Face Off

It’s a common scene when members of different religions cross paths. The pleasant introductions and comments on the weather last for the first few minutes, but what inevitably ensues is a discussion on the subject of the Supreme. In subtle or sometimes quite blatant ways, the doubts, issues or concerns about the other person’s faith are formulated, and one or both parties warm up to get into a full-swing debate. Of course, not all religious practitioners are cereal debaters, but many of us have been in these situations, myself included.

Recently I heard a famous verse from one of our scriptures: “The supreme religion for all mankind is the process by which they can attain to the stage of loving service to God. Such service must be completely unmotivated and uninterrupted in order to satisfy the self”. What an amazing definition of religion. After reading that, a friend commented ‘what is there to actually debate about?’ Religion, its purpose, and the measure of its efficacy are all clearly elucidated in that verse.

Every religious practitioner can do some soul-searching and question their spiritual commitment. To what extent is their practice unmotivated by any material desires and uninterrupted by material affairs and events? To what extent have they developed love for God and genuine love for everyone around them? Maybe this universal measure is the greatest test of ones spirituality, much more than the philosophical arguments which are thrown around in a passionate religious debate. Instead of scrupulously analysing someone else’s spiritual practices, our time and energy may be better spent in examining our own spiritual sincerity and depth.

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