Having faith in the power of semantics in context with all religions is not an easy task for many reasons, particularly for me. The most fundamental reason is the difference in ‘ideology’. It is the ideology that depends on the compatibility between the evaluations it conveys and the system of values on which it is formulated. Ideology I believe is a dual purpose tool for not only it serves as the obstruction between two-way beliefs; it hinders in between and plays a significant role in creating barriers between religions and semantics. On the other end, it is the ideology that patches up the relations between two different notions, thereby bridging up the gaps between two religions. Ideology when positive permits us to reinstate semantics, with all its shades of grey, at the centre of this relation. Therefore I would say that religion is, but a by-product of ideology and semantics.
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In order to put this hypothesis to work and thereby assess its validity, I will attempt to estimate what are the ways to examine different ideologies in context with the major world religions so that semantics would be evaluated. My attempt in this dissertation would be to adopt all those methods and techniques that are significant with producing more commonalities in different religions that do the differences. I would evaluate all the major reasons that start up with the conflict of ‘semantics’ and ends up in splitting up all the religions.
Even I have observed in many cases that there are religions in religions. Why this happens? What can one do to alleviate all the differences? To do so, one must possess a theory of value judgements, and, more generally, a theory of evaluation in semantics. After all, my objective as a candidate in interfaith ministry is to restore peace and harmony through a comprehensive understanding of religion, cognition and semantics based on social and cognitive foundations.
The Problem Statement
Since the creation, mankind has always been in various ways so that he can define and identify the God or the creator. Searching God has led man in two directions, religious and spiritual. Understanding religion is for those individuals who believe in rationality while spirituality is mostly preferred by those who uphold truth deep within them, so they don’t really feel the need to seek peace as peace resides in their heart and souls.
Before discussing the problem statement, I would like to elucidate ‘semantics’. Semantics according to Garfield & Kiteley (1991) is a discipline which when used informally deals with certain relations between expressions of a language and the objects that are ‘referred to’ by those expressions. Garfield & Kitely (1991) have highlighted the concept of semantics by using the words “designation”, “satisfaction”, and “definition” (Garfield & Kiteley, 1991). I would perceive the notion as an Interface minister to that extent where I would be designated to convey some religious quote to a group of people. Of course it is me who would interpret the quote. Elucidating my philosophy or belief to the people would provide me with some level of satisfaction which would be measured against the notion whatever I have defined my belief to the people.
With semantics arises the problem of defining truth. Formulations that are generated in order to explain the meanings of the words turns out that the simplest and the most natural way of obtaining outright truth is one which involves the use of other semantic notions, e.g., the notion of satisfaction. The problem is that we are divided into two groups: those who are rational and those who are not. Of course it is difficult for rationalism to accept spirituality without being religious while those who accept irrationality are the true spiritual persons, as they don’t feel the need to find any reason for finding themselves or their God.
For rational believers, the problem remains with understanding ‘God’ as the concept of God is so varyingly conceived according to different cultures and religions of the world that it dearths an unambiguous definition. This is the reason for why ‘God’ is considered as supernatural in every religion and is named by various terms like God, Jehovah, Allah, Ishwar, Bhagwan, Brahma etc.
Religions are divided into four types:
- Semitic religions or Prophetic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam)
- Non-Semitic religions,
- Aryan religions (Vedic, Non-Vedic like Hinduism, Brahmanism, Buddhism, Jainism etc)
- Non-Aryan religions (Confucianism, Taoism, Chinese)
With so many different religions, come different perspectives about God. Semitic religions are governed by the Holy books which take us towards the righteous path, guide us as to what is right and what is wrong. Spiritual persons according to my observation are those scholars who don’t feel the need of some external source to guide them. They prefer spirituality over religion or religious values and that is the main reason for why they are internally stronger than a normal religious man.
A religious individual put boundaries across him in order to differentiate between right and wrong while a spiritual believer has not boundaries, or we can say that such individual has high morals which are not limited by boundaries. Therefore it is no hard and fast rule that a spiritual person is a true believer or follower of any particular religion. He could have faith in more than one religion or all religions.
As an epic concept, the term ‘supernatural’ has as many definitions as there are many religions but there is no confined or recognized agreed-upon definition to unlock the mystery of God. What history tells us is that though semantics have played an important role right from the antiquity to the present day in evolving man’s ideology and philosophy but one cannot deny that it is the semantics that when viewed in religious perspective, created problems for the world. Semantics whenever utilized by interface ministers or religious personalities created a chaotic condition with a certain amount of suspicion. Even religion founders like prophets and noble priests are not considered aloof from this.
