Rainbow of religions

Dr. Jack Feely

As we move closer in time and in thought to reaching the spirit of Sai Baba's mission, we wonder how so much separation in the world can eventually lead to unity. How will so many people of so many different religions merge into the one feeling of love He wants us to realize? Common attitudes of different faith-holders usually stress the differences rather than the sameness.

At the same time the different religions are not identical. There are glorious differences which must be respected and appreciated. Nor are the various religions unrelated parallel streams moving towards the same end. The family of man is related, and the varied beliefs of that family can benefit everyone.

How might we view the unity of faiths in a way that helps us to see the sameness as well as the differences? The rainbow can illuminate our understanding. A rainbow is a multicoloured array formed as rays of light bend and reflect in raindrops, spray or mist during the journey from the sun. The different religious traditions are a multicoloured array of understanding as the white light of divinity falls on the prism of human experience and spreads over mankind.

One colour is not another colour. Green is not yellow and Hinduism is not Buddhism. At the edges, though, we cannot know exactly where yellow ends and green begins. Similarly the different faiths do overlap. Through any particular colour (or religion) one can reach the source of the white light. So, then, any follower of the different religions has the opportunity to reach his or her destination and fullness provided one sees a beam of light, for the beam of light is always there.

As we continue to look at a rainbow, we know that mixing blue and yellow together makes green. When two colours mix they give birth to another. In the same way the meeting of two religious traditions may give birth to a new one. In fact most of the known religions today have been influenced by mutual mingling. As colours merge into each other, we may begin the rainbow with the infra-red, or with the ultra-violet, or any place along the spectrum. Most Sai devotees initially began their journey to His Lotus Feet from one of the different faiths.

When understanding light it is important to realize that under the green area all objects take on a green glow. The same object within the red area will look red. Believers of different faiths will perceive the same phenomena from their filter, and may fail to appreciate the multicoloured array of understandings of other believers.

When looking at nature, we know that the colour of an object is the only colour of the spectrum not absorbed by that object. A green leaf absorbs all the colours that live in light except green which it reflects back. This can serve to remind us that any religion might hide in its bosom all the potentiality of Divine Light, and its external colour is in truth only in appearance, its message to the outer world. It is inaccurate to judge a religion only from its outer colour.

The rainbow metaphor teaches us that the wonderful variety of religions can actually make up a seamless web of love, devotion and understanding which can spread across mankind. The multicoloured array of devotion to God belongs to the beauty and richness of the human situation. Not only can all believers of all the different religions reach the Divine Light through their own faith and devotion as Swami teaches us, but it is the entire rainbow of religious traditions that provides a complete picture of the true human spirit.

Dr. Jack Feely
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.

From "Sanathana Sarathi Bhagavan's 70th Birthday Commemoration Volume".