The word chhanta is an Indian word, means an act of sprinkling (the water). Its synonymous in Arabic is rashash means to sprinkle, and rashash’tun (pl. rashashat) means an act of sprinkle (of water). Its proper word in Persian is pashidan. It is a sin that defiles man and renders him impure. The chhanta is a symbolic rite in Ismaili tariqah to dissipate the sins or forgiveness. It is also an act of the purity of body, soul and intellect, thus the sanctified water is sprinkled three times on the face of the believers in its rite.

The sprinkling of water has been ritually associated since the rise of human civilization as one of the most natural purifying agents. In Egypt, the Book of Going Forth by Day contains a treatise on the water-sprinkling on newborn children, which was performed to purify them of blemishes acquired in the mother’s womb. Water, especially the Nile’s cold water is believed to have regenerative power, is used to baptize the dead in a ritual, based on the Osiris myth. The ritual bath assures the dead of an afterlife and rids them of blesmishes that may not be taken into the other world. Baptism of the dead is also found among the Mandaens, and similar rites is mentioned on Orphic tablets. In ancient Babylon, a sick was sprinkled water while the priest uttered certain sacred words. In Tencbus, Pondos and Fingos tribes in South Africa, when a child is born, the mother secluded for one month. The father slaughters an ox for getting favour of the spirits. While at home the mother sprinkles water daily to the child, repeating some words for his health. In Fiji, the child’s first bath is made an occasion of a feast called Uvea. The head of child is sprinkled with water. Among Yoruba tribe in Africa, the saint gives the child’s name by spraying water from a vessel which stands under an holy tree. When child is 3 to 4 months old in Mfiote tribe in West Africa, he is sprinkled water in presence of the villagers, then he is named. The same tradition is also found among the Gabun tribe. In Baganda tribe of Congo, the children of two years are brought together. Each mother throws the fragment of unbilical cord which she preserved into bowl of water. If it floats, the child is declared legitimate of water to be sprinkled on his head. In the Pacific religions, according to A New Handbook of Living Religions (ed. John R. Hinnells, London, 1997, p. 558), “Water, the chief purifying agent, was sprinkled on new-born children, bloodstained warriors and those contaminated by sickness or death, in order to free them from tapu (taboo) and make them safe for contact with other people. Priests used a variety of further rituals and chants for healing and divination, protection from sorcery or evil spirits, and for the burial of the dead to ensure their peaceful departure to the spirit-land.”

Among the Persian Zoroasterians, the Day of Hope is festivated on the sixth day of the month of Farvardin. They believe that the portions of happiness are distributed by the fate on that day. People sprinkle water at one another, because some say, the day is consecrated to the guardian angel of water; other said that it is a memory of the purification by water prescribed by emperior Jamshed. Besides, on the 30th of the month of Bahman, the people in Ispahan celebrated the feast of Afrejagan, the pouring and spraying of water (Persian, abriz). Its origin was ascribed to Firoz (d. 484), the Sassanid king of Persia and the grandfather of Chosroes I. In his time the rain failed and Persia suffered from drought. The king in the temple of Adhar-Khura in Fars implored to put an end of the calamity. His prayers were heard and rain fell copiously. In gratitude for this blessing, Firoz built a village and gave it the name of Kamfiruz (the desire of Firoz). People joyfully sprinkled water at each other, which is the main feature of the feast of Afrejagan.

In Sikh religion, the ceremony of baptism is common, known as charan ghawal established by Guru Nanak (1469-1539). In 1699, Guru Gobind Singh (1661-1708), the successor of Guru Nanak had started a ceremony called khande-de-pahul, i.e. water stirred with double-edged sword. When a child has reached 12 to 18 years of age, the pahul or baptism is administered to him in presence of Guru Granth Saheb. Some sugar is mixed in clean water in an iron bowl, which is processed through their different ceremonies. According to Encyclopaedia of Sikh Religion and Culture (New Delhi, 1996, p. 67), “He is next asked to look straight and the amrit (nectar) is sprinkled on his face and eyes, and some of it is given to the candidate to drink from the palm of his hands”

In Hindu, the abhiseka in Sanskrit means sprinkling was once a royal ceremony that was later applied to the consecration of divine images.

The common word baptism among the Christians is derived from the Greek baptein meaning to plunge, immerse or wash. The frequantative form, baptizein however appears much later. It was Saint Paul who first defined the theological and symbolic significance of baptism. Christian baptismal practice is said to have founded on the commandment of Jesus himself to his disciples (Matt. 28:19). Baptism is a fundamental rite of entry into the church community, in which water is sprinkled on the face of the new converts.

Meditation Is A Tool For Peace

Hectic schedule and modern life work, makes most of the people feel stressed and overworked. There is not just enough time in a day to wrap up everything. We feel tired, impatient and unhappy because of work load. It can also affect our body and mind. We are often so busy that there is not enough time to stop and meditate.

Meditation is mental as well as physical discipline that attempts a deeper state of relaxation. It also involves turning the attention from single point reference. It has been practiced since antiquity and is also component of many religions and sometimes also practiced outside the religion. But meditation actually gives more time to keep mind calmer and more focused. Different meditative techniques involves wide ranges of spiritual and psychological practices that focuses on different goals like higher state of consciousness, creativity or self-awareness, or simply a more relaxed and peaceful frame of mind. Secrets of meditation help to stay active and sharp.

The purpose or aim behind meditation breathing is to calm the mind and develop an inner peace. First step of meditation is to stop distraction and make mind calmer and more lucid. This can be achieved by regular practising of a simple breath meditation. Always choose quiet and clean place to meditate and sit in comfortable position or sit in cross legged posture or any other position that’s comfortable for you. Then close your eyes partially and turn attention to breathing while meditation. Breathe naturally through nostrils without attempting to control your breath and become aware of the sensation of breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils. You should try to concentrate on it; focus on a single point on the sensation of the breathing and try to avoid different thoughts that arise in the mind. If you notice that mind is distracted and is following thoughts, immediately return to breath. Repeat this as many times until the mind calms and settles.

Meditation audio guides through a series of steps or imagery exercises. Meditation audio includes various forms of music, tones to relax or stimulate brain waves. Most of the people find audio for meditation is helpful because it provides diversity in practice as well as discipline. Another plus point of using free guided audio meditation is the opportunity to try many different styles and presenters. Music helps to relax, calm and helps to gain concentration.

You can use the Meditation chair as proper posture is essential. Sit up comfortably stable and straight. Keep feet grounded on the floor and hands should be on the knees. Chest should lift up and shoulders should be down during meditation.

By practicing the basic secrets of meditation, gradually our thoughts will settle and will experience relaxation and joy of inner peace. Mind becomes spacious and will fell refreshed. Stress and tension comes from mind. Many of the problems including ill health are caused by this stress. Concentration on breathing helps to calm distracting thoughts and mind will become lucid and clear. Breathing meditation and audio meditation keep inner peace and contentment just by controlling the mind.

