The soul of the universe must be confused over many centuries about religions! Religions are meant for keeping peace and prosperity all over the universe at one hand; but on the other, we know many times they, knowingly or unknowingly, become agents of communal violence and disharmony. On ground of it there are many secular ideologies developed in the history fully negating the concept of religion itself. Being researches in the field of scientific studies of religions, it is our duty to fix this issue and to give an adequate answer to this criticism.
The phenomenon Religion is as old as human history. All efforts that the global society at time to time at different continents and living situations taken for the well being of the universe are all known as religions in general. Most of the religions believe in God and trying to practice good virtues. They pray and wish the well being of the entire Universe. There is no doubt for those who study the history of humanity in a balanced way that the religions played a very good role for the peaceful coexistence of different communities of linguistic and ethnic diversities all over the world. But at the same time whenever religions turn parochial in their perspectives, there the same peace-makers become evil forces and disturbs communities. We see so many examples for this reality in the history of the world.
Those who know the true spirit and essence of any religion can never turn to any sort of religious fanaticism and give troubles to the world; rather they will be peace makers in communities. Friedrich Max Müller (1823-1900), the famous orientologist, thus says this remark after studying numerous religions and their basic ethos:“Wer kennt eine Religion, kennt er alle religionen.” They were always efforts taken in the history of humanity to use religions positively for a peaceful co-existence of different communities; and many of them worked successfully. Instead of making exclusive claims and segregate people from people, religions can have positive understandings and they could be in dialogues and work hand in hand for the ultimate goal, the well being of the universe.
Thus in the modern history of the world, interreligious dialogue bodies like World Conference on Religion and Peace (WCRP) met many times as a continuation of an important heritage like the Parliament of Religions in 1893 , revealed on the international level a basic unity of purpose and goal amid diversities of religious belief, and widened the pathway of inter-religious cooperation for peace. In spite of the scars of religious strife in some parts of the world, the humanity perceive with joy a growing ferment of mutual understanding and respect among the followers of the great religions. Though we are still in the process of learning, while maintaining our commitment to our respective faiths and traditions, we may respect and understand the devotion of others to their faiths and religious practices.
Those who are at the warhead of interreligious dialogues know that the forces which negate human dignity are still strong and all around us. We see the menace of deadly nuclear weapons and desperate national insecurity. Technological and economic power often exploits and excludes the poor of the world. Political power often represses dissidents and denies human rights. Human greed also destroys the natural environment on which we all depend. We realize that our religious insights and actions are only one contribution to the struggle against these forces. We therefore have to work in unity, with humility but with urgency using the resources of our traditions and beliefs, to cast out the danger before the world.
Is Peace possible?
In a global perspective, Peace can be defined as a World Community built in love, freedom, justice, and truth. It is the goal of all our striving; it should not be a utopian dream. Despite the facts like the centers of economic power intensify their exploitation, and as stockpiles of nuclear weapons grow, we have to stand together in a spirit of hope. In our various religions, we know that we are members of one universal family . Sustained and motivated by the spiritual power by which we all live, we believe that there is an alternative to violence. We believe that peace is possible. This should be the hope we would share with the whole world. We have to dedicate ourselves to the task of becoming more effective agents of building interreligious communities. Being religious people and leaders of communities, we have a special responsibility for building a peaceful world community.
On the one hand, we realize that far too often the names of our various religions have been used in warfare and community strife, and that we must work harder against this. We cannot deny the facts and have to confess that:
- The practices of our religious communities are often a divisive force in the world;
- Too often we conform to the powers of the world, even when they do wrong, rather than confronting those powers with the Word of the Teachings of our religions;
- We have not done enough as servants and advocates of suffering and exploited human beings; and
- We have done too little to build inter-religious understanding and communities among ourselves on the local level where prejudices run strong.
On the other hand, we have been brought to a new awareness, in this two days seminar on interreligious coalition for Peace, of the deep resources, both in Governmental and NGO levels, we share for making peace.
- Adhering to different religions, we may differ in our objects of faith and worship. Nevertheless, in the way we practice our faith, we all confess that the God or the Truth is one in which we believe transcends the powers and divisions of this world. We are not masters, but servants and witnesses, always being changed and disciplined in worship, meditation, and practice by the truth which we confess.
- We all acknowledge restraint and self-discipline in a community of giving and forgiving love as basic to human life and the form of true blessedness.
- We are all commanded by our faiths to seek justice in the world in a community of free and equal persons. In this search, conscience is given to every person as a moral guide to the ways of truth among us all.
