Unity in Diversity

In my journey through various religious traditions, I encountered individuals deeply committed to their practices. I found beautiful, inclusive-minded people who really were striving to live with compassion. I also found many people who had very extreme and narrow views, who considered that their path was the only path and all others were ignorant or evil.

My study brought me to what the Sanskrit Vedic literatures called ‘Saragrahi,’ which means ‘one who seeks the essence.‘ I found that at the essence of all true spiritual paths, in all real practitioners, that there is a transformation of character.

From arrogance to humility.

From greed to generosity.

From hate to love.

From complacency to compassion.

From selfishness to a selfless will to serve others.

That is the core of true faith. Unfortunately, our world often lacks unity in diversity. Yet, in both the Old and New Testaments, the message resounds clearly: to love God with all one’s heart, soul, and mind, and to love one’s neighbour as oneself. Everyone is our neighbour.

In the Sanskrit text Srimad Bhagavatam, there is a beautiful verse that really touched my heart: sa vai puṁsāṁ paro dharmoyato bhaktir adhokṣaje.’ It says that true religion (or Dharma) isn’t a sectarian concept. It’s that which inspires and awakens from within us love for the Supreme Being and an actual compassion for all beings. In the same way the Bhagavad-Gita tells us that a truly enlightened person sees all beings with equal vision, recognizing the sacredness within each soul.

This body is ever-changing, and the mind changes even faster.

But who am I?

Who is that person seeing through the eyes, hearing through the ears, tasting through the tongue, thinking through the brain, loving through the heart?

That conscious force is sacred. When we come in contact with our own sacredness, we see it within all life. Whether one is a Hindu, Muslim, Jew, Jain, Christian, Parsi, agnostic, Buddhist, or an atheist. Whether one is black or white, from the East or West, male or female, a human or a dog, a cat, a cow, or an elephant – wherever there’s life, it is sacred.

When we come in contact with the sacredness within our own hearts (who we are), we can then appreciate how in truth we are all related. The Bible, through Jesus, said, ‘What profit is there for a person who gains the whole world but loses their eternal soul?’

Similarly, the Bhagavad-Gita tells us, ‘na jāyate mriyate vā kadāchin.’ That the soul, the essence of our life, is beyond birth and beyond death.

Appreciating this truth within ourselves, we can realize that we are simply caretakers: our abilities, wealth, the environment around us – are all sacred property entrusted in our care. All living beings are part of the same source; we are all related. The character of any true follower of the various great religious paths of the world is that they live with compassion and humility. True spirituality does not divide humanity; it harmonizes humanity.