Aren't All Religions Merely
One may recognize the
differences that exist between various religions but consider them
to be merely different alternatives, just as different roads may all
lead to the same goal. This is true of religious teachings that have
inner values and practices of meditation and Self-realization, but
differ only in outer factors of name and form, like different
enlightenment or Self-realization traditions. We can consider these
to be different approaches to the same Truth. But we also observe
that there are religious teachings which differ in fundamental
values, goals and practices, not merely in superficial names and
forms. These cannot be merely different ways to the same reality.
For example, we can
recognize that there are many different names for fire. Calling fire
by a different name does not mean that one does not understand the
nature of fire. But this is not to say that fire can differ in its
essential nature and qualities, that for some people fire is hot and
for other people it can be cold. While formal differences can be
reconciled, substantial differences cannot. Truth must be the same.
It cannot differ according to the different beliefs and opinions of
Where religious differences
are merely a matter of words or forms, we can recognize a common
truth behind them. If one religion calls the ultimate reality love,
another calls its truth, another calls it the infinite, we can
accept a common reality behind all these formulations. But when
religious teachings have differences of a substantive nature we
cannot accept their varying views as equally true. For example the
law of karma and rebirth leading to bondage or liberation cannot be
equally true as that of sin or salvation leading to heaven or hell,
as the two views are substantially different.
Such views may be reconciled
into lower and higher, or outer and inner truths but they cannot be
given equal validity. This does not mean that we must insist that
only one religious belief is valid but that we must maintain an
inquiry into Universal Truth and find out the real nature of things.
The goal is to discover the Truth of things, not merely to uphold
religion as we know it, which is a very mixed affair, as Truth.
Religion, after all, is an expedient measure to aid us in the
pursuit of truth. It should never be made an end-in-itself.