Perhaps nothing more
so than religion stimulates the passions of humanity toward either
higher or lower actions. This is because religion introduces
absolutes into human life. Religion sets up a standard of judgement
that goes beyond life and death and all the limited values of our
transient existence. Such a standard can deepen our sensitivity or
can breed fanaticism and bigotry, depending upon whether we use
these absolutes to provide a higher standard for our own behavior or
to become harsher in our criticism of those who think differently
than we do.
True religion directs
us to the Absolute, which requires that we cleanse our minds of our
limited opinions and judgements. False or imperfect religion tries
to make absolute these very prejudices, opinions and limitations.
To understand religion, we must look at
religion as a whole, not as a belief system but as a way of life, a
system of ethical, mental and spiritual culture - what is called in
the Eastern world, dharma or the guiding law of our being. Otherwise
we will be unable to extract the essence of religion from its mass
of conflicting beliefs.
This requires that we
look at our own lives as a whole, and that we examine religion as a
living phenomenon, as part of our greater human potential, our inner
dharma, from whatever different land or culture it may arise. We
must learn to look at religion as a way of connecting with Reality
through our own consciousness, which is the view of the science of
Yoga. This is the view of religion that India has given us, the land
wherein human beings have spent the most time in pursuit of the
sacred, not to convert others, but to realize the Truth.