Online Minister Ordination

Weddings are an important rite of passage. In many ways they mark the transition from late adolescence into adulthood. Across time and culture they have always been celebrated with marked degree of pomp and ceremony. Fundamentally there is some aspect of being human that requires such special rites as we transition into the full bloom of being a wholly developed.

While the tradition has been with us for millennia the actual details of the ritual have changed and evolved. The increasing pace of change in our modern civilization has been reflected in the evolution of the wedding industry. Before the separation of church and state there really were no options for couples to customize their wedding. Even as recently as 50 years ago getting married required both partners to be members of the same church, often this required formal religious classes on one or both parties parts.

The only other real option was to be married by a justice of the peace. In general most people would agree that a quick trip to the courthouse does not make a very good foundation of cherished romantic memories on which to build a life on.

Luckily things have changed for the better. While the wedding minister still should be a spiritual mentor and leader for couples, thankfully a series of religion classes are no longer required to have a spiritually significant wedding. The government has gotten better at keeping it’s nose out of people’s religious beliefs. New religions and churches have sprouted up with out the authoritarian dogmas of the manipulative and controlling institutions of our parents and grandparents.

Religious Christening Ceremonies

A newly born child’s christening is both an exciting and scary time. For many birth parents there is the excitement of christening their child, but they must also worry about planning a ceremony and choosing godparents. Luckily, they do not have to worry about christening presents, but there is still plenty to keep their minds occupied.

At a church based christening ceremony, there are many religious symbols and overtones. The young child is baptised in the church’s holy water – baptism holds lots of significance in itself, too.

Will the christening ceremony be at a Catholic church? If so, the vicar will probably light a candle to symbolise Jesus, discuss it, and then pass it around.

Additionally, if the christening is held at a Catholic church it will be done as a private ceremony. Some parents prefer this because it offers a private chance to reflect on the gravity of this act. There will be no singing and the christening lasts around half an hour.

At the COE, christenings are usually during the main service that Sunday. In these cases the child is taken to the front of the church, baptised from the holy font, and both birth parents and godparents make a public declaration to help raise the child as a Christian.

As for special considerations unique to your situation, discuss them with your vicar. You may be asked to attend special church classes to discuss the symbolism and special nature of the baptism, and anything else expected of both you and the godparents.

Christening can be a stressful time, but when it’s all over you will recall with find memories the bringing of your child to the church.

Afghan Cuisine And Its Religious Influences

The Afghan cuisine is quite unique through its types of food and through the preparation techniques. It is very well known that the foods that make up the Afghan cuisine, their tastes and spices are quite a tasteful mixture of the food traditions of the regions that surround the country. Despite the eastern oriental foods that are famous for being exaggeratedly hot and spicy, the dishes in Afghanistan are neither too hot nor pungent. Another great feature of the country’s cuisine is that in contrast with its western neighbors the food here is not flavorless. Western travelers are very impressed with the food here and it has been documented that the foods in Afghanistan are a unique blend of exotic ingredients and great taste.

Cooking and food have a very important role in the country’s culture. Food is considered something that brings people together and in Afghan culture one should always share his/her food with others. In western countries it is considered rood to pay unexpected visits, but it is very much different as far as Afghanistan is concerned. Here guests are always welcome and people usually drop in without any previous notice and it is never a problem for the host. People always have food for their guests and not to have something to offer to your guest is unheard of even in the poorest families. Thus, you could never get up from an Afghan meal being hungry, no matter how little time the host had to prepare it.

The dishes served in Afghanistan are usually symbolic of certain occasions, such as the Qaabuli Pallow dish that is considered to be the crown of Afghan cooking and which is served only to special guests or on very special occasions, usually marriage ceremonies. Also, there is another dish, called Letee that is served to new mothers as it is quite light for the stomach, while having a high nutritive value. Dogh is a summer dish only and Mahi dishes are always on the table during Nowroz (New Year’s). Eggs are quite a preferred ingredient that is prepared in many special ways so that the guests are well nourished. People in Afghanistan believe that food is a very important element in nature and that depending on the ingredients it can produce warmth, coldness or neutral temperatures in the human body. Afghan people have a great respect for food and there are some essential foods that have special meanings I certain situations, for example, stepping on a piece of bread is considered a sin.

Creativity is a very important feature of the Afghan cuisine as there are a lot of dishes that can be “improved” after the cooks imagination and taste. The most important thing about the food culture in Afghanistan is that everybody should be full and satisfied at the end of the meal.

Every fall the Afghan Muslims celebrate their spiritual holiday called Ramadan. The new moon represents the beginning of the Ramadan which presupposes a month of religious and personal reflection, fasting and finally feasting. The people of Afghanistan honor this holy month with festive and fortifying meals that are meant to make both the fasting and the feasting meaningful and enjoyable.

The Suhoor or the Early Morning Meal represents the most important meal of the day as eating is forbidden during the day. Traditionally Afghans eat porridge, bread and a lot of fruits at a very early time as close to dawn as possible.

The Iftar or the Evening Meal is eaten people can stop their daily fasting and the traditional snack foods are again bread, cheese and fruits. After this everybody is supposed to spend some time praying and then they can have the big evening meal that is generally consisting of heart stews or vegetable dishes.

Eid Ul-Fitr or the Feasting Finale represents the end of the Ramadan period when a huge celebration is organized and the foods served now are better than all the meals served during Ramadan. The people in Afghanistan are now preparing their veil and chicken delicacies together with all sorts of spicy dishes that can impress anyone with their unique and exotic tastes.

Religion and Philosophy

Religion and Philosophy are words of repute that man resorts to for answers on God and life. Their authenticity is never questioned nor their real meaning understood. Man takes it for granted that they provide answers for what they stand for. But a gentle glance would suggest that answers have not been found as yet because men, more than anything else, are still angry with each other and with themselves too. Religion makes man believe he is a saint while philosophy fills him with pride. The question he needs to answer is whether religion and philosophy have brought him peace or drafted him into war. The present state of the world would suggest the latter is true.

Every child and adult is given a religion to follow and adhere to so that he or she may lead a happy life – a certain investment to reach heaven. Its importance is emphasized to philosophical proportions. Religion and, thereby, God, if followed to the letter, is believed to ward off evil and protect man from harm. But is he free from hate or anger while he prays or when he is in a place of worship? Is he free of all that is unholy when he does not pray or is not in a place of worship? If God is the creator of the world, who could possibly be creating evil or wrong besides God? It is unthinkable that God would be the creator of good and bad, right and wrong as a reality. It has to be illusory for God is compassionate and loving. So, has religion and philosophy failed to deliver its promises and will it ever succeed? Who can tell?

