When we think about religions and what they preach, we see a plethora of differences and even conflicts between teachings of different religion. And living in today’s world where everything is a click away and where we interact with people of all religions and diverse cultures on a daily basis, it can indeed be quite mind boggling to form a cohesive understanding of all the different religion when their teachings come in conflict with each other. At these times, there’s a certain quote that needs to be remembered, “Religion is flawed only because man is flawed.” We can take religions in their entirety without using our own reason and logic to differentiate between what seems eternally good for humankind and what comes in conflict with our own very nature.
However, there have been people in all times who have tried to bring all religions together and find the core principles which are imbedded in all of them. These core principals can then be the key to our understanding of the spiritual reality. It was none other than Leibniz himself who for the first time tried to find an eternal philosophy underlying all the religion and succeeded to a certain extent as well. Three centuries after Leibniz we have Aldous Huxley telling us about the Perennial philosophy where he says that the core of the divine principles exist in all religions and anthropologically maybe traces to the very beginning of human thought- to the primitive men. Here are 10 such preachings which might put your boggling head to a rest by being common in every Religion-
10. Omnipresence of God
God is omnipresent, he is everywhere. We are his creation and he is present in every inch of his creation. This resonates with all religions of the world. The divine manifests itself in every part of our world derives from the logic that he has created this world from his own. Be it the Upanishads or the Psalms they all adhere to this statement and mention it somewhere in their texts.
9. One God
Belief in one God, one eternal power, one Supreme Being is common to all religions. Even in Hinduism the philosophy becomes a matter or metaphysics when it says to achieve the formless whole we have to go through the formed. The concept of nirguna and saguna might baffle us but the ultimate aim is the existence of one power, one boundless and formless form of energy who created our being and who we must all return to at the end of our lives. We need to remember this common goal when we talk about religions and multiplicity of conflicts. The alternate branch offs from many religion recognized this fact- The sufi saints for centuries sing in the praise of One God who is the common God of all religions.
8. Existence of a spirit- a soul
All religion mentions the existence of something beyond body in us. Some try to trace this to our consciousness but even then some supernatural or mystic element does exist in us is validated by all the religions. Bible says, “Fear not those who are able to kill the body they can never kill the soul.” Koran says- “A soul cannot die” and Bhagavad Gita talks in great detail about the cycles of life and death and how a soul is beyond all the process of life and death, that it is eternal.
7. Presence of God within us
Revelation of the eternal to a person from within when he or she has an open mind or heart is something common to every religion. While all of them talk about pilgrimages and sacred geographical places of worship in the end they all come back to our own self when they say that God can be found within, and there’s no need of wandering off to places in search of him. A thread that also runs in common with the Sufi teachings and other alternate traditions of bhakti.
6. Spiritual knowledge is unbiased and accessible to all
Spiritual power does not know class, caste or gender. It’s accessible to all and is highly merciful and unbiased. The constructs of classes which we have made are our own and do not derive from the eternal or the God. Religions also proclaim that we as humans can attain knowledge on the virtue of our consciousness, our ability to understand things and our intuitive feelings. Buddha when talking about attainment of knowledge says, “Search him with sincerity and you will find him.”
5. A path to Spiritual Liberation
At the beginning of narratives of the creation of God there’s an indication of some form of Sin or manifestation of an Illusionary world. As if the reality we inhabit is not absolute, it’s ever changing and the world of God exists beyond. All religions promise Spiritual Liberation at the end of the perilous path. Be it when they talk about the Judgment day or Nirvana, there’s promise of a life after which resonates directly with our deeds in this life. Thus Spiritual liberation according to all religions is the ultimate aim of our lives.
All religions teach us to be kind and sensitive to our immediate environments. They ask us to be compassionate to our fellow human beings and the world that we inhabit. His Holiness the Dalai Lama at multiple instances has urged the world to be compassionate- defining it as a state of mind which is at peace. Cruelty and hate stems for inability to be compassionate. Jesus too had said, “Love your enemies.” Thus compassion holds keys to our understanding of spiritual reality and our own inner peace.
There’s some form of Moral teaching in all religions and more than often there are many common threads which run through these religions. Morals are usually universal- Do not cheat, Do not lie, Do not kill, Do not steal etc. thus moralistic teachings of say The ten Commandments, Percepts of Buddha and those given in sermons of Krishna are all same and one. They ask us to focus on our own actions instead of going about criticizing the world.
2. A unity of mankind
Philosopher for centuries have pondered over questions of a conscious whole. An ultimate unity of all our souls. Hegel described this as a Universal Mind, an entity which supersedes our own individual existences. All of these thoughts resonate in religions as well. Religions often teach that humankind is supposed to life in Unity, They ask us to behave towards each other as if we were of one kin. Vedas tell us that we are all mere parts of a universal whole and must live in unity. Prophet Mohammad, urged his followers to believe that all creatures are members of one family and Jesus asked men treat each other as brothers.
1. Peace and Non Violence
Peace and Non Violence are the ultimate teachings of all religions. Something that needs to emphasize in today’s world of bloodshed and wars. Bible asks everyone to be peacemakers for peacemakers are true children of God. Yet we fail to see this most important preaching of various religion and fight amongst ourselves on the name of religion, in the name of God. What kind of Holy Wars do we think we are fighting if they supersede the one basic principal that all religions of the world are based on.