Religion is the most
profound and uplifting aspect of human life, as well as the most
ambiguous and contradictory. Religions have, more than any other
domain of human culture, served to instil ethical values and raise
human beings to higher levels of consciousness. We see this in the
mystics, saints, sages, seers and yogis who have existed to some
degree throughout the various religious traditions of the world.
On the other hand,
religions have been the main cause of misunderstanding, mistrust and
hatred between human beings, and have been responsible for the
greatest violence and inhumanity, which persists to the present day.
We see this in the propaganda, forceful conversions, inquisitions,
crusades, holy wars, and terrorism perpetrated in the name of
religion which often has no respect for life.
Religion means "to
unite," referring to the unification of the soul, the essence
of our being, with God, the Supreme Universal Principle. This
definition of religion is the same as that of Yoga, which refers to
uniting the individual with the Supreme Reality. Religion - properly
understood as a means of union with our fellow human beings and with
the underlying Divinity - has brought many people to the awareness
of the Divine as their true nature. Religion - improperly understood
as an exclusive belief system which places us against those who
think differently - has become the basis for murder, pillage,
genocide, wrecking entire cultures, and condemning to hell our
fellow human beings, our own brothers and sisters.