"Rather than converting people from one organized religion to another organized religion, we should try to convert people from misery to happiness, from bondage to liberation and from cruelty to compassion." - Mr. S. N. Goenka, the principal teacher of Vipassana at the "Millennium World Peace Summit" New York.
That's such a lovely thought! and that is what I truely believe religion should do! Religion is to liberate man from all suffering and bondages, not to create suffering or to shackle man. True religion is to serve humanity and spread love and compassion, not to evoke hatred.
That reminds of the lines from one of my favourite songs from the movie Anari, lines I truely believe in..
"Kisiki muskuraahaton pe ho nisaar
Kisika dard mil sake to le udhaar
Kisike waaste ho tere dil mein pyaar
Jeena issi ka naam hai"
And this brings me back to the poem of Abu Ben Adhem (May his tribe increase!) by James L. Hunt. The spirit reflected by Abu Ben Adhem continues to inspire me today and will throughout my life! His attitude captures the essence of religion!
Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An Angel writing in a book of gold:
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the Presence in the room he said,"What writest thou?"
The Vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord
Answered, "The names of those who love the Lord."
"And is mine one?" said Abou.
"Nay, not so,"Replied the Angel.
Abou spoke more low,
But cheerily still;
and said, "I pray thee, then,Write me as one who loves his fellow men."
The Angel wrote, and vanished.
The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And, lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest!
You show your love to God by loving his fellow beings! "Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me.”
However we have buried this true meaning under layers of rituals and doctrines created by us and not by God. Saadi, a Persian poet from the 12th century very rightly wrote “To give joy to a single heart by a single kind act is better than a thousand head-bowings in prayer.”