3 Comparative Study of World Religions
Religions and divine revelations originally given to mankind as guiding lights for his spiritual development, for leading an ethical and fulfilled life, for social prosperity, realization of peace and final redemption from all evil, have nowadays been perverted into destructive ideologies of cruel fanatics and thus become the main causes of world-wide conflicts and terror. Moral degeneration and human destructiveness is getting to a point, which is becoming crucial to our very existence and survival. The question: “Man, where are you going?” is rising with growing power and command. Our religions, given by the Holy One to fill our lives with wisdom and happiness and to guide us towards the lofty goal of eternal life and perfection have been misused by many false prophets and leaders and finally been perverted into weapons of suppression, moral exploitation of our sensitive human nature and ceaseless destruction of body, soul and mind. The glooming fire of devotion and love for G-d, our Lord and Creator has turned into cold materialistic calculation and original divine impetus to create a kingdom of peace and glory on earth has turned into self-just ignorance. If we want to spiritually survive, there is only one chance: to pull our faces out of the sand and turn back to the very root of our exhausted soul, which also is the flooding source of divine life and happiness. I firmly believe, that since we have the gifts to destroy and descend, we also have the gift ad power, ability and strength, to turn away from ignorance and to commit to a life of ascension and creativity, upliftment, inner maturation and growth.
The crisis we face is a crossroad and challenge: either we take to sour pill to make a full turn and change in our attitude and conduct of life, or we stubbornly continue to walk the trodden path of ignorance and self-justice, which will definitely lead us into final decay. So let us stand up to our birth-right as a child and image of G-d, rediscover our inborn light and dignity, which is based on the freedom of choice and decision and grasp the chance of the moment and cling to the revealed sources of wisdom and love, which only can transform our lives into chariots of happiness and jewels of transcendental glory and bliss.
It is nothing other than divine revelation and lofty philosophy, which provide and carry the hidden gemstones of virtue and fulfillment within their holy wombs. We have to get down to the roots of life itself, to dig out and rediscover the hidden treasures of divine revelation lying dormant in the worn out bodies of religious traditions as well as those waiting to be lifted from the depths of our souls.
Man wake up and rise! “Kumi ori” – rise and shine – this is the call of our days. It is not mere book-learning that will bring a change or even salvation, but the keen and committed urge and decision for an inner change and turning toward G-d Himself as the source of all revelation, life and well-being. Only by self-discovery and sincere seeking for G-d’s light and presence in our life, making Him the center of our very existence, we will overcome the sad old patterns of lonely worldliness and selfish ignorance and open gates of understanding, light and innocent joy and happiness.
Of course we need to rediscover, learn and understand the sources and revelations of the three religions, their scriptures and traditions, but only in the light of immediate experience of Him who is the subject and origin of them, we will get an untainted understanding and interpretation, which is beyond the misguiding powers of the unconscious tricks of our egos. Of course we can also seek for guidance with the great masters, saints and Zaddikim, who have sacrificed their lives to uplift mankind and who have lived and realized the spirit of their teaching and love, which is the heart of all religion and revelation. We need to go to the source to drink the pure waters of life and revelation and then we are able to grasp the spirit of the word. And as soon as we have understood and grasped the universal cosmic principles of spirit and truth and grounded our lives in them, all gates towards the secrets of the divine will open and reveal the hidden mysteries and meaning of the scriptures. Then we will see the unity within the diversity of all religions and even of all life and existence.
This is the way to true transcendental knowledge, that only can provide attainment of truth, peace and happiness and become a flourishing source of blessedness and relief to everyone and all without discrimination according to race, faith, breed, gender, nationality and belonging.
We have come from one origin and are meant to walk in it and to return exactly to the same place and origin for eternity. Call it Allah, Elohim, Brahman, G-d, Truth or Justice – it is one and only one force, source and root and every existence, soul and living being is drawing its light and life from it, entire depending on it in its inner condition, freedom, peace and happiness. Without it we will perish – if not immediately, then in longer turn. Time has come for a final decision.
