In the 21st century there is a to be learned from the world’s religions. The common themes running through the major religions is a bonding of community, of treating others with respect, and of finding your purpose in life.
Putting aside differing beliefs—about the afterlife, the nature of the divine, and religious rituals—we can all glean life lesson from ancient scriptures. So which religions are well known? notable ones are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism along with Sikhism, Confusianism. Here are 7 things that all religions have in common that will be the stepping stone to understanding the religions better and hopefully making our way to a better and coexisting world.
- The golden rule
Having empathy – understanding where the other person is coming from and, even more important, treating their concerns the way you would your own.
The Jewish Talmud says
What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.
The Hindu Mahabharata declares:
This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you.
And from the Islamic Sunnah:
No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.
- Work for the Happiness of Others, Especially the Poor and Unfortunate
All religions say that you should look out for others less fortunate than us. Studies have found that the most successful people tend to be givers rather than takers all religions heavily stress on thinking of others and helping those less fortunate.
Buddha’s final instructions on “the mission” set before us, for example, is to work for the happiness of others:
“Go your ways, oh monks, for the benefit of many, for the happiness of many, out of compassion for the world, for the good, benefit and happiness of gods and men”
The Bible also preaches concern for the unfortunate:
“If…there is a needy person among you…do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your needy kinsman. Rather, you must open your hand and lend him sufficient for whatever he needs. For there will never cease to be needy ones in your land, which is why I command you: open your hand to the poor and needy…”
Caring for the unfortunate is one of the founding tenets of Sikhism, Guru Nanak said that if you want to meet God, serve the poor people.
Gurdwaras around the world variously incorporate clinics, schools, guest quarters and community centres, which Sikhs say is a sign of the religion’s values of service and equality. They provide food for others and community services.
In Islam giving charity and helping those that are poor is paramount and one of the pillars of Islam.
- Focus on the Present
Buddhism’s emphasis on mindfulness and meditation is a prominent example of focusing on the present but other religions also encourage us to savour the moment and sharpen our awareness.
Everyone’s at a different place in life, with different priorities, and that’s a good thing.
The Hindu Svetesvatara Upanishad recommends the “quiet retreat of yoga”:
Find a quiet retreat for the practice of Yoga to contemplate and clear your thoughts.
And Jesus told his followers:
“Take therefore no thought for tomorrow: for tomorrow shall take thought of the things for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
In Islam it is strongly said that you should forget what has happened and focus on the now. In other words, worrying about something is a pretty useless past-time, keep your faith strong and carry on.
- Aim for Achievements, Not Money
Try and be a better person, excel in this world but don’t think that more money will always lead to happiness. All religions say to stop running after material things Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism agree. However, they also say to enjoy what you do have, so don’t be miserly and keep hoarding your money.
- Interact with the Community
One of the greatest things about all the religions, and something that places a big part in making the world better is each religion has a strong sense of community which means shared beliefs or not, we all depend on each other to survive and grow.
Life is about the people you’re with, a sense of community with those around you; nothing else matters nearly as much.
Islam’s five daily prayer practices, for example, bring followers together throughout the day, as do other religion’s formal, regular services. Catholic mass has always been that “peace be with you” shaking of hands with the strangers in your pew—-I bestow peace on you, you bestow it on me, and at least in that moment everything is right with the world.
- Take Responsibility for Your Actions
Karma yoga is perhaps the central teaching from Hinduism’s Bhagavad Gita. It’s not the action itself that matters, but the quality of mind behind your actions that bind you. Act for the sake of acting, without desire for the rewards.
The Bible talks about reaping and sowing. Job 4:8 says, “As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it.”Psalm 126:5 says, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.” […] In each of these instances, as well as all the other references to reaping and sowing.
Mot religions including Islam, Sikhism and Buddhism also believe the act of receiving the rewards of your actions takes place in this life (and can also take place in after life).
- Know Yourself (Make Up Your Own Mind)
If you look at the world’s major religions, they actually advocate looking within yourself to make up your own mind—and maybe find your spiritual core within yourself.
John Calvin’s Christian writings in Institutes proclaims:
Nearly all wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists in two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves (Institutes, 1.1.1).
And Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib advises:
“One who often thinks and reflects develops his foresight and vision.”
Stay curious and keep questioning—but also don’t discount the wisdom of the ages.
Overall, it is important to learn about other religions and you will come to see that there are a lot of common points among you. From learning about the positive things of other religions we start the building blocks for a better world.
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