But what do these words really mean and what is man’s understanding of them? To most, religion means subtle or profound knowledge about God and His messages, which are beliefs or a system of faith and worship. The word religion is derived from the Latin word ‘religio’, meaning obligation or reverence to life under monastic vows. Philosophy, on the other hand, means a love of wisdom. But, on close observation, man is neither godly nor wise, and religion and philosophy have been around for quite some time. Religion and philosophy are both ancient and historical. Man came to know religion first and later, as his mind sophisticated, philosophy appeared. Primitive man was alive and lived without the need of religion or philosophy.

The mind became active within man slowly and steadily and sophisticated to form religion and philosophy. Information about God happened to him and he did not bring it about. Thinking happened to man and he did not make it happen. If he had, he would have made it happen all at once and not progressively, as is the case, and, given the chance, he would see to it that everyone thought the same way, but they do not. If he did make thinking happen, he would have just one religion and philosophy and not many, as is the case.

Nature was religion to primitive man. The lightning in the skies and the thunder that followed was man’s knowledge about a power above him. Light and sound were God to primitive man. The moment he looked up into the skies in fear was the moment of birth of God or a power much superior to him in his mind. As vocabulary increased within man’s mind and concepts began to form, so did religion and knowledge about God as the almighty.

If religion were real, there could only be one and that would be the first one that appeared within man’s mind. Real means that which does not change and is eternal. This means that even the first religion cannot be real. How could it be real for not only has the first religion changed, but there are five more major religions alongside it? This change contradicts the meaning of real. This can only mean that the first religion and the rest that have followed have to be illusory and not real.

Religion is illusory for it exists only in the waking state, but it does not exist during the sleeping state, and man is alive during sleep as much as he is during the waking state. If religion were real, primitive man should have religion without the presence of thoughts. This only means that religion is nothing but thoughts in the mind, as is everything else.

If God has created the world, every religion must be His creation too. If they are, they cannot be separate from Him. The world is energy and nothing can be separate within energy, and so, if they were separate from him or from each other, they would not exist. If God has created the world, He will be energy too because the source of energy has to and will be energy only. In this case, God cannot be a He or a She but just energy, as is every man and woman. If God is energy, it can only mean that anything and everything is a reflection of energy, including man. If energy is God, it can only mean that every speck of this manifestation has to be God, and it is so and cannot be otherwise.

If God were the creator, would not every religion be His creation too, including the first? They certainly would be, and surely He would not create any religion that is wrong. The same applies to philosophy too. The presence of variety in every aspect of life, including religion and philosophy, makes it impossible for man to decide which could be true. This is the intelligence of life that makes anything and everything in life relative and not absolute. It is important to understand that every recognizable thought requires another of its kind for it to exist. Therefore, every religion exists because of the presence of the other. This is why God or life has manifested many religions and philosophies so that a concept of religion and philosophy could exist. They exist in such a manner that man may understand that their existence is illusory and not real. They only appear real.

Religion is temporary because it changes and requires time to exist, where there is none. It exists only as thoughts because it disappears in the sleeping state. These are the hallmarks of an illusion. An illusion does not mean it is absent; it is present, but not in the manner the mind says it is. There are many scriptures related to every religion. When the religion is illusory, will not the scriptures be illusory too? In that case every scripture is no better than the other. Truth cannot be known for the known is always dual, and truth cannot be dual for duality is relative and never absolute. If a certain belief of a religion is not found within the confines of another religious scripture, the belief cannot be concluded to be invalid or false.

Every belief does not have to be found in every religious scripture; there is no point in repeating the same belief in every religion. God is very intelligent for, if beliefs were the same in every religion, then different religions would not exist: diversity is required for religion to exist. If all religions contained the same beliefs, then there would only be one religion. Before the scriptures were written, they existed in the mind as thoughts. This means that truth, no matter how illusory, cannot be just what is written, and that which is not written can also be the truth, for the written once existed as thoughts in the mind. Therefore, man may speak the truth and it cannot be brushed aside as untruth just because it cannot be found within scriptures. All religions put together are one religion.

Duality is the spice of mental life. Diversity is maintained by duality. Diversity makes life not only magnanimous but also projects the illusory as the real. Diversified religion exists so that God may exist. If only one religion existed it would be real and God would not be remembered at all. God would not be remembered because, for God to exist and to be remembered as well, another God would be needed, and the various religions do just that: they provide many Gods. It is fascinating to see that every religion is not content with itself, and it should be if it is real. The constant arguments between religions suggest that every man doubts the religion he belongs to. Knowledge about religion only indicates the capacity of the mind to store information and reproduce it, akin to a computer or a library. A scholar does not signify anything other than this.

Man is born without a religion and he obtains the religion that exists in the family. Religion is, therefore, more familial than real. Life is energy and energy alone. Energy has no religion, yet man has a religion: how real could it be? Words and meanings are an auditory illusion of sound and so every religion is illusory rather than real. Religion has driven man away from God rather than bringing him to God, and this is exactly what it is meant to do so that religion and philosophy may exist. If men were made to realize that only God exists and not man, religion would collapse.

Religion is just knowledge about God in a particular language. Knowledge is dead because it is in the mind as memory. Since the mind is in the past, religion too is in the past. The mind is not in life, which is the timeless ‘now’, and this means that religion is not in life but in the mind. The mind requires time to exist and science has proved that time does not exist as a physical entity in life. The smallest unit of time measured is ‘atto second’, which is one billionth of a billionth of a second. Life’s occurrences, however, happen in units of time much smaller than an atto second, which is the timeless ‘now’. Religion really means to be united with self. It has not really achieved this but, in fact, has created disunity between humans. This is life’s intelligence to maintain its illusory nature so that man may understand the real meaning of religion.

Every religious man defends vigorously that his God is the only one. Now, God is not a matter of yours or mine. God is simply God. Scientifically, God is synonymous with energy, light or just intelligence. God is a philosophical word, but very intelligent nevertheless. The world is varied and so are religion, philosophy and even God. Life merely demonstrates that if anything and everything is varied, even God is varied, and this is why God is who He is imagined to be. Therefore, it is inevitable that God will appear differently in some religions and as many in others. Life also demonstrates that God is nobody or nothing, but also anything and everything. This is evident in some religions in which He is revered as being formless, which is true, and in others as having forms made of any kind of matter: food to indicate taste, incenses to indicate smell, bells to indicate sound and fire to indicate light, which are also true.

It is difficult to determine whose God is real and is the first and only one. Every religion defends that their God fits that bill. If any one of the Gods that appeared after the first was real, He would have been the one who would have created the first religion and maintained it until the present day. If the first religion was false, He would have destroyed it, and the reason it cannot be destroyed is because life is energy and energy cannot be destroyed or created. This is proof that God too is energy and anything and everything is merely a reflection of this energy, which appears in the morning and disappears in the night, including religion and philosophy.