Researchers and authors work justify that although the meaning of semantic concepts as they are used in everyday language seems to be rather clear and understandable, still all attempts to characterize this meaning in a general and exact way miscarried. Using the work of Garfield & Kitely, I noticed that they have considered it worse that the manner in which various arguments in which these concepts were involved, and which seemed otherwise quite correct and based upon apparently obvious premises, led frequently according to them towards paradoxes and antinomies (Garfield & Kiteley, 1991).
Here is where the problem arises. Every philosopher and interfaith minister has perceived and translated semantics in his own manner. In this way he has always been able to create a chaos, intentionally or unintentionally by playing with the words and interpreting with their meanings. Why so happens that an interfaith minister easily moulds the semantics in the way he wants? I think illiteracy is one of the reasons behind.
Multiple kinds of semantics have been proposed since scientists from various disciplines first tried to formalize the notion of ‘meaning’. These semantics compete with each other on the basis of different convictions about what needs to be accounted for in Natural Language. Ultimately, these differences amount to different presuppositions about the nature of ‘meaning’ itself. The inspiration of semantic research remains useful guidelines for semantic modelling. Truth-conditional semantics provide more formal instruments than any other type of semantics.
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In his study of the linguistification of the sacred, Habermas has questioned the respective contribution of pragmatic and assertoric components to the efficiency of discourse. It appears that, from a sociological perspective, these classes of components cannot be studied separately: According to Habermas (1984),
“As we have seen, in grammatical speech, propositional components are joined with illocutionary and expressive components in such a way that semantic contents can fluctuate among them. Whatever can be said at all, can also be expressed in assertoric form. With this basic feature of language in mind, we can make clear what it means for religious worldviews to connect up with communicative actions. Background knowledge enters into the situation definition of goal-oriented actors who regulate their cooperation in a consensual manner; the result of such interpretative accomplishments are stored in worldviews.
As semantic contents of sacred and profane origin fluctuate freely in the medium of language, there is a fusion of meanings; moral practical and expressive contents are combined with cognitive instrumental contents in the form of cultural knowledge” (Habermas, 1984: 88).
If I interpret this passage aright, Habermas regards as fundamental the capacity of language to express illocutionary and expressive components in assertoric form. Indeed, sacred speech seems to be characterized by the strength of its illocutionary and expressive components, that is, by the components that build up the semantic contents in relation to the ritualistic situation and to the speaker. Malrieu (1999) while explaining the ‘linguistification of the sacred’ defines the survival of the normative contents if only change occurs from a ritual situation to a cooperative situation. In the second type of situation, normative contents can no longer be conveyed by illocutionary and expressive components alone.
Therefore, the capacity of transferring the illocutionary to the assertoric enables the reintroduction of normative elements as background knowledge within non-normative situations (Malrieu, 1999) According to her “A part of this background knowledge is embodied within the semantics of the language, and is activated by semantic triggers” (Malrieu, 1999: 107). Finally, the illocutionary components of profane grammatical speech, which are in theory reduced, as far as their binding force is concerned, to consensus, can inherit, via the ‘fluctuations’ above mentioned, a part of the normative power of sacred speech.
This literature would have been incomplete without the study of religion; therefore I studied, analyzed and visualized the word religion in various aspects. When I read Seager’s work I went satisfy for I got the answer. The power, the baneful power of superstition lies in the very fact that man is religious and that his religious nature, inherent in him, has been too often played upon by evil or ignorant men for base or selfish purposes. But this does not counterpart the truth that religion itself is an essential integral part of his own inherent nature. Religion is not a something or a somewhat which has been conferred upon him by any cult, by any hierarchy, by any set of religious teachers.
Religion cannot be considered as the exceptional gift of exceptional geniuses. It is not what men have sometimes thought poetry or art or music to be, a thing that belongs to a favoured few great men. Religion is the universal characteristic of humanity understandable by semantics. Religion is not a somewhat that has been conferred upon him by any supernatural act of irresistible grace either upon an elect few or an elect many. Still less is it a somewhat that has been conferred upon a few, so that the many, strive never so hard to conform their lives to the light of nature, unless aided by some supernatural or extraordinary acts of grace, can never attain to it. This is what Seager (1993) explains as “Religion belongs to man and is inherent in man” (Seager, 1993: 53).
