RELIGION AND VIOLENCE
Copyright: Anand Buchwald, eMail: anand@Mirapuri-Enterprises.com
There are presently quite a number of conflicts on earth where religion is involved. And the number seems to be growing. There is a conflict between two different lines of Christianity in the northern part of Ireland. The conflict around Israel has a much older origin. There are problems with the Sikhs in India and problems between Moslem and Hindu. And there is a "Holy War"-terrorism of some Moslem against the non-Moslem world. Moreover religion is often referred to in electional wars and social crises.
Regarding these points one could easily say that religion is a bad thing. But as with all, it is not the thing in itself that is bad but the use that is made of it, the attitude one takes.
But with all this war and hate and aggression and murder I doubt that any one of the great religions has a character that supports and encourages violence. The original aim of the great religions is that their followers should lead a life with a maximum of mental and physical health, social well-being and cooperation, a minimum of law and order and of course with a deep faith in God.
Naturally there is a wide range of possibilities to approach this goal. Every religion represents such a possibility. And the only reason why this should lead to conflict seems to lie in the narrowmindedness of man who doesn't feel exactly comfortable seeing this neighbor following another way to the goal.
There seems to be only one way to end these struggles: deeper insight, consciousness expansion, diving into the roots of religion - and logic.
Logic says (admitted that there is a God) that God stood at the beginning of creation, watched over the formation of earth and another billion billion planets for billions of years, watched over man (and the population of other planets) as he emerged a few hundredthousand years ago from what he had created, has been there in contact with man before there was any trace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity or Islam. So, as God has existed before any religion, how can anybody claim that only one of all those religions, and from this only one special line, knows the sole truth about God and his intentions for our lives. Moreover, if this very special one-and-only religion one day ceases to exist, and it will certainly do so in a hundred years, a thousand years or even a million years - will God cease with the religion or will he persist? Well, the answer is obvious. Everyone who holds his religion to be the one-and-only one puts the religion above God who by nature is more than any religion. And God being infinitely greater than we are (Who would not agree to this?) cannot be grasped or definitely described by such a small and petty thing as a religion founded a few thousand years ago, several billion years after creation. One could even call this attempt a sacrilege.
This was a more cosmic view on religion. But there are other points of view. Every religion was founded under peculiar circumstances, maybe as God's answer to the needs of the people. Maybe he appeared each time in one way or another. But it was the people who put God's intentions into words and surrounded it by rules and dogmas. It can be doubted that God even said: "Go, build a religion in my name. Call me with this name and only with this. Name the religion in this way. Perform every morning this rite......" So it is certainly man who has created the religions. And he has created it according to his time and circumstances and needs. Other people in other times have other circumstances and needs, hence other religions. But this also means, that as things, circumstances and needs are continually changing, religions should adapt. If the body of religion at the beginning may have been near to the truth it need not neccessarily be so now. Everyone knows the story of Galileo. What has been truth up to his time wasn't true but false thereafter and he has suffered because of the system's inability to change.
Two points in passing: God speaks to us in a language and about things we might understand. If our abilities to understand grow, he would have to talk to us anew so he can tell us new things and make us understand other things and maybe old things. - If God nowadays would send someone to enlarge the scope of his intentions with man, to put things right, that have gone astray in interpretation, to renew a religion, to show new forms more adapted to our present time - who would recognize him, who would accept him, who would adapt to the new ways??? Would he not be nailed on a cross - symbolically speaking?
Now a new access to religion is needed. An access that takes heed of the fact that the mental abilities have increased over thousands of years and so should have social abilities. Religions should concentrate on what is really essential within them and so put an end to those unneccessary acts of violence.
Everyone who is involved in conflicts with religious background should take some time to take a deeper look into the religion he pretends to fight for. Does it really in its heart of hearts say: "Go and fight in my name and kill as much as you can and sow sorrow and hate and illnes and death among my children!"???
Take a look at the structure of religion. Take for instance the outer circle, the Health Aspect. Jews are not allowed to eat pork. Modern nutrition shows that this meat isn't very good because of the hidden fat it contains everywhere. Maybe it got bad earlier or more easily than other meat in the hot climate. Maybe the pigs were always contaminated with worms. So there was good reason to avoid pork - at that time. Today we have cold-storage depots and veterinary aid - so the old rules do not make much sense anymore. Should a new religion be founded today it would rather be beef to be damned.
Then there is the Social Circle: Do not kill. Do not steal. Do not lie. These are rules that are intended to create the basics on which everybody can rely on and maybe overcome some bad streaks of character. This all is to improve social life. Even the Moslem wine-ban may have a social aspect. Maybe the people of that time and place have been susceptible to alcohol-addiction or showed no inclination to limit the amounts drunk to a level that was physically and socially healthy. But one cannot grow by suppressing things and behaviour patterns and attitudes. Though undoubtedly these rules may be a healp to weak people, they also may be a hindrance in the development because the weak streaks are not really overcome but only put aside to show their ugly face at the first possibility - and every excuse will do. Regarding this one should take a new look on these "Holy Wars". The mastering of these weak streaks is not really encouraged in most religions - which is one of the major problems of our times.
Both these circles are not really religious in nature. The next circle is the religious history. It contains stories told about the founder of the religion, his journeys and his disciples and other stories connected to the religion. These stories build the main body of the written and narrated religion. But despite of this they are usually poor in essential religious thought.
The next circle is the Circle of the Ideal. This may be small in mass but heavy in content like "Thou shalt love and understand everybody!" in Christianity (This should be sufficient to instantly end most of the wars where Christians are involved) or of the elaborate kind that can be found in Buddhism. This circle is where religion really begins. And if the religious leaders all over the world would really heed this circle war, conflict and strife shouldn't be possible.
Then last - but certainly not least - there is the Inner Circle. The core of all religious thought, the center of every religion is God. And it can be doubted that there is a different God for each religion. There should be only one God that has many different appearances and names. This way, everybody can approach the God of his religion and find the one God - which should be the final aim of religion. So it is in the Inner Circle where all religions finally meet.
One should expect from the religious leaders that they are nearer to the Inner Circle than the common man. Therefore they should be the first to have peace with other religions and also to deeply respect them. When this is not so, the leader usually is guided by the yearning for power and not by the yearning for God, or he is at the least trapped in one of the outer circles, that are not essential to religion.
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