Symbols of the world's religions



C. B. Purdom

The religious and cultural forms in which a man has been born and educated are part of his heritage, that is to say, his human, individual soul; for tradition should not be thought of as a collective soul, an altogether different and more transient phenomenon: it is as much the man as his hand or eye, even more so for one's organs are parts, while the heritage is the whole.

For a man to deny his religion is near to treachery, although Baba once said, "To change a religion is just like changing a cage", by which he meant to discourage people from doing it. To know what is real and essential in his religion a man must practice and experience it, otherwise he must not pretend to knowledge.

We cannot pick and choose our religion as we choose movements and societies to which to belong. We have to be one with our own religion to be able to tolerate and acknowledge other religions. Religion and civilization are intertwined. Western civilization is Druidic - Jewish - Hellenistic - Roman - Christian - and the roots of those born and bred in the West are deep in its soul. Unless we in the West are conscious of this we are conscious of nothing, and to cut ourselves off from these psychological and biological roots would mean that we should cease to be. The same is to be said of Eastern men and their traditions and religions.

Though it is true that "man is the same everywhere", men are not, and we live as men not man. Because of these roots of body and soul, men of the East and West need to meet and learn from each other for they share common humanity and the unity of divine origin; but diversity has to be recognized even in its most contradictory aspects.

This unity and diversity are contained in the One Self of the Vedas, the moral fire of Zoroaster, the supreme Reality of the Tao, the wisdom of Confucius, the "I am who am" of Moses, the supreme Goodness of Plato, the way of the Gods of Shinto, the dynamic One of Plotinus, the glory of the One God of Muhammad, as well as in the "I am what I am", and the joyful resurrection of Jesus Christ.

THE GOD-MAN, p. 403
1971 Meher Spiritual Center, Inc.


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