The great fundamental principles of all religions are the same. They differ only in their minor details according to the various degrees of unfoldment of different people. I am sometimes asked, “To what religion do you belong?” What religion? Why, bless you, there is only one religion,-the religion of the living God.
There are, of course, the various creeds of the same religion arising from the various interpretations of different people, but they are all of minor importance. The more unfolded the soul the less important do these minor differences become. There are also, of course, the various so-called religions. There is in reality, however, but one religion.
The moment we lose sight of this great fact we depart from the real, vital spirit of true religion and allow ourselves to be limited and bound by form. In the degree that we do this we build fences around ourselves which keep others away from us, and which also prevent our coming into the realization of universal truth; there is nothing worthy the name of truth that is not universal.
There is only one religion. “Whatever road I take joins the highway that leads to Thee,” says the inspired writer in the Persian scriptures. “Broad is the carpet God has spread, and beautiful the colors he has given it.” “The pure man respects every form of faith,” says the Buddhist. “My doctrine makes no difference between high and low, rich and poor; like the sky, it has room for all, and like the water, it washes all alike,” “The broad minded see the truth in different religions, the narrow minded see only the differences,” says the Chinese. The Hindu has said, “The narrow minded ask, ‘Is this man a stranger, or is he of our tribe?’
But to those in whom love dwells, the whole world is but one family.” “Altar flowers are of many species, but all worship is one.” “Heaven is place with many doors, and each may enter in his own way.” “Are we not all children of our Father?” says the Christian. “God has made of one blood all nations, to dwell on the face of the earth.” It was a latter-day seer who said, “That which was profitable to the soul of the man the Father revealed to the ancients, that which is profitable to the soul of man today revealeth He this day.”
It was Tennyson who said, “I dreamed that stone by stone I reared a sacred fane, a temple, neither pagoda, mosque, nor church, but loftier, simpler, always open-door to every breath from heaven, and Truth and Peace and Love and Justice came and dwelt therein.”
Religion in its true sense is the most joyous thing the human soul can know, and when the real religion is realized, we will find that it will be an agent of peace, of joy, and of happiness, and never an agent of gloomy, long-faced sadness. It will then be attractive to all and repulsive to none. Let our churches grasp these great truths, let them give their time and attention to bringing people into a knowledge of their true selves,into a knowledge of their relations, of their oneness, with the Infinite God, and such joy will be the result, and such crowds will flock to them, that their very walls will seem almost to burst, and such songs of joy will continually pour forth as will make all people in love with the religion that makes for every-day life, and hence the religion that is true and vital. Adequacy for life, adequacy for every-day life here and now, must be the test of all true religion.
If it does not bear this test, then it simply is not religion. We need an every-day, a this-world religion. All time spent in connection with any other is wore than wasted. The eternal life that we are now living will be well lived if we take good care of each little period of time as it presents itself day after day. If we fail in doing this , we fail in everything.
(from In tune with the Infinite by Ralph Waldo Trine)