Question: Do you think that all religions lead to the same truth, but maybe by different routes?

Sri Chinmoy: I do, absolutely. I fully agree that all religions lead to one Truth, the Absolute Truth. There is One Truth. There is only one Goal, but there are various paths. Each religion is right in its own way. But, if one religion says that it is the only religion, or by far the best, at that point I find it difficult to see eye to eye with that particular religion. If a religion says, “My religion is true. Your religion is equally true,” then I wholeheartedly agree. But, if I say that our Hinduism is by far the best and that your Christianity is nowhere near Hinduism, then I am the worst possible fool on earth. If I say, “If you accept my religion, then I will take you to the Goal sooner,” and if I try to convert you to my religion, then again I am committing a Himalayan blunder. No. Each religion is right. A religion is a house. I have to live in my house. You have to live in your house. I cannot stay in the street; you cannot either.

But a day comes when we widen our vision. We feel that beyond the boundary of the rites and rituals of religion lies a higher Goal. Then what can we do? We can try to perfect the imperfection in the religion. Then immediately we will come into conflict with the fanatics. Or we find that we are not in a position to change the rules and canons of the religion. Then we are miserable. But, if we follow the spiritual life, the inner life, we are not in conflict with any religion. So we say that those who want to follow a religion should follow it. But those who want to follow a still higher Goal, that is to say Yoga, the conscious and constant union with God, must follow the path of Yoga. There, on the strength of our Oneness with God, we say that the entire world is ours. Each human being is our brother, our sister. When you launch into the field of Yoga and want to realise the highest Truth, absolutely the highest Truth, at that time I wish to tell you that you can be above your religion. That is to say, if you don’t want to follow your religion or any religion, you are free to do it because you are crying for the Highest in a special way. Your religion and my religion, in spite of their respective imperfections, are aiming at the same Goal. But now you may feel that you have a tremendous inner urge to reach the Highest without involving yourself in the so-called limitations of your religion, my religion and other religions. Then naturally you will try to reach your Goal without disturbing us, without disturbing others, and at the same time you yourself will not be disturbed.

To come back to your question, I wish to say that each religion has the message of the highest truth. No man is perfect. Similarly, no religion is perfect perfection. At the same time, no religion is to be condemned; far from it. Nobody is perfect, nothing is perfect here on earth. So, when it is a matter of religion, how can we say, “Religion has to be perfect”? Are we perfect? Is anybody perfect? Nobody is absolutely perfect perfection. Similarly, when I am not absolutely perfect, how can I dare to expect perfect perfection from you or from anybody? But I know, you know, that there is Someone who is absolutely perfect and He is God. So, if I have the inner cry, inner urge, I will try to go towards Him. For that we practise Yoga, conscious union with God. At that time, on the strength of our deepest meditation, we can feel that if we want to transcend the barriers of religion - Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism and all other religions - there is nothing wrong in it. But if we don’t have the cry for the highest Absolute, we may only fight and wrangle with other religions. We may say, “No. My religion is best. Yours is no good.” Then no path, no religion, not even our own religion will come to our rescue. If I speak ill of Christianity or of any other religion, my Hinduism will not take me or carry me faster towards my Goal. My true Hinduism will condemn me. It will say, “You fool! You are finding fault with your brothers.”

What I actually wish to say here is that each religion, knowing perfectly well its shortcomings, must never condemn the followers or votaries of other religions. It is the votaries of a particular religion and not the founders who find fault with other religions. When we practise Yoga, we hear the message of oneness. Religion is also included there. Everything is included there. My enemy is included there. Everyone. But then what happens? We are not totally satisfied. We want to transcend this realisation. With my imperfection, with your imperfection, with others’ imperfection, we are living together. There is no satisfaction because perfection has not yet dawned. That is why we try to transcend ourselves consciously. When we try to transcend ourselves consciously, we reach the Goal. When you reach the Goal, when I reach the Goal, when she reaches the Goal, we will see that it is the same Goal. There are many roads that lead to Rome. It is up to you to select the road and then walk along that road, but not to change the road every day. If you change the road every day, then you will never reach the Goal.

Now what happens? Sometimes, even if we are conscious followers of a particular religion, we become very critical of our own religion. Being a Hindu, I will say, “No, no, no! My religion is very bad. There are many things wrong. Let me now follow Christianity. There is some message there that is really unique.” In this way I condemn my religion and try to follow the teachings of Christianity. But unfortunately, tomorrow I will find something wrong with Christianity and I will say, “No, no, no! This is not perfect. Let me enter into Buddhism.” Then Buddhism also will not satisfy me. This will go on. But, if I am a wise man, I will try to take the quintessence of each religion. Staying in my house, Hinduism, I will try to get the divine qualities, the absolute quintessence of the Divine Message of all religions. Then, when I gather the quintessence of all religions, I see that it is only One Truth. No religion will say that God is not required. God is wanted by all religions. There is no religion on earth that will deny the existence of Truth which is God in Reality. If we can have the essence, the quintessence of all religions, then we see the necessity of God, the highest Truth, constantly looming large. Indeed, this is the message of religion. Let us try to get the real message of each religion which is Truth. If we really want Truth, then every day we have to meditate and offer our conscious living breath to the Inner Pilot.