I have utilized Seager’s proposition who believe that in every man there is an inherent capacity so to perceive the infinite, and to every man on this round globe of our God has so manifested himself in nature and in inward experience, as that, taking that manifestation on the one hand and a power of perception on the other, the moral character and the conduct of man, if he follows the light that he receives, will be steadily improved and enlarged and enriched in his upward progress to the infinite and the eternal. Seager (1993) further proposes his unique notion that “Man is conscious of himself and he is conscious of the world within himself.
He is conscious of a perception that brings him in touch with the outer world. He is conscious of reason by which he sees the relation of things. He is conscious of emotions, feelings of hope, of fear, of love. He is conscious of will, of resolve, of purpose. Sometimes painfully conscious of resolves that have been broken. Sometimes gladly conscious of resolves that have been kept and in all of this life he is conscious of these things: That he is a perceiving, thinking, feeling, willing creature” (Seager, 1993: 54).
While reading the work of J. Michael Strange I realized the extent to which a religion is and should be practiced. Starting from spirituality, Strange has considered each and every religion; from the ancient ‘Hinduism’ to the latest Islam, Strange has focussed not a particular debate but on the notion to which a religion should be understood and practiced. As according to Strange (2002) it is ‘spirituality’ behind every belief, faith or religion that matters.
Strange emphasizes upon the notion that spirituality is common in every religion and “it is the spiritual effect of blending paradox that not only expends our vision or perception of seeing the worldly religions but also helps in understanding the universal truth” (Strange, 2002: 2). Strange has also discussed that what the truth of being God or a supreme power matters to us. I therefore agree with his example that God is a supernatural that cannot be seen but can only be felt through heart and soul. This can be illustrated by considering a blind man who cannot see but can only visualize and believe.
The concept given by Strange is interpreted in the words of Tacey David (2004) as “Spirituality Revolution”, a movement in society which is today’s basic need, in order to avoid conflicts and wars (Tacey, 2004). Tacey suggests such revolution to be a new interest in the reality of spirit and its healing effects on life, health, community and well-being. However I suggest that spirituality or being spiritual is not the only solution to avoid conflicts build on common grounds, but there has to be some paradox that bridges the gap between ‘religion’ and ‘commonality’, ‘spirituality’ and ‘common belief’ as Tacey names the paradox as “it is our secular society that has been running on empty, and has to restore itself at a deep, primal source, a source which is beyond humanity and yet paradoxically at the very core of our experience” (Tacey, 2004: 1).
The ultimate Reality
The ultimate reality leads us to think in 3 directions; who we are, where we have come from and where would we go. In order to find out the answers different philosophers, scientists and interfaith organizations have worked for centuries but remained unable to find the ultimate truth except for the need to consider a single fact that there is some kind of super power ruling our earth. Researchers have come to realize now that religion is dependant upon how we shape it, how we take it and how we convey of what we think about the religion and the religious values. According to Tacey (2004) “In stable societies, religion is like a magic circle that surrounds and nurtures our lives, binding us into indissoluble community and protecting us from potentially harmful incursions of the living spirit” (Tacey, 2004: 32).
As far as religion is concerned we are unable to choose it our way when we born; we are stuck to accept what is offered to our parents and are unable to choose our religious tradition. That simply means that while we are born into the religion of our parents and grandparents, therefore we have no choice and we are ritually inducted as an infant to accept the way things are even at unconsciousness. Though we are unable to change things for us in infancy and childhood, but upon reaching a particular age level we are free to at least think freely about how things are going on around us. We are then free to wonder about life in every aspect and here comes the religious factor.
We are faced with two kinds of propositions which I have proposed: Upon reaching some maturity, we choose for ourselves whatever we feel right. Either we stick to the religious values adopted by our parents and forefathers as they come to us, or we start searching upon the ultimate truth. Spirituality is the second case, not the first one because what we accept without research does not matter to us until we are concerned for it. In religious words I belief that those who search for God, or in other words the ultimate reality are the ones who are cared by God, and finally they are the ones who are able to find the answers to their complex questions, provided they follow the spiritual path; a path that cannot be defined but can only felt if we seek the truth which can only be found by looking within ourselves.
