by H. H. Sri Swami Satchidananda
In order to have a better world we must learn to think of the globe as a whole. Whatever problems we face, there are also solutions. This needs a lot of cooperation and requires that everyone rise above personal, selfish interests and think in terms of the whole world.
Only by having a universal and spiritual vision can we bring positive change into the world. We are literally destroying ourselves in the name of religion. We criticize each other’s faiths, proclaiming, “Mine is the best, yours is the worst.” Even the same religious groups have splintered factions. Is that the purpose behind religion? Do you think God will be happy? Because we are one in Spirit, it doesn’t mean that you should renounce your own path or approach. That is not unity; that is conversion. Real unity means accepting all the various approaches, and that is what interfaith understanding is all about.
Interfaith dialogue is designed to bring people together so that we can remember the unity behind the diversity.” Sometimes people ask if the interfaith approach is an effort to have all faiths merge into one. That is not the point. If there is only one kind of flower in the garden, it is no longer a garden. Should the flowers fight about their colors, their scents, their shapes, and forms? Should they hate each other for their differences? We seem to appreciate the variety, texture, shapes, and scents of the flowers as they blend together to create a beautiful bouquet of flowers. God created all this variety for us to enjoy and for this beauty to enrich our lives. Our aim should be to understand the unity and enjoy the variety.
You can be loyal to your parents, your religion, your country, and at the same time you can love and respect another person’s allegiances. We can love our own faith and respect the other person’s faith as well. There is nothing contradictory in that. You don’t have to renounce one to love another. Ultimately, we all aim for the same truth while walking on different paths. So, in the name of interfaith understanding, we are not advocating uniformity, but universality.
There are many conferences now being organized worldwide to promote this kind of interfaith perspective. There are many peace efforts sponsored by religious and interfaith organizations working cooperatively. The time has come and the world has shrunk. We cannot separate ourselves and deny each other anymore because we are aware, more than ever, that we are a global village. It’s time to understand each other better and to live as one global family.
Each individual can do his or her own part to build a more peaceful world. By devoting a few minutes a day to meditation—to peace prayers—you can send out nice vibrations that will go around the globe and influence political leaders. If we want a peaceful world, first we must have a peaceful mind. Change the mind, you change the person; and change the person, you change the community or the society or the nation or the world.