Perspectives on World Peace & Religious Harmony
We are pleased to offer these excepts on world peace and religious harmony based on interviews with holy people of different spiritual paths. Please use the pull-down menu (directly under Paths) on the right to access the complete interviews.
In these turbulent times peace and harmony are more important than ever. Here now, in alphabetical order, are several beautiful perspectives:
A Baptist Perspective
His remarks formulated my final question, "How do you see a more peaceful world coming about?"
He frowned. "I have a problem with this question because on the one hand, humanly, my heart says that if people would just determine and make up their minds to get along, they could get along. But, the fact of the matter is, the Bible says the heart of man is desperately wicked.
"And then it says in Matthew 24 and 25, there would be wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, and all the rest. It’s what the Bible says. And I don’t think there ever will be, that we will ever achieve, real peace on this earth. Look at Belgium. You have the Walloons and the Flemish people who for a thousand years have been feuding. They’re international award winners in science and so forth but they are still feuding. And look at the Africans, they are feuding. Look at Mexico and Central America. Still you have the differences of the various groups. And you have it throughout the entire world. You have the Arabs and you have the Jews. Look at Northern Ireland. I do not look for utopia on this earth. But in the Bible it says Jesus will come and set up his kingdom of a thousand years and that it will continue on through eternity, with Jesus Christ as our ruler. Then I would expect peace."
"Please say more about this," I urged.
"Well, the Bible says for the first thousand years Christ will set up his kingdom on this world. And after that the Bible says, in Revelations, a new heaven and a new earth will be established, whatever that means. I don’t like to be totally fatalistic and totally pessimistic. I’m glad for all the coming together — of our President and the Russians — and I still live on this earth and I still enjoy it here. I have children and I would covet for them peace on earth, but I’m afraid Armageddon is out there somewhere."
Then, in words that seemed a summation of Reverend Pelletier’s whole life, he said, "I prayed that God would make me a blessing to you people, and an inspiration, because that’s the only purpose we have for being here." He stood and we shook hands. I left the Pelletier home feeling grateful to have such a clear, succinct explanation of the Baptist faith.
A Buddhist Perspective
Reluctantly, I asked my last question, "Finally, how do you, Bhante, see a more peaceful world occurring?"
Bhante Piyadassi gazed thoughtfully at me for a while and then his clear, mellow voice replied, "To bring about peace and harmony in this world, my viewpoint is this: people have peace conferences, discussions, meetings, and all sorts of activities, but the whole thing is really in the hands of a few powerful people in powerful countries. There should be a radical change in the hearts of the people who are at the helm of affairs, otherwise you cannot bring about peace. We may talk about peace and have conferences everywhere, but what good are conferences unless the powerful people give a thought to world peace? Only they can bring about peace and harmony. We can write about peace and have discussions, but the whole thing is with these few powerful people.
"I understand that when people went to Albert Einstein and asked, ‘What do you think about the Third World War?,’ he reportedly answered, ‘I don’t know about the Third World War, but I’ll tell you about the Fourth.’ They asked him, ‘What is it? What is it? What is it?’ Einstein said, ‘When you go to wage the Fourth World War, it will be with sticks and bows and arrows. We’ll be back to primitive man.’ Einstein explained what the Third World War is going to do — complete devastation.
"So, all this peace and harmony can be brought about by only a few powerful statesmen of the powerful countries of the world. Only they can bring about peace and harmony."
A Roman Catholic Perspective
"Lastly, how do you think world peace could be achieved?"
Bishop Steinbock again studied the crucifix. "I think world peace is only going to be achieved, first of all, through internal conversion of people’s hearts. We’re not going to achieve world peace simply through political means. We’ve been trying to use political means to achieve peace since mankind has been here, and political peace is only as good as the people. People are prone to forget what they say and selfishness starts taking over. So, I think, first of all, that world peace is only going to come through God’s doing.
"Unless people have an internal conversion of the heart to God, we’re never going to build peace on politics. Politics is essential for working toward world peace but really, people have to try to have an openness to other people: respect, care, love and concern for others. Otherwise, world peace will only be words. Peace has to come from people working for justice and trying to bring justice into this world; people trying to be open to God’s love in their life. That’s the only thing that’s going to bring people together at once."
A Hindu Perspective
"Punditji, how may we have a more peaceful world?" I summed up my questions.
"I told you: have one God, one religion of humanity, and let all the people have one straight line which takes us to God," he said.
"How can we possibly do that, with so many different views and different power structures?"
"This is why my aim in life is to bring all these religious leaders together at one forum and find out the one religious stream going through all these religions and ask each of them to join this religion and nothing else. Nowadays religion itself is in danger. If the religious leaders are not awakened now, if they are as selfish as they are now, if they are fighting with each other as they are doing now, the new generation is not going to accept religion. The new generation says that it is the different religions which have brought war into this world and created great international unrest. The new generation says different religions claim to teach love and affection, but what are they doing? Fighting with each other, fighting among themselves. Religion is a divided house everywhere. If religious leaders do not develop the power of tolerance now and if they do not try to love their neighbors, they will be doomed."
I frowned. "What exactly do you mean by doomed?"
"Religion in this world will not be loved or practiced by the new generations. People have to start loving God and stop loving churches. We so-called religious people say to mankind, ‘Have tolerance, love one another,’ but to do that you have to sacrifice something — your prejudice and your prestige — for the sake of humanity. Then, you can go in harmony."
