What is religion? Religion is God. Religion is Truth. God and Truth are one. But when I say that my religion is God, there is every possibility that you may misunderstand me. But if I say that my religion is Truth, immediately you see eye to eye with me. Let me be a little clearer. If I say that my religion is Lord Krishna and you must accept him, your eyes emit fire. But if I say that my religion is Truth, you will jump up and say, “So is mine.” Now, instead of saying, “You must accept my religion”, if I say, “Let us accept the universal Truth”, you will cry out, “Already accepted, thank you, my friend!”
Religion is an act of vision that guides and leads us to the Beyond. Religion is intuition. Intuition is so near and dear to each of us, so familiar to our soul and so intimate to our heart, that it requires no definition. Even so, we may as well proclaim the truth that intuition is the consciousness of the all-pervading existence. Ask a man how he is sure of his existence. Silence captures his mouth. He knows what his existence is. He feels it. But the explanation evades him. Religion is that very intuition which defies explanation but which is a self-embodying and self-explanatory truth.
Religion is not fanaticism. Religion, in its purest form, is a feeling of the universal oneness of Truth. A fanatic never sees the truth in its totality, even in his wildest imagination. A fanatic has nothing to offer to the world precisely because he has not kept his heart’s door wide open, and because he lacks the capacity to commune with his soul.
What we need is direct illumination. Lo, differences are buried in oblivion. Through our feeling of universal oneness, we run closer and closer to the Supreme. Our life has a freedom of its own. Our narrowness in thought kills this freedom. This freedom finds no joy in lofty and grandiose pronouncements. This freedom wants to be the living expression of our inner thoughts and feelings. Freedom is union. Union is the all-energising and all-fulfilling Truth.
Religion speaks. It speaks more significantly than words. Unfortunately, its message is often subject to our ruthless distortion. Nevertheless, in the long run, it triumphantly voices forth the truth.
When we think of religion, our attitude should be sympathetic and appreciative rather than critical and competitive. Criticism and competition create disharmony, which is a destructive force. Sympathy and appreciation create harmony, which is a creative force. Harmony, moreover, is the life of existence.
All religions are indispensable to their adherents. All religions, too, are surcharged with inspiration. This inspiration is the conviction of the adherents’ collective soul. Peace must be their watchword, just as Truth is their sole aim.
Momentous are the words of Tagore, who said of religion: “Religion, like poetry, is not a mere idea; it is expression. The self-expression of God is in the endless variedness of creation; and our attitude towards the infinite Being must also in its expression have a variedness of individuality, ceaseless and unending.”
Religion is a living challenge to the highest in human beings to face the stormy problems of life. True, there are countless problems. But there is also an Omnipotent Power. Strangely enough, this power utilises the problems as true instruments for the future blessing of humanity.
Religion expands. It expands our feelings. Religion lives. It lives in the inmost recesses of our heart. Religion conquers. It conquers in our self-giving.
The divine aim of religion is to release the pent-up reservoir of human energy. Life itself is religion — intimate, continuous and fulfilling. Let us live openly and freely. Let us have that religion which includes all human beings who have ever lived on earth, those who are now on the world stage and those who shall dwell here during untold ages to come. Ours is the religion, that will perfect the order of the world. Ours is the religion that will ply between the shores of Eternity and Infinity.
– Sri Chinmoy, Yoga And The Spiritual Life. The Journey of India’s Soul