"Fearlessness is the first requirement of spirituality. Cowards can never be moral." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tolerance, Love and the Essence of All Religions

In his study of the Sanatan Dharma - the wide and multi-branched body of teachings known as Hinduism in the West - Radhanath Swami (born Richard Slavin) "discovered the basic truths of all religions in a way that the oneness of God and religion is comprehensively understood." "The essence of Hinduism," Radhanath writes on The Huffington Post, "is the same essence of all true religions: Bhakti or pure love for God and genuine compassion for all beings."

"Why," he asks, "should we fight over which religion is better? It is pointless. True love for God devoid of selfishness or egoism is the best religion. Wherever true love, broad mindedness, integrity and compassion are present, there one will find real religion through whichever path it is realized."

"God reveals different visions of Himself according to the needs of time and place," Radhanath observes. "Throughout history, declaring one vision all in all has been a convenient pretext for aggression, as it is relatively simple to manipulate uneducated or insecure people with propaganda. It is unfortunate to see that God, whom all faiths exalt as great, is so often depicted as small, petty and partial to one group."

"My childhood conviction that the inherent beauty of God must lie at the essence of all true spiritual paths has only grown over the years," Radhanath notes. " Of course," he observes, "the accounts of tragedy in the name of God have endured as well."

"Whenever I hear such unfortunate news," he writes, "I can't help but think that perhaps a prudent addition to the premise of God's greatness would be that God is greater than our comprehension of Him -- greater even than the religions we dedicate in His honor. God is independent and not restricted by our expectations or demands. This is the premise of the Bhakti tradition and the starting point of the journey to reawakening our love of God: God is so much bigger than we imagine."

In the attached video lecture on "the essence of all religions," Radhanath notes that intolerance and indoctrination may be found amongst the adherents of all religions, but that at the heart of all such wisdom traditions there is a message of selflessness and unity.

"The supreme dharma or religion, is to love God," he observes. "That love must be to the degree it is unmotivated by any selfish egoism, and uninterrupted by any circumstances that may come upon us." Such a religion, he says, "actually satisfies the heart."

"We are all looking for happiness," Radhanath points out, "and that happiness is within us. To connect to that, and to be an instrument to share that with others, is true religion."

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