – and inspiring others to do the same. Such saintly people are adorned by the qualities that make a person lovable and loving among one and all: humility, gentleness, helpfulness, tolerance, selflessness, compassion. Indeed, the ancient Indian book of wisdom, the Srimad Bhagavatam, describes that such qualities are the real ornaments of a saint – and not the external symbols that identify a person with a particular religion. Such saintly people have illuminated and animated all the great religious traditions of the world. They radiate love and joy by their words and actions, and inspire others to become similar sharers of love and joy. The wisdom, shelter and guidance that these saints offer helps resolve conflicts and heal hearts – individually, socially and globally.

Far removed from such saints are those who use their religious faith as a means, not to transcend, but feed their egos. For them, their religion is not a means to increase their attraction to God, but a means to prove their own superiority over others: “My religion is better than yours and so I am better than you.” No wonder such people don’t hesitate to fight in the name of their religion; instead, they often consider it their religious duty to engage in such fights. But this duty is not to the religion of God, but to the religion of the ego. Just as the ego incites people to fight in the name of race, caste, gender and nationality, similarly, it instigates people to fight in the name of religion.

What the world needs today is sincere spiritualists who want to improve, not prove. The world needs people who want to improve the quality of their own devotion and service to God and to all his children, and not prove their own superiority over the other children of God – and justify it in the name of God.


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