Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian PhilosophyAll Roads Lead to One God

No religion which is narrow and which cannot satisfy the test of reason, will survive the coming reconstruction of society in which the values will have changed and character, not possession of wealth, title or birth will be the test of merit.  These are the words of Mahatma Gandhi.  While he also mentions that all religions have some error in them he also came to the conclusion long agothat all religions were true  But how could this be  Dont they say different things  While a word may be translated into many languages, it still maintains its meaning and while various religions seem to oppose each other, they are actually different parts of the same whole, just as Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity lead to one God.

All three religions describe the same Self.  The Hindu Upanishads describe the Collective Self (Brahman) and the Individual Self (Atman).  Just as society or the Collective Self, has many opposing sectors or polarized elementssuch as class, race and genderthe Individual Self also has polarized elements, both good and evil within it.  As Chapter 9 of the Taittiriya Upanishad says
He who knows the Bliss of Brahman...does not distress himself with the thought Why did I not do what is good Why did I do what is evil Whoever knows this regards both of these as Atman indeed he cherishes both as Atman. Such, indeed, is the Upanishad, the secret knowledge of Brahman.

In Buddhism, the same thing is true.  Anatta describes that whenever you try to identify yourself as only this or only that, you are not really describing your true Self.  Or if you say that Others are only this or that, that is not true also because as Rodney St.Michael asserts in Sync My World, Your True Self is dynamic, interconnected and impermanent, always changing depending on circumstance and time.  For example, if you identify yourself as a pure man and only a man, then what are you when you love your brothers, your father, or when you are compassionate towards sick and hungry men  Or if you identify yourself as American and only American, then what about your ancestors roots  Didnt they come from Europe, Africa, Asia or other parts of the world  If you cling to the idea of a static, permanent, non-connected Self, you will suffer, as Buddha says in the Anatta-lakkhana Sutta
Bhikkhus, form is not-self. Were form self, then this form would not lead to affliction, and one could have it of form Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus. And since form is not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of form Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.

Jesus also said the same thing.  He also describes himself as the two polar sides of the Self or Logos in Johns Revelation 18, I am the A and the Zthe one who is, the one who was, and the one who is coming, the Almighty (Gods Word Translation).  St.John also describes the non-dual dual nature of Jesus and the Self as the Logos in John 11-5 In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word (Logos) was with God, and the Word (Logos) was GodThe light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it (New International Version).  Heraclitus of Ephesus describes the Gnostic concept of the Word or Logos which Jesus uses God (the Collective Self or Brahman) is day-night, winter-summer, war-peace, satiety-hunger, and it alters just as when it is mixed with incense is named according to the aroma of each (cited in St.Michael 72).  Heraclitus also mentions that the polar opposites of the Self form one whole Listening not to me but to the Word (Logos) it is wise to agree that all things are one.

 Furthermore, in dealing with human suffering, the three religions are also similar.  The Bhagavad Gita says that suffering is real but impermanent.  Defective thinking, beliefs, attitudes and perspectives cause it.  By understanding the cause of suffering, one can be liberated from it through transformation.  Mistaken identity, attachment and ignorance cause suffering.

In the same way Buddhism, through the Four Noble Truths, explains the same teaching.  First, life is dukkha (an impermanent cycle of suffering).  Second, dukkha is caused by attachment.  Third, if attachments are extinguished, one is liberated from suffering.  Fourth, to extinguish attachments, follow the Middle Way.

True Christianity is also similar.  For early Christians, hamartia causes suffering.  The Greek word hamartia, used as far back as Aristotle is also used in the New Testament Bible, but it is translated into the word sin.  The way many clergy use the word now is different from what it originally meant.  Hamartia can mean ignorance, faulty thinking or attachments just like Buddhism and Hinduism.  The Middle Way is also suggested to liberate a person from suffering.  In Chapter 1 of Sync My World, St. Michael explains that the term hamartia is also used in ancient archery for missing the mark.  Even today, Japanese kyudo is a method of healing a person through archery by just letting go of the arrow, not being attached to the goal of hitting the center.  With practice, over time, a person becomes more centered.  As St.Michael says, sin as explained by the bulls eye analogy, simply means off-centered or eccentric.  By being balanced or moderate, one liberates himself or herself from suffering.

Furthermore, in valuing the spirit over the body, all three religions are again one.  In Buddhism, for example, Buddha is tempted by Mara (the Devil, originally the god of death), but he forsakes his body in favor of the spiritcompassion, respect, knowledge and so forth.  In the Buddhist Dhammapada, it also says

He who lives looking for pleasures only, his senses uncontrolled, immoderate in his food, idle, and weak, Mara will certainly overthrow him, as the wind throws down a weak tree. He who lives without looking for pleasures, his senses well controlled, moderate in his food, faithful and strong, him Mara will certainly not overthrow, any more than the wind throws down a strong mountain.

