The shared kernal of the major religions

I was fortunate that, in my formative years, I was surrounded by communities from many parts of Asia living in a mutually tolerant co-existence, with my parents teaching acceptance of all faiths. Hinduism allows that too. A most relevant parallel is that all the rivers of Earth lead to the oceans, which are obviously interlinked as one body of water. For example, within our Ceylon Tamil community, there were Christians who belonged to a range of sects; we were all rowing in the same direction. Religion was also a private matter; one lived one’s faith, not flaunt it. No one claimed to be on a superior path.

Some early efforts at conversion to one of the Christian sects during the 1960s and 1970s of Hindu and Buddhist Asian students in Australia were futile, and soon dispensed with. Part of the explanation was the cultural pride in the respective heritages that we Asians displayed. We could also not see the point of changing horses in mid-stream. Yet, European missionaries and priests in British Malaya (as in other colonial territories) were reasonably successful in conversion, for economic or status reasons. Conversion is an exercise in futility, except as a political aim by the convertor. The poor did not eat any better; the ambitious were not elevated socially. Salvation? An insulting offer! Why did a religious Hindu or Buddhist need to be ‘saved’? Who says? With what authority? With what knowledge?

Having read about religion for most of my life, I believe that there are only 2 core beliefs in each major religion, and that this core is common to all (except perhaps Buddhism). The primary core belief is that there is a Creator of all that is in the Cosmos, which thereby includes human beings. The second and related core belief is that, as co-created, we humans are bonded to one another, and therefore should take responsibility for one another, even as we seek communion with our Creator.

What else is truly relevant? Chapter 4, Which Way to the Cosmos in my book Hidden Footprints of Unity offers a wider perspective.