God is one, but religions are many. Life is a stream, but life forms are many. We need not be concerned with statements such as “religions divide” and the ranking of religion in terms of salvation. One thing is certain: these religious founders themselves did not coin their teaching into terms like Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, etc. They tried to teach how to live and emphasized the purpose of life for the people who were under their “custody and upbringing” – theologically speaking.
Religion as it is practiced today is an expression of the struggle of humanity to keep itself moral, pure and God-fearing. It is more a struggle to instill in the hearts of human beings the love for God. The word “God-fearing” strikes a peculiar tone, as God is love, not fear.
It is quite understandable if we pray to God for basic needs. If you ask a hungry man, “What would you prefer, God or bread?” of course he will choose bread. But we are bogged down so much in solving our material problems that we see God for the purpose of solving them, and blame God if things are adverse.
We even attribute our successes to God’s appreciation of our way of living, and hence they are considered rewards. By the same token, there is punishment.
We also seem to go to the extreme of saying that those who belong to a certain religion will be rewarded and the rest will be condemned. Many religious practitioners of the modern era seem to be fanatical about it.
One wonders who is right and who is wrong. We seem to seek God’s partnership in business. We seem to be preoccupied in asking God for material things. How many seriously inquire if it is possible to become God-like in terms of our being full of compassion, love, wisdom and purity?
If you are a friend of a benevolent king, would you beg for what he can dole out, or would you just enjoy being in his whole kingdom?
God can’t have a system of punishment and reward. He can’t differentiate between sinners and saints. He is the ultimate cause and we are the intermediate cause.
If he is all merciful, he must make sure that we are prevented from falling and from our own misbehavior. But why is this not so? This has to be understood in the overall context of Nature and its laws.
How can God give humans preferential treatment in evolution while humans also have to abide by the laws of Nature? One of the laws of the Nature is to use the faculties properly. God has bestowed mankind with two important faculties – intelligence and will power.
The improper use of these two faculties is the cause of our suffering. On the other hand, it is only by using these two faculties that we can continue the ascent back to the kingdom of God.
Religions have introduced the concept of God as something superior, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. Yes, it is indeed true. It is also something that watches our behavior, and hence we must be pious, loving, kind, etc.
No… Here also, the expectation of something rewarding from the super power predominates our affiliation with that God. And failure of the super power to fulfill that expectation seems to deny the existence of God.
Thus, God seems to be our creation rather than something eternal. If this is what we have made of religions, then these man-made religions have failed in showing us what God really is.
The question is not “Who is God?” but “What is God?” This is an essential difference between religion and spirituality.
While religions, in general, give us a list of Gods, Spirituality says, and also, the Masters of Sahaj Marg (Lalaji Maharaj, Babuji Maharaj, Chariji Maharaj, Shri. Kamlesh D Patel) say, God is within us and has no name and no form; it is a transcended condition, a feeling and an experience that all of us can have.
God is something that we have to become one with forever, eternally. When we ask the question, “What is God?” it brings forth the idea that God is perhaps a Principle. Like any principle, it is mindless. It behooves us to have sufficient wisdom, intelligence and knowledge to harness any principle for one’s ultimate benefit. And it is the domain of spirituality to deal with the subject of how to harness this principle of God in one's life for one's self.
Sahaj Marg can be looked upon as a science, and the individual is the experimenter, we being the laboratory, and the result is in attaining ourselves – a transformed self, a loving self, and a God-like self.