Re: [Meditation Society of America] SPIRITUALITY AND RELIGION
Religions are Rivers but Spirituality is Ocean:
All the religions in the world are the feathers of the same bird i.e., God with different colours. There is only one God and there is only one universe. Similarly the man is also only one. Man should aim that one God and he should belong to all the religions in the universe. He should pick up the diamonds from all the religions and use in his spiritual path. One can have love towards the nationality. Every nation has some physical boundaries. The people who are living in that nation have that nationality. Thus there is a meaning in the nationality because it has physical sense. But in the case of religion and spiritualism there is no physical sense. Every religion belongs to every man. Therefore in religious and spiritual matters all the religions can be used. The human incarnation in every religion announces that He is the universal preacher. The message of Lord Krishna i.e., Bhagavat Gita is for the entire world. The message of Jesus i.e., Bible is for the entire world. The message of Mohammed is for the entire world. So there is no need of conversion of religions. Just like in science the invention of Einstein is useful for the whole world, every religious preaching is for everybody. Different scientists belonging to different countries have discovered different scientific inventions. The subject science contains all these inventions. If any invention is removed the science become discontinuous. Similarly the spiritualism consists of the preaching of the preachers belonging to various countries. The spiritualism must be built up by the preaching of Lord Krishna, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Mahavir etc. Spiritualism means truth like science. Different religions are following their preachers and they have taken the essence of their scriptures into the practice. Such traditional practices are like different experimental parts of Science. The scriptures of different religions are like the different theories in various chapters of science. In science the student does not distinguish the scientist based on his nationality. Similarly in spiritualism one should not have repulsion or attraction to any scripture or tradition in the World.
The spiritualism requires divine virtues, which are emphasized in various religions. The firm faith of Islam, the infinite love of Christianity, the tolerance towards other religions of Hinduism, the social service of Bhuddhism and the non violence of Jainism are important virtues of the spiritualism. These are the practical traditional aspects of various religions, which are more precious than those scriptures. Tradition is the most important essence of the scripture.
One must praise the firm faith of a Muslim on God associated with strict regularity and discipline. People are worshipping God either in the leisure time or on a holiday. But a Muslim worships God on every day whether it is a holiday or not. He worships God regularly at some intervals of time whether it is leisure or working time. The faith on God and the importance to God supercedes everything and every activity. This aspect is a page in the book of spiritualism.
Another page in the book of spiritualism is a tradition of Christianity, which is the infinite love. Bible says revenge is mine. The Christians love even their enemies proving that love is infinite. Love is God. God is infinite and so Love is infinite. Such infinite love can only attract the God. The proof of love is sacrifice in service. Christians sacrifice lot of their money for the spiritual works. Their love is so unlimited that they sacrifice money even to the spiritual centers of other religions. Even if some religion is opposing their religion they fund the other religion and this shows their love even to enemies. Their love in the family bonds is very weak. So the love is stored in their hearts without flowing. This concentrated love in the heart flows entirely towards God and so they sacrifice lot of their earnings for the work of God. They do not store the wealth for their children, and they ask their children to earn and live after certain age.
Hinduism should be another page. The house of every Hindu contains photos of different forms of God. At the same time they find only one God (Para Brahma) in all those forms of God. They treat the different forms of God as the different dresses of the same actor. This indicates that there is only one God for the entire world and Lord Krishna, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, and Mahavir are only the different dresses of the same God. This brings the brotherly hood of all the human beings in the entire world.
Another page must be Buddhism. Buddha kept silent on God because Veda says that God is beyond even imagination. His silence is misunderstood as atheism. He concentrated on the society, which is entire universe. All the human beings in this universe must be uplifted through right knowledge. Buddha means knowledge. Any incarnation of God does the same work.
Jainism is another page. They do not kill any living being. The highest justice (Dharma) is non-violence (Ahimsa). God has given life to any living being. What right you have to kill and eat it? You can kill even a human being if he disturbs the peace and justice of a human society. Lord killed evil people in that way. But to kill a living being which does not harm you in any way is the highest sin. God has given sufficient vegetarian food to all the living beings. Science proves today that non-vegetarian food is not good for health.
