All Religions are connected to the same Ultimate Reality
"One guiding principle behind World Scripture is that all religions are connected to the same Ultimate Reality and lead people toward a common goal. This is true even though the various religions make exclusive claims about themselves, sometimes asserting the uniqueness and incomparability of their God or ultimate principle. Nevertheless, in affirming the existence of Ultimate Reality or an ultimate principle, we assume that it can be only one, regardless of the various beliefs which people hold about it — be it described as one or many, impersonal or personal, absolute emptiness or absolute Being, and regardless of the name by which it is called.
Similarly, the goals of spiritual practice for each religion, while not identical, have much in common Since the ideals imbued in human nature are universal, we may expect to find that people who have reached the goal, be it enlightenment, salvation, sanctification, self-realization, or liberation, indeed manifest the highest human qualities: love, compassion, wisdom, purity, courage, patience, righteousness, strength of character, calmness of mind, and inner joy. Regardless of religious belief, people who have realized such a goal inevitably impress others by their personal virtue. Ultimately, these goals converge and become one, inasmuch as they express the best of our common humanity.”
World Scripture, International Religious Foundation
Paragon House, 1995, p. 33
A Comparative Analysis of the Major World Religions from a Christian Perspective by Ernest Valea
According to the pattern suggested by this tale, it is often said that world religions form a unity, and only this unity provides the right perspective on ultimate truth. A similar syncretistic trend is encouraged by the suggestion to consider the various world religions as alternative paths to the same transcendental finality or, using a known illustration, many paths to the same mountain peak. Although this vision is arousing a lot of enthusiasm in many people today, it is important to know that it is not the only one, as Christianity and Islam each claim to be the only right path to God. Therefore the other option is that world religions are not pieces of the same puzzle (parts of the same spiritual "elephant") or alternative paths to the same goal.
Judging theoretically, both possibilities exist. Therefore, a proper evaluation of such opposite views must be done before we decide on a course of action. If the first is true (all religions lead us to the same finality), and we choose the second (only one of them is right), we have not lost anything. Despite our ignorance, we will arrive at the same happy end as the other travelers who have chosen other spiritual paths. A less happy situation would be given by the second possibility, that a single spiritual path is valid and we have chosen the wrong one. In this case religious syncretism is only a way of misleading the travelers to spiritual disaster, so they at least should be warned. A third possibility, that all spiritual paths are wrong, is denied by the nature of our spiritual quest itself, which demands a real fulfillment. Otherwise, our hunger for ultimate truth could not be justified and all religions would be nothing but human fantasy.
The following articles are not meant merely to generate a conflict of rational proofs for justifying one or another alternative. No matter how complex and logical the rational proofs on behalf of one or the other cause might be, it is possible to find counterpoints of the same nature, so that at a rational level, the dispute could fill a lot of books with no benefit to anyone. Nobody can be persuaded or converted to one or another religious perspective only through rational proofs. This may be possible in science, but not in religion. However, rational proofs have to be considered because we are rational beings. Reason should not be rejected and experience proclaimed the only way of knowing truth. No divorce between reason and experience should be accepted, because they are complementary and work together, so that neither can exclude the other. As a result, we do not have to reject a priori the proofs of reason in our spiritual quest in order to abandon ourselves to the arms of mystical experiences, whatever their nature might be.
Rather than generating sterile debates, the information presented here should help you clarify your own stand toward comparative religion and develop a critical ability to analyze today's spiritual market. Suggestions, comments and critiques are strongly encouraged, with the hope that they will improve the content of this site. Please make them as specific and clear as possible.
The comparative analysis presented here is focused on Christianity and the major Eastern religions, especially Hinduism and Buddhism, because they play a major role in defining today's world spirituality. This is an obvious phenomenon on the Internet too, where a lot of spiritual movements indebted to classic Eastern doctrines and practices can be found. Some may believe that a comparative analysis of the major world religions like this may fuel religious hatred and intolerance, but this is wrong. Religious tolerance and freedom cannot be built on ignorance but rather on the understanding of commonalities and differences. Jesus Christ is the perfect example of teaching love for one's neighbor despite religious differences (see The Parable of the Good Samaritan). Unfortunately, some of His followers did the opposite. Loving the person is possible even if one rejects his or her religious convictions.
A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF THE MAJOR WORLD RELIGIONS FROM A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE
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