In response to some of the discussion about my statements that all religions boil down to love.
Do I think my way is best?
Of course I do.
It's really hard not to think that a religion that has helped you and made sense to you wouldn't help everyone and be the best for everyone.
I think Hinduism holds the answers, otherwise I wouldn't be working so hard to be part of it.
However, Hinduism (at least Smartism) has taught me that we as human beings are all one family. More than that, we are one being. More than that even, all matter in the universe is one being (not just living matter, all matter). Unity is more important than anything else.
If I believe that Hinduism is the best religion with the clearest path to Truth, should I try to convince everyone else of that and get angry, mean, or hurt people who don't believe me? That might seem like unity: get everyone in the world on one page and kill anyone who disagrees. Okay, there's unity.
But that is ridiculous, of course. New people would be born who would have their own ideas and the cruelty of killing defeats the purpose of a unifying religion anyway. You cannot force people to agree with you (have you ever tried to have a political debate with a friend or family member? You really can't force people to agree with you).
People, while being part of the same God, experience the world differently and understand it differently. That variety is beautiful. It is the way the universe was designed to be.
Intellectually I know that there is not a single path that is going to be best and clearest for all people. We all have to follow the one that is clearest to us, the one that makes sense to us. I would not want to become like the Christians and Muslims that I have a problem with, the ones who pressure conversion, saying that their own path is the only way to Truth.
It may seem very strange to say that all religions lead to the same Truth. If you look at the teachings of some different religions, it sure doesn't seem that way. But there is a difference between what one human leader of a religion teaches his followers and what the religion is really about.
If you say, "Islam is about hate and destruction" I say, Where do you get that from? Oh, this one Imam over here says that's what Islam is about and he tells all his followers to kill anyone who isn't Muslim. That is a particular person's interpretation of Islam, but it is not the only interpretation out there.
If you say, "Christianity is about division and worshiping Jesus" I say, Where do you get that from? Oh, this Baptist preacher told me that. And maybe he has quotes from the Bible to prove it. But you know what? I have a different way of interpreting Jesus and his message. Different from all the churches. And I have Bible quotes to support my view too.
"The Kingdom of Heaven is Within You."
"Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself."
I can go on and on. There are also gospels written by people who were contemporaries of Jesus, who knew Jesus, which are not in the Bible. The Bible is a collection of writings written by men and it was men who decided which writings went in and which didn't. Human beings make mistakes.
I'm sorry that I have not read the Quran and cannot make similar arguments, but from the Muslims I have spoken to I have heard messages of love and kindness that I did not expect based on the hype around Islam.
I continue to believe that all religions are based on the same Truth at their core. There are many misinterpretations and many people preaching lies. That's true in Hinduism too. Whatever tradition we identify with, we have to continue to dig deeper and look for the Truth that resonates in our hearts, not just what our guru or preacher tells us is True.
Hinduism is the religion that resonates with me. It seems less bogged down in misunderstanding and the path seems much clearer there than anywhere else. But I have to respect that that is not the case for everyone. As much as I love Hinduism, I will continue to defend the rights of every other human being to find the Truth in his and her own way.
I think the reason some of us have so much resentment or anger toward Islam and Christianity is a fear that they are taking over. Because they are converting religions, how will mine survive? What will I do if one or the other of these religions really does take over the entire world (and what an epic showdown that would be!). As terrified as I am by that, I don't think it can happen.
I think it's like supply and demand. As long as there are people happy and getting a lot out of Hinduism, it will survive. And if there is not a single person in all the world getting anything out of a religion, that religion will die and that's okay, because no one was benefiting anyway. People are benefiting from Hinduism. I am benefiting from Hinduism!
It makes me think of a wonderful book called Fahrenheit 451. In that story, it is a future America in which the government has banned all books and all reading. Books are too dangerous because they allow people to think and form ideas on their own. All information is given to people through enormous TVs in this future world. But as hard as the government works to wipe out all literature, they cannot do it. In the end there is a group of people hiding in the forest who have memorized all the great works of literature and are passing them on orally until the world comes to its senses and realizes how much it needs that literature. It cannot be killed.
I take great hope from that story. I see this the same way. Hinduism is not at all in danger of dying out, but even if in the future it became a tiny religion, there would always be people secretly passing it on until the world became a safe place for it again. And it always will. Nothing lasts forever, so even a world-wide Islamic regime could not last forever. When the Romans tried to destroy Christianity, they couldn't because people were getting something out of it. There were people who loved Christianity enough to practice it in secret and pass it along until the world became a safe place. I love Hinduism that much.
So I control my desire to tell everyone that Hinduism is the greatest religion out there. It is for me, but I can't speak for anyone else. We all have our own paths to tread.