Have you ever wondered why religion has always been and continues to be the subject of debate and conflict, despite the fact that every religious organization positions its goals as unification of people in peace and living in love and harmony? Why do the adherents of one or another religious tradition consider themselves to be followers of the true faith? Yet, what about the proclamations of equality and brotherhood in the whole world? Why are there contradictions and chaos where there should be peace, harmony, and love? Every religious organization claims its exclusivity and supremacy when competing for religious power in society. The keyword that causes these contradictions is power.
There is a multitude of various religious denominations and trends in the world. The main world religions in terms of the number of adherents are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism. Amid a tremendous amount of religious information, we often find certain obvious contradictions. Along with the Teachings of the prophets about love, faith, unity, and equality, in striking contrast, one can find fragments about fear, violence, treachery, lust for power, and wars of conquest. Naturally, such ideological discrepancies lead to negative consequences in the life of society.
Faith-based discord affects almost every aspect of society. Both the familiar conservative religious tenets and certain innovations, as well as certain positions of authoritative representatives of organizations, create a psychological and ideological aspect that has a significant impact on the worldview of the masses. This, as a result, shapes contradictory perception of the world for the next generations. What kind of a mindset do we shape now for our children and grandchildren? What kind of suffering and hardship do we consciously doom them to?
Throughout its history, religion has repeatedly acted as an instigator, initiator, and promoter of conflict and strife. In the past and present time, we come across countless examples of animosity and intolerance of adherents of one religious organization towards believers of another religion and towards other dissenters. Moreover, there are frequent acts of religious extremism and xenophobia in society as well as religiously motivated domestic violence.
Meanwhile, the spiritual Teaching as such, which any religion is based upon, actually does not and cannot create precedents for any disagreements or conflicts. If we take as a basis the initial Teaching that the prophets called for, and not the subsequent additions and amendments introduced by priests and emperors (politicians), nowhere will we see calls for separation and enmity, for establishing a hierarchy and approving human self-exaltation. Neither Jesus Christ nor Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) nor Gautama Buddha nor other prophets who brought the Teaching to people ever taught violence or murder. Nor did they ever approve any justification of such vile deeds.
Whoever we are (Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, or believers of other world religions), we cannot deny one of the main commandments that we find in any world religion — the commandment of love for one’s neighbour. Prophets taught people to value human life; they taught equality and mutual respect, mutual assistance and enhancement of virtues. Non-violence, doing no evil, peaceful and friendly attitude towards all people as members of one human family — this is what we read in the prophets’ Teaching that has reached us through the grains of the holy scriptures of various religions. Thus, all superior moral human qualities should prevail in society and in every person. Every person should learn to curb the low animal side of their dual nature in themselves. The prophets spoke about the importance of self-control for personal spiritual growth and change of every individual, which will inevitably lead to a change of the whole society. However, despite numerous attempts by the prophets to bring the universal Truth, more peace, good, love for fellow people, and unity into society, we are observing the opposite. Why?
Today, humanity is falling into an inexorable abyss in the consumerist agony of self-destruction. Events of the late 20th — early 21st century evidence a considerable increase in the number of cases when weapons and force were used, including conflicts due to religious confrontation. Territories of many countries, again and again, turn into a battlefield for religious clashes and interdenominational wars. Just see for yourselves what the mass media are saying. Among numerous countries where religious confrontation has increased, particularly notable are North Ireland, Sri Lanka, India, Balkans, and Nigeria. Yet, is it actually a problem only of today? The history of the last millennia also abounds with plenty of examples. Let us consider some of the cases in the largest religions of the world.
Bible. The New Testament:
“Love your neighbour as yourself.”
(Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31)
“This is my command: Love each other.”
“If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
(1 John 4:20)
In the New Testament, the scene of Jesus Christ’s Sermon on the Mount is particularly notable. This sermon is sort of a covenant and a call for non-violence, for not doing harm, for forgiveness and love for all people, including enemies.
