"What we need today is a conscious effort to see the thread connecting all"

From: "jagbir singh" <adishakti_org@yahoo.com>
Date: Mon Jan 16, 2006 12:59 pm
Subject: "What we need today is a conscious effort to see the thread connecting all"

> —- In adishakti_sahaja_yoga@yahoogroups.com, "jagbir singh"
> <adishakti_org@y...> wrote:
> >
> >
> > Dear Semira,
> >
> > Definitely and without question the Divine Message will triumph
> > over the organization itself. In future more and more people will
> > embrace its central message of evolving into the eternal spirit
> > that all religions, holy scriptures and prophets have since time
> > immemorial upheld. The Divine Message is a spiritual sanctuary, a
> > beacon of hope, joy, peace of eternal life to all humans. The
> > Shakti/Holy Spirit/Ruh/Aykaa Mayee is the Divine Feminine that
> > gives Self-realization/Birth of Spirit/Baptism of Allah/Opens
> > Dasam Dwar for humanity to enter the Sahasrara/Kingdom of
> > God/Niche of lights/Inner Sanctuary within where Brahman/God
> > Almighty/Allah/ Waheguru resides as THE LIGHT. Semira, not only
> > the current Sahaja Yoga organisation but all religious
> > organizations as well have merely been intended as temporary
> > vehicles and starting points for the Divine Message.
> >
> > jagbir
> >
> >
>
> i would like to add that the Shakti/Holy Spirit/Ruh/Aykaa Mayee is
> not really an intellectual premise but a faith experience of the
> Divine Message. Immediately after the Divine Feminine gives Self-
> realization/Birth of Spirit/Baptism of Allah/Opens Dasam Dwar the
> seeker will feel the Cool Breeze, the Ruach or Breath of God,
> flowing rom his/her hands and head. The Holy Spirit is indeed a
> daily experience of His Breath for the rest of your life. The
> Divine Message is a spiritual sanctuary, a beacon of hope, joy,
> peace of eternal life to all humans.
>
> "So we must know that it's a new explosion. That's why I call it
> Blossom Time, that we are definitely spiritual people. We have got
> spirituality and that the Divine is working. So the Kali Yuga is
> finishing. Now it is the Krita Yuga ...
>
> Krita Yuga means at the Time when this All-Pervading Power has
> started acting. Nobody felt the Cool Vibrations. Can you believe
> that? It was never related to any science. It was never related to
> physical science especially. So I must say the achievement of
> Sahaja Yoga is tremendous ... The All-Pervading Power has started
> acting as I am on Earth!" (Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi)
>
> Just a handful of humanity is stirring to the faintest of Light
> discernible at the earliest breaking of the Divine Dawn. They are
> the SYs who daily experience His breath flowing through their hands
> and head, and meditate on His Spirit within. They truly understand
> that the Shakti/Holy Spirit/Ruh/Aykaa Mayee is not really an
> intellectual premise but a faith experience of the Resurrection and
> Last Judgment. All religious organizations have merely been
> intended as temporary vehicles and starting points for the Divine
> Message, the collective culmination of God's Plan for humanity.
>
> jagbir
>
>

And only the Divine Message reveals the thread connecting all
religions:

"What we need today is a conscious effort to see the thread
connecting all religions, forming a beautiful garland adorning the
Supreme Being, who is neither a Christian, nor a Jew, nor a Muslim,
nor a Buddhist, nor a Hindu, nor belonging to any religion
whatsoever. All belong to Him, but He transcends all."

All religious organizations have merely been temporary vehicles and
starting points for the Divine Message, the collective culmination of
God's Plan for humanity.

jagbir


——————————————————————————————————-

HARMONY OF RELIGIONS
Swami Tyagananda

Swami Tyagananda is the associate minister of the Ramakrishna-Vedanta
Society in Boston. The following article is from a talk he gave in
Harvard University on April 8, 2000.


Harmony is a precondition for peace, and peace opens the door to joy.
All of us know this from our own experience. In matters of health or
study, work or worship, harmony is what we strive to achieve. When
harmony is lost, the result is stress and anxiety, pain and sorrow.

