Born out of the common nature of people, we all have a common desire for salvation, for transcendence.
“inclines it toward transcendence, a reaching towards the ultimate reality, that unknowable essence of essences called God.” (Promise of World Peace, October 1985).
Each of us desires the love of God. Each of us wants freedom from the pain of this world, and sometimes from our own insatiable desires and disquieting thoughts. Beyond that, each of us wants an everlasting taste of the eternal good. We not only want acceptance from our Lord, but exaltation. We want more than peace; we seek happiness. We want to fly unhindered toward the ultimate Reality — and be enraptured with the flight. Fulfilling this desire is the job of religion.
Most of us have been taught that religions differ in their approach to salvation, and in some sense they do. But these differences, like those ascribed to the different expressions of God in the various religions, are more often differences in cultural expression and method than any real difference in essential teachings. The great Faiths reveal that individual salvation stands upon two pillars: finding God and obeying God’s rules.
First, finding God – where do we look? Each of us has many things to do. Each of us is driven by some desire or passion that has sway over us. Before anything else, if we wish to be saved, we must open our hearts and minds and grant God admittance into our lives. As the Bible reminds us, the greatest commandment is:
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. Deuteronomy 6:5; Mt 22:37.
But how do we proceed?
First, we must do some mental housekeeping, becoming mindful of how often life distracts us from our higher calling, and how thoughtless we often are about how we live our lives. Observe the counsel of the Buddha:
Earnestness is the path of nirvana; thoughtlessness the path of death. Those who live in earnestness do not die; those who are thoughtless are as if dead already… Follow not after vanity, nor after the enjoyment of the sense pleasures and lust! He who is earnest and meditative obtains ample joy. – Dhammapada 1.
Stopping to think, quieting the mind and reflecting on the causes of our distraction seems a good place to start to find God. This message comes directly from Hinduism’s most concise and popular holy book:
made clean of passion,
the mind of the yogi knows that Brahman [God],
His bliss is the highest
A quiet mind is not only a means; it is an end. Observe the message of Islam:
O tranquil soul, return to your Lord, wellpleased and pleasing [Him]. Enter among my servants and enter My garden.
But how can we become tranquil? What must we think upon after we recognize our need and sit down to find God? Where can we look?