Today, we can often hear conclusions that Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world. For millennia, Christians have been exposed to suffering, tortures and various kinds of oppression. However, this very religion has a lot of cases when it itself became a perpetrator of brutal violence, not only against people who do not profess Christianity, but often against their Christian brothers. The topic of religious confrontation and violence touches upon a countless number of historical examples in the times of the inquisition, crusades, witch-hunts, the St. Bartholomew’s massacre, and many others.
For instance, the Fourth Crusade was initiated by Pope Innocent III. As a result, the Christian city of Constantinople (modern Istanbul, Turkey) was seized, plundered and ruined, and its population was brutally exterminated. The main goal of what happened was to establish the supremacy of Rome on the world religious arena of power. This crusade and the subsequent Albigensian Crusade were characterized by unprecedented brutality, savagery and a great number of human victims. The reason for such wars was one and the same at all times — the fight for power.
A no less terrifying example may be found in the history of France in 1572, when the massacre of Huguenots by Catholics occurred on St. Bartholomew’s Day. The words of Pope Gregory XIII are particularly remarkable, when he was informed of that slaughter. His triumph can be traced in his statements that this bloody massacre is better than fifty victories over the Turks. In honour of this slaughter, Pope Gregory XIII commanded to conduct a church service of gratitude and to perform the Christian hymn Te Deum. Moreover, by the Pope’s order, in honour of the event, they minted a coin with an inscription “Ugonottorum strages 1572,” which in translation from Latin means “extermination (slaughter) of Huguenots in 1572.”
It is so awful to see the example of such an attitude of the Catholic Church leader (who is actually supposed to be the prime example of the creed of Christian virtues), taking into account the tremendous number of innocent lives taken by this massacre. After that night, the slaughter did not cease for a whole week in Paris and for six weeks in twelve other French cities. The bloodshed finally stopped across the country after three months. At that time, the very act of violence was interpreted by the Catholic Church as an act of divine retribution.
In the times of colonialism, a similar situation happened: justification of slavery and wars of conquest for the purpose of converting pagans to Christianity and spreading the Gospel. Violence towards women and children was sanctioned.
Another example is the hostility between Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Croatians during World War II. Today, historians call what was happening the religious and ethnic purges organized by Catholic nationalists. The process of the atrocities that took place was shocking even for the eyewitnesses of those times — German Nazis who had seen a lot during the war.
The justification of the use of force by means of religious terms and words from the Bible, references to an alleged “God’s will” or “providence from above” have been traced in nearly all similar cases of religious struggle for power, extermination of non-believers, heretics, sinners, and enemies of the Church. Such examples are not limited to one religion. The terms “holy war” and “God’s enemy” were used by crusaders during their campaigns when they robbed whole settlements and cities and killed innocent people. Similarly, this term is well-known in the religion of Islam. At the same time, an understanding is preserved in Islam that war has never been and will never be holy. In the Qur’an, we find verses about love and not doing harm.
“That is of which Allah gives the good news to His servants, (to) those who believe and do good deeds. Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives…”
Ayah 23, Sūrah 42 (Consultation)
“Anas and Abdullah narrate that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, ‘All human beings are children of Allah, and those who are kind to His children are the most dear to Allah.'”
(Hadith by Al-Bayhaqi)
Despite the peaceful teaching of Islam that has reached us in the Holy Book of the Qur’an and the hadiths, the activities of many adherents of extremist Islamic movements in past centuries and the early 21st century have led to identification of this religion with extremist acts of violence among the global public. Everyone is familiar with terrorist attacks, which are often directed against those who are considered the infidel enemies of Islam. Prolonged wars by Islamic extremists have taken place all over the world: in Algeria, Indonesia, Egypt, the Philippines, the Iraq-Syria border and many other countries. A growing number of countries have been affected by terrorist attacks. Many of these conflicts continue to this day. What is the cause of these wars? Struggle for power.
