THE IDEAL OF UNIVERSAL RELIGION: –
Wherever our senses reach or whatever our minds imagine, we find there in the action and reaction of two forces, the one counteracting the other and thus causing the constant playoff the mixed phenomena which we see around us or which we feel in our minds. Religion is the highest plane of human thought and life, and herein we find that the working of these two forces has been most marked. The intense love that humanity has ever known has come from religion, and the most diabolical hatred that humanity has known has also come from religion. No other human motive has deluged the world with so much blood as religion; at the same time, nothing has brought in to existence so many hospitals and asylums for the poor’ no other human influence has taken such care of humanity than religion. Nothing makes us so cruel as religion, and nothing makes us so tender as religion.
Yet out of the midst of this noise and turmoil, this strife and struggle, this hatred and jealousy of religions and sects, there have arisen, from time to time, potent voices drowning all this noise – making themselves heard from pole to pole, as it were – proclaiming peace and harmony. If it is difficult to bring harmony and peace on the physical plane of life – the external and gross side of it – then it must be a thousand times more difficult to bring harmony and peace to rule over this internal nature of human beings.
We all have been hearing from the childhood of such things as love, peace, charity, equality and universal brotherhood; but these have become to us mere words without meaning, words that we repeat like parrots. Some ignorant people took those words to play with them and they made religion a mere play with words and not a thing to be carried in practice. It has become part of patriotism to profess a certain religion; and patriotism is always partial. To bring harmony to religion is always very difficult.
We see that every religion there is in three parts. First there is philosophy – which presents the whole scope of that religion, setting forth its basic principles, its goals, and the means of reaching that goal. The second part is the mythology – which is philosophy made concrete. It consists of legends relating to the lives of people or of supernatural beings. Basically these are stories of supernatural beings made around the philosophy. The third part is Ritual – This is still more concrete and is made up of forms and ceremonies, various physical attitudes, flowers and incense and many other things that appeal to the senses.
We will find that all recognized religions have these three elements. Some lay more stress on one and some on another. Each religion brings out its own doctrine and insists upon them as being the only true ones. Fanatics will even draw sword to compel others to believe as they do. Nobody in the world is able to make out the fine distinction between history and mythology, as it exists in the brain of some people. We are all human beings, but we are not equal in our brains, in our powers and in our bodies. Therefore the universal mythology is impossible. Neither can there be one universal ritual. Variety is the first principle of life. Just as we have recognized unity as our very nature, so must also recognize variation.
Through the high philosophy or low, through the most exalted mythology or the grossest, through the most refined ritualism or complete fetishism, every seed, every soul, every nation, every religion, consciously or unconsciously is struggling upward towards GOD. Each one of us is trying to arrive at the realization of GOD. He is GOD in every case. This is the only recognition of universality that we can get. That plan alone is practical which does not destroy the individuality of any main religion and at the same time shows him a point of union with all others. But so far all the plans of religious harmony that have been tried, while proposing to take in all the various views of religion, have in practice tried to bind them all down to few doctrines, and so have produced more new sects, fighting, struggling and pushing against each other. We all human beings should join together in our minds for the Realization of ONE GOD and call it UNIVERSAL RELIGION.