The methods I adopted for data collection consisted of interviews with interfaith ministers, priests, fathers, nuns, bishops and scholars. However I interviewed the scholars from the religious sects of Christianity, Hinduism and Islam. There were altogether 10 religious scholars. Here are some details:
Christianity – Joseph Paul: Age: 49: Interfaith minister since 1990.
Me: Sir, want to know your perception about Christianity.
Paul: Well, I think Jesus resides in all of us, all we have to do is to discover ourselves.
Me: Sir, do you believe that ‘spirituality’ is a common ground for uniting all religions?
Paul: Of course, you see today there are many religions, people came to me from nearly all sects of life and discuss spirituality rather than religion. Gone are those days when religion was kept hidden from the rest of the world, today there is a need to teach common grounds of religion rather than teaching religion alone because those common grounds serve as a platform for all religions of the world. Let it be a Muslim, Hindu or Jew, every society must base upon a single deity and must know the difference between good and evil. Let me give you an example, adultery is considered universally forbidden, let it be any religion of the world, person who has committed adultery must be punished according to his or her religion rules. So, you can’t say that there lies a difference between religions. All religions teach goodness and negate crime.
Me: Thank you sir for your time.
– Joseph Paul, 12 Dec 2007. Cathedral Church, San Diego.
Christianity – Ken Austin: Age: 60: Interfaith minister since 1998.
Me: Sir, do you think that all the people throughout the world must embrace Christianity?
Austin: Of course, because Christianity is the only true religion.
Me: what about the rest of religions? Don’t you think they are true?
Austin: Whatever is practiced beyond Christianity must be stopped.
Me: Thank you sir.
Ken Austin, 13 Dec 2007.
Other interviewers were Muslims and Hindus, mostly believed in the notion that every religion must be followed with sincerity and must be welcomed by adopting an open minded attitude. Out of 10 scholars, 6 uphold the idea that religious freedom is the gateway to universal brotherhood and this is the only way to maintain universal peace and brotherhood throughout the world in the name of religions. The rest believed that organized religion occupies a significant, if increasingly marginal, place in the landscape of contemporary spirituality.
According to Wright, “irrespective of religious belief, it is difficult to formalize a religion that clearly continues to offer certain crucial psychological and social functions including the provision of individual meaning and life-purpose” (Wright, 1999: 52). 4 scholars believed that while assessing the spiritual significance of organised religion it is important to develop a realistic or rational dogma. They believed in the doctrine of being rationalist and not being spiritual. However a true rationalist if views religion in the light of facts and theories, he would ultimately land up believing that every religion has a colour of rainbow without which a rainbow is unable to develop and appear. Though a rainbow can be seen but it cannot be touched. The same is the case with religion. Every religion has its unique significance and God resides in all of them.
Findings or Results
The universal implication which we uphold today for uniting sociology of religion along with its commonalities and escorting the semantics towards a common platform is the only solution in order to alleviate outright warring. Many wondrous experiences make us to think and support belief in spiritual powers or forces that resides in every religion or philosophy provided taken with ‘purity’. Such philosophies that make us think and lead to a single direction by considering the myriad of religious ideologies needs all the universal elements that recur within these episodes contribute to uniformities within folk belief. However, the capacity for experiencing wondrous events is not evenly distributed as it works for those who accept religious fundamentals broadly.
The following results were developed from the interviewers’ analysis:
- True religion is embedded in those more frequently who show respect to every religion and semantics, rather than those who do not believe in all theologies.
- This indicates that such people who possess true heart and possess an open minded attitude to welcome every religion are more spiritual.
However in order to consider commonalities in all the religions we must see the religions in the light of those factors that represent commonalities. The God of the Hebrew Scriptures, the New Testament, and the Qur’an exercises his divine mercy and judgment in history. In recent years, however, the comparative study of religion, which in its early days served all too frequently as a means of establishing the superiority of Western monotheism, has begun to approach the study of Western traditions. In terms both of matter and of method, this turn of events has led many scholars to moderate their preoccupation with the temporal dimension of the Religions of the Book. Instead of enquiring about the spatial dimension of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, there is a need to modernize the central object of critical inquiry.
Judaism – a religion which always asserted monotheism believes in the oneness of God Jewish religion revolves around Torah and a number of commandments, which reveal God’s monotheism (Menuhin, 1994). The Jewish Halakhic (religious-legal) literature, commencing with the Mishnah, and continuing with the Talmud, the decisions of Maimonides, the Codes of Jewish Law, and the Responsa literature cover many topics with a spatial bearing.
