When I advocate a spirituality beyond religions and when I focus on relationships that go beyond blood connections, my relatives are somewhat confused. They are puzzled when I use the name, Snehananda Jyoti (Love-Bliss-Light), with the title, Swami (one who has conquered oneself), to describe my current identity. (Snehananda Jyoti is not my official name; and the title, Swami, is certainly a tall claim). The confusion and puzzlement suffered by persons who do not take spirituality and doing God’s will seriously are understandable. Am I a Hindu? In a way I am in the sense Hinduism is a way of life, and I adopt the best values of Hinduism such as detachment, renunciation, tolerance, purity of intention, truth, and non-violence. But these are also values taught by Christ. Am I a Christian? I am in that I follow the teachings of Christ. The primary teaching of Christ is to do the will of God, our father and mother. His mission clearly spelt out a preferential option for the poor, the down-trodden, the powerless, and the least human being. In the kingdom he preached there is no discrimination, bias, or prejudice; there is no Jew or gentile, black or white, high cast or low caste, male or female. He did not bind any one to any dogma, doctrine, or ritual except to love and the freeing truth. In his kingdom all live in harmony in the spirit of accommodation based on forgiveness and reconciliation. Therefore Christianity as Hinduism is also a way of life. In fact Thomas, a disciple of Christ, who came to India called those who followed the teachings of Christ the followers of the new path or those who joined the new way. In this way of life primarily inspired by the revolutionary teachings of Christ, I take everything good from other religions, persuasions, or traditions. Nobody has to be a Christian to follow the teachings of Christ as amply demonstrated by Gandhi, a Hindu. Christ did not penalize those who did what he told his disciples to do even though they did not belong to the group of his disciples. Truly Gandhi was beyond all religions. So was Christ when he told the Samaritan woman that God needs to be worshipped only in spirit and truth and not in any particular place.
What is the reason for my hesitation in belonging to any organized religion? It was the high priest and the dignitaries of the organized religion that Christ belonged, who decided that he should undergo the terrible death of the worst criminal. All religions over the years have fought among themselves and have done terrible things to those who did not agree with their views or doctrines. Nations that were supposed to have followed the teachings of Christ or Islam or Hinduism have committed the worst crimes that humanity suffered. What mattered to followers of religions was the acquisition of power and wealth through any means. As a result religions have lost credibility, and are drifting in the vast ocean of rites, rituals, and meaningless practices ridden with superstitions, cumbersome baggages, crushing burdens, and dead weights of the past. Currently I do not believe in original sin or hell. I do believe in some kind of a purification center though in afterlife.
All are children of God. Let the representatives of all religions teach humanity the best that they can offer. Let every human choose in spirit and truth what one needs. Let conversion be left to the Spirit of God. Meanwhile let us all work on social and distributive justice for the betterment of the least advantaged human being. Let us model spiritual life as meticulously as a worldly fashion model does to achieve the desired result. All will chose led by the Spirit of God the best that they are capable of in freedom and truth.
(This was originally posted in Indian Thoughts on 09-6-2015)