Common Themes Across Religions

"When we go to other parts of the world and see things that might change our lives, we still come back home. It is just that ‘home’ is now a little different, too. Why can't we do that intellectually and religiously as well?"

— Francis X. Clooney, S.J.
Parkman Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School

The Idea

There is a well-known story in Indian religious texts including those of Hinduism and Buddhism about an elephant and a group of blind men. Because they are blind, the men must rely on their sense of touch to examine the elephant. Since they all are touching different parts of the animal — the trunk, the tail, the tusks, etc. — they all come to very different conclusions as to the identity of what they’re touching. And thus the elephant can only be seen for what it is by the blind men if they each share and piece together their findings.

This is how we can understand religion. Each of the major religious prophets were dealing with limited information and resources based on their historical and geographical contexts.

Today however, if we pool together these various truths currently sat in silos, perhaps we collectively would edge closer to the "bigger truth": be that spiritual, or simply anthropological.

A picture would emerge that we are all, as a species, on one shared quest for meaning-making; endeavoring to discern an outline of truth from the world around us. 

The UEF team is currently working on a book highlighting over 50 common themes across religions - and their implications. We will exclusively premiere any insights from our book on the UEF website, and would appreciate any feedback.

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