Today I wanted to talk about sectarianism and religion, objectively from a neutral standpoint. Religion undoubtedly plays a large part in human culture and civilization, and has been at the forefront of historical events. A large part of historical events have been directly or indirectly caused or influenced by religious belief. Christopher Columbus was inspired by his faith to set sail for the new world. Mahatma Gandhi secured India’s independence via messages inspired by spiritual teachings. Missionaries have always gone to new places and converted existing civilizations. The Crusades may be the biggest historical event tied to religion. The September 11, 2001 attacks and the war on terrorism are spurred by religion.
The problem is that religion as most people know it is an imperfect concept.
Religion is associated with different gods, different philosophies, different beliefs. But this is a contradiction.
Real religion by definition is the cultivation of one’s relationship with God, with the Supreme Being. It does not fall into categories like Christianity, Islam, or Judaism. It is not subject to any one faith.
And this points to a glaring contradiction in people’s belief of God. Accepting that there is a God means accepting the existence of a Supreme Being. Referring to this Supreme Being as God means that He is above all laws and limitations subject to everyone in this world. People cannot decide that the “real God” belongs to Christianity or Islam. Or Hinduism or Buddhism.
Accepting the reality of their being a God means that there can only be one. If there is a Supreme Being, there cannot be other supreme beings challenging Him. There is no devil that can oppose God, and there are not multiple gods fighting among each other for the most followers or the most power.
Suggesting that there is a God means that you have to accept that there is indeed only one God. And since God is all powerful, and Supreme, is it hard to understand that He can have many names?
If real religion is the development of our relationship with God, then it must be possible that there are different “religions” or different ways that people develop their relationship with God. And this is the reality. Different people worship God in different ways, under different names, and in different cultures. But all religions are different branches of the same tree. They are all different methods of relating to God. It is also important to know our position and relationship with the Supreme Being.
And the teachings of religion have nothing to do with sectarian violence or religious wars. The teachings of God are all the same, and they all promote the same ideals and values like honesty, tolerance, compassion and self realization.
Fighting in the name of religion, or declaring your religion the only true religion or God is not real worship of God, and is not real religion.
Real religion is the understanding that there is a Supreme Being, and that we are all His eternal servants. Once one understands this, where is there room for conflict?
If there is a God, a Supreme Being, then we have to understand and accept that He is unfathomable and that we cannot understand Him with our limited intelligence. A Supreme Being is supreme. That is what makes Him God. We cannot impose any rules or regulations on God. We cannot decide that we know God’s will. We cannot decide for ourselves what He looks like, or who His children are.
And this is where you can start to find bona fide religious teachings, that originate from God, or that come from His representatives who appear in this world as saintly persons. Also on the other hand, we know for a fact that Jesus Christ was a real person who really lived some two thousand years ago. We know that he really did the things that people say he did.
Some might say, “How do we know that his walking on water was not some form of illusion or trickery? How can you prove that it was divine?”
Good question. How can one prove anything? Many people obviously witnessed the acts of Jesus Christ and saw that they really happened. And if Jesus Christ has stated to those people that he is able to perform these miracles or wondrous acts by the hand of God, then how are we to prove it?
This is where faith comes in. Faith means surrendering to the fact that God is beyond us, and that we cannot scientifically prove everything about Him. We cannot understand Him or everything He does.
One could argue and say that maybe Jesus was a time traveler from the future and that he brought back the necessary technology in order to perform his feats. Or that maybe he was just a master magician and illusionist. But if this is the case then how could he bring a man back to life? Or change water instantly into wine? Or create enough food for his thousands of followers? Or indeed walk on water? And if they were not miracles, then why has no one been able to again repeat these things with all the modern technology in the world?
These are acts of God that we must simply have faith in as being acts of God. This is acknowledgement of God’s supremacy, of His position as God, and a step of surrender in accepting Him as God.
And in having some faith, we can start to understand the true meaning of religion.