Do you remember when we talked in the TV room about different religions and God? The conversation was pretty short because you were busy with the TV and I remember thinking: I should write you a letter that might explain better about religions that might help you understand them better.
Religions are sort of like cars! Everyone drives a different kind. Some have Fords, some Chevys, some have BMWs and some have Toyotas. Some are slow and some are fast. Some are smaller and some are larger, and they may have different colors. It would be pointless to argue about whose car is better. Each person would like his own and would praise it over another choice. But can you imagine what would happen if each person felt so strongly about his own car that he would argue with, fight and even kill someone who disagreed with him? This would be ignorant and harmful because, basically, all cars are really the same: all have the same internal combustion engine, a metal body, four wheels and all serve the same purpose of taking the owner to his destination. It is the same with religions. Each one might look a little different than the next but they serve the same purpose: ideally, to get someone to God.
It is said that God sent different men of wisdom to earth. They were called prophets and came to help people at different times in history: Abraham, Jesus, Muhammad -- each brought truth at a certain time in history to help human beings to search for peace by finding God.
These men of God came only to bring truth to man. They did not come to establish religions. That was man's work, not God's. Over time, the understanding of the truth of each prophet was interpreted, formed, written down as a religion and presented to man.
In the Middle East we see what has happened over the past years. The original truth of unity and compassion -- that we are all the same and should treat each other as family -- has been destroyed. The Prophet Abraham was the patriarch from whom the three Middle Eastern religions descended -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Each religion carved out its own territory in the Middle East and had a different way of praising God. Instead of acting as one family, these descendants of Abraham are now killing one another in the name of God.
Alexander, I was born into a Christian family and went to Sunday School and Church. Later in life, I became interested in Buddhism and entered a monastery in Japan to study for a year to learn how to meditate in the Buddhist tradition. After that I became interested in Islam, read the Quran and studied the teaching of the Prophet Muhammad. At this time I was very fortunate to meet a true sage who was Bawa.
Bawa, himself, had practiced all the religions and had come to a deep understanding of them. As a Sufi, he had that special gift of finding and revealing the essential truth that is contained within all religions, namely the purity and oneness of God. Thus, whenever he spoke, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews and Christians would sit together for hours listening to his wisdom.
This is what Bawa asked us to do to live a meaningful life:
- Have faith in God.
- Respect your parents and help them.
- Respect your teachers and treat them as your second parents.
- Change your life by having good thoughts, good intentions and good behavior.
- Always tell the truth and what is right.
- Show compassion, love and unity equally to all.
- Do not hurt others with your thoughts or your actions. The pain you cause another will come back to you.
- If you do not hate others, they will not hate you.
- God exists in any heart where there is truth, conscience and justice.
- So light the lamp of wisdom in your heart. Then, you will find heaven here in this world.
Alexander, I hope this is of value to you. If you like, we can talk more about these things at Christmas time.
I look forward to seeing you,
Much love, Lockie