Religions of the world have contributed to the loss of social
harmony, often because there are simply so many of them and they seem
at variance with one another. The distrust and conflict between
religions is sad and strange. Considering the fact that all religions
deal with the same basic human problems, we would expect the world's
religions to be in the forefront of promoting harmony—not only among
themselves but also at every level of society. Sometimes religions do
work together to promote harmony, but the harmony that is achieved is
too fragile to withstand disruptive social forces.

The oldest religious sentiment ever expressed is perhaps the
statement on religious harmony found in the ancient Vedas: Ekam sat,
vipra bahudha vadanti, "Truth is one; sages call It by various names."

The same sentiment has since then echoed and reechoed in the
corridors of time, amplified by enlightened persons of different
religions in different parts of the world. As the pagan Roman thinker
Quintus Aurelius Symmachus said to St. Ambrose, the dogmatic bishop
of Milan: "The heart of so great a mystery cannot ever be reached by
following one road only." Ibn 'rabi, the great Sufi mystic of
thirteenth-century Spain, wrote this in his book Tarjuman al-Ashwaq
("The Interpretation of Divine Love"):

My heart is capable of every form,
A cloister of the monk, a temple for idols,
A pasture for gazelles, the votary's Kaba,
The tables of Torah, the Koran.
Love is the creed I hold: wherever turn
His camels, love is still my creed and faith.

Yet despite these broad, universal sentiments expressed by
enlightened beings from different religious traditions, the simple
but tragic truth is that humanity as a whole has not yet come to
terms with religious plurality. Faith traditions other than one's own
are frequently seen as threats. Religious differences still rankle
and continue to produce disharmony, misunderstanding, and mutual
distrust.

Part of the problem is the very concept of religion.

What is religion? If we look at the many ways "religion" is defined,
we find that the term covers so wide an area that virtually anything
can be called a "religion." There are also varying ideas of what it
means to be religious. Since every religion has its own book or
prophet as the supreme authority and is believed to be complete in
itself, sometimes even communication between one religion and another
becomes difficult or is considered unnecessary.

Given all these problems, there is this additional issue of religious
plurality. Whichever way religion may be defined and whatever may be
the nature of practicing it, we need to find some way to make sense
of the different versions of religion that exist all over the world.

Through the centuries people have adopted different approaches to
solve this problem. These approaches can be broadly classified into
four categories: (1) exclusivistic approach, (2) inclusivistic
approach, (3) syncretistic approach, and (4) pluralistic approach.
Let us take a brief look at each of these approaches.

Exclusivistic Approach

The easiest way to dispose of all the questions concerning religious
plurality is to deny it altogether. Only one religion is true. The
other so-called religions are false or misguided, and do not really
deserve to be called "religions." Obviously, the underlying message
is that "my religion" is the one "true religion." An implied
corollary to this is the idea that if the world were to be united by
one religion, that religion could only be "my religion."

The Archbishop of Canterbury refused to attend the World's Parliament
of Religions at Chicago in 1893 because, he said,

The Christian religion is the one religion. I do not understand how
that religion can be regarded as a member of a Parliament of
Religions without assuming the equality of the other intended members
and the parity of their positions and claims.

Every religion has at least a few followers holding such
exclusivistic views. Although we call such people "fundamentalists,"
there is nothing really "fundamental" about the views they hold. We
know from history—ancient as well as recent—that these exclusivistic
views have produced hatred and violence, death and destruction.

There have been, of course, people in different traditions who have
spoken out against exclusivism. In a council held in Buffalo, New
York in 1805, Red Jacket, a Native American chief, is reported to
have asked a missionary, "Brother, if there is but one way to worship
and serve the Great Spirit, if there is but one religion, why do you
white people differ so much about it?" The same question was asked by
Swami Vivekananda in 1900 in a lecture he gave in Pasadena,
California:

If the claims of a religion that it has all the truth and God has
given it all this truth in a certain book were true, why are there so
many sects?

Vivekananda went on to say that if God had put all the truth in
certain books, He did not give us those books to quarrel over. But
that is precisely what we have done for centuries. All this goes to
show that any attempt to bring all humanity to one method of thinking
in spiritual matters has been a failure and always will be a failure.

