We know that religion is an organized system of beliefs and practices to worship the Creator or the cosmic power, commonly referred to as God. There are many religions in the world. Amongst the known religions, including Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Sikhism, Jainism, Bahai Faith, Zoroastrianism, Shintoism, and Taoism, the largest ones are Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. Each religion has its own God and its own scripture. What do religions preach? They teach us how we must pray and they lay down the dos and don’ts of our moral life. Most religions have divine rituals that are devoutly followed by their followers. Every religion forms its own cultural lifestyle and has its own places of pilgrimage. While all religions differ in most aspects, the one thing that they all agree on is the existence of a Creator, God. It is strange but every religion claims that their God is supreme. There is so much devotion, dedication, and passion for their God that most unfortunately, their followers inadvertently start condemning other religions. If one was to introspect, it becomes so obvious that there is only One God. All of creation seems to have one Creator, one God known to different religious followers with different names and different forms. Just because water is called aqua in France, mizu in Japan, shui in China and paani in India, it doesn’t change the essence of water.
Why were religions created? It seems that religions were formed when groups of people accepted the theology and philosophy of their saints or sages regarding a belief system to pray to God. Religions are needed to organize faith and prayer and to make our relationship with God more effective. Imagine if a child is born without any religion, how would the child ever know the meaning of God? How would the new entrant into this world comprehend the power that created life and everything on the planet? As kids, whether we are Hindus, Muslims or Christians, religion plays an important role in igniting faith and building our theological foundation of spirituality. While most of the beliefs of a religion may be mythological, the principles behind religions are founded on very sincere objectives of connecting man with God. However, as time passed, man started following religious dogmas, rituals, and superstitions more than the founding principles and teachings of the religion. While this is unfortunate, it is definitely better than a scenario where we are lost without religion and not taught to accept and believe in God. Religion is a kindergarten to spirituality. All religions ignite our faith in God and teach us the basics. It is then for us to evolve, grow and transcend from being religious to being spiritual. Each one of us has an intellect and it is up to us to use this power of discrimination to pick the foundations of our religious beliefs and to knit it into a peaceful and blissful spiritual philosophy for our life.
Religions give their God a name and a form, and often, mythological stories form the foundation of religions. The objective of this is to create an interesting religious tale for youngsters to believe in. What is more important is to understand the existence of God and the realization that the name and the form are meant more to build our faith in the Creator than to be enamored by a picture that symbolizes God. We human beings need form and shape to comprehend something and God, being nameless and formless, would never be understood unless there were religions. It has been a remarkable feat of saints and sages of all the religions of the world to create believers in the vast majority of people. The belief in God as religions project it, unfortunately, has become so strong that we can’t see the true power that lies behind the name and form that we pray to. As kids, we need a religion to initiate our belief in God, but most, unfortunately, we never grow up. We keep our childlike belief until we die.
Why is there a war among the followers of different religions? The power of faith is so strong that the followers become obsessed with their God believing that their religion is supreme and others are inferior. It is common for people of faith to consider their God as the one and only real God and all other Gods to be imposters, duplicates or false representation. This passion behind believing that one’s God is supreme amongst different religious followers and their sincere eagerness to evangelize their religion across the globe has led to conflict and war. Instead of peacefully realizing that God is a power known to different religions differently and understanding that essentially there is one God, people continue their conflict against other religions. If only people realized that their God was no different from the God of other religions, it would foster peace, acceptance, and love in the world. Although we pray to different Gods, we should realize that in essence, God is the power behind all the Gods of all the religions in the world.
God is a power – a power beyond shape, name, and form. It is our inadequacy and incapability of comprehending God that we look up to religious icons as God. There’s actually nothing wrong in doing that. All individuals regardless of all religions, race, caste, creed, or place of birth are manifestations of one Creator, one power, God. God created the earth and everything on it. God also created man, but man is a mortal being. He is born and he dies. God is immortal. Since we cannot see the invisible power and cannot comprehend the power without name, shape, and form, there is no harm in considering a religious icon to be God. However, we must realize the truth beyond. Those who are fortunate to realize the truth pray to God through who they consider a saint rather than to their saint. God is a power beyond human comprehension. We have not been given the sense to perceive God. We understand that God exists. God is the creative power of this cosmos, but we are unable to define who God is, where God is and what God is. To realize God, we need the help of religion just as we need to pass kindergarten to further our education. Religion is just a basic foundation. No religion can give us God, but it can ignite in us a love for God that will eventually make us seek God and realize God.January 29th, 2020