Interfaith harmony is conceptualised here as harmony between groups of people who have different faiths or in other words, who belong to different religions. Achieving interfaith harmony is widely accepted to be an absolutely necessary task mainly because the interfaith disharmony prevailing in the contemporary world has been a key source of conflicts, violence and peacelessness, posing a serious threat to the future of humanity. It is unfortunate that the religion which is meant to be a source of peace, harmony and happiness has become a source of their very opposites. This paper is an attempt to search for the root-cause of this misfortune, and to find out what we can do to mitigate it as members of a group that is committed to achieve interfaith harmony while sticking to, and practising and promoting our own religions.
While spirituality is viewed as a psychological process in which the human mind is transformed from self-centeredness to selflessness, religions represent pathways to achieve this goal. With spiritual transformation we shift from selfish love to selfless love, from seeking short-term pleasures in an external material world to seeking everlasting happiness within ourselves through establishing inner peace and loving relationships with God and our neighbours, from materialistic values to spiritual values, and from being a slave of the mind to being a master of the mind. This is the very purpose of our life as human beings according to all great religions, and this is also the purpose that all religions want to achieve. Different religions have shown different pathways, doctrines and practices; but they are not necessarily mutually exclusive. They are more like different roads leading to the same destination, the common goal which is spiritual progress.
The founders of our religions have taught us what to do and what not to do if we are to reach this goal. These do’s and don’ts they teach us may vary from religion to religion. But, if we genuinely and seriously put their teachings into practice, as the founders of all religions have guaranteed, we can reach the goal. Once we reach the goal, no matter what pathway we followed, we transcend all our personal differences and experience oneness with all. If this is the case, where is the problem? The problem lies in our mind, it is our religious egoism: the attitude that only the path shown by my religion is right and all other paths are wrong, my religion is the only true religion and all others are false religions; if I am to bring permanent peace to the world, I must get all others converted to my religion. This religious egoism is the root-cause of the interfaith disharmony in today’s world.
If we all genuinely and seriously put into practice the teachings of the original founders of our own religions, we are bound to transform ourselves from self-centeredness to selflessness. If so, there won’t be any space within us for religious egoism. Instead of egoism, selfless love would grow within us which is the final outcome of all the do’s don’ts being taught by all religions. As we practise our religions and grow spiritually, we tend to seek similarities between our own religion and the others which lead to better inter-faith understanding which provides a firm basis for interfaith harmony. On the other hand, as long as we do not genuinely and seriously practise our own religions, we remain self-centered, and therefore the religious egoism, the root-cause of the interfaith disharmony continues to remain within us. As individuals committed to achieve interfaith harmony, our utmost duty is to practice our own religions genuinely and seriously while respecting the religions of our fellow human beings and helping them to practise and promote their religions.
Image by himmelfarblibrary.wordpress.com