The universality of religion

The Universalist Church of New York is for all religions of the world. It is a growing family with one Home. This Home is the embodiment of Heart. Heart is the embodiment of Truth. Fulfilment is there where Truth is.

Why do we need religion? We need religion because we want to go beyond the finite in order to commune with the Infinite. This is not only possible but also inevitable, for in us there is a conscious being which envisions God's Reality in totality.

Religion is a spontaneous experience and never a theoretical knowledge. This experience is immensely practical, and we can use it consciously at every moment of our earthly existence.

Religion has never been thrust upon man. It has sprung from the deepest need of his inner being. When this inner being comes to the fore and looks around, it feels God's all-permeating Immanence; and when it looks up, it feels God's all-surpassing Transcendence as its own divine heritage.

Religion has two lives: the outer and the inner. It offers its outer life to seekers in the preliminary stage of vital and emotional aspiration. It offers its inner life to the universal meditation and God-realisation.

Religion in the physical is an unconscious cry for God; in the vital, a blind struggle to possess God; in the mind, a constant fight to conquer God; in the heart, a conscious cry to sit in the Lap of God; and in the soul, a Consciousness-boat that longs to ply between the shores of the ever-transcending Infinity and the ever-blooming Immortality.

Immorality wants to blight religion. God says to religion: "Fear not, My child, I am giving you the indomitable strength of morality." Egoism wants to suffocate religion. God says to religion: "Fear not, My child, I am placing you in the ever-widening vastness of universality." Death wants to devour religion. God says to religion: "Fear not, My child, I am making you the embodiment of Immortality."

Science and religion. People say that science and religion are always at daggers drawn. This need not be true. Science plays its role dynamically in explaining the immanent God. Religion plays its role divinely in interpreting the transcendent God. Science deals with the physical world, while religion deals with the inner and spiritual world. Mind is the student and nature is the professor of science. Heart is the student and soul is the professor of religion.

Philosophy and religion. Philosophy and religion are two intimate friends. Philosophy reaches its acme of perfection when it is inspired by the faith, vision, experience and realisation of soulful religion. And with the help of alert and sound philosophy, religion frees itself from the snares of superstition, vagary and fantasy.

Morality and spirituality in religion. Morality in religion is a steady journey towards an ideal life. This journey at times appears to be a never-ending one. Nevertheless, it embodies an approximation of the ideal visualised, the goal. Spirituality in religion is fully aware of its implicit Infinity. It transports an aspiring individual into the living Abode of God. The Infinity that spirituality reveals in religion is actualised through a spontaneous inner urge. For the religious aspirant, hope flies into certainty, struggle enters into conquest and willpower is beckoned by absolute Fulfilment.

Individuality and universality. Universality does not and cannot mean an utter extinction of the mounting individual flame in the human heart. On the contrary, when the individual transcends himself in the continuous process of universalisation, he will most assuredly abide in the deeper, vaster and higher realms of Light, Peace and Power. Only then will he grow into his own true Self, his Self Eternal. No doubt, at the very beginning, he will feel a deplorable conflict between individuality and universality. But this feeling of his will not last forever, for the self-same conflict contains within itself the possibility of a most convincing concord, a pure amalgam of unique transcendence.

Religious faith. Religion without faith is a body without life in it. Religious faith is a transforming experience and not just an idea. Faith has the magic key to self-discovery. Self-discovery is the bona fide discovery of Reality. Faith is an active participant in divine Love, Harmony and Peace. Finally, it transports religion into the all-pervading Delight of the Beyond.

Sin in religion. It is true that the conception of sin looms large in religion. What is sin? It is nothing but an experience of imperfection. This imperfection exists simply because creation is still in the making. Perfection must needs dawn on creation. It is a matter of time. Creation is action, a constant movement: forward, upward and inward. Evolution is the immortal song which is perpetually sung by creation. Today's sin is imperfection personified. Tomorrow's virtue is perfection embodied.

Two things comprise God's entire creation: the finite and the Infinite. When I, the finite, go up, it is my self-realisation. When God, the Infinite, comes down, it is His Self-manifestation. When I enter into Him, the Highest, He presents me with His Unity. When He enters into me, my lowest, I offer Him the multiplicity which He Himself entrusted to me when my soul descended to earth, Him to reveal, Him to fulfil.

All religions are in essence one, inseparable. Each religion is an unfailing path leading to the eternal Truth and is a proper manifestation of that Truth. Religion does not change, but religions must undergo vicissitudes so far as the outer form, custom, habit, ritual, circumstances and environment are concerned. "United we stand, divided we fall." This oft-quoted maxim can adequately be applied in today's talk. The united strength of all religions knows the supreme secret that no individual religion is to be looked down upon. If the united strength is wanting, then no religion can stand with its head erect. Religion is one. But it expresses itself through many, through the teeming religions.

I am deeply proud to be here at the Universalist Church, for my heart voices forth the truth that the religion which is universal is the core of all religions, and the realisation of the universal religion is not the monopoly of any particular man. Any individual, irrespective of caste, creed and nationality, can have the realisation of this universal religion if he has dynamic imagination, creative inspiration and fulfilling aspiration to assimilate the spirit of all religions.

I am a Hindu. I am proud of my Hinduism. My Hinduism, Sanatana dharma, the eternal religion, has taught me: Aham brahma, "I am the Brahman, the One without a second." You are a Christian. You are proud of your Christianity. Your divine religion has taught you: "I and my Father are one." Now if I am a Hindu in the purest sense of the term, I must be a Christian to the marrow, for deep within me what I see, feel and become is the universal Truth. What is Truth? Truth is our divine Father. A child does not mind that his physical father is addressed as brother by one, uncle by another, nephew by someone else and friend by a fourth person. He is equally happy with each individual approach to his father. Similarly, when the different religions approach the Truth, our Divine Father, each in its own way, we must be supremely happy, for each religion wants the Truth and the Truth alone.