Why There Could Be a One World Religion
By Stephen Knapp
Is religious unity a dream that can never be fulfilled? Can it never be a reality? I feel that it can be.
This does not mean that all religions should be merged into some spiritual hodgepodge. But if we are mature enough to see the purpose of each religion or spiritual path, we will recognize that there is very little difference between them. Once we get past the superficialities and variations, and there can be a lot of that, like dress, language, rituals, diet, or architectural styles of churches or temples, or feelings of superiority, we can see that the essential purpose of each religion is the same. That is to pray to God, sing His praises, discuss His pastimes and instructions, study the guidance of the prophets or messengers of God, and to think of God or meditate on Him in any number of ways. The process is the same, summarized as hearing about God, chanting or singing about Him, and remembering and serving God. That's it. Anything else is an expansion of these items. The goal is the same: To learn how to surrender to God and love Him with all our hearts and minds, and then to treat and love others as parts and parcels of God. Simple.
Why do we gather at temples, churches or mosques? Simply to learn and practice how to do this, and associate with others who wish to do the same. Thereby we all help each other in this direction.
Though the essential spiritual process is no different, there may be regional variations. There may be differences in dress, but that often depends on climatic necessities and customs. However, in religious dress, though it may be dissimilar from one religion to the next, it is nonetheless for the same purpose: To remind each other of God, and to indicate one as a man or woman of God, or to show that the human body is the original temple of God. Thus, by this means we all become more conscious of God. Some also shave their heads, or leave a tuft of hair on top, or put markings on the forehead. This is also to indicate that the body is a temple, or that one may be a monk who is following a particular code of conduct or school of spiritual thought. Every religion has particular marks or expressions to indicate the same meanings. It is merely a matter of understanding them. Once something is understood, it no longer seems so strange.
Rituals may also be different, and people of another culture may misunderstand what they see. Nonetheless, all of it is actually worship of the same God, or different ways to acquire spiritual merit or blessings. Naturally, there is only one God. Every religion says that.
However, we also find that the names of God may change according to locality. Yet, when interpreted, they invariably have similar meanings. We also may see different images or representations of God in temples or churches. In Christianity, you have the cross, images of Jesus, or even his servants and devotees like Mother Mary, the apostles, etc., who are all given worship or respect in the church. While in the Hindu temples you may have Deities of Krishna or Vishnu and His incarnations, all of which represent or are expansions of the same God. You may also see images of the demigods, the Lord's administrative assistants and servants, who are given respect because they can also give blessings to one on the road to devotion and spirituality. Thus, these religions are not much different. It only requires the open-mindedness to recognize the similarities.
Therefore, a sincere Christian or sincere Hindu or Muslim or Buddhist, Sikh, Jain, etc., can easily get along with one another because they can see that they are all men of God with the same purpose. And that is to help one another toward greater heights in their understanding and devotion to the Supreme Being.
In this way, we can see that the purpose of each religion is the same, and there is no need to make everyone of the same particular faith. There is no reason to make a conversion campaign. Everyone can stay loyal to the religion of their own preference while recognizing and being open to understanding the ways of other cultures and spiritual paths. That, however, is often the hardest characteristic to find in people. But being open-minded to learning about other religions will actually increase our understanding of God. Each religion essentially has the same purpose, but they may also have different levels of knowledge and realizations of the nature of God. Some are more aware of His fearsome and controlling aspects, and may refer to Him as an angry or jealous God. Other religions, such as the Vedic path, are more aware of God's loving pastimes, and elaborate on them. So, each religion points toward God but may provide a different view of His character, personality and traits. Thus, as we study the different religions, our understanding of God increases.
The core differences between any genuine religion is the time in history it appeared, the place where it originated, and the people who were involved. According to the people who were taught and their ability to comprehend spiritual topics, they were given different levels of understanding God. These are the reasons for the cultural differences and varying levels of spiritual knowledge between them. However, from a spiritual perspective these differences are not very deep. They all point in the same direction and are for the same purpose. So every path shares a greater common ground than most people are aware of until they begin to understand each other better. As I've said, take any religion and you will see that the customs may be somewhat different, yet the essential purpose is the same, if we can get past the variations to recognize that essential purpose. That's what we must focus on. When we do that, we will see that we are all children of the same God, and, thus, we are all spiritual brothers and sisters of the same Supreme Father. In essence, everyone is a spiritual being. We are all the same. And any religion is meant to reawaken that realization and perception. When we actually see that, then we should be able to reconnect ourselves to God, or express our devotion, no matter whether we go to a Christian church, Hindu temple, Muslim mosque, or Sikh gurudwara. We will see that they all offer the same opportunity, in essence, and that is, as I've said, to pray to God, sing His praises, discuss His pastimes and instructions, study the guidance of the prophets or messengers of God, and to think of God or meditate on Him in any number of ways.
The only thing we have to do is to increase our own spiritual understanding
and relate to all people and all beings in that way. To practically see the
Divinity of God in all, without judgmental bias or prejudice, is the true way to
establish peace and harmony on earth. It is the essence of all religions in
which we can all practice and participate. In this spiritual direction, which
has been recommended the world over, other than one's own immature prejudice,
there are no superficial differences, such as race, creed, nationality,
tradition, sex, age, etc., that can interfere or stop the people of the world
from being united and engaging in this process together, for this is the One
(Read my article, "When Religions Create Divisions and How to Avoid It" for more thoughts on this matter.)
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