This derives from the fact that halakhic literature addresses all spheres of life, since the Jewish religion which is governed by Halakha demands from its believers not only faith but concrete actions, including many actions with a spatial expression. Scott & Housley (1991) describes the commandments on the basis of geographic significance in the following words: “those connected with Sabbath observance such as the prohibition on journeying or riding on the Sabbath or walking over a thousand meters outside a settled region” (Scott & Housley, 1991: 3).
The book of Deuteronomy contains an exhortation from Moses:
“Shema Israelu Adonai Ila Hayno Adna Ikhad” (Hebrew quotation)
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord”(The Bible, Deuteronomy 6:4)
“I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me.”(The Bible, Isaiah 46:9)
Judaism is based upon the ‘Divine sovereignty’ of the most ancient monotheism and believes that God’s universal love leads all of mankind to know that the Lord is One. Though it is interesting that, either in Judaism or in Christianity or in Islam, the sacred texts don’t reveal much about what evil actually is. What the Bible, Quran or Torah emphasizes in upon performing good deeds and actions, thereby believing in monotheism.
Has Monotheism remained an issue?
Religions like Christianity, Judaism and Islam believes in monotheistic Gods i.e., there is only One source of creator, but what about Hinduism? Let us evaluate some of the sacred texts of Hinduism:
The Holy sacred text book of Hindus which is considered to be ‘word of God’ presents a spiritual or ‘Vedic’ religion before us. Considered to be the most spiritual religion, what original Gita tell us is “Those people whose intelligence is robbed by the material desires surrender them to demigods, thereby following the particular rules and regulations of worship that satisfy their own natures” (Bhagavad-Gita, 7:20). That clearly indicates the two categories of people, those who worship the true God and those who worship other than the true God.
Other Hindu sacred texts reveal “Ekam evadvitiyam”. Translation: “He is One only without a second.” (Chandogya Upanishad 6:2:1) Further, according to Upanishads: “Na casya kascij janita na cadhipah.” Translation: “Of Him there are neither parents nor lord.” (Svetasvatara Upanishad 6:9) “He who knows Me as the unborn, as the beginning-less, as the Supreme Lord of all the worlds…” (Bhagavad-Gita 10:3) Brahma Sutra of Hinduism clearly states: “Ekam Brahm, dvitiya naste neh na naste kinchan”. Translation: “There is only one God, not the second; not at all, not at all, not in the least bit”. (Badarayan, 192:555)
History tells us that a Hindu class “Brahmans’ are responsible for changing their original sacred text and from there the concept of polytheism evolved. Now, the question that arises is that what monotheism or polytheism has to do with spirituality issues or how does it affects the universal platform? There is no doubt that we have uncovered the facts from sacred semantics that Hinduism basically is a monotheistic religion. So is the Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Now, in order to bring all the religions on to a single universal platform we have to believe in commonalities rather than the differences and the original unchanged ‘Gita’ tells us that Hinduism like other religions is based upon One God. There come similarities:
Christians believe Jesus to be the Messiah. A monotheistic and evangelistic religion based on the life and teachings of Christ. An Abrahamic religion which is often considered to be split from Judaism Christians believe God made a new covenant with them and that they then became the sole interpreters of God’s will. But Christians retain important elements of Judaism such as the Mosaic Decalogue (Ten Commandments); a day of rest each week, baptism, the sanctity of marriage and the order of burial are Christian beliefs and practices derived from Judaic legacy.
The book of Isaiah
Following are some of the verses that depict monotheism in Christianity:
“I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour.”(The Bible, Isaiah 43:11)
“I am Lord, and there is none else, there is no God besides me.”(The Bible, Isaiah 45:5)
“I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me.”(The Bible, Isaiah 46:9)
In the Old Testament it is clearly stated:
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
“Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.”(The Bible, Exodus 20:3-5)
The book of Deuteronomy states:
“Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.”(The Bible, Deuteronomy 5:7-9)
Muslims are the followers of Islam who believe in one God what they name as “Allah”. Prophet Muhammad is the last prophet and Quran is the holy book they believe in. Islam presents concise definitions of God like other religions given in the four verses of Surah Ikhlas which is Chapter 112 of the Qur’an:
“Say: He is Allah, The One and only”.
