In the quest to find ultimate truth, that one universal truth or path (if it exists) I thought it would be refreshing to look at things all (most) religions share or have in common. For once let’s forget about what divides them and lets focus on what unites them. I tried to find specific beliefs that pertains to daily living and not generic beliefs such as “all believe in a God”, or “all requires faith”.
On a personal note, I believe that all religions contain or hold some measure of truth but not the entire truth. Truth is not something that can be held in it’s entirety and especially not by one group alone. This is why I believe it is very likely that truth may be scattered across the world like a sower throwing seeds into a open field. Certain seeds/truth are held/treasured by multiple groups of humanity.
Also called “The Golden Rule”. This is considered a universal rule, and so it should be. Just about every faith or religion believes in the idea of Karma, cause and effect, what you sow you will reap, do unto others as you expect to be done unto you. With origins in ancient India, it is a key concept in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Taoism.
Some believe God may override this idea of Karma with his divine will and do as he please. Karma by definition though holds true for mankind 99% of the time. The Quaran mentions this directly in Surat Al-’Isrā’: 17:7
[And said], “If you do good, you do good for yourselves; and if you do evil, [you do it] to yourselves.”
Why I like it: It means humanity shares this inescapable rule that we all take part in every day, hour, minute, second. Karma unites us by means of treating all humanity the same. Once we become aware of it it turns into a responsibility?
Why I don’t like it: Because sometimes Karma is just nowhere to be found. If Karma is true 100% of the time all killers, thieves, rapists and ‘evil’ people will eventually meet their end due to the effect of karma. They themselves will be a victim of crimes similar to the ones they commit. Instead we see the innocent get hurt and punished and feel the effect of ‘absent karma’ directly. Sometimes the direct opposite of Karma is in operation, or so it seems. And this is the only way I can explain it to myself. What would seem like “bad things happening to good people” / Opposite-Karma is also part of the greater scheme of Karma applying its rule on humanity as a whole.
2. Honor your Parents
There is a specific honor, respect and reverence given to parents by all religions. The “first teachers” are regarded as one of the keys to knowing yourself. The Buddha has taught us that it is our duty, a moral obligation to respect and support our parents unceasingly, especially when they reach old age, and when they are sick (take note white people):
“Yo mātaram vā pitaram vā jinnakam gata yobbanam pahusanto na bharati tam jaññā vasalo iti”.
Translation: Having much wealth, if one does not maintain, his/her parents; know that s/he is an outcast.
We forget the great responsibility that comes with being a parent. They are in fact the “first teachers” of their children, of us. Therefor we owe them more than we think we do.
Why I like it: It challenges me to love my parents and take care of them more. It makes me grateful for them and the role they played in raising me. They are my first teachers. Imagine a world where everyone has a love, respect and reverence for their parents.
3. Respect Life
“Do not kill” is another rule that all faiths share, but it is important to not only adhere to the rule, but see the reason for the rule. It comes down to a deep love and respect for life. This respect extends to all life, human and other. Taking/destroying life seems to be one of the greatest faults one can perform in any religion and so it emphasizes that we need to live our lives in respect of life.
There’s a song from metal-core band Slipknot that says “You cannot kill what you did not create”, and in this lies the truth. Life. It’s what we have inside us, it’s what we breathe in and out every day. The key is to not only see it in yourself, but also in others, and then not only others, but in everything around you… in the trees, the birds. The mountains breathe life… everything is life.
Why I like it: It holds to key to my journey. Life holds so many mysteries but one thing is certain: it requires our utmost respect, love, attention and respect.
Generosity, charity and kindness will open an individual to an unlimited reservoir of wisdom and riches. But is it is better to give than to receive? This saying turns conventional business theories on its head. How on earth can it be better to give? Few will truly know that the value gained from giving is indeed better than being on the receiving end. Those that have spent a considerable amount of their time giving will know that it is not only the receiver that receives, it is the giver that receives as well.
The Hindu Swami Vivekananda says it best:
Do not stand on a high pedestal, and take five cents in your hand and say, ‘Here, my poor man,’ but be grateful that the poor man is there, so that by making a gift to him you are able to help yourself. It is not the receiver that is blessed, but it is the giver. Be thankful that you are allowed to exercise your power of benevolence and mercy in the world and thus become pure and perfect….
Why I like it: Generosity holds the key to the most of this worlds problems. It challenges self-glorification, selfishness, vanity and greed.
Nowhere is it more clear to love other people/humanity in this world than it is in our most beloved scriptures. From the Hindu Veda’s, to the Buddhist sayings, to the Bible. Love is everywhere. This is also one of the most challenging journey’s isn’t it? Love is the ultimate unifying force in this world. It completely destroys any division and unites us under one common cause.
Humanity have over analyzed and redefined and re-categorized the term “love” just so we can have it the easy way and “get along” with each other without really caring. Yet, the love spoken about in our scriptures is not merely a caring or a sympathetic type of love (that’s not even close to what love it). It means you LOVE humanity. You LOVE people and you recognize in them what you have in yourself… life. You share this gift and in this gift you are unified. Love.
This changes you. It removes all prejudice, hatred and racism that one may have for other people.
Probably the most difficult one to put into practice, yet few faith’s do not mention the strain, burden, heaviness that goes with not forgiving those that have done some wrong against you. Not being able to forgive is being trapped in a prison cell with the key to your freedom in your hand and never using it. You hold the key. To forgive is another unifying force, it removes all division. This must be the hardest thing to do; especially from someone that experienced upside down karma a few times. It. Is. Not. Easy. To. Forgive.
With this in mind, is it not easier to get along than to fight? Is there not more that unites us than divides us? Next time you look at someone from another faith or religion remember these 5 points. You have more in common than you think.