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In 1915 Emile Durkheim stated that religion are things “that surpass the limits of our knowledge”. For centuries scholars from around the world have been battling over the existence of so called super natural powers. Cross cultural religious convictions have spurred bloodshed for centuries, and religious beliefs, despite their universal proclamations of peace, have caused more war and conflict in human history than anything else.
So if religion’s main tenants are for one: a belief and worship of supernatural deities, and two: moral behaviors towards others, why is there so much hostility between world religions? It seems that what is taught globally through religion in not practiced on the streets. All spiritual doctrines teach good ways of acting towards your fellow man. Words like love, forgiveness, charity, helping and compassion are commonplace. What is different, however, are discrepancies in who actually is the messenger. This, in my opinion, is just another form of social bias and prejudice.
If we could get past the battle over who is the messenger, the savior, the profit or the messiah, and look to the commonalities of all religions and the bottom line teachings of right action and morality towards humanity, the world would be a much happier and peaceful place.
Religions share many of the same components from sacred space, to ritual to worship to belief in supernatural beings. Most all religions pray and have religious specialists to facilitate learning of holey doctrine. All major religions have holey texts that were written not by the supernatural, but by earthly messengers of flesh and bone.
Sacred spaces are places that spiritual meaning is associated. The idea of sacred spaces has been in existence perhaps from the beginning of ancient society. Stonehenge in England is said to date back 5000 years to Neolithic times. The how’s and why’s of Stonehenge elude us, however it is generally accepted theory that the place was used for sacred ceremony and ritual practices.
Throughout history sacred places have left their mark. In Peru Machu Picchu was built in 1450 by Incas as a spiritual place. The Japanese people worship Mt Fuji, the tallest mountain in the country. There is a church on top of Mt. Sinai. Thousands of people flock to the town of Mecca in Saudi Arabia and bathe the Ganges River in India. Mosques, temples and churches riddle the lands cross culturally and are idolized and recognized as sacred places of worship.
Anthropologist Barbara Miller of George Washington’s Elliot School, defines rituals as pattern forms of behavior that have to do with the supernatural realm. Richard Sosis, associate professor of Anthropology at the University of Connecticut, says that rituals relate more to group cohesiveness and identity. Whether it is a matter of belief or social control, rituals are shared globally throughout many diverse religions.
Worship of the supernatural is commonplace among religions. A vast majority of the world’s religions believe in deities that exist in spirit form. Paying homage and respect and living by the words and laws of such deities are believed to be paths to enlightenment, peace, fortune or safe passage to a good afterlife, depending on which doctrine you prescribe to.
Religious professional or specialists who have specific training and attain knowledge of the particular religion they adhere to carry out rituals and ceremony. Priests, Pastors, Monks, Rabbis, Shamans and even witches, profits and palm readers are classified as religious specialists. Every religion shares this trait.
The written word that governs the actions and methodology of various religions are located in holey or spiritual texts. Hindus have the four Vedas written originally in Sanskrit. The bible is used by the almost 2 billion practicing Christians. The Torah, or five books of Moses, are sacred to Jews. The words of Muhammad are written in the Qur’an, which is the Islamic central text, and even the more non-denominational new-age spiritualities use the Gnostic texts as a guide.
Throughout history we have read about the many messengers from who the words of the supernatural have been scribed. The names, shapes and languages of such deities are as diverse as human culture itself. And why not? In such a diverse land with 6 billion individual personalities, there has to be as many paths to nirvana as whys of thinking and being. One road cannot be for all but many paths can lead to the same place. And that place is universal peace and harmony.
Perhaps if people of the world could be educated on the similarities and common goals of the underlying writings of all religion, and not argue over who said it better, then maybe peace is not such on overwhelming concept after all.