What is religion?1Religion is God. Religion is Truth. God and Truth are one. But when I say that my religion is God, you may misunderstand me. There is every possibility of doing so. 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 young 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 human being, so familiar to our soul and so intimate to our heart, that it requires no definition. However, we may as well once exclaim 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 the feeling of a universal oneness of truth. A fanatic never sees the truth in its totality, even in his widest imagination. A fanatic has nothing to offer to the world, precisely because he has not kept his heart's door wide open, and has not 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 and not 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 is a living challenge to the highest in human beings to face the stormy problems of life. True, there are countless problems; there is also an omnipotent power. Strangely enough, this power utilises the problems as fit instruments for the future blessing of humanity.
Religion expands. It expands in our feelings. Religion lives in the inmost recesses of our hearts. 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, who are now on the world-stage, and 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.
This talk was given on 17 July 1966, during Sri Chinmoy's visit to Puerto Rico. It was held at the home of Miss Carmen Suro (Sudha), 1406 Aldea Street, Santurce, Puerto Rico.↩