The following is the general text of Mr. Goenka's remarks at one of
the panels of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland,
January, 2000 on the subject of how the practice of a tradition can
transcend dogma and cultural elements and manifest the essence of
Good that we are all here today to discuss various aspects of
religion. Not this religion or that religion but religion as such.
There are two significant aspects of religion, one of which is the
hard core of religion; the quintessence of religion which is of
utmost importance. This is to live a moral life full of love,
compassion, good will, and tolerance.
Every religion essentially preaches morality. This is the greatest
common denominator of all religions.
A moral life is a life where one abstains from all such actions,
physical or vocal, which disturb the peace and harmony of other
beings. A moral life is always free from negatives such as anger,
hatred, illwill, and animosity.
A moral life the true religious life where one lives in peace and
harmony within oneself and generates nothing but peace and harmony
A true religious life is an "art of living", a moral code of
conduct, and a happy harmonious healthy and wholesome life. A true
religious life is always good for oneself, good for others, and good
for the entire human society.
A true religious person is a pious person, a person with moral life,
a person with a well-controlled and disciplined mind. A person with
a pure heart always bubbling with love and compassion. A true
religious person is an invaluable jewel of the human society. Such a
true religious person can be from any country, community, any color,
any sex, rich or poor, educated or uneducated. Every human being is
capable of becoming a true religious person.
Living a life of morality with a well controlled, disciplined mind
and with a pure heart full of love and compassion is not the
monopoly of any one religion. It is for all. It transcends all
sectarian barriers. It is always non-sectarian . It is always
universal. It is always generic.
If people practice this quintessence of religion there is no reason
for any conflict or confrontation among the people of the world
regardless of their religion. Everyone in the human society can
enjoy real peace, real harmony and real happiness by observing this
quintessence of religion.
But then there is another aspect of religion. It is the outer shell
of religion. It involves rites, rituals, ceremonies, etcetera, which
are likely to turn into different cults. Each has its own different
mythological and philosophical beliefs, each of which are likely to
turn into dogmas, blind faith and blind beliefs.
In contrast to the uniformity of the inner hard core of morality
this outer hard shell exhibits great diversity. Every organized,
sectarian religion has its own rites, rituals, ceremonies, cults,
beliefs and dogma. The followers of each organized, sectarian
religion usually develop a tremendous amount of attachment to their
own rites, rituals, faith and dogma as the only means of salvation.
Such misguided persons may not have even a trace of morality, a
trace of love, compassion and good will towards others and yet
remain under the impression that they are religious persons because
they have performed such and such rite or ritual or because they
have full faith in a particular belief. They are actually deluding
themselves and missing the nectar of the practice of the true
essence of religion.
And then there is the worst part of this outer shell.
People with strong attachment to their own faith have the firm
belief that the followers of all other organized sectarian religions
are non-believers and therefor will never taste salvation. They are
fully convinced that to convert others to their religion is a great
meritorious deed and hence they apply various coercive methods.
Such blind faith of the followers of different organized religions
is likely to turn into fanatic fundamentalism leading to
controversies, contradictions, violent confrontations and even wars
and bloodshed resulting in a tremendous amount of misery in the
society wiping away its peace and harmony. And all this is done in
the name of religion. What a great misfortune for this human world.
When the outer shells of religion become so predominantly important
the inner core of morality gets lost.
Sometimes people feel that there cannot be a religion without the
hard outer shell, however undesirable it may be. But successful
experiments were made in the past and are also being made even today
where 100 percent importance is given to the inner core of morality,
ignoring the outer shell as totally irrelevant. There exists a
method to adopt this practice successfully called Vipassana
Brought to you by Rushikant.