Imagine if everyone was just like you—life would be so boring! Pluralism is predicated upon the idea of equality and diversity, and both are equally important: oneness does not mean sameness. If we all respected and embraced each other’s differences, then humanity could realize its potential through cooperation and altruism. There would be no killing in the name of religion, no racism, no terrorism, no poverty, etc. We should see diversity not as a source of conflict and division, but as an expression of human love with its diverse manifestations in temples, churches all over the world. This expression of love is where the true value of religion is to be gleaned.
One Universal God
“I have been asked to tell you what Christians believe, and I am going to begin by telling you one thing that Christians do not need to believe. If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through. If you are an atheist you do have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake. If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all these religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth.”
“‘If you look at things in terms of their difference,’ replied Confucius, ‘then the liver and gall are as different as the states of Chu and Yueh; however, study them from the perspective of their sameness, and all life is one.”
“Do not allow difference of opinion, or diversity of thought to separate you from your fellow-men, or to be the cause of dispute, hatred and strife in your hearts. Rather, search diligently for the truth and make all men your friends.”
“The hand and other limbs are many and distinct,
But all are one—the body to be kept and guarded.
Likewise, different beings, in their joys and sorrows,
Are, like me, all one in wanting happiness.”
“If the right thought is not the ultimate truth, and not the way to salvation, there is no reason to fight others, whose thinking has arrived at different formulations. This tolerance is beautifully expressed in the story of several men who were asked to describe an elephant in the dark. One, touching his trunk, said ‘this animal is like a water pipe,’; another, touching his ear, said ‘this animal is like a fan’; a third, touching his legs, described the animal as a pillar.”
“The seed is put in the ground, and earth and air and water are placed around it. Does the seed become the earth, or the air, or the water? No. It becomes a plant, it develops after the law of its own growth, assimilates the air, the earth and the water, converts them into plant substance, and grows into a plant. Similar is the case with religion. The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. Bit each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth.”
“A European scholar once remarked that the noble people of other faiths were actually Christians driving without a license, but you can hardly call this a dialogue among equals. I think the real dialogue takes place when you believe that God has many faces, and that he exists in all religions.”
“Every religion mixes universal principles with local peculiarities. The former, when lifted out and made clear, speak to what is generically human in us all.”
“Therefore, be completely and utterly receptive to all doctrinal forms, for God, Most High, is too All-embracing and Great to be confined within one creed rather than another, for He has said, Wheresoever you turn, there is the face of God, without mentioning any particular direction. He states that there is the face of God, the face of a thing being its reality.”
“All those who take refuge in me, whatever their birth, race, sex, or caste, will attain the supreme goal; this realization can be attained even by those whom society scorns.”
“There is a danger of losing human meaning if you select only what is in the common core.”
“There is a proven theological formula for dissolving the specialness of different faiths. It’s most famously associated with Hindus, who seem to have used it as a way to unite different regions that emphasized the worship of different Hindu gods. The idea is that all gods, with their different names, are manifestations of a single ‘Godhead.’”
“The idea of a ṭarīqah or ṭarīq ila’Llāh goes back to a ḥadīth of the Prophet of Islam himself in which he said, ‘The number of paths (ṭuruq, pl. of ṭarīqah) to God is equal to the number of children of Adam.’”
“If a man strikes many coins from the same die, they all resemble one another. But though the King of kings of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, fashioned every man in the stamp of the first man [Adam], not a single one of them is exactly like his fellow.”
“ ‘And all the host of them’ (Gen. 2 : 1 ). Even those creatures that you may look upon as superfluous in the world, such as flies, fleas, or gnats—they too are part of the entirety of creation. The Holy One effects His purpose through all creatures, even through a frog or a flea."
“Unity in diversity is at once a vision for the future and a principle to guide the world community in its response to these challenges. Not only must this principle come to animate relations among the nations of the planet, but it must also be applied within both local and national communities if they are to prosper and endure. The unifying, salutary effects of applying this principle to the redesign and development of communities the world over, would be incalculable, while the consequences of failing to respond appropriately to the challenges of an ever-contracting world will surely prove disastrous.”
“Unity in diversity stands in contrast to uniformity. It cherishes the natural diversity of temperament and talents among individuals as well as humanity's variegated experiences, cultures and viewpoints, inasmuch as they contribute to the human family's progress and well-being. Much like the role played by the gene pool in the biological life of humankind and its environment, the immense wealth of cultural diversity achieved over thousands of years is vital to the development of the human race which is experiencing its collective coming-of-age. It represents a heritage that enriches us all and that must be permitted to bear its fruit in a global civilization. Acceptance of the concept of unity in diversity, therefore, implies the development in the individual of a global consciousness, a sense of world citizenship, and a love for humanity as a whole.”