There seems to be nowadays everywhere a cry for peace and abundance, for union and brotherhood, for cultural revival, social welfare and world-uplift. The world has experienced several crises, tried many a method of peace, used the best resources of its intelligence, but has not yet succeeded in achieving its ends. The reason must obviously be either it is itself not clear about the nature of its aims or their implementation, or its instruments of action are not strong enough and capable of action, or its methods of procedure are not very wisely chosen. And above all, there is that conspicuous absence of the pivot of all endeavours, which is God.
Our young men and women are led away by the veneer of a spurious civilisation and blinded by the glamour of material prosperity. They are unable to understand what actually is meant by God and religion. God is the never-dying and the never-diseased Being That is the support of this ever-dying and ever-diseased shallow world. How can this constantly changing universe have ever any value except on the presupposition of a permanent, unchanging Substance? How do you account for this ceaseless aspiration in man for Perfection, if that Perfection does not exist? Why do you cry for perpetual peace in a world which is ever-changing and dying? The transient nature of the world and all bodies and the unceasing inner aspiration for perfection and peace show that there must be that unending Perfection which is peace and joy and which must be underlying this perishable objective world. This Eternal Conscious Perfection is God, and the method of reaching Him is Religion. Hatred for God and religion is, therefore, nothing but pure puerility rooted in ignorance and lack of proper sense.
International tension is caused by the clash of political ideologies, not because of religious aspirations. The minds of the people are in ferment due to social inequity and economic class war. Religion is being gradually pushed away from the lives of the people, though it is practised, more or less, in a conventional sense.
If, however, one would pause to think of the basic cause of most of the problems of life, it would be found that all of them are due to a lack of religion, or its practical unfoldment in the daily conduct, aspiration and activities of man. The complaint that there is already too much of religion is baseless, although new churches, temples and mosques are being built continuously.
Man has unfortunately lost the sight of the wood amidst the trees of mechanical conventions. Religion, in its real sense, has gone out of the lives of the people, even though they continue to visit churches and temples. This is the root-cause of all the problems that confront mankind today.
Religion is focussed into various institutional modes that are diverse in accordance with the historical, cultural and psychological backgrounds of the peoples of the world. But religion cannot merely be a set of scriptural injunctions on rituals and conventions, which must always be subservient to the cultivation of a universal consciousness, in the light of the practical realisation of one’s relation to God and the universe.
It is true that allegiance to some belief and observance of some rituals could be termed practice of a particular religion, but if these do not lead to a harmonious self-development and the dawn of divine consciousness, their purpose is of no great importance for the individual.
The pivot of religion is a perfect ethical life, with an abiding faith in the existence of a common, all-pervading, sustaining, governing and unifying Spirit, through the realisation of which one comes to really know oneself and all.
Practice of religion is the practice of righteousness, goodness, justice, truth, love and purity. The righteous man is the truly religious man. One may meticulously perform religious devotions, and yet be very irreligious at heart and in conduct. The cruel and the untruthful can never be religious.
The ringing notes of religion are: be good, do good, be pure, be kind, be compassionate, serve all, love all, and see God in all. These precepts alone will awaken man to the consciousness of the unity of existence and the realisation of the divine Spirit, within and without.
Religion loses its basic purpose if it does not aim at Self-realisation, if it does not bind man to the cosmic whole, and enable him to act in the light of his understanding that he is a part of the whole, is governed by the fundamental law of cause and effect, and is trying to fulfil the common, ultimate purpose of the various living components of the whole as his underlying objective behind all his routine and specific endeavours.
If one is able to attain this basic realisation, then whatever one does will be performed as Karma Yoga, selfishness having been completely rooted out from the heart. All actions would then indirectly help and complement one’s efforts for spiritual unfoldment.
Practice of religion puts one in consonance with the law of truth and love, which alone would show one the way to the attainment of all that is noble and good. Religion should be a living experience in the life of man. Unless the heart opens up, and is purified and enlightened with the bright rays of knowledge and experience, unless the soul is imbued with a suffusing love for the entire creation of God, unless one is ready to sacrifice one’s little self and willingly offer to serve the needy, console the distressed, cheer up the depressed, give hope to the forlorn, unless one is able to effect these, there is no use of calling oneself a religious man.
Intolerance practised in the name of religion or in the name of one’s spiritual pursuits, is the worst form of vice. Practice of religion presupposes a deep, abiding understanding of the nature of things. One may consider the differences, but to enter into disputes on account of them, and say that this is superior and that is inferior, to indulge in caprices and have a biased attitude, are the marks of a primitive mind.
It takes all sorts to make this world. God alone is the only good which is permanently good. Nothing else is good for all times and bad for ever. No one is good at all times and no one is always bad. No one is absolutely good (except the realised saint) and no one is completely bad. Even the worst sinner has some good qualities, and even the best of men have their failings. Therefore, never have a biased mind.
The spiritual aspirant, who thinks others to be bad or impure, would find, on introspection, a good deal of badness or impurity in him. One who turns up one’s nose at the badness of others, which is but a reflection of one’s own badness on others, is fighting shy of one’s guilt-complex. Have an open mind and improve yourself. Then you would find that others have already improved themselves.
The true meaning of God and religion should be infused into the hearts of all who have grossly mistaken them. People should abandon thinking that God is some big anthropomorphic being sitting on a throne in a far-off heaven above and that religion is praying to Him for personal gains or for punishing the enemy, or bowing to His images in churches and temples. A universal joy-infusing power of Absolute Religion should take possession of the hearts of all in its real and essential meaning. There is no other purpose in life if it is not to attain this Absolute Perfection, this Absolute Peace and this Absolute Joy of the Eternal Being which all directly or indirectly seek and which can be possible only when people understand that all conceptions of God are aspects of the One Supreme, Immortal, Infinite, Eternal, Divine Presence, and that all forms of religion are the aspects of the Great Way of That One Truth. The proper knowledge of this fact shall correct all errors of life and show the method of bringing peace to the world, of making humanity perfect.
That art of approaching this perfected condition does not lie in talking or acting through the body. It lies in self-purification, earnest aspiration, faith, sincerity, never-failing perseverance, broad tolerance, moral power, truth, renunciation of selfishness and subjugation of the inner passions. Without these requisites, all endeavours for peace and perfection shall be miserably frustrated.
The aim of the nations should, therefore, be to direct their power towards the transformation of the hearts of the people from the subhuman and the weak human nature into the rightly human and divine natures through right government, right education and insistence on right living, based on perfect Truth, not merely relative but absolute.
This shall effect the great renaissance for the healthy and peaceful life of all on earth, and also for the Eternal Life transcending the earthly life. This is the Message of this fresh New Year which expects the dawn of the New Era of cultural and spiritual renaissance.
May the New Year usher in all that is Good to you. May there be peace, prosperity and amity all over the world.