Sri Chinmoy: Yes, Sri Ramakrishna talked about the synthesis of all religions. He said that Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and all other religions are one, like the petals of a flower. A flower does not have only one petal. When it has four or five petals, then it becomes a flower. Or you can use the image of a tree. There is only one life-tree with many branches. Each branch is known as a particular way of life — Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam or Judaism.
I also say that each religion is like a house. You live in your house and I live in my house, but we have a common meeting place to talk about God and truth, to have our heart-to-heart discussions about our spiritual life. We discuss how I can be a better person, how you can be a better person and so on. By discussing these things, we try to bring forward our own good qualities. Good qualities do not belong only to one individual. They belong to everyone. But sometimes a particular person is anxious to bring them forward quickly, whereas another person may be prepared to take a longer time. In a race, somebody may want to run fast and win the race. Another person may feel that as long as he can cover the distance, he will be happy.
I was born a Hindu. Someone else was born into another religion. Then gradually we come to accept God as our own and go beyond religion. We come to feel that love of God is the only true religion. That feeling comes from the synthesis of all religions that Sri Ramakrishna spoke of. Similarly, first we have to have a national feeling. We say “I am Indian” or “I am Russian.” Then we have to cultivate international feelings, since our highest goal is to become one with the universe. At that time you are not only a Russian and I am not only an Indian. We are also cosmopolitan.