A beautiful poem composed by a well-known Tamil poet says, “Some will say Allah; some say Siva; some Vishnu. Some would say the Father in Heaven. Others would say it’s impossible to understand what it is – it’s just Nirvana.” In Sanskrit, Nirvana means nakedness.
The Hindu Upanishads say, “Nantah-pragnyam, na bahis pragnyam, nobhayatah-pragnyam, na pragnyana-ghanam, na pragnyam, naapragnyam…” It’s all in the negative. “Neither the inner consciousness, nor the outer consciousness, nor the unconscious, nor the sum total of consciousness.”
“Adrishtam, avyavaharyam, agrahyam, alakshanam, achintyam, avyapadesyam….” That which cannot be put into action, cannot be thought of, cannot be talked about; which you cannot grasp.” It all has to be in the negative because the unlimited One is being explained by a limited vehicle, the mind. So far nobody nor any scripture has ever clearly explained that something. Why? Because words are limited, the grasping mind is limited.
We all go to the same sea with our own little containers: some with a cup, some with a bucket, some with a barrel. We gather water and come home. I call my friend:
“Hey, did you get some seawater?”
“How is it?”
“Oh, it’s in the shape of a mug.”
“How could that be? See, I got some and it’s in the shape of a bucket!”
Another will say, “You’re both fools. It’s only in the shape of a test tube.” They are all talking about the containers, not about the contained.
So then, what are we to do with all this? Should we deny these differences? Should we condemn these people? No. They all got seawater. Those who see the seawater and not just the container are called the seers. And for that, one has to transcend mental limitations. But even to work towards that, with what are we going to work? The mind. We cannot dispose of the mind. Then what are we trying to understand?
When we say, “truth is one, paths are many,” it is not that we are trying to bring uniformity or even unity. Unity need not be brought. It is already there. It has but to be recognized. We are One in spirit, but we are many in body and spirit. Variety is the spice of life.
Where is the room for religious wars?
Even if a path is a so-called wrong one, what will happen? You would go there, fall off and then climb on and come back in the right direction, would you not? Won’t that teach you the lesson that you took the wrong path?
Some people don’t want to accept the right path when someone else tells them. So some wrong paths are purposely kept there. Acharya Shankara beautifully says, “Even the wrongs are Divine. Prostrations to you, the anger, a form of God, and to passion, another form of God.” Why should God create anger and passion? Because some people want to take those paths also and learn some lessons quickly. Let them.
If we could understand this principle, where is the room for religious wars? World statistics say that more people have been massacred in the name of God and religion than even in the World Wars. If religion and God are going to do this, we don’t want religion then.
Years back I read in a news magazine some letters from Irish Catholic children. Little children, six or seven years old, writing, “If I kill at least 10 Protestants, God will bless me.” Horrible. We are insane and we want to make our children also insane.
So to regain our sanity is our purpose. Let us play with our varieties but not fight about them. Let us be together as beautiful children of that one supreme God. Wherever you go, spread this. And in your own life never negate anybody in the name of religion or race or color or creed. Know they are your own. If even a few people can change their lives like that, all their great efforts will be well rewarded. May God guide them, continue to give them health and strength to go to all the corners of the earth with this message. That is my sincere wish and prayer. Thank you for your patience. Om Shanthi Shanthi Shanthi.
Excerpts reprinted from Integral Yoga, Vol. VIII, No. 5, with the kind permission of the editorial staff of Integral Yoga magazine.