“…come not near to Al-Fawahish (shameful sins, illegal sexual intercourse, etc.) whether committed openly or secretly, and kill not anyone whom Allah has forbidden, except for a just cause (according to Islamic law). This He has commanded you that you may understand.”
Ayah 151, Surah 6 (The Cattle)
“…if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land — it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.”
Ayah 32, Surah 5 (The Table spread with Food)
Religious and political border conflicts are also taking place on the India-Pakistan border. The struggle has been going on for decades over the territory of the Kashmir region. Hundreds of thousands of adherents of Islam and Hinduism have been killed during in the period of disagreement.
‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself’– because thy neighbor is thyself; God is in both thee and thy neighbor, and both are in God…”
The Bhagavad Gita, trans. by Franklin Edgerton, p. 165
A special place in the religious feelings of the believers of the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) is occupied by religious shrines of the Holy Land. The Middle East crisis in Israeli-Palestinian relations is a consequence of the conflict between Muslims and Jews. One of the main unresolved issues and a stumbling block in the interdenominational relations is the status of the city of Jerusalem. The Israeli side is adamant that Jerusalem has always been and will remain the holy city of Jews and therefore their capital. Palestine is also not backing down and is setting up new Muslim units to fight for liberation of the holy shrines of Islam.
There are many good people among the believers of Judaism, as well as among the followers of other religions, who are tolerant, respectful, and understanding towards other religions and their believers. But, unfortunately, there is also a considerable number of radically-minded followers. There has been a worrying trend in recent decades. There have been cases where orthodox circles of adherents of certain religions, including Judaism, have spoken out quite radically against other religions, referring to relevant texts of their canonical holy scriptures.
During the Judeo-Palestinian conflict, there were cases when some rabbis called for killing Palestinians by referring to verses in the Hebrew Bible. For example, a statement by Rabbi Israel Hess published in the article titled “Genocide: A Commandment of the Torah” (also translated as “The Mitzvah of Genocide in the Torah”) on February 26, 1980, in the student publication “Bat Kol” of Bar-Ilan University. According to Karen Armstrong, a British religious scholar, publicist and author of works in comparative religious studies, Israel Hess compared Palestinians to Amalekites, referring to verses in Deuteronomy 25:17. He wrote that this “requires the killing of babes and sucklings, and forbids the showing of mercy.” According to David Hirst, Hess wrote that “the day will come when we shall all be called upon to wage this war for the annihilation of Amalek…”, that is, we will be called to lead Milhemet Mitzvah (a war of religious duty). In 2004, Israeli stateswoman and peace activist Shulamit Aloni, writing in Haaretz, said of Hess’ article, “It’s no coincidence that in the settlements Palestinians are called ‘Amalek’, and the intention is obvious to everyone.”
Representatives of the Zionist movement used religious texts to justify the violent treatment of Arabs in Palestine. Such cases are precisely a consequence of introducing distortions and changes into the original teachings by people. In the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh, we find over a hundred passages encouraging murder of people (for example, the following parts of the Hebrew Bible: Deuteronomy (the Book of D’varim), the First Book of Kings (I Samuel), Numbers (Bamidbar), Yehoshua (Joshua), and others). In particular, in the Torah, we read examples where entire tribes were exterminated, and no one was spared: neither women nor children. These and similar religious militant passages justified and sometimes even encouraged the use of violent methods. However, the keyword in the Torah is tzedakah, which means mercy, justice. Unfortunately, very radical followers of Judaism do not take into account other parts of the scriptures, which are directly opposite in meaning:
“You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your fellow, but you shall not bear a sin on his account. You shall neither take revenge from nor bear a grudge against the members of your people; you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
(Vayikra, Kedoshim; 17-18)
“In this world
Hate never yet dispelled hate.
Only love dispels hate.”
“I should be like the sun, shining universally on all without seeking thanks or reward, able to take care of all sentient beings even if they are bad, never giving up my vows in this account, not abandoning all sentient beings because one of them is evil. ”
(Buddhism, Garland Sutra 23)
“He — devoid of passion, subduing aversion,
developing a mind of goodwill immeasurable, day and night, continually heedful — should pervade all the directions immeasurably.”
