By Sant Kirpal Singh, from the book "Spirituality – what it is", chapter 9
The crying need of the time is to set up one universal religion for the entire mankind, which should be a compendium of all that is good in every religion. But is it possible? Owing to differences in temperaments and modes of thinking, it is well-nigh impossible to lay down rules of worship acceptable to all, and to direct their varying thought-currents into one channel. With all this diversity, there is yet one thing which is common in all humanity. It is the divine link with which the entire creation came into being, and is being sustained. All religions, in spite of apparent differences in external forms and rituals, are at bottom embedded in essentials which are exactly alike. The divine ground on which each of them rests is the same, and the huge mass of superstructure has been raised in each case on the bedrock of divinity itself.
The problem that confronts us is to find a way whereby it may be possible to reach that divine ground – the bedrock of divinity. The essential roots of all religions are now lost to view and utterly forgotten under the camouflage of ancient verbiage, the encrusted dust of ages and the dogmatic creeds of the priestcraft. All that we need now is to present Truth, once again, to the scientific modern world, in a scientific setting. Religion, instead of being a source of solace to souls, has now become an instrument of separation, hatred, ill will and tyranny. In the blessed name of religion, fire and sword are oppressing humanity, innocent blood is being spilt and the fair face of earth is being defiled with destruction and ruin, simply because over-emphasis is laid on non-essentials and external shells. The result is that people all the world over have come to have a kind of horror for the so-called religion which has failed to serve the common needs of humanity. Religion should bring union between man and man, nation and nation, knitting the world in common bonds of all-embracing love, fellowship and brotherhood.
Let religions now be confined to the ethical codes of social conduct and social order, to which they have already sunk. Let people be free to remain in the labeled categories in which they are born and to which they belong, but it is most important that they should try to find out and understand the essential roots of all religions. By delving deep within, the soul in each individual should try to rest on the divine ground, and take hold of the common link running through the entire creation – the source and fountainhead of all life. Unless all this is presented as a science, in theory as well as in practice, people are not willing to listen to and to accept the fundamentals of all religions. They have to rise above the ritualistic forms and traditions, to which they have been wedded since time immemorial and to which they so tenaciously cling.
Religion in the real sense of the word means reunion with God. The Saints are always in union with God. Whatever spiritual experiences they had in the spiritual realms are recorded in the sacred scriptures for the benefit of mankind.
One has no right to dub the scriptures as fantastic or false,
for false is he who does not ponder over the actual writings
and does not try to understand their true import. – Kabir
Whosoever has an experience with God, loves the entire humanity. He feels within him a realisation of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. It may therefore be taken for certain that those who preach hatred and sow the seeds of ill will in God's creation, have not yet had any experience of the creator.
The personal experience with God which a soul has, is in reality a true religion. Unless the spiritual experiences as recorded in sacred lore are actually had by us, through the grace of a living Master, we continue to be atheists or agnostics and know not what religion is.
God has made man after His own image. Hence, it behooves man to be as perfect as the father. This becomes possible only when a person learns to understand His will, and works in accordance with it. This is the true religion and true faith, while all else is sham and tinsel.
If we were to analyse the sacred books of all religions, we would find that the spiritual truths as contained therein, are the fine records of actual spiritual experiences of their founders. These Master-souls have always emphasised the spiritual aspect of human life and have emphatically declared that in the human body there is a separate entity called spirit, which is unchangeable permanence. They hold that this entity could be as well developed as are other faculties, physical, mental and intellectual, within the ever-changing physical raiment of the material world.
The enjoyment of worldly objects is not an ideal state. Realisation of the self should be the goal of man. All religious books tell us of the way whereby a spirit can have an experience of the vast consciousness and super consciousness and thereby lead a truly spiritual life, which, however, does not consist in blind beliefs, faithful performance of rites and rituals, and scrupulous observance of social and ethical rules of conduct. To know the Truth, is the be-all and the end-all of all religions. The fundamental teachings of all center upon the realisation of Shabd, Naam, KaIma or Word, all of which are different names for one and the same thing: Godhood, God-in-action, or the holy ghost. Spiritual advancement is possible and can be achieved only when the spirit contacts this Naam or Shabd; hence, this type of union with the Sound-current is known as Surat Shabad Yoga.
We must study all religions with love and devotion, adopt and accept, as a workable formula, the common divine ground underlying each. Tile different religious books, such as the Vedas, the Holy Bible, the sacred Quran, Sri Adi Granth Sahib, and all other scriptures, are so many pages of the interminable book of God, to which others may be added from time to time. In this materialistic age, it is necessary that the common spiritual truths be collected at one place and presented to mankind as a beautiful bouquet. Awakened people all over the world are realising the truth of this and are forming world conferences of religions to place before mankind the basic ideas common to all religions, so that spirituality may be placed on the footing of a regular science to which all seekers after Truth may turn, regardless of their castes or creeds, and without disturbing the social orders to which they belong. The present-day attempt to hold an All-World Religious Conference, to establish a World Fellowship of Religions, to set up institutions for the comparative study of all religions, and to conduct investigations into the cardinal principles of truth, love and non-violence, are steps in the right direction and point to the time when the whole world will be knit together in the silken bonds of one universal religion of love and humanity.