The spirit of all religions

Q: There is much similarity among the different religions, in matters of rituals like ringing of bells. Why should there be so much bickering among religious groups?

– T.M. Sundararaman, Mylapore

A: Yours is more an observation than a question; but a fine observation. The spirit of all religions is the same — a quest for Truth. A religious faith is expected to expand our knowledge, teach us that Truth is vast, rich with many aspects.

The first thing necessary to prepare ourselves for receiving that Truth is to come out of our ego. Yet, a religious faith, like any other platform, becomes a platform for exercising our collective ego.

Once there was a king who believed that God was infinite. One day he was disturbed when he heard that in the frontiers of his kingdom there was a sage who declared that God was both infinite and finite.

The king summoned the sage to his presence. “How dare you hold a view of God that is different from ours?” he demanded.

The sage said, “I’ll answer that question only after you and your three ministers had answered my question.” The sage wrote down his question in four slips of paper and handed them to the king and his ministers, asking them to write the answers on the respective slips.

The sage collected them and read them out. To his question “What is earth?” the king’s answer was: “Earth is that to which all of us would be reduced when dead.”

The three ministers wrote: “Earth is that which gives us crops”, “Earth is that on which we walk”, and “Earth is that which lies under the sky”.

“My lord,” said the sage, “if to a simple question there could be four different answers, each one of which is true, why do you expect an answer to your question as to what is God must be the same? They can be different and yet true!”

The king understood.

Chandamama May 2004

Image: The Congo Republic became the second country to issue a postage stamp to commemorate World Religion Day on Jan. 20, 2007 – an annual event commemorated in dozens of cities and towns around the globe. World Religion Day was first celebrated in 1950, when the national governing body of the Baha’i Faith in the United States established it to call attention to the essential oneness of the world’s religions and to show that religion is the motivating force for world unity. Courtesy