There are many common threads across religions, underlying the obvious differences. The differences are the natural result of the same reality being encountered from different perspectives.
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 understand religion: each of the major prophets were dealing with limited information and resources based on their historical and geographical contexts. Furthermore, their insights had to be constrained in ways that would be communicable to their own people, rather than the people of other continents to which they were unable to travel. Nevertheless, their teachings all contain truths about humanity and the universe, and if we today pooled together these different, smaller truths, we collectively would be closer to the bigger Truth.
We are currently working on a book project that highlights over 50 common threads across religions. The common threads running through all religions and belief systems are like bridges across silos—they show us how we are connected, and how our diversity makes us all richer. The focal point of our common humanity is our shared evolutionary past and our shared cognitive apparatus. The book therefore also weaves in insights from fields like neuroscience to underscore the scientific basis for the commonalities we see across religions. Because we all have essentially the same brain structures, we are all drawn to ask similar questions about who we are and the world around us in a shared and ongoing meaning-making quest.
After more than two years of conducting research for our book, we are ready to start sharing some of the beautiful quotes and insights we’ve gathered from the world’s major wisdom traditions. To explore these quotes, click on the pages below.