Exclusivity - The Only Way?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Did you know that you can interpret the idea or thought of "exclusivity" even within the scriptures of the oldest religion in the world? Check it out. The quote below is from the Hindu faith founded by Krishna which still has followers even today:

"Thou too, when heart and mind are fixed on Me,
Shalt surely come to Me! All come who cleave
With never-wavering will of firmest faith,
Owning none other Gods: all come to Me,
The Uttermost, Purusha, Holiest!"

(Hindu, Bhagavad Gita (Edwin Arnold tr))

"Owning none other Gods: all come to Me" - I could interpret that as a strong notion of exclusivity and that Lord Krishna is the only way to find God. But of course the most famous quote of exclusivity is from the Christian faith:

"I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

(King James Bible, John 14:6)

This is most often, and understandably, interpreted as Jesus meaning that He is the only way. But is that truly what He meant? In the Bible, Jesus sometimes speaks as an Individual and sometimes speaks as if He is God Himself. All Manifestations of God do this. But which way is He speaking here? It does make a difference.

In these quotes, I believe that both Krishna and Jesus are speaking as God, not as individuals. They are speaking as Conduits and Reflections of the divine Spirit and/or Word of God. Therefore, what is meant is that "God" or "the Holy Spirit" within Them is the only way.

It is like focusing on the "Light" within the "Lamp", rather than on the "Lamp" itself. It is that "Light" that is the only way. If you look at it this way it is easy to reconcile the idea of "exclusivity" and find how all the Manifestations came from the same one true God and all could honestly declare They were "The Way".

What do you think about different religions claiming to be the "only way" to God? I am going to try and find quotes from some of the other major world religions that center around this same theme. If you know of any, please post them. I think this is an important discussion.


Justin Johnson said...

Ok, I found two more, from Islam and Buddhism. What do you think?

"This is the true account: there is no god except Allah; and Allah -- He is indeed the Exalted in Power, the Wise."

(The Qur'an (Yusuf Ali tr), Surah 3-62)

"The only way that leads to the attainment of purity, to the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, to the end of pain and grief, to the entering upon the right path and the realization of Nirvana, is the "Four Fundamentals of Attentiveness."

((The Eightfold Path), Buddha, the Word (The Eightfold Path))

smithjas28 said...

Yes, this deffanatly is an important disscusion. I personly view religion on a timeline. I look back in history and can't help but to notice that Mankind has evolved over time to what we are now in time. Religion has done the same thing. Mankind couldn't possabaly have had the ability to comprehend the more modern religions had they have been revealed at the time of the older religions. We just wern't ready for that knowelge yet. Mankind was still in infentcy. With every manifastion, Mankind, hits the next level of evolution, or maturity. That's Mankind, as a whole.
As far as an individual goes, I believe in different manafistations and that there are more to come. We have to have guidence from God. I don't believe God could be cruel enough to just put us here on Earth without giveing us some kind of pourpuse and guidence. God created us human. In our human form we are verry limited in how we comprehend things. The only way Mankind could ever interpret something as deep as religion, other than looking for signs in the wether, natural disasters, encountering wildlife, etc., is to hear it come from a man like manastifition.
I believe each manafistiation/religion holds a piece of the truth. I believe in saying that any one religion is the one true religion is like putting a limit on what Mankind can believe. Some people may be able to go through life with that limitation. However, I personaly can not. Limits are what keeps us hear on Earth and I believe that when we die our souls will leave our bodies and all of our other limitations behind and move on to out next state of exestence.
Here's a tid bit from the book of Morman:
"King Benjamin continues his address-The Lord Omnipotent shall minister among men in a tabernacle of clay-Blood shall come from every pore as he atones for the sins of the world-His is the only name whereby salvation comes-Men can put off the natural man and become saints through the atonement-The torment of the wiked shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone."
(Mosiah 2:38-3:5 Chapter 3)

Anonymous said...

many paths one destination. as a young child in catholic school the whole idea that those that didn't except Jesus were damned really really bothered me..so I reconciled it by thinking that "jesus and buddha and other prophets were all the same person just in different guises to appeal to the culture they went to" In the end what I concluded was that religion is a limiting belief on an unlimited spirit (sj28) with that view all are correct and incorrect at the same time. as in ones belief may indeed be the correct path for you and yours but does not mean that another path isn't just as right for those that follow. The idea of conversion drives me nuts for that reason. I love and appreciate your path...do the same for mine and let me travel it...In the end what I usually say to people is this "god and I are just fine, we don't need a middle man" (read church") my spiritual work is to keep that connection to the source/light/god WHATEVER open and available

Justin Johnson said...

Jeannette - It is very limiting, isn't it? - To only believe in one of the Manifestations of God, and to deny the Truth that was brought to us from the others. I also strongly agree that we need these Perfect Conduits such as Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad or Bahá'u'lláh in order to bring us guidance from God. It is only when man (who is fallible) places his own will onto the religion that things start getting sketchy.

Aminda - Agreed. I also believe it is important to separate the Messengers of God from the way their teachings become organized by men. No Manifestation of God in history until Bahá'u'lláh gave any instructions on how his followers should organize themselves after His passing or even who had the authority to interpret His teachings. Thus you have all the sects and denominations based on differing opinions. Bahá'u'lláh set very clear instructions on how the Faith should be structured and who had the authority to interpret His teachings in his Will and Testament. If He hadn't done that, I would most likely not follow any specific tradition either. ;-)

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