Challenge to Religious Leaders
Tension means a lack of spiritual awakening
The tension that we all feel in the world is not a matter of wealth or poverty. Some people who have a lot of money are filled with worry. Some have no money and are worried. Still others have no money but yet are happy. When our people go to fight on our boundaries, they are not fighting to eliminate poverty. Those are wars of egoism and selfishness. One side says, “I am stronger than you,” and the other says the same. For peace to arise, there must be an inner awakening in our consciousness.
Religion means love, love and service . It is said, “Love your neighbour.” Adjacent countries are also your neighbours. It is said, “Do not deprive anyone of their rights. Do not attack anyone.” For this, a spiritual awakening must occur. People must be taught how to find peace through meditation and prayer. Now they are still filled with worry and conflict. Unless they themselves do these things, what can either they or religious leaders do to change the situations? This inner awakening must become a practical reality.
When religious leaders speak, the issue is not whether they have read books. The question is whether or not they themselves have awakened spiritually.
Dharma [spirituality] is very powerful. It transforms people’s minds, transforms their lives, and transforms their inner habits. It is only spirituality that changes people.
The same Source, the same message
What steps can be taken? To begin with, the various religions should decide this point: Are all religions one or separate? To be sure, the lifestyles, the ways of prayer and worship, are different. But inner enlightenment is one. First we should explain that Jesus preached the same thing that Moses preached, that what Moses said was the same as what the Prophet Muhammad said. By our doing so, more than half of the peace we desire will appear.
Now the great conflict and hatred is that one says, “My religion is good,” while another says, “My religion is good.”
Thus we should look at the messages of all the prophets and messiahs. They say, “Love each other. Help people, think of serving. Love God. Give that Love of God to the trees, to the animals, to humans, to the earth.” The love of God heals everything. Today there is great need of healing by God’s Love. We must receive this Love from God, by loving God, and then sharing that Love with all, considering everything God’s creation. Guru Nanak said, “I am wonderstruck to see that God is residing within all of Creation!” Those who speak for God must first have this inner awakening. The teachings and practical lives of the prophets reveal that they themselves saw God everywhere.
If priests, pujaris, or granthis are sitting in temples, mosques, churches, or gurdwaras, it does not necessarily mean that they have realized God. They are managers. Anyone can enter management. Did a priest become a religious manager by reading books or was he or she chosen by God?
Therefore, first of all we should understand and make this the priority of this meeting: That the message of all the prophets and messiahs and nabis is one. If we all believe that their message is one, there will be great progress toward peace among the people. We have become preachers and religious leaders, but people will be affected by our preaching only when we understand the prophets’ message as one. Now we preachers do not understand this.
Ask all the religious leaders who have come to this meeting whether they celebrate other prophets’ holidays or only their own. You will find only those who celebrate the birthdays of their own prophet.
First we should recognize these cracks which divide religious leaders; then these cracks should be obliterated. Religious workers will know whether they themselves are spiritual or not. Do we have the forgiveness of Jesus, who from the cross prayed, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do”? When the prophets were here, they had no gold-covered buildings. They built a beautiful inner temple where peace prevailed. If we are spiritual, we will be contemplating all prophets, loving their messages, loving their commandments, loving their ethical codes.
Throughout the world, religion has become a great fort made of hatred. All the prophets have taught us otherwise. The Prophet Muhammad has said, “Allah is Merciful. Why then are people not merciful?” Jesus says, “My Father says, ‘Love.'” Guru Gobind Singh says, “Listen, everyone, for I am telling the truth: Only those who have deeply loved have attained God.” All prophets, messiahs, and nabis have come in love, and all have said the same thing: Love. We should first adopt this message.
Solve these issues and peace will come:
My prophet is greater than your prophet.
If we think, “My prophet is special; your prophet is not special,” then forget it. You may hold as many meetings as you can, but this conflict will never end. Raise this question first. It is a very big question. We all know very well that everyone says, “My prophet is greater than your prophet.” Some say, “Ours is the only prophet. There are no other prophets.” First we should end this conflict.
End border conflicts
After that, we should end the conflicts over political boundaries. When the boundaries have been marked, what is the conflict? By ending the conflicts over boundaries and the conflicts caused by thinking one’s prophet superior to others, peace will automatically come to the public. The common people are very good, very innocent-minded. They will move in whatever direction we ask them to go.
You might ask, “Can religious leaders help by going to the borders?” They could help only when they think, “Those people belong to a religion whose Source is the same as ours.” Otherwise, the other side will feel, “That person has come from outside our religion. How can a follower of another prophet give us instructions?” Religious leaders will not be heard unless they believe in the oneness of dharma. When they will consider the prophets, messiahs, and nabis as messengers of the same One, then it is possible that they may have an effect. Now there will be no impact. You are not taking hold of the roots of the problem. You are grasping small twigs.
How can religious leaders bring peace when they believe theirs is the only way?
How can religious representatives bring peace? If someone goes to speak among Christians, they will say, “Listen to us. We believe in Jesus. Jesus is the only Son of God. You say there is another Son also.” They will grab the cross and hit him on the head, and he will draw a sword and strike them with it. They will say, “He is the only Son of God,” and he will reply, “No, there are other prophets also. Our prophet is also a Son of God.” They will say, “How can it be?” But as Guru Gobind Singh said, “If you consider the Masters separate, you will never receive spiritual power.”