Similarly there are precious traditions of other religions, which should be copied on different pages of the book of spiritualism. It should be just like a book of science. Spiritualism is the most important practical line to achieve the grace of the God. As the Science is the universal subject, spiritualism must also be the universal subject. The nations may have physical boundaries but the spiritualism is the single ocean in which all the religions mix like rivers. Every human being in this world must enter this ocean through a river and settle there as a sea fish. The man should not stop the journey while he is in the river. He should follow the journey of the river up to the end where he can find the sea with unlimited boundaries. The man is not moving along with his religion and is becoming stagnant as a river fish only.
at the lotus feet of shri datta swami
subhash naik <sbhshnaik@...> wrote:
Author: P.Rajagopalachari (President of S.R.C.M.)
(Published in "Principles of Sahaj Marg, Set I. Pages 3-11")
We assume that the terms '"Religion' and 'Spirituality' are synonymous. It is
not so. Perhaps these two terms are most naturally misunderstood as far as
their mutual identification in respect of meaning, systematic thinking and
obedience to principles and practices are concerned.
We are no doubt aware that religious feeling has always been one of the
fundamental emotive aspects of a man's emotional make-up or psyche, and
this is borne out amply by a study of anthropology from the earliest times of
man's appearance on this planet. Of course, the expression given to the
religious emotional content has varied from race to race and from time to time,
but that hidden craving in man's heart which tended to seek an answer, or
answers, to the questions which arose in him concerning the creation of the
universe, the reasons for such creation and man's own place and part in it,
has not varied. Expression depends on development of thought; thought
stems from ideas; and ideas of course are governed by the development of
various features of man's mental make-up, including such diverse factors as
physiological, environmental and social.
A study of the history of ancient and modern religions, combined with a
parallel study of anthropology, reveals that religious sentiment was almost
simultaneous with man's own appearance. In the beginning, the religious
sentiment expressed itself mentally in terms of fear and awe leading to the
worship, at least in bygone times, of animal life, vegetable life, the
phenomena of nature, etc. All these later became ritualized into general forms
of worship where the object of worship was nature, fire in its various forms,
and worship of the dead. This form of worship prevailed through most of early
man's history, and was almost the only form of worship available and
prevalent throughout the world up to the middle ages. Nevertheless, their very
prevalence up to the emergence of higher forms of worship would appear to
indicate that, in some measure at least, they had served to satisfy man's
internal craving for some form of communion with what may be called his
Maker or Nature or Universal Spirit, or whatever else it may be called.
Later, this religious sentiment turned its attention to somewhat more
sophisticated objects of worship and, at this stage, we can see the
commencement of the representation of God in terms of anthropomorphic
forms, i.e., in terms of human figures which the human imagination enriched
and endowed with higher powers than merely normal human powers by the
addition of extra arms, extra heads, a higher stature, and diverse other similar
embellishments. The craving was the same; the mode of expression of the
emotive sentiment was the same; all that had changed was merely the object
that was now worshipped in place of the earlier primitive ones.
Yet later in the history of humanity there arose even more purified religions
where we find the beginning of what may be called ethical codes and laws
being given to the people, often through a leader of the people themselves,
who was proclaimed as a religious leader or the giver of the law, the revealer
of the truth and so on. We have historical personalities such as Christ, Moses,
Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius, Krishna, etc., in the various religions as an
illustration of this development. This stage of development in religions can
roughly be stated to cover the past few millennia of human history.
Analyzing the religious content and the modes of religious approach of those
coming under its fold, we find that all religions have heavily relied on two
important instruments for regulating and controlling the behavior of the flock
under their control. These two instruments, by and large, have been fear and
temptation. It is perhaps beyond any reasonable debate that this is an
established fact. Religions have always held out to their devotees the
temptation of redemption and a place in heaven, whether during the course of
this life itself or after death. They have always tried to control and canalize
man's behavior in a desired direction by trying to induce him to accept this
temptation for the fruits offered by the respective religions. This is one side of
the picture. How to enforce a man's behavior in the pursuit of the goal was the
next question and here fear came in all too handy-the fear of punishment for
swerving from the performance of religious rituals stipulated; the fear of
punishment for not supporting the body of one's own religion in its continued
existence; the fear of retribution for acts forbidden; and so on and so forth.