(Sutta Nipata, Chapter 3 Mahavagga)
As for Buddhism, this religion produces an impression of quite a peaceful and non-violent one. Yet, as a matter of fact, in the history of religions, there is not a single religious organization that existed peacefully and really followed the behests of its prophets. Buddhism is not an exception either and, just like any religion, aspires to occupy its place under the sun and reinforce its position of power.
Buddhist extremists attack different religions, but their main long-standing attacks and negative attitudes are aimed at Muslims. Many people know the inhumane experience of mass murders and brutal violence that took place in 2017 in Rakhine State, Myanmar. Thousands of innocent Rohingya Muslims became victims, and about 100 thousand people were forced to flee in order to save their lives. In Sri Lanka in 2011, a group of people, with the participation of Buddhist monks, ruined a Sufi khanqah. The same happened to a mosque near the city of Dambulla in 2012 with the participation of two thousand Sinhaleses. In 2013, in Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka, a group of Buddhists attacked a mosque, and there were victims. Yet, what is the reason for these wars? Struggle for power.
Above, we have listed only a small number of examples when violence was used in society in religious matters. This has been done not in order to slander or discredit one or another religion or individual, but in order for us, people, to ponder over the honesty and responsibility of our choice. Even without going into details, these examples are shocking, but they expose the problem itself, the problem of religions, the problem of the predominant consumerist format of relationships. Throughout the millennia of existence of the consumerist format, there existed the institution of power and there existed religion as an organization with a relevant hierarchy. Hence, over the last 6,000 years, struggle for power in society has never stopped, religious conflicts have never ceased, and humanity has not seen peace.
We continue fighting for our shrines, for the Holy Land; we keep fighting for it and keep dividing it. Moreover, we keep arguing about the canonical status of “our” religion or denomination and debating the interpretation of scriptures. We continue erecting walls and drawing borders for “the faithful” and “infidels”, for “friends” and “foes”. The exclusive chosenness and superiority over others, declared by religious organizations, creates division and subsequent claims for the right of supremacy and domination. At the same time, those who defend an external territory, one or another building and somebody’s words, do not disdain killing people and shedding innocent blood. They do not disdain violence and hatred for another person, while being blindly guided by an artificially imposed image of an external enemy. Yet, society does not understand where the real shrine is and what is the true value in this world. Is anything material (temples, lands, property, and so on) actually worth a human life? No.
Have we ever thought why in every religion we come across calls to love one another, to love all people, to forgive, and to be kind? Why was this so important to our prophets? After all, they were messengers from One God. They knew that the most valuable thing in this material world is Human Life. They knew that inside every Human being there is a real sanctuary, a real temple. They knew the value of human life as a chance of salvation for every Personality. They also knew the value of uniting all humankind so as to preserve our entire civilization.
But even if we put aside the facts of specific religious violence, even if we put aside the fact of gross distortion of the essence of the Teachings, today the issue of the presence of wars, murders, and crime in the world is still relevant. We still do not see peace in families, in people themselves, and in society, as well as in the world in general. Not a single religion during the whole period of its existence has ever brought peace or stopped a single war.
Despite the prophets’ desire to help people change, change humanity, find freedom, create better conditions for people, create a qualitatively different society; despite calls for the unification and brotherhood of all humankind, evil, hatred, and disunity still exist in the world. At the same time, there is hardly a person in the world who would not dream of living in a society without wars and without violence, who would not wish for their child a better life in freedom and equality.
What was the stumbling block that prevented humankind from fulfilling the will of One God at all times when the prophets came? Why do we see the culmination of inhumanity in today’s world? The reason lies in the dominance of the consumerist format of relationships in society. The laws of the consumeristic world deliberately negate and make it impossible for society to aspire to a peaceful, happy existence.