Inclusivistic Approach

The inclusivistic approach is based on the belief that one religion—
and, of course, it is always "my religion"—is the fulfillment of what
is best and true in others. Those who take the inclusivistic approach
will admit that there must be some divine purpose for the existence
of many religions. The other religions cannot be totally false or
misguided; they do have some element of truth—the fullness of which
is, however, most clearly revealed in "my religion" alone.

People who follow this approach tend to believe that other religions
are based on knowledge derived from human reason, not on divine
revelation and are, therefore, inadequate and incomplete. A few among
the less conservative Christian theologians have put forward a
subtler form of this argument which accepts a kind of progressive
or "hidden" revelation in all religions.

Some Muslim theologians argue that historically Islam is God's most
recent revelation, so Judaism and Christianity are not false
religions but are "preparations" for the final revelation of the
Prophet Muhammad. A similar idea was put forth by a bishop more than
a hundred years ago before the Chicago Parliament of Religions began.
He wrote: "Civilization, which is making the whole world one, is
preparing the way for the reunion of all the world's religions in
their true center—Jesus Christ."

A few Hindu thinkers have begun to claim in recent years that their
religion covers so vast a metaphysical spectrum that virtually every
ideal found in other religions has already a counterpart in their own
religion. This is another example of how inclusivism functions.

The inclusivistic approach is found offensive—or at least irritating—
by most people, because it tends to undermine the special identity
and uniqueness of every religion other than one's own. To give a
secular example of the inclusivistic approach, let me draw your
attention to an article which appeared in the January edition of
Smithsonian, where it was suggested that Rhode Island—being too small
to merit existing as a state by itself—should be made a part of
Connecticut. The Rhode Islanders were furious and responded with a
flurry of letters to the editor protesting the trivializing of their
state. One reader suggested that instead of Rhode Island being made a
part of Connecticut, Connecticut was welcome to become a part of
Rhode Island. This is the kind of response inclusivism provokes even
in the lofty field of religion. We're tempted to say, "Why should my
religion be 'included' as a part of some other religion? My own
religion is broad enough to include or swallow all other religions!"
Such rhetoric is clearly not a pointer to peace, individual or
collective.

Syncretistic Approach

Some people feel that every existing religion in its present form has
certain limitations. Those who follow the syncretistic approach
recognize the diversities in religion but hold that these are not
antagonistic to one another. They believe that a new religion will
eventually emerge, or can be created, by combining the strong points
of every religion and omitting their weak points.

This approach was followed by Akbar, India's sixteenth-century Mughal
emperor. Akbar's syncretism produced Din-ilahi, a religion which was
a pantheistic monotheism—a hotchpotch of elements borrowed from
Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism, and Zoroastrianism. As a
religion it failed, but it had a few short-term beneficent political
results. It produced unity of sorts in Akbar's kingdom and improved
law and order for some time. This new religion's failure as a common
religion meant for all is understandable because, as we have seen
before, it is impossible to tie down humanity to just one way of
approaching God.

Many today are trying to repeat this four-century-old experiment at
the individual level. They create their own sort of "cafeteria"
religion—picking up something from Buddhism here, a little Hinduism
there, a little from the Native American tradition, and then topping
it off with Christianity and Santa Claus. For many, creating a
religion in the way that you would pick up spare parts at an
automobile junkyard is appealing because you can discard what's
uncomfortable and keep what's convenient and pleasant. This might
provide a feel-good sensation for some time, but that's about all it
can do. When we are faced with crises that touch the deeper core of
our personality, this kind of self-created superficial "religion"
can't provide the strength and substance that we both need and want.

This does not mean, of course, that we should never combine in our
own religious practice elements from other religious traditions. We
can do so and it can actually serve to strengthen our core religious
beliefs. But, when we do so, it must be done intelligently, so that
our spiritual practices form an integrated whole supported by a
metaphysically sound way of life. The key words here are integration
and harmony. If our religious life is guided by these principles, we
are taking the "harmonious approach," which we shall discuss shortly.

