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Read more about Religion from the works of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.

God gives Himself to His whole creation; no one religion holds the monopoly of His Grace. [1]

What is Religion?

Religion belongs to the higher mind of humanity. It is the effort of man's higher mind to approach, as far as lies in its power, something beyond it, something to which humanity gives the name God or Spirit or Truth or Faith or Knowledge or the Infinite, some kind of Absolute, which the human mind cannot reach and yet tries to reach. [2]

To seek Truth freely and to approach it freely along his own lines is a man’s right. But each one should know that his discovery is good for him alone and it is not to be imposed on others. [3]

Sri Aurobindo defines religion as the seeking after the spiritual, that is, the Supermind, of what is beyond the ordinary human consciousness, and what ought to influence life from a higher realm. [4]

Why Religion is Important?

Purpose of Religion

The aim of religion is to link the human with the Divine and in so doing sublimate the thought and life and flesh so that they may admit the rule of the soul and spirit. [5]

The deepest heart, the inmost essence of religion, apart from its outward machinery of creed, cult, ceremony and symbol, is the search for God and the finding of God. Its aspiration is to discover the Infinite, the Absolute, the One, the Divine, who is all these things and yet no abstraction but a Being.

The knowledge of God is not to be gained by weighing the feeble arguments of reason for or against his existence: it is to be gained only by a self-transcending and absolute consecration, aspiration and experience. [6]

Drawbacks of Religion

The first and principal article of these established and formal religions runs always, "Mine is the supreme, the only truth, all others are in falsehood or inferior."

The articles and dogmas of a religion are mind-made things and, if you cling to them and shut yourself up in a code of life made out for you, you do not know and cannot know the truth of the Spirit that lies beyond all codes and dogmas, wide and large and free. When you stop at a religious creed and tie yourself in it, taking it for the only truth in the world, you stop the advance and widening of your inner soul. [7]

It may be said that the need to adopt or follow or participate in a religion as it is found all ready-made, arises rather from the "herd instinct" in human beings. The true thing would be for each one to find that form of adoration or cult which is his own and expresses spontaneously and individually his own special relation with the Divine; that would be the ideal condition. [8]

Religion itself has been imposed on men; it is often supported by a suggestion of religious fear or by some spiritual or other menace. There can be no such imposition in your relation with the Divine; it must be free, your own mind's and heart's choice, taken up with enthusiasm and joy. [9]

How to Ascend Beyond Religion?

The attitude to be taken towards religions A benevolent goodwill towards all worshippers. An enlightened indifference towards all religions. All religions are partial approximations of the one sole Truth that is far above them. [10]

Religion is always a limitation for the spirit.

If a man has a spiritual life independently of his mental formations and the set limits in which he lives, then this spiritual life makes him, so to say, cross the religious principles and enter something higher. But his consecration must come from within and not be formal. If it comes exclusively from the form, then the limitation is so great that he cannot go farther. [11]

The idea of a Personal God is, however, a contradiction in terms. This all religions confess, but the next moment they nullify their confession by assuming in Him a Personality. The Universal cannot be personal, the Omnipresent cannot be excluded from anything or creature in the world He universally pervades and possesses. The moment we attribute certain qualities to God, we limit Him and create a double principle in the world. [12]

An omnipresent God cannot be separate from His world, an infinite God cannot be limited in Time or Space or qualities. Intellectually the whole concept becomes incredible. [13]

But to postpone the problem to another life is not to solve it; and to desire God apart from life and not in life is to divide the unity of His being.

And the truth is always this that man is universal being seeking an universal bliss and self-realisation and cannot repose permanently on the wayside, in hedged gardens, or in any imperfect prison whatsoever or bounded resting place. [14]

For the Divine is in everything, but we are not conscious of it. This is the immense progress that man must make. [15]

A religion of humanity means the growing realisation that there is a secret Spirit, a divine Reality, in which we are all one, that humanity is its highest present vehicle on earth, that the human race and the human being are the means by which it will progressively reveal itself here.

But if it is at all a truth of our being, then it must be the truth to which all is moving and in it must be found the means of a fundamental, an inner, a complete, a real human unity which would be the one secure base of a unification of human life. A spiritual oneness which would create a psychological oneness not dependent upon any intellectual or outward uniformity and compel a oneness of life not bound up with its mechanical means of unification, but ready always to enrich its secure unity by a free inner variation and a freely varied outer self-expression, this would be the basis for a higher type of human existence. [16]

The Way Forward

Imagine someone who, in some way or other, has heard of something like the Divine or has a personal feeling that something of the kind exists, and begins to make all sorts of efforts: efforts of will, of discipline, efforts of concentration, all sorts of efforts to find this Divine, to discover what He is, to become acquainted with Him and unite with Him. Then this person is doing yoga. If all that is written down, organised, arranged into fixed laws and ceremonies, it becomes a religion. [17]

Religions are based on creeds which are spiritual experiences brought down to a level where they become more easy to grasp, but at the cost of their integral purity and truth.

The time of religions is over.

We have entered the age of universal spirituality, of spiritual experience in its initial purity. [18]

Religions are forms, much too human, of spiritual life. Each one expresses one aspect of the single and eternal Truth, but in expressing it exclusive of the other aspects, it deforms and diminishes it. None has the right to call itself the only true one, any more than it has the right to deny the truth contained in the others. And all of them together would not suffice to express the Supreme Truth which is beyond all expression, even whilst being present in each one. [19]

Those who carry within themselves a spiritual destiny and are born to realise the Divine, to become conscious in Him and live Him, will arrive, no matter what path, what way they follow. [20]

And as soon as man comes to know his spiritual self, he does by that discovery, often even by the very seeking for it, as ancient thought and religion saw, escape from the outer law and enter into the law of freedom. [21]

The unity of spiritual existence is the basis of all true religion and true morality. We know indeed that as God is not contained in His universe, but the universe is in Him, so also God is not contained within a man. The apparent man exists in & by the real, not the real in the apparent; the body is in the soul, not the soul in the body. [22]

Religion and Yoga do not belong to the same plane of being and spiritual life can exist in all its purity only when it is free from all mental dogma. [23]

To the Karmayogin there should be nothing common or unclean. There is nothing from which he has the right to shrink; there is none whom he can dare to loathe. For God is within us all; as the Self pure, calm and eternal, and as the Antaryamin or Watcher within, the Knower with all thought, action and existence for His field of observation, the Will behind every movement, every emotion, every deed, the Enjoyer whose presence makes the pain and pleasure of the world. Mind, Life and all our subjective consciousness and the elements of our personal existence and activity, depend on His presence for the motive-force of their existence. And He is not only within us, but within all that is. What we value within ourselves, we must not belittle in others; what we cherish within ourselves, we must not hurt in others; what we love in ourselves, we must not hate in others. For that which is within us, is the Divine Presence, and that which is in others, is the same Divine Presence. To remember this is worth all the moral teachings and ethical doctrines in the world. [24]

Religion is always a limitation for the spirit.

Instead of taking these religions in their outward forms which are precisely dogmas and intellectual conceptions, if we take them in their spirit, in the principle they represent, there is no difficulty in unifying them… that last "spiritual revolution" Sri Aurobindo speaks about, which will open a new age, that is, the supramental revolution.

"All would change if man could once consent to be spiritualized; but his nature, mental and vital and physical, is rebellious to the higher law. He loves his imperfection." [25]

Curated by Mohan

Read more about Religion from the works of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.