The world is a manifestation of God or energy and not a creation. No man could have seen the creation to vouch for it, but surely he can understand that the world is and has be a reflection, since it is energy. Therefore, the world and God included has to be peaceful and harmonious. The mind of man is not peaceful, and this restlessness is an auditory illusion of sound, as only light and sound exists in life and not words and meanings. Man merely makes sounds, which appear as language in the mind. Words and meanings cannot exist in life, as time is absent in life.

Man or messenger of God, who has a mind, will always be restless because of duality, which is the hallmark of the mind, and to wish him peace will only be wishful thinking. A true messenger of God, if at all there is one, is an enlightened being, for he lives and realizes that the mind is illusory, so too every religion and philosophy. An enlightened being is always at peace with himself and the world, without knowing that he is. Peace is his nature for it is the nature of nature, and an enlightened being realizes that man is part and parcel of nature and not separated from it. There would be no need to wish him or her peace, for he is peace itself.

Peace is the nature of the world, and it has to be if it is energy, no matter in what state it is. So there would no point in fearing it or God. Fear, if observed, is non-existent in the timeless ‘now’. It is always in the mind and, therefore, has to be illusory as is any word. In fear man can never reach God; he would be rotating in his mind hoping to reach God. Fear has been employed by the religious to bring man to God – how ironical. It is ironical that it is the religious who keep man away from God with a promise of bringing him to God. Only God is and man is merely a reflection of God.

Philosophy came much later than religion. It was the product of a sophisticated mind. It made its appearance once life expressed logic and reasoning. Philosophy is similar to religion in that there are as many philosophies as there are languages, either rudimentary or sophisticated. If wisdom was real, and it needs to be real if it is wisdom, there would be just one system of philosophy and not such divergence as there is found to be.

Many philosophies are needed so that a concept of philosophy may exist. The scenario is the same as with religion. Man would not remember philosophy if there were just one. A contrast provided by a particular philosophy is needed for the existence of another. Hence, philosophy means the love of thinking and not the love of wisdom, as is thought. Every man is a philosopher for thinking happens to him. A true philosopher is he who realises that thinking happens to him and man does not think. He realizes that an action or an experience can exist only in time, and time does not exist in life. He realizes that the mind would be needed to recognize an action or an experience in life, and mind, like time, does not exist in life.

A true philosopher is he who realizes that the world, man and mind are a continuous and spontaneous transformation-process of energy which is uncontrollable and unpredictable. He realizes that life is timeless and thoughtless and a manifestation of light and sound, and the experienced world and the experience itself is a world of thoughts – religion and philosophy included. A truly religious man is he who realizes that everything is an expression of God the almighty – religion and philosophy included.

© Copyright V.S. Shankar 2008

Dr Vijai S. Shankar, an Indian sage, was born in the late 1940’s. He has amassed an impressive list of educational, research, medical, writing and teaching credentials in his lifetime. He is most notably known for his teachings on Non-dualism, Advaita Vedanta, and Jnana yoga. These teachings are accessible to the public through his books, CDs and DVDs, his satsangs and on the website of the Academy of Absolute Understanding, which Dr. Shankar founded in 2009. Dr. Shankar’s most recent book, Evolution of Mind, published in January 2010, offers man the most penetrating and insightful understanding of mind to date, a mind which for generations, has been conditioned by its beliefs and limited to the world of relativity and fiction.

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Confusing God With Religion Part 1


I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was driving home after a particularly boring three-hour contract meeting. It was a late September afternoon and the traffic on the by-pass was still light. The sky was a beautiful cerulean blue, absolutely void of any clouds. All was deceptively well with the world. Out of habit, I reached for the ON button to the radio. I like listening to talk radio while driving. The prattle of an interview was in progress, as I glanced at the dashboard clock. It was flashing 3:42 pm. The car was warm but not hot – comfortable -without the air conditioning blowing in my face. It was one of those rare pleasant homeward bound drives at the end of the workday. Just this once, I just might make it home without my back and neck in a knot from tension. I decided today was not a day for fighting traffic, if the guy on my left wants to dive in front of me, they are welcome to do so.

As I began to pay attention to the radio… the familiar interviewer was speaking with yet another authority on God. At least that’s what they were vaunting. In reality, it was actually about religion – not God. The author informed us that at one point in her life she was a nun. Her reasons for leaving that vocation, as with anyone leaving their life’s work, varied.

However, there were two reasons she quoted as being the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back, which affected me. The more I thought about them, the more they bothered me.

First, as a nun, she declared she had to pray each morning for an hour. During these prayers, she discovered that keeping one’s mind on the object at hand was a daunting task. No matter how hard she fought, she just couldn’t keep her mind from wandering during her prayers. She took that as a sign that she was not qualified to be a nun.

Secondly, she claimed that she always had the thought that God was this ethereal Person, who would, as she prayed, somehow (more my words than hers) magical join her in some relationship manner. She finally realized this was not happening.

Extremely disappointed, she realized it would never happen, and quit the profession. She also gave up her belief in a personal God, and turned to the study of religion as her god.

So what? Why pick on this person? I assure you I don’t want to appear as picking on anyone, but she does loom as a perfect example of those who have a common error about God.

Let me say, I believe she has a right to choose whatever religion she wants to choose, and she can believe however, she wants to believe. That’s not what bothered me, and yes, the interview did bother me.

Personally, I have found that unless one is in a real life-or-death situation, it’s difficult for most of us to pray for an hour, without having to drag our mind back into the effort every five (maybe two) minutes or so. I can’t do it. There are too many distractions in my life. All kinds of things creep into my thoughts in that length of time, regardless of what time of the day it is. If it’s late, I might fall asleep. That still was not my problem with all of this. I’ll get to the point in a moment – I promise.

My second dilemma with this entire interview was the continuous reference to religion as God. I mean there was no separation – no distinction between the two. To these two entities, religion and God were one in the same. At one point, the interviewer asked the former nun how she reconciled her wonderful devotion to the study of religion to Dawkin’s scientific refute of God. They captured me with that comment. I must confess, I’ve never heard of Dawkin’s book where he supposedly proves through science, God does not exist.

Again, I am of the opinion that Mr. Dawkins may believe whatever he so desires, and I’m not going to argue with him. There is no end of books claiming they can disprove God. The problem is they all seem to be arguing against religion and not God. Some are quite mean spirited and others are simply the rants of an agnostic who is trying to put forth his/her gospel of enlightenment i.e. their own religion.

Again, the theme I see, when I do read one of these books, – and I admit that is a rarity – is syncretism, which is the various beliefs and practices of one’s deity. One man wrote an entire book on how religion poisons everything, which only spawned a plethora of books of how wonderful religion truly is. My question is where is God in all this religious battle?