Pluralistic Approach

The pluralistic approach not only acknowledges religious diversity
but also accepts that each religion is completely valid according to
its own terms and concerns. This is, I believe, the only approach
acceptable to thoughtful, reasonable men and women in today's world.
But this approach also poses serious challenges at both the
individual and the collective levels. In countries where secular
constitutions have been adopted, religious pluralism has become one
of their most serious socio-political problems. The separation of
church and state has its benefits, of course, but it has also raised
questions regarding, for instance, how much or how little the
government can do in enforcing laws that go counter to the tenets of
a religion. Or take the hotly debated questions regarding prayer in
schools, abortion, or even the theory of evolution versus creationism.

Owing to the comprehensiveness of the pluralistic approach, it allows
several "sub-approaches" within its fold. Let's take a quick look at
some of these.

Noncommittal approach. This is the approach followed by many people
today. They say that since we have to live together anyway, let us
develop mutual respect and a spirit of toleration for the sake of
collective peace and welfare. Let religion remain every individual's
personal affair. There is no need to make a parade of it in society
where it is almost certain to clash with other religions. Let us be
religious inside the home and be secular outside of it. In
pluralistic countries such as the United States and India, this is
the approach followed by the government and it has been incorporated
in the constitutions of these countries.

Dialogic Approach. This is another way of responding positively to
religious diversity. There are many people who hold that it is better
not to have predetermined answers concerning the truth or superiority
of any religion or the relationship between various religions. What
is essential is to have real dialogue with those of other faiths in a
spirit of mutual respect, fellowship, and creative openness. We must
learn how to genuinely listen to others' viewpoints with unprejudiced
minds. This dialogic interaction may eventually produce greater
understanding of one another. Those who take the dialogic approach
believe that the final picture regarding the relationship between
religions may turn out to be quite different from what any of the
participants in the dialogue have envisioned.

Many traditions today actively promote religious dialogue, as is
evident from a large number of interfaith groups in pluralistic
countries, such as the United States, Canada, England and India.

Harmonious Approach. This approach has the unique advantage of
fulfilling the aspirations of all concerned without destroying
anyone's innate faith. The harmonious approach respects religious
diversity. It appreciates the special identity of every religion and
finds a way through which all religions can join hands to celebrate
the diversity while, simultaneously, recognizing the unity that
brings them together. The harmonious approach thus has the potential
to produce not only collective peace but also individual growth and
maturity.

The harmonious approach is based on the following three principles:

(1) All religions have the same ultimate purpose, namely,
transcendence; everything else is secondary. Stripped of all
theological trappings, every religion aims to transcend human
limitations to contact the reality beyond.

(2) There is only one transcendent, ultimate reality which is known
by various names, which may be perceived as having various
attributes, and which manifests in various forms or as formless.

(3) The ultimate Reality can be attained through various ways
developed by the world religions. Every religion has the inherent
power to take its followers to the supreme consummation of human life.

In practical terms, these three principles mean that the world's
religions are not contradictory or antagonistic to one another but
complementary. No one need change one's religion for another or
persuade others to change their religion for one's own. Every
religion is equally true and authentic.

Saying that all religions are equally true and authentic does not, of
course, mean that "all religions are the same" or that "differences
are merely superficial." Every religion has a bent, a characteristic
feature, a unique trait. For instance, the dominant characteristic of
Islam is its spirit of equality and brotherhood; of Judaism—its
emphasis on tradition and the importance of family; of Christianity—
the love and sacrifice exemplified by Christ; of Buddhism—its stress
on renunciation, compassion, and rationality; of Hinduism—its
principle of the basic unity of the universe in consciousness, its
insistence on the need for direct mystical experience, and its spirit
of acceptance of views different from its own.

At the same time, saying that every religion has its own uniqueness
does not mean that religions have nothing to share with one another.
There are a great many things to share and learn, and if we really
put our minds to this, we shall find that the religions of the world
have a lot more in common than we suspect.

In spite of the diversity and the differences, no one can deny that
religions do share certain common characteristics such as concern for
the existential problems of humanity, transcendence, ultimacy,
holiness, fellowship, and the symbolic expression of inner
experience. The harmonious approach consists in recognizing this
common ground and enriching our own spiritual life by absorbing the
best elements of other religions while remaining steadfast in our own.

