The Universal Order - Study Group Paper 2
"Because HE that is praised is, in fact, only ONE, in this respect all religions are only one religion." Jalalu’d-Din
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I. The Purpose of Religion
Religion in its widest sense is active life based upon convictions, ideals, or principles; but in the ordinary use of the word a religious person has come to mean one who accepts the doctrines of, and tries to lead the life prescribed by, some one particular religious institution.
The purpose of religion, as the word itself suggests, is the binding back or leading back of man to his source; it tries to provide a means to enable man to enter into closer relations with his Creator. This is the ultimate purpose of all religions without exception, and inasmuch as there is only One Infinite Being, whatever be the names applied to Him, all religions must ultimately lead to the same end.
In order that religion may fulfil its purpose in the most complete and effective manner, there are certain requirements which it must meet. For example:
It should give a clear definition of man's relations to his Creator.
It should make a definite statement concerning his destiny or goal.
It should point out the means whereby this goal is to be attained and lay down definite principles of right action or conduct.
It should guide him in his relations with his fellow men and with the universe.
It should define the responsibilities, obligations, and duties of every state of life and provide a satisfactory system of ethics.
Religious truth must be in its essentials stable and unchanging, although different aspects of it may be presented at different times and to different peoples. The means which different particular religions adopt may vary to suit the special needs of different ages and peoples, but the one purpose never changes. Hence the essential oneness of aim of all religions completely eclipses any accidental differences of method, and all who are vowed to the service of this One Great Purpose form a vast brotherhood united by the bond of a common ideal, and however various may be the means which they adopt, the ultimate purpose of their lives is one.
II. The Seven Integral Concepts
There are seven concepts that embody the essence of all the important beliefs, dogmas and revelations of the great world religions. These may be said to be:-
One Supreme Originator, the First Cause and Ultimate Goal of all, the Infinite, the Absolute.
The Trinity, or three Primal Principles (Abiding, Proceeding and Returning)
Manifold Supernal Powers, the Celestial and Angelic Hierarchies.
One Universal Lord, contemplated as Divine, as Human, and as Divine-Human. The Revelation of the Infinite and Inconceivable, and the Head of Pan-Humanity.
The Integral Universe: celestial and terrestrial, spiritual and material, eternal and transient.
Man as a spiritual-corporeal being, his spiritual inner and higher nature belonging to heaven, his corporeal, outer and transient nature belonging to earth.
Man’s destiny as active and conscious union with the Infinite and Supernal Powers – a union which depends upon processes such as evolution, redemption, salvation, spiritualization.
The ordinary unaided finite mind could never by itself attain to a knowledge of the Supreme Perfection which is above; therefore all religion is dependent upon some species of revelation. It is not necessarily the function of religion as such to demonstrate the truth of its doctrines to the mind by the process of reason. That is the function of theology and ideal philosophy. It is not the essential function of religion to satisfy all the questions of the mind, although it is desirable that teachers of religion should have a thorough training in pure or ideal philosophy, so that they will not ask the mind to accept that which cannot be demonstrated.
IV. The Process of Religion
Man subsists, as it were, between two states or realms: that which is around and below - the realm of the actual and that of his ordinary conscious life - and that which is above and beyond - the realm of the ideal - glimpses of which he attains when his consciousness is elevated above its normal emplacement. The whole process of religion is that of making the actual a perfect reflection of the ideal, the below a perfect image of the above, and of bringing that which is finite into touch with the Infinite. In the course of this process the glimpses of that which is above become more and more frequent, the consciousness continually expands, as more sublime heights and profounder depths are revealed in the mysteries of the Divine Plan, and the human being puts on little by little the image of the Divine. Thus he is in very truth led back to his Source, and when that which is below at length perfectly mirrors that which is above, when the creature has attained to the actualized likeness of the Creator, the process of religion has fulfilled its object.
But this process does not mean that all human beings will be reduced to a condition of monotonous sameness, for just as all the different religions lead men to worship the same One, so does each individual human being have particular relations with the One Who is the Source of all; thus each individual will manifest more and more that particular aspect of the infinite perfections of his Source which he and he alone is capable of manifesting.
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"The Soul has this proof of its divine origin – that Divine Things delight it." Seneca
"Know ye not that ye are the Temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" 1.Cor.,3/16
"Four sorts of mortals know Me; he who weeps, Arjuna; and the man who yearns to know; and he who toils to help; and he who sits certain of Me, enlightened." Krishna, in ‘The Song Celestial’
" Is it any good thing that I should serve Thee, Whom the whole Creation is bound to serve? "
© The Universal Order 2001