The author of this interview was of the opinion that all deities were the same. It made no difference if your deity was Buddha, Brahman, or Jah, – it was the fact that one believed and practiced a religion. The practice of a religion is what is important to a human’s spirit and soul, she proposed. I believe her views echoes the sentiments of far too many people in the world today, who claim Christianity.

Now, I don’t know if you have caught on yet, but the entire conversation centered on the fact that religion and God are one in the same. I am finding that the world has somehow confused or merged God and religion as being the same thing. I’m here to take a theological stand that this concept is a corruption, and the notion that religion poisons everything might not be so extreme after all.


Religion (Grk. threskeia) is positively not God – not Divine, but merely the beliefs and practices that a person uses to worship the object of their choosing. Religion consists of all manner of ceremonies, and if so desired, certain disciplines.

It is from religion that we get this multiplicity of denominations, sects, cults, and fanatical schisms. Religion is actually, what was shoved down so many people’s throat as a child, which they now see as God being the evil in the world. Yes, you heard me correctly. In most cases, those of us who have had this experience of a childhood of forced religion, was not God, but someone’s creed concerning God. Many people see God as being the evil in this world, but they confuse God with religion. Thus, we have books declaring religion is poisoning of the world.

Am I saying religion is wrong? Of course not, but what I am saying it’s like a gun. It can be a dangerous weapon in the hands of the unskilled. God is not our enemy. The Bible is not our enemy, nor is the Bible a religion. The enemy are those who teach dreadful theology about God, who create their own religions, and then demand other people to follow their perception, and distortion of what they think is their foundation, God.

Again I repeat, religion, that is of God (and not god) is a good thing. I consider myself religious, but I can tell you with authority, that my religion is not my denomination, or group that I’m a member of in my community. My foundational religion is a spiritual relationship with the Deity that I worship, who in this case happens to be Yahweh, in the person of Jesus the Christ. That was a personal choice offered to me and I accepted the offer. Obviously, someone at some time explained the fact that He was offering this relationship and that is how I learned of Him. However, I can say without reservation, never was I coerced into accepting my conviction in His existence.

Listen carefully, – how I choose to act upon that relationship is my religion. If I do nothing with that religion, it does not diminish God in any manner. He is still God. In fact, my worship of Him does nothing to enhance Him – with one caveat – He does take pleasure in our relationship with Him. Other than that, He can do just fine without me.

The world has conjured up a theory that God is some pathetic, needy old Geezer, who sits in heaven and begs for our love, worship, and attention. Without our accolades, He would simply turn to dust. He is a sad, forlorn, and empty Being in the Universe. Forget it! Our worship of Him is something that He loves, but doesn’t need. His love for us is not contingent on – neither does His love increase or decrease – according to our feelings for Him. Someone writing a book that He cannot possibly exist does not affect His self-esteem. He is not some glorified human affected by self-emotions.


Does Holy Scripture teach religion? Yes, it does, but we have so distorted it, one can hardly identify it as being biblical anymore.

As stated, religion is the beliefs and practices of a form of homage to whatever we are worshipping. In the Old Testament, God originally set up religion with a band of Hebrews He chose to be His special people, because He had a far-reaching plan. They were the race He chose to identify Himself to the world by being their singular Deity. In turn, they were to distinguish themselves as belonging exclusively to Him. He would be more than their God; He would also be their National King instead of some perverted human.

The nation of Israel, as we know them, was originally set up to be a theocracy. The Law, which we commonly refer to as the Ten Commandments, was their Declaration of Dependence. Moses expounded upon that Law, which became their Constitution. At that time, God did indeed set up a form of religion so that the nation would know how to properly treat and entreat Him. It set up a proper establishment of the relationship He desired from His national citizens.

Please understand God did not give the Law to the world, but to a specific Nation. If you were a non-Hebrew and desired to join them, you too were expected to follow the same Law, and honor God as your King, through this same form of worship/religion.

If you read the Pentateuch, you will discover that God was quite specific so that these people would not have to guess at what they should do. They would not have to guess at when, where or how they should worship (practice His religion). Nor did He allow the freedom to choose what forms of worship an individual would use.

During the days of Moses, God spoke directly to him so that if there was any kind of misunderstanding, or deviation from this set form of religion, Moses would correct it immediately. The problem is, Moses couldn’t live forever, and he eventually died. All the nation had left was the written Word, and those who devoted themselves to studying that Word. At first, the men who sat next to Moses did a fantastic job of keeping everything in perfect alignment. However, as is the way of life, they too eventually, died. Then there was a new generation in charge of interpreting – and that is all that existed – an interpretation of what was written.

It is amazing how two people can read the same book and come away with two different reports. I don’t know how that happens, but it does. I have had people ask me about a supposed statement I made during a lecture, and when I reran the tape of that speech, that statement didn’t exist. There was no hint of it, yet that’s what they believed I said. I guess it’s all about human nature.

Therefore, we eventually see the Law of Israel and the religion that God set up splitting into different groups. Different teachers, different interpretations. When did denominations come into being? Way back before the birth of Christ. Anyone who has ever read the Gospels in the New Testament certainly has heard of the Pharisees, and the Sadducees, not to mention the Essenes, and others not so well known. These are simply denominations. My point is that a variety of religious practices is not a Christian phenomenon. Even Islam, which is so much in the news today, has different sects or denominations. These are all religions, because they are only the practice of their belief of what they choose to call their God.

Most who are reading this article, are not Jewish and do not practice the Hebrew Law. Thank God, we live (although some people seem to forget this) in a new time.


Theologians call the time you and I are living in as the New Testament era. That is to say, we can declare that we belong to the God of Israel, without being under the Law of Israel, because Christ fulfilled the Law of the Old Testament. So, what does this New Testament say to us concerning religion?

First, I want you to note, that the word religion appears four times in our English Scripture, within the New Testament. However, that does not mean the New Testament only teaches religion in four places. While Christ condemned the religions of His day, because they were poisoning the people who wanted what the woman on the radio interview wanted – a relationship with God – He certainly taught religion. He taught the religion that God actually wants us to practice, instead of what someone thinks we should be practicing. I can wrap it up quite simply by saying that He taught that once a relationship is established with God, through Christ, our religion is to be more spiritual than ritual.

Israel went through many external rituals to demonstrate and teach what God wanted from them internally. While the rituals have changed, the practice of Divine religion has not. Let me show you what Jesus taught. One day He met a woman who did what the world does when we come to God – she wanted to argue about religion – not about God. In all simplicity, she wanted to know why one group believed this way and another believed that way. Each group were ready to kill for their differences of their religion.

In truth, the controlling religion in Israel at that time would indeed kill her for not having the same religion as they. Although they both claimed, they believed in God. Sounds all too familiar. How many have died since this woman because they didn’t have the same religious practice as the present controlling party?

