Unity of religions: certainly no confusion

Executive Director of the Planetary Development Institute


Единство религий или путаницаUnderstanding the law of karma, we act in such a way as to contribute to the increase of the good for all, regardless of our external beliefs or the appearance of name and form. Usually traditions that call themselves dharmic, like Hinduism and Buddhism, view religion as a way of meditation, designed to lead us to union with God or to enlightenment and liberation from the cycle of rebirth. This could be called the Dharmic path of spiritual development. Therefore, the question should arise: does everything that the different religions of the world teach all the Dharma principle correspond to?

Of course, all religions teach us somehow to be kind, to tell the truth, to control the feelings and, somehow, profess other principles that are Dharmic. At the same time, the Dharmic principles can be shared by people without any religious beliefs. They are universal ethical principles and are largely obvious if we deeply understand the nature of the interdependence of everything. So, it turns out that apart from the Dharmic principles, religions do not have much in common. Some religions (Christianity, Islam) have a God-creator, while others (Buddhism and Taoism) do not allow such a concept. While the Dharmic traditions look at enlightenment or Moksha as a goal, for some religions the goal is salvation from sin and hell. Some religions estimate the age of the world only in five or six thousand years, others - in billions of years. Some allow images to be used in religious worship, others strongly oppose them. Some religions are tolerant and accept other beliefs, others are of extremist views . Religion is as diverse as any other cultural phenomenon, such as fashion, language or art. This is manifested at the highest level. In fact, religion is often a source of destructive superstitions and discriminatory practices that interfere in various aspects of human life. Many religions contain beliefs and dogmas that are not universally true. If we carefully consider the teachings of the religious mainstream, then we will find very different approaches. Sacred books, such as the Koran and the Bhagavad-gita, are almost not alike in either tonality or content. If the religions of the world are so different, there is no reason to believe that their founders must have been taught the same thing. The criterion for assessing the significance of religion today is the number of its true adherents, and not any mystical evidence of its truth and mission in the world. Even if we do not believe that all religions are the same, this does not mean that there is no value in different religions. We can respect religion for their historical, cultural and intellectual role, not necessarily considering them the product of divine revelation and the ultimate truth. The Bible, for example, is an unusual book with a great history, poetry and wisdom. But hardly is the Word of God, true in all respects, for all times and for all people. In this respect, all religions are part of the common heritage of humanity, so they must be explored to understand history. The presence of any aspects of truth in all religions does not mean that all religions are true or that all religions are essentially the same.Although we must be open to the truth, wherever we find it, this does not mean that we must accept all religions as true ones to reach the truth.