“Allah, the Eternal, Absolute”.
“He begets not, nor is He begotten”.
“And there is none like unto Him.”(Al-Qur’an 112:1-4)
Spirituality In the Light of Religions
Spirituality in the light of universal religious terminology can be defined as a term which is inherently elusive and mysterious. Upon encountering charismatic individuals we have often noticed those who seem to have a unique depth to their being, a spiritual ‘something’ which we are able to recognise, but find almost impossible to pin down. Spirituality among the Hebrew and the Greek is named as ‘spirit’, ruah and pneuma respectively. It is mentioned in the John’s Gospel, that it is the Spirit of God that is just like the wind that blows where it pleases; that means God is everywhere and cannot be bound by any restrictions.
According to Wright (2001) “The more we involve ourselves in order to discover the realms of philosophy, theology and psychology the greater we are indulged into the complex nature of spirituality” (Wright, 2001: 47). However I do not believe in the notion. Spirituality is something which has no vague boundaries, as it accepts all theologies and philosophies open heartedly. The reason behind is that a spiritual person is always concerned by his own heart purity that seeks the same light which the rest of humanity follows. This is evident from every religion that has reached us. From Christianity to Islam and from Sikhism to Hinduism every religion believes in the truth of mankind, every religion is concerned with the good and evil of heart and soul.
Bruce (1996) argues that since nineteenth century, the culture of ‘serial dogmatism’ propagated which is held responsible for the warring scenarios inside religions (Bruce, 1996). By the term ‘dogmatism’, it is meant that a battle was going on for the religious hearts and minds of the nation and was played out by those who never wanted peace and harmony within the confines of the various religious denominations. Religious allegiances shifted towards debates, discussions, negations and unacceptable attitudes leaving no free room for other religions to follow.
Sects were started, people slowly started realizing that religious or holy books are nothing in front of their created traditions, therefore commitments were followed from one Christian tradition to another, with Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and a host of other independent Protestant churches and sects battling amongst themselves for the spiritual allegiance of the population.
When conflicts over religious matters initiated, that was the beginning of quarrels within religious sects. The problem is that we are so much used to see our ‘God’ in a box that our mind is unable to accept the other side of it. That happens when according to Bruce the twin forces of individualism and rationalism conflicts, the resultant appears in the form of a shift from ‘serial dogmatism’ to ‘promiscuous liberalism’.
Whenever conflicts arise, spirituality is gone because a spiritual person never indulges in any kind of conflicts or quarrels. He takes life as it comes to him and thanks God for whatever he has been gifted. A spiritual person accepts each and every deity; every religion is respectable for him. According to Bruce’s opinion, “spirituality does not depends upon to shift or religious allegiance to convert itself towards the philosophies or believes of atheism, agnosticism, non-Christian religious traditions, a variety of new religious movements, and private forms of piety and spirituality” (Bruce, 1996: 233).
Non spiritual are those individuals who though stick to their religion consider every other philosophy, deity or religion false and at the same time they try to cross those religious boundaries that they have themselves set for them. That means the boundaries that they have set for themselves later become problem for them, because they want the world to see through their eyes, accept their opinions and negate all those perceptions that they negate.
It is important to note that being rational or irrational in religious ontology is not the only way to access God or God’s will. Bhaskar (2000) has elucidated the concept by highlighting the consistency of realism in the following words: “Realism with entailing experiential diversity allows that God, or the absolute, or the transcendent (or transcendent beings or phenomena generally) can, like nature (or ordinary material things), be accessed or experienced in a multiplicity of different ways” (Bhaskar, 2000: 34).
I am very much impressed by Bhaskar (2000) notion; the way he explains that a spiritual being is well aware of the two facts and can be put in either of the two conditions: Either his soul is subject to God’s grace, or not subject to God’s grace. There is no condition that resides in between the two and if a person simply is unaware of his status and thinks that he lies somewhere in between these two scenarios that means he is not spiritual at all.
The different ways to access God are no other than the different religions practiced according to the Holy books, as they all have access to God but in different directions. That means all are genuine, all teachers. It is not difficult to specify that even in the boundaries of sacred places like churches, temples or mosques, rabbis, priests and scholars have failed to improve and modernize people’s perception about spirituality and religion. There are many reasons to it.