Christ’s answer was perfect. Religion – the practice of worshiping God – has nothing to do with church services, songs, reading until you go blind, or praying for hours on end. (See John 4:21-24.)

Divinely sanctioned religion comes from a person’s spirit not a building or a creed.

My spirit reaches out to the Father, through Christ, and it may say, “Dear Lord, I love You with all my heart.” It may say, “I am in need of a job, Lord. Give me guidance of where to look. Let me find favor in the sight of this interviewer.” On the other hand, our spirit may cry out “Forgive me. I am greedy and desire money, and lots of it. I want to win the Lotto, with all my heart!” Our spirit may cry out, “I saw this person and I would like to sleep with him or her.”

“Oh, my goodness,” the religious person would say. “I could never say such a thing.” Then your religion is not the religion that God accepts. Let me give you what Jesus said so you know I’m not peddling my own religion. Religion is… the practice of worship. Godly worship, according to Christ, comes from the spirit, and is based in truth. In case you missed the point, He mentions it twice. If you cannot tell your God that your heart desires money, and a ton of it, then your religion is false. Spirit and truth comprises the foundation of the religion that God sanctions. All the rest are, indeed, false.

If we hate someone because of the color of his or her skin, or his or her nationality, and we cannot stand face-to-face with God and tell Him we hate them, our religion is false. Be sure to understand, I’m not talking about standing before a group of people who are of like mind as us, and shouting it out, but I am talking about standing before God.

One might say, “I don’t know how to stand before God. I can’t see Him.” Sure, you can. Anyone who truly wants to see God can see Him. We see Him through the eyes of our spirit. We see Him in the faces of others. We can see Him by looking at the Universe. He is everywhere; we just need to open our spiritual eyes. See, that’s the truth Christ, was talking about. God honors that religion. That religion has nothing to do with condemning to hell a homosexual, or someone who gives abortions, even someone who has lied to us. When we have no sin in our own life, then – and only then, – can we judge/condemn someone else. Those who claim to be Christian are not here to revile, but to show the world we are of Christ by our love.

There are two kinds of judging in the New Testament. One has to do with judging if something is right or wrong. If we judge it as wrong, then we shouldn’t do it. If we judge it as right, then we can help ourselves (within reason). This kind of judgment is the right kind of judgment. The other judgment has to do with condemnation. That is the accusing kind. That is the shouting down someone for not being like us. That kind is strictly forbidden. Judgment belongs to God alone. Therefore, what we are supposed to do is pray for them. Christ set the foundation for our twenty-first century religion. New Testament scriptures build on that foundation. Our religion is not to be the end-all i.e. our God.

If our religion no longer has us burning bulls on an altar, and if we are not commanded to pray for one hour every morning (but at all times) then, what is the religion God desires from us according to the New Testament? The summation of religion is so easy, – it is right in our hearts – yet we constantly miss it. There are two parts to Divinely sanctioned religion. Are you ready? Here it is, “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (Ja 1:26-27 ~ NASB). Christ set the foundation, on which we are to build.

First, he says, we need to watch our mouth. Whatever is coming out of our mouth is revealing the truth of our heart. It makes no difference if we are shouting this through a bullhorn on a street corner, or yelling at a co-worker, or screaming at our family; our heart is the true revelation of our spirit. We tell the world and God the truth of whom we are by what is coming out of our mouth. That is why we will be judged on the words we say one day. Secondly, he says we need to practice what we preach. If we say, we love God then we must act like Him, and have compassion on those who are less fortunate than we are. We can’t just say we love, – no one can hear us over our actions. This is the proper religion God desires from us and will accept. That’s it.

Christians if we would stop fighting the world, and simply hold true to the God that we claim our basic beliefs on, we would convert the world. We will continue this in part two by discussing who is the God we claim to follow and love.

I am Grayeagle, a retired pastor, but still an active theologian. I graduated from Liberty, Trinity, and Andersonville with my doctorate in theology in 1986. I presently work in the home office of a national retail chain corporation. My book on angels can be obtained by contacting me at [email protected]

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Science and Myth: Top 5 Adaptive Traits of Successful Religions

How do mythic traditions survive through the centuries? How do they thrive? By bringing together science and myth, an evolutionary perspective might help us think about these questions.

By “success” I mean long-time survival. I don’t even begin to consider the moral value or truth-content of religious teachings–all that is placed in brackets. This is an evolutionary view based on the history of religions.

Consider the possibility of the following top five list.

Top 5 adaptive features of successful religions
1. Continuity of motifs defining the religion
2. Vertical transmission
3. Ethics defining the in-group
4. Placeholder terms
5. Paradox

1. Continuity of motifs defining the religion

This is the single most important feature determining success. In order for a religion to propagate itself, it must establish and maintain a recognizable identity. It doesn’t necessarily require a name for itself or an identity as a religion per se, but it does require something to delineate what is and isn’t part of the package that must be passed on to the next generation. Many indigenous religions, such as Shinto, had no name until the introduction of foreign religions necessitated a way to distinguish the local from the alien. Others had no overt identity as religions per se–ancient Greek had no word for “religion” (the closest was theon timai, “honors for the gods”). But it is absolutely necessary for a religion to delineate its key motifs in some way. The signal must be separable from the noise. Thus religions throughout history have developed special motifs to mark off the sacred from the mundane. They may be visual symbols like totem poles, crosses, or mosques, auditory symbols like hymns, chants, or special styles of music, or linguistic symbols like divine names, myths, or doctrines. They may be temporal symbols like annual festivals or rites of passage. Finally, they may be ethical symbols like ritual, prayer, or taboo. Most all religions feature a combination of these motifs.

All successful religions develop a canon of such motifs to identify what is to be propagated. Without it, a would-be religion would be lost in the wash of custom, extinct before it even came into existence. And without maintaining such a canon, an established religion would be absorbed into competing religions. This is what happened to Buddhism in Medieval India: it effectively died out in its birthplace because it was no longer sufficiently different from Hinduism. A canon of motifs functions to define the unit of transmission.

Interestingly, it is not necessary that exactly the same set of motifs carry on down through the ages. It is only necessary that a continuity of motifs be passed on. Modern Judaism bears little resemblance to the semi-polytheistic sacrificial temple religion of ancient Jerusalem, but a continuous lineage links the transformations from the one to the other. Japanese Buddhism is virtually unrecognizable compared with the religion founded in the 5th century BCE by Siddhartha Gautama, but again a lineage connects them.

2. Vertical transmission

The second most important feature is vertical transmission. Transmission of some kind is necessary as a matter of course: a religion of one person is no religion at all. All religions feature transmission. But vertical transmission–that is, transmission through the generations via family lines–is a feature of highly adaptive religions. The other kind is horizontal transmission–that is, transmission via dissemination and conversion. Horizontal transmission is also adaptive, but mainly as a supplement to vertical transmission. Religions consisting solely of converts rarely last. Those that inculcate religion into the young at an early age ensure deeply committed followers bonded to each other by family ties. Due to the immense importance of vertical transmission, religions conducive to large families survive better, if only because they can out-breed their rivals. Thus, those associated with agricultural peoples, whose many children are needed to work the fields, have an advantage in this regard.

