Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it
— Albert Einstein
We live in troubled times, in a dangerous and destabilised world, which continues to coarsen our sensibilities and thwart the capacities for goodness. The world presents a baffling conundrum. It questions the history of people, places and cultures to create wedges between faiths.
Most of the misunderstanding about various religions is primarily because we have devalued spiritual values that underline them. Rituals have become the guiding emblems and totems of religions. Today’s scholars have started expatiating on select portions of scriptures without understanding the underlying philosophy of the text which is an organic entity. It has become a tendency to sermonise on other religions without grasping the spiritual nuances. This is a slur on the sanctity of scholarship. Moss critics of religions have a propensity to tear out a verse from a whole chain of thought and quote it in a totally wrong context so that the entire meaning is distorted. Half-baked scholars have done great damage to civilisations.
Life is really short and it is only when we are at peace with ourselves and the world that we can find the tranquility we need in order to remember God and contemplate the realm of cosmic powers. Every religion has the same common denominator: do your work sincerely, gracefully and gratefully. Our time-tested values of hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, humility and modesty, tolerance and curiosity are as relevant today as they were when civilisations bloomed in their resplendence.
Finding common ground among faiths can help us bridge needless divides at a time when unified action is more crucial than ever. As a species, we must embrace the oneness of humanity as we face global issues like pandemics and economic and ecological crises. At this scale, our response must be as one. Harmony among the major faiths is an essential ingredient for peaceful coexistence. From this perspective, mutual understanding among these traditions is not merely the business of religious believers — it matters for the welfare of humanity as a whole. In my own life people who have spiritually illumined and inspired me are not great spiritual masters but everyday folks who had taste for noble causes and rage to overcome adversity and strife. They have awakened my curiosity, nurtured my dreams and aroused my spirit of resistance against forces of evil.
I have explored Western lands, Western manners, and the depths of Western thought and Western learning, to an extent, which has rarely fallen to a large part of the community of Eastern mortals. But I have never lost touch with my Eastern heritage. Through all my successes and failures, I have learned to rely more and more upon the one true thing in life — the voice that speaks in a tongue above that of mortal man.
All scriptural texts assert that there is no sin worse than sinning against this inner light — whatever our light might be. Whatever we call it — our light or your conscience; it is the only beacon by which we can steer our bark through the rough and stormy sea of life. The voice of conscience is in a metaphorical sense God’s own speech. But these promptings occur only to those who have a clear heart and a clean soul. If they are infected by immoralities, they can hardly discern this purest light.