A consumer society with a consumerist worldview is a guarantee of inhumanity, classism, inequality, hierarchy, and slavery of the prevailing majority of the world’s population. The consumerist format creates conditions for a constant struggle for power. It is only possible to eliminate these pernicious conditions by forming a creative worldview in practice and building a Creative Society by all humanity where power will be in the hands of the entire society, of all people.
If people accept the Truth and do not allow its distortion, then its essence simply excludes the very consumerist paradigm, meaning, all the lowliness, selfishness, inhumanity, and divisions that are a product of the consumerist format. Otherwise, in the context of maintaining the consumerist format, instead of changing themselves and redirecting the whole society into a new creative vector of peaceful happy coexistence, people alter the Teachings of the prophets to suit the dominant consumerist order of society. Consequently, humanity has made choices over the centuries and millennia based on people’s choice of what is more important to them — their prophet or their personal gain. Now the time of choice has come for our generation as well.
There are approximately 8 billion people on the planet today. More than 80% of the world’s population identify themselves with a particular religious denomination. If all practitioners of one or another religion were not just followers of certain rules, rituals, and ceremonies, but actually fulfilled the main commandments of their prophets, the Creative Society would have come long ago.
About 2.5 billion of the world’s population practice Christianity, 1.9 billion practice Islam, one billion practice Hinduism, and half a billion practice Buddhism. In addition to these religions, there are many others, the number of whose followers is also enormous. If every believer followed the covenants of their prophet, there would be no more wars on our planet, there would be peace, and there would be a Creative Society. After all, what is the Creative Society? The First foundation of the Creative Society is Human Life. The first lines of this Foundation state:
Human life is the highest value. Life of any Human has to be protected as one’s own.
After objectively studying the Teachings of the prophets, studying in detail the idea of the Creative Society and the 8 Foundations of the Creative Society, I realized that there is a common, unified idea of salvation for all of our humanity in today’s difficult time. Building the Creative Society is the only way out for all people in the world. It’s a guarantee of peace in the whole world. It is the preservation of human life, its highest value in society. It is the exclusion of any precedent for violence, crime, and war. It’s a guarantee of safety for every Human being on Earth. It’s the elimination of hunger, poverty, and indigence.
A society that tears itself apart eventually reaps a corresponding result — self-destruction. We determine the outcome ourselves. The greatest abuse of the shrine in this world is abuse of everything humane and real in people, humiliation of a human to the level of an animal. It is deprivation of a person’s life in all meanings of this word.
The dirt and madness of the consumerist format has been accumulating for millennia. Sooner or later, such a state of affairs reaches its culmination point. The consumerist format has come to its end. It will disappear anyway: either due to our inaction, due to civilization’s self-liquidation in the conditions of consumerist paradigm, or due to our common decision to change and to choose a unifying creative vector of development that will revive humaneness in people and reveal new horizons of evolution for our civilization. We ourselves shape the development of global events and the final results, and we ourselves reap the fruits of our choice. The future of the entire humanity depends on each of us.
We repeatedly heard a phrase which explains the reasons why various troubles happen: “People have forgotten God.” This is really so: people have forgotten God, that God is One for everyone. Society has forgotten the Truth from One God, which all prophets taught. People have forgotten about unity and divided each other into “chosen ones” and “those who can be exterminated”, into “faithful” and “infidels”. At the same time, religions have been divided into “true” and “heretical”. However, true prophets did not come to one nation and did not appoint anyone to be chosen — the prophets came to the entire humanity. They always spoke in such a way that it directly concerned everyone. They always wanted salvation for all people. But people simply let the primordial Knowledge be lost; they allowed distortions to be introduced and consequently forgot about the universal essence of all Teachings and about God Himself.
