This is to bring a matter of great importance to your special notice that I write this. It all started when in the last weekend I was sitting in a coffee shop enjoying my cup of coffee and I heard a man sitting next to me remark: “All religion is about belief in dogma, belief in God, and learning right from wrong.” Ever since I heard this remark from a person, who seemed to me well educated, I was struck by the doubt whether this was the popular conception about religion and traditions of the world. There are so many people who are led by this way of thinking that I am convinced is a wrong notion. This was a time when I was engaged in the reading of the reading of Mary Pat Fisher’s Living Religions, which made me think the other way. There are religions that are based on the belief in dogma and God, and that differentiate right from the wrong. However, applying this to the religions of the world in general would mean an oversimplification of the truth. That means we cannot just generalize this fact in a universal context. According to the several traditions, the religions of the world are interrelated in various ways. They are related to each other in the context of human relationships, relationships with ancestors or with the nature. There are certain underlying realities that cannot be easily recognized but they are experienced by certain people of every culture. The material world gives meaning to reality. The importance of the theme of interrelatedness between the different religions is a major topic for discussion.
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To begin with, let us understand the belief in dogma and the relation it has with religions. It may be defined as the established doctrine or teaching of a religion, ideology etc considered to be undisputed and authoritative. This is an inevitable element of many religions like Christianity, Islam or Judaism. Though in many religions belief in dogma is of pertinent consideration, as in Christianity where denunciation of dogma is a heresy and can cause an expulsion from the group, it is not true to state that all religion is about dogma. The universality of a religious consciousness depends upon various factors and “the religion is what the individual does with his solitariness. The reason of this connection between universality and solitariness is that universality is a disconnection from immediate surroundings. It is an endeavour to find something permanent and intelligible by which to interpret the confusion of immediate detail.” (Religion and Dogma). Beyond the dogma of the particular religion, there is the universality of the different world religions.
There are many types of relatedness between the world religions. World is related through different religions that have emerged in different cultures. If the religions are true it is because each time it is God who has spoken, and if they are different it is because God has spoken in different “languages” in conformity with the diversity of the receptacles. Finally, if they are absolute and exclusive, it is because in each of them God has said “I.” (Frithj of Schuon) (Fisher, 1999). This interrelatedness of the world is much evident when we consider the religious tradition of India. Among them, Hinduism and Jainism two of the oldest religions share much in common when analyzed in relation to ecology. The dappled theologies of both the religions views the earth as a manifestation of the goddess and these religions give the ultimate reverence to the earth.
There are many more philosophies of the religions that remind us of the interrelatedness of the world. The rivers are holy to the Hinduism and teachings and philosophies of the religion stress the way of life that is related to the nature, humanity, and ancestors. A spirituality that is based on nature and meditation through Yoga are the characteristic features of the religion. The five elements of universe is a great idea to encourage the way of life based on nature and the interpretation of the principle of social duty also helps them to achieve the goals. The world view of the Jainism is known as a bio-cosmology. The affinity for the ideals of the environmental movement helps the religion to be linked with the nature. Both these religious traditions include concepts that can lead to the augmentation of the relationship between humanity and the nature.
Thus, many of the religions of the globe, like Hinduism and Jainism, see the world as interconnected. This interrelation exists in their relation to humanity, ancestors or nature. This is a characteristic feature or theme of several religions. The theme of interrelatedness can be understood in various ways. It is important for a better knowledge of the interrelatedness of different religious cultures of the world. Any method chosen to see this interrelatedness of the religion will help us in having the better idea of the world religions and their culture.
- Religion and Dogma. Chapter 2. The Religious Consciousness in History. 2007. Web.
- Fisher, Mary Pat. Living Religions. Excerpt from Chapter 10. Prentice-Hall. New Religious Movements. 1999. Web.