(To be read at the Service of Universal Worship)
Religious Gatheka Number 40
Very often people divide the esoteric, or the inner, part of life from the exoteric, or the outer, form of religion. But to divide them in a conception is possible, to divide them in reality is as separating the head from the body. As head linked with body makes the form complete, so religion with inner life makes the spiritual ideal perfect. Nevertheless the thoughtful and wise of all ages, with their philosophical minds, with their scientific tendencies, with their intellectual strife, often thought of separating religion from the inner life.
But if they are separated, it is just like bread without butter, it is like milk without sugar, it is like food without salt. But there has been a reason why this tendency has come very often, especially among the thoughtful people. The reason is that it is natural that such a tendency should come: when the body becomes a corpse and life leaves the body, even the dear ones, those who loved the person begin to think:' As soon as possible we should clear away this body for the one whom they loved is gone from it, the body is left as a corpse. And so when the inner life, which is just like a breath in the body of religion, departs from it, then the religion becomes like a corpse, then the most faithful adherents begin to feel that it is a corpse.
In all ages and in all periods of history we shall trace this, that there has been a limit of years for a religion. During that the religion prospered and it gave benefit to humanity Why? Because it had the breath in it, it had the spiritual aspect in it. But when that inner life departed it was left like a corpse. Still the faithful kept it, but those with intelligence could not keep it any longer. Still there is a necessity: as the rain falls year after year, and gives to the earth a new life, a new sustenance, so it has been necessary then that the new Message of spiritual upliftment should come. Whenever it came people have fought against it, not knowing that it is the same true breath, soul of religion that has come again, not knowing the secret of religion.
The rainfall of last year is not different from this year's, it is the same water, the same sustenance, the same energy. As vapors it goes above and as raindrops it falls. As Solomon has said, there is nothing new under the sun. It has always been the same old Message, only brought in different bottles and new labels.
And now coming to the philosophical point; what is the necessity of religion which is the most important? That is besides all the moral principles that religion teaches, besides all the ethics that religion gives, there is a central theme which can be traced as the nature of life, of spirit. And what is it? It is to make that Perfect Being intelligible to the limited mind of man. And what is done for it? The ideal of God is preached. The prophets who have brought from time to time a religion – the central theme of this was that they have brought the ideal of God, and every one of them has tried his best to make the picture of the ideal, in order that the people of that period when they lived, could grasp it easily and benefit by it, to fulfill the purpose of spiritual perfection.
But one thing is that the different pictures that the great prophets of the world have made very often differ from one another. But one finds that in order to make one photograph clear there have to be so many different developments of it: a plate to be made, and from that plate a development has to be made, and then brought onto the paper; then it is retouched; different processes to make a photograph complete. And so has it been with those who have made the picture of the Deity, a picture which cannot be made fully, which it is beyond man's power to make. They have done their best, artists have painted that picture. When three artists paint the portrait of one person, the three are different. They only differ because they are different artists.
So with the prophets, for one and the same motive, in order to make that picture intelligible to the limited mind of man, who knows nothing better than what he knows of himself, and of his brother man. Therefore what that man can best think of God, the best picture he can make of God is that of man. Therefore in the ancient religions of the East it is said that God was pictured in man; then the picture of the later days was that man was pictured as God. After that a reform followed in order to separate them, in order to break with that confusion caused by these two opposite ideas, that God was God and man was man.
But the present Message, which comes of necessity, is that God is in man and man in God, and yet God is God and man is man. If it had be possible, a thousand years ago this Church of All, with all scriptures and with the candles lighted in the name of all the Great Ones, would have existed. It was the longing of the awakened souls, it was the ideal of the wise ones in all ages.
What prevented them? The multitude, the childlike followers of a certain religion, who would stick to their own and would not wish to listen to another, yet not knowing what is their own and what is another. When there is one Father, and all human beings His children coming from Him, going to Him, where lies the difference, where is 'the other?' 'The other' comes by the faults man makes before his own intelligence.
Was it not the desire of Muhammad, was it not the wish of Jesus Christ, was it not the task of Moses, was it not the wish of Krishna, or of Buddha, that wisdom in all its aspects may be understood, that all those who have sacrificed their lives and energies in service for man, that the service may be fulfilled and humanity blessed and benefited by what they brought? Was it not the wish of Rama that all the men of the world should come together in understanding that there is only one religion? The evolution of man today has allowed us, and we must be thankful that we can gather together even some few souls who can tolerate such an idea, and be patient, and try to understand that behind all religion there is one, that there can only be one Truth, that there is only one Truth, that we are willing to listen to the words of all the great souls, who have come perhaps thousands of years before us, and what is left of them is in their words, we can see the glimpses of their feelings in their words. Why should we not be benefited by them?
The Universal Worship, therefore, is the religion of the future, which brings to humanity the ideal of unification of religion. The ideal of getting above the sectarianism, the limitedness of communities, of groups. And we must remember that any effort made by political or social efforts will not be complete unless the uniting in God, the only Source in which humanity must unite, is held fast in Truth.