I left Professor Sharma’s company with the hope that his passion, and the love of many other religious leaders, be shared globally. I hope the yearning hearts of all people can find understanding and finally agree. Enough to get along with one another. Enough to seek world peace together.
An Islamic Perspective
We sat comfortably around his book-laden desk. I began my questions about higher levels of consciousness.
Dr. Siddiqi readily understood. "Islam is a way of peace and perfection, and a Muslim is a person striving toward that way. A Muslim is working toward peace in the full sense of the word — not just absence of war — peace, meaning wholeness, completeness, being without any defect, without any inadequacy, being perfect, being full. A Muslim is not claiming that he is perfect, but he is striving, struggling within himself and with the society around him, to reach to that goal, to that aim that he has before himself. Islam is a continuous struggle, a continuous work."
... I stopped, then went on. "This furthers my question. How should a Muslim look upon people of a different faith?"
"Islam gives a sense of great commitment to God. The Muslim knows that Islam is a way that is shown by God — the way of truth, the way of kindness," Dr. Siddiqi emphasized. "A Muslim’s duty is to live according to that commitment, truth and kindness. Also, the Muslim is to show other people this path of goodness and guidance, without judging the other people. A Muslim is not supposed to say that all these other people are going to hell."
"That’s what I was wondering," I commented, as my mind filled with images of political Christian, Jewish, and Muslim devastation from the Mideast.
"Yes, a Muslim is not supposed to say other people are going to hell. But a Muslim should always say that ‘This is the truth that I am shown through Prophet Mohammed. This is the message of truth that has come in the Koran, and it is my duty to live according to this message myself and to tell other people—because this message has to be proclaimed."’
Dr. Siddiqi leaned forward. "I have to declare this message to people. I have to tell the people, and then it’s up to the people to accept the message or not to accept it."
A Jewish Perspective
"Is there only one religion?"
"The answer, historically, is probably no, but not on a philosophical level. Judaism, obviously, recognizes the reality of different religious systems and has gone so far as to say that while God makes certain demands of all beings — certain ways in which all human beings ought to behave in response to the best within them, or within God — those demands translate sometimes differently for Jews than for non-Jews. For example, Judaism does not believe that non-Jews have to keep kosher. Jews have to keep kosher. Judaism does not believe that non-Jews have to observe the Sabbath. Only Jews have to observe the Sabbath. Non-Jews don’t have to have a Passover; only Jews do.
"But all people have to treat each other decently. Nobody has the right to steal. Nobody has the right to commit murder. Nobody has the right to be adulterous. So, there are certain universal demands on everyone, and then there are other demands for us who are Jews because we have a particular tradition."
"But those who are not Jewish," I asked, "do they have equal access and opportunity to be with the Lord in every way?"
"Absolutely," Rabbi Stern said powerfully. "Noah wasn’t Jewish, although there are some people who make Noah Jewish according to their view. And certainly the Bible says that Noah walked with God. There is no problem."
As we parted, Rabbi Stern smiled, took my hand, and said, "Good luck to you. God bless you."
I left the Rabbi’s synagogue feeling truly blessed, and very happy. I asked myself, "When will the whole world listen to such men and, free of bias, take to heart the love and great help which is so sincere and abundant?"
A Religious Science Perspective
"Dr. Hornaday, you offered many wonderful aids to achieve greater world peace, but I’d like to ask you directly, how may we have a more peaceful world?"
He smiled. "We endeavor to follow the teachings of Jesus. We call him the ‘Wayshower.’ His whole message was one of love and respect. We believe that through our faith and by our actions others will join us as peacemakers. As we recognize the Christ-spirit within each person, on a one-to-one basis, our unconditional love is the spark that lights the pathway for peace.
"So, my vision is to go forth like this on a one-to-one basis. You’re not going to do it through a television program or a radio program. I put my hand out, I put my arms around you. My world vision is that it is going to take all of us to do it. We can’t just get into our little chapels and churches and say, ‘All right, come. Take this course, or that course.’ It’s much greater than that. We’ve got to come out of our churches and find those who have that spark which will turn into a flame. It won’t work for us only to say, ‘We want peace if you want peace.’ God doesn’t like that. On a one-to-one basis, going out to one another, we’ve got to find those with the spark that will turn into a flame."
I understood. What he had just said had been my chief motivation for writing this website.
A Vedantic Perspective
The fundamental truth as taught by all religions is that man has to transform his base human nature into the divine that is within him. In other words, he must reach the deeper strata of his being, wherein lies his unity with all mankind. And Vedanta can help us to contact and live that truth which unfolds our real nature — the divinity lying hidden in man.
Vedanta is not a particular religion but a philosophy which includes the basic truths of all religions. It teaches that man’s real nature is divine; that it is the aim of man’s life on earth to unfold and manifest the hidden Godhead within him; and that truth is universal...
Thus Vedanta preaches a universal message, the message of harmony. In its insistence on personal experience of the truth of God, on the divinity of man, and the universality of truth it has kept the spirit of religion alive since the age of the Vedas (ancient scriptures). Even in our time there have been Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, and men like Gandhi...
This "sum total" of all religions does not mean that all people on earth have to come under the banner of one prophet or worship one aspect of God. If Christ is true, Krishna and Buddha are also true. Let there be many teachers, many scriptures; let there be churches, temples, and synagogues. Every religion is a path to reach the same goal. When the goal is reached the Christian, the Jew, the Sufi, the Hindu, and the Buddhist realize that each has worshiped the same Reality. One who has attained this knowledge is no longer a follower of a particular path or a particular religion. He has become a man of God and a blessing to mankind.
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