Pluralism in Religions

FPJ BureauUpdated: Thursday, May 30, 2019, 09:43 AM IST
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In the dawning global age we can no longer claim that any one religion is the only truth for all humanity any more than we can claim that one language, culture or way of life is the best for all. We must have a broad enough view to recognize what is of value in the different peoples and cultures of the globe from so-called aborigines, who have a much deeper understanding of nature than modern people, to the great civilizations not only of Europe and the Middle East but of America, Africa and Asia.

Pluralism in religions does not require that we reduce all religions to a common mold in which their distinctions disappear into an amorphous unity. It certainly doesn’t mean that we have to practice all religions . Pluralism in religions does not mean that we have to believe in or accept all religions as true, regardless of what they teach. Pluralism means freedom. There should be freedom in the pursuit of the spiritual life, even if it allows others to arrive at a different understanding of truth than what we ourselves honor. We should give people the space to discover the truth without our interference.

After all truth is the truth. It is not a fantasy that has to be protected. If we allow people the freedom to discover what is real they cannot avoid it. On the other hand, if we try to impose truth on people, what they arrive at will not be their own truth, their own discovery but a mere doctrine, label or fantasy. Truth is self-evident. The truth that fire burns does not require a religious sanction or political law to protect it.

 It doesn’t need a priestly order or a police force to enforce it. We don’t need to use persuasion to make people believe that fire burns. We need only let them work with fire and discover what it is. The same is true of all the great laws and powers of both nature and the Divine. Hindu pluralism does not deny the unity of truth or the fact of cosmic law but regards it as a matter of self-discovery and self-knowledge, not the enforcement of a mere belief or opinion.

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