Question: What attitude should we take toward religions other than our own?(This is Agni's summary of Sri Chinmoy's answer as no tape recorder was available on that day.)
Just as God has given us a free choice to follow any path, so we must give freedom to others to follow their own way. There are dozens of roads that lead to God. Each one has a right to choose the road that suits his temperament, his degree of evolution and his present needs. Tolerance and acceptance are fine, but we must go even further and feel that others' religions are as important and necessary as our own.
When you are in a family, true, it is very difficult to manage when everyone is going along a different path. And there is a great temptation to say, "You are a fool. You are wasting your time going along that particular path." But you must allow the other person the same freedom of choice that you yourself want. At the same time, you have the right to inspire others with your enthusiasm and your devotion. However, if they argue with you and constantly criticise you, it is better to act on them silently. At night, when everyone is sleeping and you are in your most peaceful consciousness, put all your sweetest and purest aspiration into the sleeping consciousness of the one whom you want to influence. Feel that your path will help him and that you are inwardly meditating on him. By acting silently, you help him most.
One should follow one's own path steadfastly and not worry about shaking hands with another religion until you and the other person have come to the end of your Goal. If you go to this Temple today, that Synagogue tomorrow and this Church the day after, you will never make any progress You must take one path and follow it to the very end. Then you can shake hands with the followers of the other paths. If you shake hands in the middle of the path, you will only break each other's arms.