Which religion is the best? For centuries mankind has been quarreling over this question: “My religion is true, yours is false! My God is the only right God, yours is a brute!”
“Mine, mine”, is always the cry, never “thine, thine”, Swami Vivekananda once remarked; and so religion has devolved into a tribal fight over superiority.
But can any religion lay exclusive claim to being the only true one?
This famous dispute was resolved by Swami Vivekananda who explained it with a brilliant analogy: (Source: Complete Works Vol 7)
“Once upon a time, five blind men lived in a village. One day there was a procession in their village, and all the people turned out to see the gaily caparisoned elephant.
“All who have actually attained any real religious experience, never wrangle over the form in which the different religions are expressed.
They know that the soul of all religions is the same, and so they have no quarrel with anybody just because he/she does not speak in the same tongue.”
– Swami Vivekananda
As the five blind men could not see, they determined to touch the elephant so that they might acquaint themselves with its form. One put his hand on the elephant’s tail, one of them on his side, one on his trunk, another on his toes. After the procession had passed, they returned home, and began to talk about the elephant.
“It was just like a wall,” said one. “No it wasn’t,” said another, “it was like a piece of rope.” “You are mistaken,” said a third, “I felt him and it was just a serpent.” The discussion grew excited, and the fourth declared the elephant was like a pillow.
The argument soon broke into more angry expressions, and the five blind men took to fighting. They began exchanging blows and were pummeling each other, when along came a man with two eyes, and he said, “My friends, what is the matter?”
The dispute was explained, whereupon the new-comer said, “Men, you are all right: the trouble is you touched the elephant at different points. The wall was the side, the rope was the tail, the serpent was the trunk, and the toes were the pillow. Stop your quarreling; you are all right, only you have been viewing the elephant from different standpoints.”
Religion too has become involved in such a quarrel. Like blind men we quarrel over different aspects of the same God, never realizing that God is not a part, but the whole. He is a sum total of all the parts (expressed by the different religions of the world). God is the infinite power behind this Universe, but like blind men we are able to comprehend only certain aspects of his infinite personality.
“The ultimate goal of all mankind, and the aim of all religions, is but one:
Reunion with God, or, what amounts to the same, reconnecting with your innate divinity.
The purpose of religion is to teach one how to manifest this divinity within.”
– Swami Vivekananda
The various outer rituals, mythologies, ideas of heaven, hell and salvation, confuse people into thinking that the religions of the world are very different, but underneath this apparent diversity is the unified aim of all religions to struggle Godward. Their singular purpose being to bring mankind closer to God by inspiring their followers to become more God-like, so that they in their behavior, reflect God’s highest qualities of kindness, compassion, purity, love, truth, brotherhood and more.
Rituals, mythologies, ideas of heaven, hell and salvation are the tools used to further this aim.
Like parents with different parenting styles, the various religions are merely trying to evolve a better human being out of a child. However, just like little children we have deluded ourselves into thinking that our (parent) religion is the best in the world!
Is there any sense then, in fighting over the tools when the grand aim of all religions is one?
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Wise Religious Quotes – Real Religion is in Realization, not in Blind Faith or Dogma
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