Therefore, fear on one hand, and temptation on the other, would be a fair
representation of religious activity, and religious control.
Modern psychologists will no doubt agree that an imposition on the human
mind of two opposing forces of this nature could do nothing but create tension
in the mind of the individual, and this tension cannot be eradicated by the
practice of religion, because religion itself is the very force that created the
tension in the first place. This would appear to indicate the necessity for a
source outside religions to eradicate such tensions, and to normalize the
human being at least in his mental make-up.
Perhaps the appearance of such diverse phenomena as the cult of hippyism,
the associated habit of the taking of drugs and narcotics, the widespread and
deeply penetrating discontent of the human being with his personal
existence, which appears to pervade all sections of humanity at every stratum
of social existence, all these would appear to be the results of such religious
training which have not satisfied the real nature of man, nor given answers to
his fundamental questions referred to earlier. You will pardon me if I therefore
suggest that religions have not kept up with man's innermost needs and
requirements of the soul. At this stage I may be permitted to add that it is not a
failure in religion itself because, at the time when these great religions,
whether Christianity, or Hinduism, or Buddhism, or Islam were founded, at that
time the religious leaders who established them had molded them into such
shape, and given them such form as fulfilled the needs of humanity of those
It may also be noted that the founders of all great religions have preached
love as being the only proper approach to the Creator, and this love, when
properly cultivated by religious sentiment and religious practice, was
expected to reflect in love for all that is contained in creation. How this has
been forgotten, and religions have had to depend on temptation and fear, is
the sorry story of religious decadence. Nevertheless, the fault can be
attributed to lie in the fact that religions have become stultified, and to some
extent petrified, and they have not altered or evolved in keeping with man's
own evolution. I humbly suggest that the evolution of religion has lagged
behind the evolution of man whom it is supposed or expected to serve for his
vital inner spiritual needs.
This being the case as far as religion is concerned, what is it that spirituality
has to offer? Now the term 'spirituality' has nothing to do with religion, as
commonly understood Spirituality really begins where religion ends. While
the basic education of man can be undertaken by religion, his further
development when he has reached what may be termed adulthood can only
be offered by spirituality. Spirituality is easily identifiable with mysticism in all
its aspects. Religion enforces an externalization of the mind in man's search
for God. Mysticism or spirituality internalizes the search and directs the mind
to the heart of man where the search should really commence.
One of the great tenets or principles of all religions has been that at the heart
of the human being God Himself resides. Of course this may be thought to be
the mere doctrine of immanence; but it is true that God is immanent within us.
When the search is externalized, the first thing man loses sight of, or touch
with, is himself. The goal is taken to be far away, very often in some far distant
sphere of existence not easily accessible to us. The search is therefore begun
on the premise, often founded on solid theological doctrine, that the search
will in almost all cases be futile and the goal inaccessible. The search is
therefore begun and undertaken in a spirit of frustration and a foreboding of
non-achievement of the goal. How can such a search ever help anybody? On
the contrary spirituality focuses man's attention on the Divine effulgence
radiating in one's own heart, which effulgence is created by the presence of
the Creator Himself in the heart. This immediately presents the Divine in an
altered light, and brings Him to a proximity with one's own person that can
hardly come any nearer. Being within us such a Person is not only always
accessible but readily reachable, and all that spirituality requires of us to
achieve the sense of oneness with the Ultimate is to focus the mind inward
upon the Person. Apparently, therefore, spirituality is by far the easier method
of the two to achieve the goal of human life.