In the first place the sacred places which are considered to be the house of God are used to sent ministers and religious scholars who themselves uphold too rigid opinion about religion. Therefore they are reluctant to produce the desirable response and outcome that is expected from them. They are unable to grasp the notion that religion is modernized and God is not the property of any single religion. Therefore they remain divided over the question of the general accessibility of the believer’s reasons. They differ and contradict in various believes over how far faith is a necessary condition for the appreciation of the rationality of any belief. This is not simply a dispute over the possibility of natural theology of rational arguments, as rationality to some extent does not hinder spirituality.
Spirituality does not require being religious or I would say that religion has not to do anything with being spiritual or not being spiritual. Spirituality requires inner strength, moral and ethics to accept any other belief or religion. That means in order to bring peace and harmony to this world we have to think spiritually regardless of race and religion. Human brotherhood is what required of our new ministers, less declamation and more common sense and love for truth, must be the qualifications of the new ministry that shall yet save the race from the evils of false teachings.
The problems created by established ecclesiastical authority, has no doubt hardly left any room for us to preach the modernized religious ecstasy which has always exerted within and on the fringe of universal brotherhood. We can appreciate how modern Spiritualism has moulded the belief and thoughts of so many of us, those who believed in religious conflicts and those who don’t. Therefore spirituality must be promoted in order to avoid war and restore national calamity. In other words spirituality must be used as a weapon against terrorism, which means it should work in training people consciously and unconsciously to set their God free from their boxes.
There should be more spiritual healing centres other than churches and mosques to replace and to some extent supplants those minds who spread war and terror in the name of religion. They should be taught the morals that religion is not for sale to be used in the name of terror or to spread hatred and war. Religion is the name of love, peace and mutual understanding which has been misused for centuries in the name of God. If God had favoured only one religion there would have no second religion on earth, but so many religions, so many races and so many traditions have let us know that God is all about love and maintaining peace and harmony on earth. Differences, castes, racism is the other name of evil or Satan. Those who preach rigidly only promote their thoughts as they accompany evil.
Today there is a need to purify our souls so that we would be able to make the home and social life of those people around us a better and peaceful place to live, so that they follow us and realize the need of purifying power of religion. It is the heart of every social evil that creates the environment of disorder and war among us, because the social evil is well aware of the fact that God is kept inside the boxes within us, we feel no need of letting Him out the box. Because if we let our God free, peace would be our destiny which evil don’t want us to be in.
It is this evil that Seager (1993) has defined as innocent and it is us who by lacking all inherent moral potencies of home and family that are the well-springs of all the good in human society (Seager, 1993) welcomes and appreciates him. That means we encourage evil to disrupt our morals. The dilemma is that religion is bounded by those preachers and teachers that tell us that preaching from the pulpit and teaching in the schoolhouse are but half done so long as the homes are uninstructed in that practical religion that can make pure and sacred every relationship it touches of man, woman, and child.
Religion should not leave these people alone to learn from birds and beasts those blessed meanings of marriage, motherhood, and family. Religion should not utter itself only once or twice a week through a minister from a pulpit, but should open every cabin door and get immediate contact with those who have not yet learned to translate into terms of conduct the promptings of religion.
Summary and Conclusion
Spirituality cannot be kept in a box. For those who do not believe in spirituality or for those who are rational and do not take religion as it comes to them, commonalities in all the religious sectors explain and provide adequate answers to believe. If sin is not permitted in Semitic religion like Judaism, Christianity or Islam, it is also not encouraged in non-Semitic religion. Therefore those ‘religious’ individuals or groups who are used to consider their point of view and rejects the other are neither religious nor spiritual, because being religious and spiritual in true sense are two ends of God’s will that when combines forms a triangle. Those who understand the triangular view are spiritual and those who don’t remain unable to fill even the religious aspect.
Religious or fundamentalist sects that believe in one religious quest are those who wish to see universal brotherhood disrupted by the ‘religion’ issue. There is a need to understand what we were expected to present our God, and what we are up to? All we have given our religions is the defame in the name of ‘pleasing God’. If God had to be pleased this way, he would have not felt this way about us, he would have not distributed into different casts, races and religions. The main purpose of dividing us into so many differences is to maintain a colourful world, like a colourful rainbow. Every religion and theology has its own unique significance. Truth lies in the notion that to maintain and restore the truthful blessings so that our God remains please with us which means that our inner selves remain satisfy. In other words that is to restore our spiritual existence. After all it is a matter of pleasing oneself – pleasing God!
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