Volume X - Sufi Mysticism
THE PROBLEM OF THE DAY
The Need of Religion
Every man is born on earth with a certain object to accomplish, and the light of that object has been kindled in his soul. The day when he finds out his life's purpose he is stronger, more successful; his life becomes easier, he feels inspired, and a greater power pours out through him. And as a man develops spiritually, so there comes with the fullness of his soul a time when his service to the world and to humanity is a sign from the higher Spirit.
Those who have come at different times to the world to enlighten humanity and to awaken souls from their sleep of ignorance, have come from one and the same source. And although they are different souls there is but one spirit in them and thus all that they have given to humanity is the same in essence. By studying the scriptures deeply and with sympathy, not only intellectually, one will find in Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, in all these religions which have been followed by millions for ages, that in spite of having different outer forms, they all have one and the same inner sense. The inner teachings of Buddha are the same as the teachings of Krishna, although their followers may deny it. And so will the others; each one will say that the faith of the other is different from his own. This separation has always existed and still exists. It can only be removed by the understanding of the essence that is to be found in all religions.
But one might ask, 'What about the different histories of the great ones, the tradition of the life if Jesus Christ, the history of Muhammad, the life and story of Krishna, the legend of Buddha? They are all quite, quite different!' Yes, they are different in appearance because they came at different times and to different people. Muhammad came to Arabia, Jesus to Palestine, Zoroaster to Persia, Buddha to India. Because they have had to give God's message to different peoples they have had to adopt different terminology and different expressions. If there is any difference, it is only in the way they have presented divine wisdom, and not in the essence of divine wisdom itself.
Then people say, 'Yes, I can understand that all religions have the same essence. But at the same time I believe that one prophet is greater than another; please tell me who is the greatest.' But who can tell who is greater? Apart from the prophets, how can we even judge the greatness of musicians such as Beethoven or Wagner; are we equal to any of them? When we have a better understanding of their music our lips close. Since there is but one truth there is only one religion, and the different creeds which today appear as many different religions or churches are only special covers hiding that one truth which alone is the religion.
All through world-history there have been wars, for the very reason that there were differences in faiths, that certain people had faith in a particular creed or religion, or in a particular community. But the truth has always been one and the same. If the great masters such as Jesus or Buddha and all the other great ones who have given a spiritual message to humanity, had seen the Sufi Universal Worship, it would have fulfilled their ideal. And it was their prayer that one day the people of all the different religions might witness this service which includes all the different faiths. The Universal Worship, therefore, gives the promises of a world form of worship.
Religion is the greatest need at any period in the past or future. No doubt, the form of religion has changed according to the evolution of man, for the form depended upon the customs and ways of the country, and also on the psychology of the followers of any specific religion. These changes which were made in the different religions did not spring from the intellectual part of man's spirit. There is another part of man's spirit: the divine part; and the awakening of that part raises a fountain, a fountain which is religion. In the ancient history of India there are a great many examples of men who were in the position of kings and rulers and who wanted to introduce a new religion; but they never wholly succeeded, for religion does not come from that source. Its source is divine.
If truth and falsehood are distinct and different then what is the difference between them? Truth is God and the unreal is all this nature which we see before us. Therefore all that is from God is real. No doubt man's mentality has also played a part in religion, and every religion has come colored by whatever mentality was expressed; but religion itself is from the divine source. The outside may be different but the depth is always the same. In this age it seems that one has science on one side and politics on the other, and education is aiming at supplanting religion. But nothing can supplant religion.
There is a touching story of a scientist in France who all his life did not believe or admit to any belief in God, in the soul, or in the hereafter. But as he lived longer in the world, he felt the need of religion, although he did not feel he could accept it since all his life he had not accepted it. His wife, on the other hand, was devout and religious. One day, stirred by profound sentiment, they were talking heart to heart on the question of religion. The wife was anxious that he should accept it and she asked him, 'Don't you ever feel the need of religion, of that devotion which is the only thing that is worthwhile?' And his answer was, 'I do not admit it, yet I believe in your belief, I enjoy your sentiment. That is my religion, my only religion in life.'
We do not know under what guise a person preserves his religion. It may be hidden somewhere in his heart; perhaps it does not show outwardly. No doubt, if no one were able to express his religious sentiment there would be no communication possible, and that is why it is very necessary in society that we should communicate our deepest religious sentiments.