3. Ethics defining the in-group

The next most important feature is ethics, but not in any moral sense of the word. Rather, the sense is of a set of prescribed and proscribed behaviors serving to separate the in-group from the out-group. When followers are restricted from partaking in certain common activities, like eating pork, they are discouraged from mingling with outsiders. This serves to protect the all-important canon of motifs from becoming diluted with foreign influences. When followers are exhorted to partake in certain prescribed activities, like eating only food that is halal, they are encouraged to congregate together. This serves to keep children with parents and therefore ensure vertical transmission. The saying “The family that prays together stays together” should actually be amended to “The family that prays together stays faithful to the religion.”

Dietary restrictions are by no means the only relevant ethics–there are innumerable taboos and ritualistic behaviors that serve the function of separating in-group from out-group. However, diet does seem to deserve special mention, as it is known the world over and is superbly effective. Contemporary Malaysia is a jumble of ethnic groups and religions, but syncretization is stymied in no small part thanks to diet. The Malays can only eat at Muslim kitchens with halal utensils and menus. The Hindu Tamils do not eat beef and so are unlikely to frequent Muslim kitchens and likely to seek out Hindu ones. The Chinese have no special dietary restrictions and so can eat where they like, but that same freedom means that Muslims and Hindus are unlikely to frequent Chinese kitchens. Thus, the breaking of bread together–a key act of good will between peoples–is effectively discouraged. The result is a society boiling with ethnic-religious tension, but extremely adaptive from a religious evolutionary perspective. At the cost of social peace, religions maintain their canons of motifs.

4. Placeholder terms

Of great importance is the strategic use of placeholder terms. By “placeholder terms” I mean key religious terms, the meanings of which are defined so vaguely as to invite a wide range of interpretation. Such terms include god, spirit, truth, wisdom, justice, good, evil, and so on. These terms give a semblance of meaning immediately recognizable to all followers, but their precise meanings are so vague that they can be made to support nearly any policy or agenda that happens to arise. This is vitally important to the long-term survival of religions. As centuries pass and values change, the old motifs must be continually reinvigorated with new meanings. If the key terms are too rigidly defined, they become irrelevant when the social context that gave rise to them is no longer present. Thus, to allow for changing contexts, the terms must remain vague, even vacuous. Each generation fills them with new meanings, all the while purporting to carry on the “ancient” tradition. Reforms in religions are frequently presented as a return to old ways: the previous generations’ meanings are declared corrupt and degenerate, and new meanings are attached under the smokescreen of “getting back to basics.” American currency says “In God we trust”, and a new generation of religious pundits have successfully filled that phrase with their new evangelistic, creationistic, and political meanings, even though the founding fathers were mostly Deists and meant something very different by the word “God.” Proponents of keeping the phrase “In God we trust” on the currency say “God” is open to interpretation, thus emptying the term of specific meaning. At the same time, pundits fill it up again with their highly-specific meanings in order to push their politics. Through this example it can clearly be seen how the term is merely a placeholder for the values and agendas of the moment. The strategic use of placeholder terms allows a religion to stay limber while maintaining the continuity of its motifs.

5. Paradox

Finally, the fifth highly-adaptive feature of religions is effective use of paradox. By “paradox” I mean something not immediately obvious, something that frustrates the conventional, mundane reasoning process and opens a follower to the mysterious. This could be something which by ordinary standards is “impossible.” Miracles are by definition impossible, though they purportedly happen nonetheless. It could also be something unanswerable by ordinary means, such as the question of why we exist or what happens after we die. It could also be something beyond the ken of ordinary perception, such as invisible spirits shooting elf shot to cause illness.

Such uses of paradox are adaptive for several reasons. First, they awaken followers to the limitations of their own understanding, thus making them more receptive to understandings transmitted as part of the religion’s package of motifs. Second, they make the followers dependent on the religion’s motifs to explain the paradox. Third and finally, they cause those who feel “deep in their heart” a given response to the paradox to seek the company of likeminded souls. Humans seem to have a psychological need to be “understood” by their fellows. Thus, followers retreat from those who do not share their religious feelings and congregate with those who do. Contemporary Pagans have hit upon “magic” as a paradox sufficiently mysterious to make them seek out each other and remain reticent around those who “just don’t get it.”

This congregation based on common feeling bonds the community together, serving to enhance the functioning of the previous four adaptive features. Followers express their paradoxical feelings in terms of their religion’s canonical motifs, transmit their feelings to their young in these terms, and adopt the religion’s ethics in order to be part of the group of those who “feel the same.”

Note there is nothing indicating followers do in fact feel the same phenomenological experience. Placeholder terms allow individual, unique, and radically different feelings to be expressed in common linguistic forms, creating the perception of sameness. This sameness may be genuine, or it may be an illusion. So long as a religion’s placeholder terms are vague enough to accommodate all the followers’ different experiences, a perception of in-group commonality can arise and be maintained. Thus Episcopalians and Evangelicals and Roman Catholics and Coptics and Quakers and Snake-handlers can all feel they have a common bond through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, even though the personal experiences of all these different followers are likely to be radically different.


These are the top five features determining the long-term “success” (evolutionary survival) of religions. Most religions in history have featured them in some way, and those that have not have died out or been absorbed into other religions.

Bringing science and myth together in this way can help us clarify how we think about religions.

Have I missed any that should be in the top five?

Explore more of the relationship of science and myth at the website Humanistic Paganism.

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When God Is One, Why People Fight In The Name Of Religion?

All religions accept that God is One who has created the Earth, Heaven and everything that is seen and unseen in the universe. Even the polytheistic religions like Hinduism, believe that all Gods are the manifestation of the same Ultimate Reality of Bhagawan. Yet it is also a fact that people have always fought in the name of religion. Even in the modern world, religion continues to be the cause of conflict in many parts of the world.

Even though, God has been perceived and represented differently in different religions, yet all religions agree that God is omnipotent, omniscient, eternal, the origin and cause of all things, just, compassionate and the source of all goodness in the world. However, on the ground level, most people are extremely suspicious of the gods of other religions. They believe that only their god is the True God while the God of other religion is either False or inferior.

Why such a misconception in understanding God? Is it deliberate or natural? The answer to this question is necessary for the mankind, as God is still the most important reality in the life of most people in the world. Religion still gives meaning to most of the people in the world and most people are tied to their religion and spend their life in the religion they are born.