Ramakrishna, a nineteenth-century Indian saint, is perhaps the best-
known symbol of the harmonious approach. Both through his life and
teachings he showed that it is possible to remain faithful to one's
own faith while opening one's heart to the inspiration that comes
from other faiths. It is possible to be aware of the harmony
underlying all religions but maintain a special relationship with
one's own.

The harmonious approach teaches us that "my religion" doesn't become
greater if it is accompanied by hatred for all others. When true love
awakens in the heart, it doesn't leave any room for hatred. The two
can never stay together. It is possible for us all to live together
in the global family of religions with mutual sharing, love and
cooperation.

At some point we may all come to realize that the different religious
traditions—or "labels" such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism
and Hinduism—are really walls dividing the total religious
consciousness of humanity. These walls are necessary, for they do
have their utility. Ramakrishna explains this with the example of a
hedge to protect a tender, growing plant from stray cattle. Once the
plant grows up into a sturdy tree, the hedge is no longer necessary.
In fact, it could even be a hindrance. Similarly, religious
traditions protect a person from negative influences. Soon, however,
the person must evolve and outgrow the necessity of this confinement.
Beyond the walls separating one religion from another lies the realm
of religion without frontiers, the limitless expanse of the Religion
beyond all religions—the religion with a capital "R".

From Harmony to Universality

It is possible to view every religion of the world as an expression
of the transcendent aspect of religion. The truth every religion
represents is an expression of the absolute Truth. It is the
transcendent aspect of religion that can be called the religion with
a capital "R" or the Religion beyond all religions. It not only
transcends every religion but also pervades every one of them. It is
the totality of religions.

Vivekananda described this transcendent aspect of religion in the
following words:

That one eternal religion is applied to different planes of
existence, is applied to the opinions of various minds and various
races. There never was my religion or yours, my national religion or
your national religion; there never existed many religions, there is
only the one. One infinite religion existed all through eternity and
will ever exist, and this religion is expressing itself in various
countries in various ways.

All religions are expressions of the Religion beyond religions. Every
religion is true and authentic, and they all have a thread of harmony
connecting them. This thread can be discovered and the underlying
harmony can be experienced by truly religious people.

The phrase "truly religious" is, of course, open to interpretation.
Vedanta would say that "religious" isn't a valid term for those who
merely believe in some dogma or accept some Savior. True religion (to
quote Vivekananda again)

is not talk, or doctrines; nor is it sectarianism... It is the relation
between soul and God... Religion does not consist in erecting temples,
or building churches, or attending public worship. It is not to be
found in books, or in words, or in lectures, or in organizations.
Religion consists in realization... [We] must realize God, feel God,
see God, talk to God. That is religion.

Doctrines, dogmas, rituals, books, temples, churches are important
and have their utility, but they are only "secondary details" of
religion. The primary aspects of religion are the supersensuous
experience of God, and our efforts to get this experience and to live
by the implication of our relationship with God. Thus religion is not
a bunch of dogmas or beliefs to be accepted on faith, but an active
search for one's own spiritual roots which culminates in the direct
experience of God.

What we need today is a conscious effort to see the thread connecting
all religions, forming a beautiful garland adorning the Supreme
Being, who is neither a Christian, nor a Jew, nor a Muslim, nor a
Buddhist, nor a Hindu, nor belonging to any religion whatsoever. All
belong to Him, but He transcends all.

When the spirit of religious harmony animates our soul and the
awareness of the Religion beyond religions pervades our
consciousness, life will hold a new, richer meaning for us. Then the
following words of Swami Vivekananda will find a ready resonance in
our hearts:

I accept all religions that were in the past, and worship with them
all; I worship God with every one of them, in whatever form they
worship Him.... Is God's book finished? Or is it still a continuous
revelation going on? It is a marvelous book—these spiritual
revelations of the world. The Bible, the Vedas, the Koran, and all
other sacred books are but so many pages and an infinite number of
pages remain yet to be unfolded. I would leave it open for all of
them. We stand in the present, but open ourselves to the infinite
future. We take in all that has been in the past, enjoy the light of
the present, and open every window of the heart for all that will
come in the future. Salutations to all the prophets of the past, to
all the great ones of the present, and to all that are to come in the
future!

HARMONY OF RELIGIONS
Swami Tyagananda
 

 

 


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