All Teachings are unified in their essence because one God conveyed one and the same Truth at different times to different prophets. This is exactly what unites us: life, peace, and love, One God for all people, and one Truth. This is precisely what makes us humans. If humanity recalls the main covenants of its prophets and is really faithful to them, if it casts away what is superficial and contrived by people who thirst for power and live by pridefulness, it will understand that the Truth is from One God. And if the Truth is one and God is One, if all prophets came from One God, then what do we all have to divide? Nothing! Because God is Love.
Today, we can see the outcome of appropriation and alteration of true Knowledge in different historical periods: there are many religions in the world, but there is no love among people. However, if the factor of division is removed and we no longer have anything to divide, we will be able to heed our inner need to live in friendship, peace and mutual support. Because all people feel this need, and it is precisely that essential factor of unification which is necessary for building the Creative Society. Then the followers of their religions will truly fulfil the will of their prophets who taught love for one’s neighbour. Then the Creative Society will come very soon. This is one of the greatest needs in our time, which can radically turn the course of events and prevent the death of all humanity. Every person is important, whoever he or she is! We need to make a step towards each other if we want to preserve this world. The prophets knew about the forthcoming end of this world in case of its complete degradation and disunity. So how can we tolerate such divisions?
Yet, the prophets also knew about a different course of events if people choose the path of universal unity, the path of the Creative Society. All religions of the world have preserved legends about the advent of the golden age. In every religion, we find information about the One Who will come at the End of Times and renew the Truth. His coming will be marked by the advent of a new society of justice, peace and prosperity. But these legends also mention the importance of participation of people themselves in building such a society. The two courses of development of global events that have reached us in religious legends evidence the significance of our common human choice today, the choice of each of us and our personal responsibility for this decision.
Below, there are examples of legends recorded in various religions regarding the End Times and the One Who will come to renew the Truth.
In Vishnu Purana (4:24) we find the following information about Kalki Avatar:
“By His irresistible might he will destroy all the mlecchas (Barbarians) and thieves, and all whose minds are devoted to iniquity. He will re-establish righteousness upon earth, and the minds of those who live at the end of the Kali age shall be awakened, and shall be as clear as crystal. The men who are thus changed by virtue of that peculiar time shall be as the seeds of human beings, and shall give birth to a race who will follow the laws of the Krita age or Satya Yuga, the age of purity.”
In the religion of Islam, we find the following Hadith conveyed to us by Ibn Babuya (Thawab ul-A’mal):
“There will come a time for my people when there will remain nothing of the Qur’an except its outward form and nothing of Islam except its name, and they will call themselves by this name even though they are the people furthest from it. The mosques will be full of people, but they will be empty of right guidance. The religious leaders (Fuqaha) of that day will be the most evil religious leaders under the heavens; sedition and dissension will go out from them and to them will it return.
But Mahdi will come to re-establish the lost sense of sanctity. Firstly he will re-establish Islam to its original purity and integrity.
The other religions, also abandoned and disfigured, will be equally re-established in their original Truth and Purity by Mahdi.
It is the universal initiation by the Imam of all men into the secrets of existence and of their own religions, and this is without doubt the meaning which must be understood by the term Mahdi: Mahdi (the Guide) is named as such because it is He who will guide (Yahdi) us in the secret teachings.”
In Buddhism, legends mention the advent of the last Buddha Maitreya. With His coming, wars, hunger and diseases will end in the world, and a new society of patience and love will be created.
In the Old Testament, the texts of which are revered by the believers of Christianity and Judaism, there are the following words about the advent of a new society of peace:
“They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)
The Creative Society, where the greatest value is human Life, is a covenant of our prophets to us. In the name of One God, in the name of our prophets, for the sake of our relatives and children, for the sake of all humanity, we must cease to be a weak-willed blind electorate that shifts responsibility. We should take responsibility and join building the Creative Society. Your survival as well as the survival of your family and friends, your children and the entire humankind depends on you. Are you ready to be faithful to the covenant of your prophet and our God and to fulfil it? The choice is up to you. We should remember that God is Love, God is One for all people; all prophets are from One God, and we have nothing to divide. It is only us who choose today what kind of world we will live in tomorrow!