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Universal Religion Is Moral Behaviour

Published: 09.02.2009
Updated: 09.02.2009

The Times Of India

The word 'religion' is ingrained in our psyche. It is because of over-familiarity that people feel less inclined towards religion.

Today religion is acceptable only on the basis of experimentation. At one end are people who want forever to keep to tradition. They do not want any change. At the opposite end are those who reject religion. Both these extreme viewpoints are incapable of creating a balance.

If acceptance of the hereditary character of religion is not desirable, its rejection is altogether undesirable. No one who thinks in the language of unity, harmony and love can ever reject religion. In the absence of understanding the distinction between institutionalised religion and religion as spirituality, people make the mistake of rejecting religion.

Both rationality and spirituality have given rise to society. The first signs of non-violence arose when human beings started living in communities. The first principle of living together is acceptance of the other person's existence and adherence to ethical self-restraint, of people not transgressing into others' houses or robbing others of their possessions.

Ethical self-restraint prevents people from becoming a hindrance to others. It has its origin in religion, non-violence and non-possession. Our sense of discrimination enables us to distinguish between obligation and non-obligation, edible and inedible, nectar and poison. It is made possible by religious awareness.

A religion divorced from spirituality is shackled by externally imposed rules and instead of developing religious awareness, frustrates it. Don't abandon rules, just don't be a captive of artificial rules uninformed by spirituality. Religion ought to be the culmination of independent awareness and not an imposition. When people regard themselves as Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs, they do so because of genealogy, not religiousness. Genealogy can be a source of inspiration to religion; it cannot be its soul. The soul of religion is spirituality. Only that person is religious who experiences spiritual awakening, irrespective of genealogy.

No system of government can pose a challenge to a religion that is spiritual. The question of protecting religion arises only when religion is supposed to have an existence separate from that of the religious person. Bliss and spiritual alertness are the soul of religion. They constitute the most attractive face of religion. We are seldom aware of them because we use introversion very little. Religion should spring from within, even as a well is sustained by its internal springs. The well digger should only connect the external world with the inner springs. He who is not aware of his inner riches remains deprived of prosperity. Mental conflicts result from the acceptance of the external and the rejection of the internal.

Morality is a relative term. If socially approved mores are deemed morality, their form can never be unchanging. Morality as end-result of religion is assessed not by social beliefs but by personal purity. There is no place for exploitation, oppression, arrogance and frenzy in the behaviour of a religious person. Propriety, truthfulness and simplicity constitute morality.

Shall we call him religious who does not reflect the spirit of religion in his behaviour? Just as whenever there is smoke there must be fire, wherever there is morality there must be religion. Encountering moral behaviour we can infer the religious spirit inherent in a man. Religion is first reflected in morality and only later in worship. Will a mansion without a strong foundation endure? Can a structure build on worship without morality be able to afford proper protection? In the absence of morality, the place of worship will tumble and religion will not be safe on this Earth.

The Times Of India, by the efforts of Mr. Lalit Garg
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