We are now increasingly seeing scriptural lessons becoming fundamental to our lives. Religion had a rough ride in the company of philosophers, but has been able to survive as a major influencing force on civilisation. Remember the times when Marx’s slogan “Religion is the opium of the people” emblazoned the brows of intellectual’s. Didn’t Matthew Arnold say that faith offered little more than “morality touched by emotion?” Ralph Waldo Emerson saw himself in a “moment of transition” in which “the old forms rattle, and the new delay to appear.” “Mankind cannot yet imagine a world without god. But it can realise the futility of all faiths sooner or later,” stated Carl Sagan.
Despite its detractors, religion remains firmly embedded in our universal consciousness. Those who do not subscribe to any organisational religion also now see scriptures as candle lights in their personal and professional lives. The philosophical outlook and beliefs underpin attitudes in corporations. It is honing intuitive instincts; gut feeling, as personal radar that is being built up over the years.
The fundamental approach to life of several business and political heads is rooted in the notion that every human being is born equally capable. What people lack is equal opportunity. The goal is to expand opportunity to as many people as possible so they can reach their potential. Man has been mandated by scriptures to seek guidance from God on how to lead a successful life on earth. These divine texts are a common heritage of all mankind. The spiritual endeavour of humans should be to discover cosmic truths through them with the aid of a powerful intellect. This search for truth is known as the God-centric quest to find peace and salvation in which religion and scriptural teachings are envisioned as a purposive process of continuous spiritual growth.
The core tenets of all religions are purposive and consider humans as dynamic beings engaged in a process of achieving greater degrees of perfection at both the individual and communal levels. This progressive and endless process allows religion to keep evolving in accordance with levels of human development. Religion is thus the sine qua non of human success.
An essential feature of any religious philosophy is the spirit of sincere inquiry and continual learning. The history of humanity has been punctuated by waves of progression and regression, which are the result of this spirit of curiosity. Today, there is no facet of life in which this spirit is lacking; religion being ironically but sorely the worst casualty. Fundamental to this process is the examination of theological assumptions of religion by their individual adherents.
We need to realise that our first identity is human, and our first allegiance is to humanitarianism, and all of us need freedom to determine our destiny as individuals. That is the chemistry that defines our genomes. We must try to learn that in whatever work we do, we do so without a sense of malice in our heart. Just as we yearn for freedom, we must be able to extend this basic and inviolable human right to others. That way we safeguard our own freedom.
The focus must be on the common goal and differences in rituals and cultures must not be hindrances to this objective. The human scriptures of all religions are a common heritage and have guidance for man. Human spiritual endeavour should be to discover cosmic truths through them. The new faith leaders are guided by these mechanics of religious engineering and are weighing traditional values and structures together with new insights and modern demands. They are asking questions, representing diverse viewpoints, and synthesising religion into a cradle of wisdom relevant and meaningful to our times.