Again, religion concentrates heavily on ritual worship. Taking a parallel from
the childhood development of the human being, toys may serve children but
real living things alone can bring happiness to adults. Therefore, performance
of ritualistic modes of worship may be given in the formative years of a human
being's life but, after a certain stage, they cease to have meaning and, for a
majority of human beings, degenerate into mere mockery. Spirituality on the
other hand does not specify or advocate ritualistic approaches. In spirituality
all that is required to be done is to sit comfortably in a comfortable room, close
one's eyes, turn the attention from the external world into the heart, and
meditate on the contents of that heart in the shape of Divine effulgence
emanating from the Being seated therein. Here there is no mummery or any
other form of bewilderment, or what can in some religions even be classed as
trickery, but there is an honest approach to the search for the Ultimate.
Further, in the spiritual practice there are no associated threats or fears of
retribution, nor are temptations held out to the seeker. All that is stated is that
one's development depends solely and entirely on one's effort. If the practice
is not indulged in, there is no benefit, and that is about all that there is to it.
Turning our attention once again to religion, it is a well-known fact that
religions, while accepting or even arrogating to themselves the role of
preservers of law and morality, have often signally failed in this duty for a very
important but, at the same time, a very little noticed fact. I would like to
emphasize this by inviting your attention to it, and it is this. Most religions
while giving out their code of ethics or laws have only told their people what
not to do. Therefore, these codes of behavior can at best be termed negative
codes or negative laws, because most of them do not tell man what should be
done to attain a better life. I agree that we must know what not to do, but
certainly this cannot be taken as more than negative wisdom, nor can strict
adherence to such laws be taken as more than negative virtue. But all too
often we come across people who ask, "Well, I know what not to do, but it
does not help me in knowing what I should do," and this again creates not
only confusion but a tension in their minds, leading again to mental distress
and possible ultimate deterioration in character itself. Spiritual edicts, on the
other hand, have mostly confined themselves to precise and simple sets of
injunctions stating very understandably to the seeker what exactly he should
do. It is my contention that once a man knows what he should do, whatever be
the field of action, whether professional, moral, social, it at the same time
excludes the entire field of activity which should not be indulged in. The
contrary, unfortunately, is not true. To know what one should do it is not
enough to know what not to do. This, to my mind, has been the greatest failure
of religions throughout the world, and this was sought to be rectified by great
spiritual Masters of the world.
It is common knowledge that religions have divided man from man, brother
from brother, and often turned the father against the son, the husband against
the wife, inciting much of humanity during history to violence against each
other; because religions have their own separate gods of worship and the
modes and rituals by which such gods should be worshipped. Religions, to
hold their flock, have had to insist upon a strict adherence to their own
religious paraphernalia while simultaneously forbidding even the thought of
the gods of other religions. One of the paramount and deep-seated forces of
hatred has been created by religion, and I believe this does not need any
Spirituality on the other hand invokes no names, confers no attributes,
demands no subservience to any such artificially created gods of the human
mind, but focuses man's attention on the Infinite Ultimate Source of All Being
Who, as aforesaid, is nameless, formless and attributeless. It is, I believe, a
matter for easy agreement that such an approach to the Ultimate can serve as
an integrating force and bring together human beings of all lands and all
religions in oneness in the most fundamental aspect of human life, which is
sadly lacking today. Spirituality, if widely practiced in this spirit of a humble
approach to the Ultimate, is perhaps the most potent force that can bring
about such an integration.
Unfortunately, there have been no spiritual systems as such comparable in
power to the great religious systems, and this is surely the fault of man
himself, in that he has allowed himself to be guided by the nose and made to
subscribe to established bodies and organizations without examining in detail
either their make-up or his own. Nevertheless, spiritual teaching and
instruction, even from the Middle Ages, has not been lacking. There have
been great mystics and Masters of spiritual teaching in all lands at all times.
You have had in the West such great figures as Jacob Boehme, St. John of
the Cross, and in the Orient there have been great savants such as the great
rishis of Hinduism, Buddha-the founder of Buddhism, Confucius and Lao Tse
in China. Masters have therefore not been lacking, but the fear element in
religion has successfully kept away aspirants from coming out of religions and
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