In Christianity, the same thing is true.  Jesus is also tempted by the Devil in Luke Chapter 4.  Jesus went to the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.   The Devil tempted him with food, power, splendor and doubt but Jesus maintained his spiritual values.

Similarly, in Hinduism, the Devil plays the role of the tempter, but it is clarified that this Devil is not a real historical figure or creature.  It is actually the imbalances or faultiness of the mind that creates the Devil, like a person who experiences delusion or the stress of everyday living.  In the Katha Upanishad (Death as a Teacher), Nachiketa encounters Yama (the god of death).  Yama is sometimes depicted in pictures with red skin and red clothes, like the Western caricature of the Devil. (Even the pitchfork of the Western Devil is Hindu.)  Nachiketa goes to the abode of Yama for three days and three nights (just like the death of Jesus) because he was disturbed by the inappropriateness of his fathers (Vajasravasa) sacrifice, where he gives all his worldly possessions to the priests.  Yama also tempts Nachiketa to forsake his wish for knowledge, but in the end Yama teaches him true immortality through the parable of the chariot.  The parable explains the Self, the body, consciousness, the mind, the fives senses and the objects perceived by the senses through the various elements of the chariot and its path.

Moreover, polytheistic Hinduism, quasi-nontheistic Buddhism and monotheistic Christianity are actually again all one.  The oldest of the three religions is Hinduism.  Three principle deities of this religion are Siva the Destroyer, Vishnu the Preserver, and Brahma the Creator.  The three are one family, and they form a dynamic interplay in the universe.

This idea is borrowed in Christianity as the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.  As 1 John 57 says For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word (Logos), and the Holy Ghost and these three are one (Authorized King James Version). The Catholic sign of the cross is also copied from the rituals of the Hindu anganyasa.

In the same way, Buddhism also has a trinity, but it is more abstract.  It is a representation of the mind.  The Triratna or Three Jewels can be seen in the Thai Airways logo.  It represents the Body (sangha), Mind (dharma) and Spirit (Buddha nature), just like Siva the Destroyer, Vishnu the Preserver and Brahma the Creator.  In modern psychology, Sigmund Freud calls it the id (bad), ego (neutral) and superego (good).  These three are the components of the mind, and the ego tries to balance the extremes of the id and superego which lead to suffering.  As Rodney St.Michael asserts, when the ego, id and superego are one, there is peace and harmony in the Self.

Indeed, the principles of all the religions mentioned are still valid in contemporary life.  The teachings are practical, and it can be applied to daily experiences.  It will improve your work, family life, relationships, health and perhaps even your aura or the way you appear or feel to others.  Not following these principles may, in fact, even lead to depression, broken relationships and even death itself.
After understanding the similarities of Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity, it will be easy to see how they can peacefully co-exist without renouncing the religion or philosophys main tenants.  People need not fight or debate on which of these three has the most correct philosophy since they are all basically the same the only real differences being language, appearance or form and style.  But its substance is the same.

It could probably be foreseen that many people following Christianity, especially the conservative or fundamentalist sect, may find some difficulty with this philosophical union.  While mainstream Hinduism and Buddhism teaches that all religions are true, mainstream Christianity, however, teaches that pagan religions are false, or even devilish, and that only Christianity is true.  But Gnostic Christianity is one with Hindu-Buddhism, and over time, conservative Christians may learn to adapt to the original form of Christianity as practiced by the early Church.

Some of them may even forsake or renounce their religion, in favor of another, but these religions will certainly survive any mass exodus because people all have different tastes or preferences.  They will still adhere to the religion or philosophy that fits their personality and style.  Moreover, just as people generally dont want to wear the same clothes, eat the same food, or visit the same vacation spots every year, followers may visit or try out other religions too, not just for curiosity, but also because they will learn to recognize and tolerate the differing values of others.  In other words, while some are going through the exit, others are entering the main door.

Furthermore, by accepting the similarities of these religions, its leaders and followers will develop a deeper understanding of their chosen faiths history.  As they study their respective faiths, they will realize that their paths cross each other, forming an interconnected and integrated web.  They will see the connections in their philosophys roots, and they will not only understand their ancient stories better they will also learn to appreciate it deeply.

There may also be a certain amount of speculation and resistance from the global community if these three religions leaders commune together in their similarities, but most of them will experience the strengthening of the global religious community.  As always, nothing is completely perfect.  There will be some at the extreme level who may think that the idea of unity is from the Devil, or some people may just not like idea at all.  But most of the people involved will appreciate the improvement of their relationships with their fellow world citizens.

In the end, as Gandhi says, I came to the conclusion long ago  that all religions were true and also that all had some error in them, and whilst I hold by my own, I should hold others as dear as Hinduism. So we can only pray, if we are Hindus, not that a Christian should become a Hindu  But our innermost prayer should be a Hindu should be a better Hindu, a Muslim a better Muslim, a Christian a better Christian.  May this prayer come true.  Amen.


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