- We believe that peace in world community is not only possible but is the way of life for human beings on earth, as we learn it in our prayers or meditations during these two days and by our faiths.
If religions come together to propagate active love, uniting men and women in the search for righteousness, will liberate the world from all injustice, hatred, and wrong. Common suffering whatever the universe face today may be the means of making us realize that we are brothers and sisters, called to overcome the sources of that suffering. Modern civilization may someday be changed so that neighborly good will and helpful partnership may be fostered; and all religions may increasingly cooperate in creating a responsible world community.
Mobilization for Peace, Justice and Dignity of the universe should be our real goal:
I want to mention at least five special areas where we have to concentrate the work of interreligious movements for the future of our globe; and I believe that it is the prime duty of the leading religions of the world and their leaders to launch effective programs in this respect in order to protect the global community from dangers of the present era.
1. International Economic Order
A new international economic order of growing justice and equity would stimulate all nations to achieve viable and self-reliant national economies, capable of participating in international trade on a basis of equality rather than dependence. In order to establish this new vision, there must be the political and social will to promote balanced economic growth worldwide and to allocate its benefits to the abolition of poverty, the meeting of all basic human needs, and the creation of equitable trade relations between the industrial and the developing countries. It is our duty to call upon religious people to work for the elimination of the structures of economic and social injustice and to mobilize governmental public opinion in favor. All the wealth of the universe is a common heritage held in trusteeship for all . We have to advocate ourselves and our fellow-pilgrims that the rights of yet-to-be born generations to planetary resources that have been wisely developed rather than wastefully exhausted.
2. Nuclear and Conventional Disarmament
The major concern for the human family on earth even today is the looming danger of nuclear annihilation, either by design or accident. A global moral and religious campaign which will say NO to ANY KIND OF WAR BETWEEN NATIONS OR PEOPLES is our call to governments, religious groups, and all men and women of conscience and faith. The interreligious movements must work toward disarmament and nonviolent means of maintaining security. As a prerequisite, it is essential to create an atmosphere of trust and foster a spirit of conciliation between peoples.
3. Human Rights
Interreligious movements should pledge our support to all societies, organizations, and groups sincerely struggling for human rights and opposing their violation. So we should condemn religious discrimination in any form. All human beings are born free and for freedom that they are equal in dignity and rights, and that any discrimination is incompatible with human dignity. Each new born in this world should breath the air of freedom, peace and justice around him/er as it is declared by UN on the occasion of International Year of Children in1959 . Religious people should work harmoniously for the adoption of social, economic, and population policies to assure a better and a brighter future for every child.
4. Environment and Energy Crisis
The earth is threatened increasingly by human misuse of the environment in quest of material prosperity. We are endangering future generations by our depletion of nonrenewable natural resources, our pollution of air and water with chemical and radioactive wastes, and our overexploitation of the soil in many parts of the world. An energy crisis stares us in the face. With diminishing supplies, of oil, nations and individuals will have to make sacrifices, develop alternative – if possible renewable – sources of energy, and even change their lifestyles. The resources of all religions are needed to cultivate respect for the natural world in which we live conservation of its resources, and a style of human life that is in harmony with all of nature.
5. Education for Peace
The world’s religious bodies must undertake major educational programs to increase mutual appreciation of all peoples and cultures and foster a commitment to the values of peace. Our efforts so far have not been sufficient. We therefore rededicate ourselves to the education of children, youth, and adults, to the training of our religious leaders, and to the promotion of values of peace and understanding in our conduct in personal and public life.
Ultimately, peace and justice move toward the salvation and wholeness of all humanity, and flow from them as well. We, as followers of great religions, should be the channels through which spiritual power can flow for the healing of the world. We should confess that we have not been worthy of this high calling, but we pledge ourselves here anew to be its faithful servants and witnesses. World peace in world community, with justice for all, is possible.
Let me conclude by quoting some universal prayers we have from different religious traditions which enables our goal.
- The most important prayer of Buddhism, for example, says:
“Buddham saranam gacchami. Dhammam saranam gacchami. Sangham saranamgacchami”.
Advocates a true religious movement of Knowing the Reality, Practicing it and receive Energy of people that through.
- The Christians: Kriye elison, a prayer and aspiration for the God’s mercy to the entire universe and
- The Indian religions teach: Loka samastha sukino bhavanthu, let the whole World have always Wellbeing.
If these and many other prayers of this kind become a reality, the efforts of Interreligious Dialogues get their goal done and the global community will be benefited towards their future for having real Peace, Justice and dignity of Universe