Hinduism has a quote that can teach you everything you need to know about world religions and God. I will post my thoughts on what I learned while reading a world religions book by Huston Smith called “The Illustrated World’s Religions: A Guide to Our Wisdom Traditions.”
He did a fantastic job of giving readers a true perspective. This book was made to show the beauty in these different religions and explore their overarching themes. The book is not intended to compare the religions to each other, be bogged down with the dogma of the religion, or even to talk about the various groups within those religions. Smith helps you understand that this book has the purpose to translate the ideas and themes of each religion to the reader in a simple form. Smith quotes Schrodinger, “If you cannot – in the long run – tell everyone what you have been doing, your doing has been worthless.” This quote is perfect as Smith spends the entire first chapter telling us what he has been doing which is why the book has so much worth.
The chapter about Hinduism the section called “Many Paths to the Same Summit” caught my attention. At the very end of this chapter, Smith left this gem. Smith expresses that this idea is shown more clearly in Hinduism than any other religion.
Hinduism acknowledges that there are many other religions but that they are all just different paths to the same God. That different countries, times, or places opens us up to different religions that will all take us to the same place, God. I went to a Catholic high school and we had to take a variety of religion classes and in one class religion was explained very similarly to how Hinduism approaches other religions. We were told to imagine a room with no doors, windows, or lights, then were told to place an elephant in that room, and after we were told to place five people in that room. From there we had to imagine each person in that room touching different parts of this elephant they could see. After they touched the elephant, they were to describe what they felt, one person touched the tail and said a role, another touched a leg and said a tree, and so on. The explanation was that everyone would tell us what they felt, and it would all be different, yet they were all touching the same thing. Reading this section about Hinduism really reminded me of that exercise I did in class. There is beauty in acknowledging other religions as it shows a great deal of humility.
God has made different religions to suit different aspirations, times, and countries. All doctrines are only so many paths; but a path is by no means God Himself. Indeed, one can reach God if one follows any of the paths with whole-hearted devotion. One may eat a cake with icing either straight or sidewise. It will taste sweet either way. As one can ascend to the top of a house by means of a ladder or a bamboo or a staircase or a rope, so diverse are the ways and means to approach God, and every religion in the world shows one of these ways. Bow down and worship where others kneel, for where so many have adored, the kind Lord must manifest himself, for he is all mercy. People partition off their lands by means of boundaries, but no one can partition off the all-embracing sky overhead. The indivisible sky surrounds all and includes all. So it is in ignorance that people say, “My religion is the only one, my religion is the best.” When a heart is illuminated by true knowledge, it knows that above all these wars of sects and sectarians presides the one indivisible, etnernal, all-knowing bliss.”RAMAKRISHNA