This is the purpose and task of the Jerusalem Center for Inter-religious Understanding and Self-Realization: to promote spiritual understanding and education, reflection on the timeless values of life and humanity, the values of blessedness and prosperity, ethics, character building, on the basis of self-discovery and meditation and last not least on the profound study and understanding of the scriptures. We have to start with the source of our own religion, using the enlightening help of eastern spirituality, and then to step towards the others and finally by having the vast view of comparative study, to enrich the understanding of our own tradition by the specific aspects of the other and vice versa. Only then we will realize a spirit of unity that is able to defeat all forms of separation and judgmental discrimination.
Another issue of outstanding significance is the importance of Jerusalem to the three Abrahamic Religions as their common cradle and as subject of prophecies and divine revelations, as well as object of conflicting claims of blind fanatics. The world begins to realize that unless there will be peace in Israel, there won't be peace in the world. Political efforts, treaties and declarations alone cannot bring peace. Mere intentions, good will and prayer for peace will not suffice either. Acquiring genuine understanding of the One Truth, based upon a comprehensive universal and spiritual vision, which is the living root of our very existence and the common ground of all religions, is an indispensable requirement for succeeding towards the goal of achieving peace and welfare for all. But an indispensable part in this understanding is the true comprehension of Jerusalems’ role for Israel and the nations. The present situation calls for it.
The Jerusalem Center, inspired by Prophet Isaiah's words “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” aims:
1) To disseminate and give access to:
a) authentic texts of our monotheistic religions, of the saints and masters from their different traditions and about their underlying common denominator to foster mutual understanding;
b) unbiased information about the historical background of Jerusalem as the cradle of the three religions of Shem;
c) sources of the Far Eastern religions inasmuch as such knowledge can widen our horizon, enhance a better understanding of the spirit of one ‘s own tradition and open our inner sight for the wider perspective of Universal Truth and Unity.
d) a profound understanding of the spiritual and ethical values drawn from the Body of the Holy Scriptures, and introducing us to them in the spirit of Truth;
2) to offer
e) spiritual practices and exercises (as meditation, prayer of the heart and self-discovery) in order to personally realize the spirit of religion;
f) courses and seminars to foster inner experience as well as intellectual understanding of the universal purpose, sanctity and principles of life, as well as all subjects related to its realization;
g) study of the original revelations and inspired comments to them under the guidance of G-d-appointed teachers;
3) the implementation of the above in our personal lives and relations by various and suitable means of personal exchange, communication and experience.
The Center shall be open und accessible to all.
This project is run in co-operation with the Elijah-interfaith-Institute, Hommes de Paroles and WCRP (World Council of Religions for Peace) and is heading towards establishing a Permanent Parliament of the Community ( Alliance ) of World Religions in Jerusalem in the image of the UN in NY as suggested by Rabbi Yona Mezger, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem .
Paramahansa Yogananda: The Science of Religion,
Anthony Elenjimittam: Interreligious Understanding,
Heinrich Eliyahu Benedikt: Spirituality versus Religion,
Hazrat Inayat Khan: The Unity of Religious Ideals,
Imams and Rabbis for Peace (p 18, p 37-39, p 62-64, p 68-70, p 71-77, p 78-82, p 156 (Declaration))
Associate Partners are:
Rabbi Shear Yashuv Ha-Cohen, Chief Rabbi of Haifa ;
Dr. Michel Alain, Founder of Hommes de Parole, Israel and France;
Dr. Yehuda Stolov, Founder-Director of Interfaithinstitute Encounter Association;
Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bukhari, Sufi Sheikh in Jerusalem ;
Abbot Benedikt Lindemann, OSB, Hagia Maria Sion;
Dr. phil. Heinrich Eliyahu Benedikt, Education for Life;