God: The Essence of Religion

It is difficult to define religion as no unanimity exists on the concept of religion. As per one definition provided in Wikipedia,

“A religion is a set of beliefs and practices often organized around supernatural and moral claims, and often codified as prayer, ritual, and religious law.”

Thus the concept of God is not necessary in religion but the external codes of the religion like prayer, ritual and a sacred book or scripture are necessary in all religions. Yet the faith and believes of all religions revolves around the central theme of God but the concept of God is different in all religions. Hence all religions are same to the extent that they all deals with God (the supernatural power), but different to the extend that they represent the different concept of God. God may be a single word, but its meaning is different in all religions and indeed for every one.

The Trinity of God

In order to understand the different representations of God, it would be useful to understand the concept of Trinity in Christianity. The concept of Trinity of God means that God has three manifestations i.e. the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The Father God refers to the concept of God that is beyond the perception of human mind and senses as the Father God is infinite, eternal, omnipotent, omniscience while human mind has limited capability to learn and understand. Father God is known by different names in different religions like Yahwah (Judaism), Allah (Islam) , Brahman (Hinduism) or Absolute. However the Absolute God is incomprehensible to the common people as it is beyond the grasp of the senses and the mind. This God is better understood by the philosophers who spend their life in understanding the God intellectually and rationally.

Therefore, the God we know is the God who takes the form of man and communicates to us in the language and symbols of the man. The Son God is thus the human representation of God in the world. Christianity refers this form of God as “Son” or Jesus Christ, or the Son of God. In other religions, the human representation of God has been referred as Avatars (Incarnation) or Prophets. The Prophets or Avatars are the human beings who have acquired the highest state of “spiritual” awakening which has made them closest to the divinity. Thus man acquires divinity by the power of the Spirit.

The third manifestation of God is therefore, the Holy Spirit or simply called the Spirit. Spirit of God is believed to be present in all the living beings. Every person has the presence of God in him or her due to the omnipresence of spirit in this world. It is due to the presence of spirit that we are capable of knowing God through self-realization or meditation. Thus some religions like Buddhism or Sikhism are essentiality spiritual religions, who do not believe in the God as Absolute or God as human being but treats God as Spirit that is present in all living beings. Upanishads and Gita also call this representation of God as Paramatma (Universal Soul) whose spark i.e. Atman (Soul) is present in every being.

The Mystery of Revealed Truth of Religion

Even though all human beings are the son (or daughter) of God, yet we fail to understand God due to our engagement in the external world or the world of the senses. The human mind is capable of seeing outside world from the eyes of the senses or seeing inside Self through the eyes of intuition and achieve self-realization. Yet few people realize the need for self-realization as they prefer to understand the Truth from the people who have achieved self-realization.

Since every person is both a body and a soul, he is not only a part of the material world but also a part of the spiritual world. He has to integrate himself with this world for the survival of the body and also required to integrate with the spirit or the unknown world to receive happiness and peace in life that emanates from the soul. He needs to earn his livelihood to keep the body in living condition. Thus the knowledge of the world is absolutely necessary without which no person can play any useful role in the society and fulfill his material necessities of the body.

However, every person is also a Soul hence part of the Universal Soul or the Spirit. Since his soul is deeply connected with the Universal Soul, hence by self-realization alone a person can hope to achieve the true knowledge of the religion or the world or get answer of the deeper quest of life. However, self-realization is a difficult task which can be achieved only when a person focuses all his attention away from the material world and search the truth within. In some ways man has to himself become Spirit (devoid of physical passion and material desire) to reach extremely close to the divinity in order to understand the thoughts of God. It is only when the man attains the nature of spirit; the Truth is revealed to him by God.

Yet, even after realization of the Ultimate Truth, it is difficult to explain this Truth to the common man who are still attached to the material world. If the Truth is explained to them as revealed, it would be incompressible to the common man. A common man can not understand the spiritual truths as they can only see from the eyes of the senses rather then seeing from the eyes of the spirit. The prophets, thus face unique dilemma. They can either limit the Ultimate Truth to a selected few that can be understood by few people who are in the higher stage of spiritual evolution, or covert the Ultimate Truth in the language of the senses and mind for the understanding of the common man.

Rituals: The Body of the Religion

Religion, therefore, like any other creation of the world has both the body and the soul. While the soul of all religions emanates from the same God, the bodies of the religions are different for each culture and society.

In some ways, we can perhaps compare the differences in the religions with the differences in the physical appearance of the people of different race and ethnicity. If it is true that all human beings are offspring of God, then why they all look different from each other? While some differences between individuals are unpredictable, yet other differences surely have explanations. For example when a soul takes the form of a body, the physical characteristics of the body does bear a close resemblance to the body of the parents. Therefore, if the soul takes human form in black parents, the body of the son shall also be black and if the parents are white so shall be the offspring.

Thus when the spirit is converted into body, its physical outlook develops a close resemblance with the parent. In the same way, when God take incarnation in this world, his revelation in the language of the world are different for each religion.

When Symbols are Confused with Reality

The body of the religion is created when the “Revealed Truth” is expressed in the form of words or symbol by the prophets. While people can listen to the words and see the symbols, they can’t know the spirit of the religion except by self-realization. However, most of the people do not have the time and inclination for self-realization. The result is that they confuse the body of the religion as the religion itself. Thus instead of using the words and the symbols as a means to realize the Self or God of the religion, the words and symbols become the end in itself.

All the conflicts within a religion or between different religions arise only because the followers of the religion confuse the symbols of divinity with the divinity. Instead of using the symbols as the means to understand the divinity, they believe the symbol itself as divine. Since symbols are external, they are different in reach religion. The methods of prayers and the words that are uttered in the prayers are always different in each religion since the language is the creation of the man. In the same way even the name and description of God in every religion is different as every society has different languages and symbols to express the thoughts and ideas.

Stop Fighting in The Name of God

Religion, in the modern society is considered to be a matter of person choice. Therefore, governments all over the world are doing little to create a harmony between religions which are essentially the reflections of the same God. The scientific knowledge of the Truth is based on the body i.e. the material reality. Hence, scientific thinking can only reveal the differences in religions, rather then the common truth of the religion, which can come only from the intuition and self-realization. However, in the world of materialism, it is extremely difficult for the people to focus their mind inwards when all the material realities lie outside. The result is that people understand religion only from the symbols and fight with each other. As soon as the complete Truth of God and Religion is realized by self-realization, the conflicts in the name of religion has to come to an end.

Mr. Awdhesh K Singh is an Engineer by education and philosopher by passion. He has published several papers in International Journals and Conferences on the subject of E-governance, Artificial Intelligence , Fuzzy Logic and Expert Systems .

He is the founding member of The Aatmic Science Foundation, (The Science of Soul Foundation). His interest is in creating synthesis between all religions and sciences for the benefit of the mankind.

He can be contacted at his email address aksinghirs [a]

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