The Essentials of Religion

Religion is both a divine and a human institution.

Its divine aspect, where God is one, is the ideal aspect and in it there are no differentiations. The goal is the attainment of perfection, peace and highest Knowledge. In this divine aspect, it is pure as it comes from the Supreme Reality Itself through the medium of incarnations and god-men. It is transcendental and goes beyond all limitations of word and thought.

When this thought is carried to individuals and groups, it gets influenced by the character of the people. In its human aspect, the essentials and the nonessentials are so perfectly mingled as one loses sight of the essential aspects and always sees the nonessentials.

The essentials are purity, unselfishness, renunciation, love and reverence. These are required to protect the natural inner love and to allow the mystical experience to grow and manifest. The nonessentials include rituals, myths and ceremonies.

Real danger comes when the nonessentials swallow the essentials of religion. New values emerge, based on the experience of the sensate world. These values give a hard blow to faith, which always has, as its basis, a simple and truthful life.

But it is very difficult to separate the essential and the nonessential. The pure concept of religion emphasising only the essentials does not make it a practical approach. Thus a commingling of essential and nonessential aspects is required, the latter being the means to attain the former, which is the goal.

Sensate world gives us happiness and satisfaction which is at best transitory. Even with the highest achievement, a high level of dissatisfaction is felt. We cling to life but discover that this life is death.

Jesus Christ said: “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”

Taittiriya Upanishad states : “Love is the whole of religion. …That self-creator is verily the source of joy; for one becomes blissful by coming in contact with that source of joy.

God is a magnet. He attracts everyone who attains purity of heart and devotion.

Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita : “I am the same to all beings; to me there is none hateful nor dear. But those who worship me with devotion, they are in me and I also am in them.

  • Excerpts from SWAMI BHASHYANANDA’s From The Unreal To The Real. 1-12.
  • The extracts are not continuous. Selection and emphasis, mine.
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