Each group will say, “Our scripture is unique. It is the only spiritual scripture which has come to this earth. No other scriptures have come from God.” But Guru Nanak said, “Do not consider the Vedas, Qur’an, and other scriptures false. Contemplate them.” The Holy Qur’an reveals, “Say: I believe in whatever Book Allah has sent down.” Enlightened wisdom is one. When we have not even understood the enlightened wisdom in our own scriptures, how can we preach to others?
My message is that all prophets have come from one Place. There is one God, and they have brought His message. But religious leaders do not agree that they have come from one God. They say, “Mine is unique, mine is unique.”
Therefore you must first deal with the conflict among the religious leaders. The laypeople are not at fault. If this movement were taken to the villages–that Jesus came from the same place wherefrom Guru Gobind Singh came, that Jesus came from the same place wherefrom the Prophet Muhammad came, that Moses came from the same place wherefrom Guru Nanak came–then these conflicts would end. But the religious spokespeople do not agree. They will say, “Moses is our elder. Where does Guru Nanak enter the picture?”
In reality, we do not know where the disease lies. The disease is lying here–in religion. They say, “Nobody else can be like Guru Gobind Singh.” “Nobody else can be like Lord Rama.” If you take Lord Krishna’s name, there will be a conflict. I believe one hundred percent that the root of the conflict lies here. First eliminate it.
One person is not ready to congratulate another on the celebration of his prophet’s birthday. When Christmas is celebrated, another will say, “This is the celebration of Jesus’s birthday. What does it have to do with Sikhs? Jesus belongs to Christians, not to Sikhs.” To the contrary, Jesus belongs to the whole universe. Guru Gobind Singh is not the leader of a sect but a teacher for the whole universe. When we look with enlightened wisdom, we will see that this is true of all the prophets.
First digest these points in your mind: Religious places belong to everyone. Where there is truth, it is for all. Where there is love, it is for all. Where there is prayer, it is for all. Where there is worship, where there is reading of scripture, it is for all.
What power do religious leaders have?
Why are you treating religious leaders as supreme powers? Up to today, they have not brought peace. What will they do on the borders? Weapons are being used there. The religious leaders have not done anything even on the boundaries where weapons are not being used. Up to today, they could not celebrate the church’s holidays in the gurdwara, or in the mosque. Swords would be drawn there. What would they do on the borders? Very heavy artillery is being fired there.
Millions of dollars are being spent on such meetings as this. Planeloads of people will go, planeloads of people will come back, and millions of dollars will have been spent. What will be the result? Will they go to the borders and bring peace there? There is no peace in their religious places. Even followers of the same prophet are at war with each other.
Only if they can make peace among themselves can they be successful. If followers of different prophets cannot sit together, how can they bring the combatants together?
A plan for peace
Charge the religious leaders with this duty: They should go their religious places and celebrate the holy days of each prophet. They should gather their whole congregation and explain, “This prophet brought this message of love, this prophet said this about love.” When their congregations will unite behind this theme, then the society will itself unite. Keep meeting in this way, and then after six months, after one year, see how successful you have been.
If you speak of other masters and saints, people may suspect that you want to change their religion. To the contrary, it is good to remain firm in one’s faith. What is there to change? The Light and enlightened wisdom of God are already within us all. They are not to be changed. They are to be recognized. Then one will believe the teaching of Jesus, the teaching of the Prophet Muhammad, the teaching of Buddha, the teaching of all the prophets.
First those who call themselves religious authorities must recognize that Light within every person. Jesus’s Father is within everyone, the Prophet Muhammad’s Allah is within everyone (“closer than his jugular vein”), Guru Gobind Singh’s Father is within everyone (“nearer than hands and feet”), the Paramatma of whom Lord Ram and Lord Krishna speak is within everyone. Therefore, let us all turn inside.
Instead, people are now placing more emphasis on outer codes. True spiritual discipline exists only where there is love and service–and these are in all religions. Collect that ethical code, collect that love, that willingness to serve. Whatever you have, share it.
Lead people to peace—Lead them to the Light
You all speak about dharma. All the points tally with each other. But the religious leaders have separated the sects, related their different stories, and the people have become perplexed. There are people who go daily to their religious places to pray and worship, but still they are very nervous. They quarrel amongst themselves, and there are conflicts and divorces in their homes. This means they have not seen within everyone the Light of which the prophets speak. Dharma is eternal, but the people within the various religions have become confused, for the religious leaders are keeping them away from God.
We religious leaders are responsible for war and conflict if we do not teach peace to our people. We must look within ourselves, both individually and as a collective body. Have we developed peace within ourselves or shown our people a path of peace? When we ourselves are not at peace, not one with the Eternal One, how can peace come?
Are we worthy of the mantle we wear as servants of God, servants of Truth? Are we moving people closer to God, to Truth, or tying them to ourselves or to the institution we represent?
Peace will only come when we step aside and let the Force of God, the Force of Truth work in the world. We have walled up the Light. Let down the walls. Share the love. Allow hatred to vanish with the darkness. Celebrate the Light in everyone and everything. Share each other’s scriptures and celebrate each other’s holidays.