Many people from diverse cultures believe that religion has the potential to help bring peace, increased love and a greater sense of security and fulfillment to human life: such individuals often refer to the personal benefits they feel they and others have received from their faith. However, there are also many individuals from these various cultures who claim that religion is the cause of great conflict, fear and animosity: these individuals point to the numerous cases of infighting among different sects of the same religion, as well as the well-documented conflicts among different religions currently and thorough out history.
How is it possible that the world’s religions can have such amazingly opposite effects on so many lives? Some so positive and others so negative? What could cause this dichotomy? Perhaps, an exploration into the main intended purpose of religion could provide some insight into these questions.
In his text the Science of Being and the Art of Living Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has defined the purpose of religion: “The purpose of religion is to bind man back to his source, his origin.” He also points out that the term “Religion,” “comes from the Latin root “religare,” meaning “re,” back; “ligare,” to bind: or, that which binds one back. The purpose of religion is to bind man back to his source, his origin.”
This origin or source of humankind that Maharishi wrote of is called by many names by the world’s religions: some refer to this ultimate origin as “The Father in Heaven,” some refer to Allah, or to Adonai, or to Raam or Krishna, or to the Tao, or to the Buddha-Nature, or the Universal Spirit, or Absolute Pure consciousness/ Pure Being, Brahman, God, and on and on.
These various names for the ultimate origin of human and universal life are also each associated with different theologies, specifc modes of prayer, rituals, beliefs and worship. And, as mentioned above, individuals that follow each of these traditions claim that their tradition provides them with a deeper meaning and purpose to their lives. Yet, these very distinctions are said to be the root cause for the animosities and conflict among religions.
Would it be possible to maintain the uniqueness and beauty of each faith yet eliminate the conflicts among them?
According to Maharishi, it is not the differences that are the root cause of the clash among the religions, but rather it is the lack of the direct experience of the underlying Unity, the Ultimate Reality that is the common basis of all the diversity existing in individual and universal life. It is that underlying Unity of existence, regardless of what name it may be given, that is the One Source of all the various religious traditions.
Consequently, the key to creating harmony even in the midst of differences is to have the direct experience of this common ground of the Unity of all differences on a regular basis. In time, this growing experience of Unity, in the lives of people of each tradition, gets fully integrated into the diversity of life and resides as the Love and Wisdom that both maintains and harmonizes all diversity.
Maharishi explained the great benefit of TM for people of all faiths due to its ability to provide the experience of Transcendental Consciousness, which is this experience of Unity:
Maharishi has often emphasized that gaining this experience of Unity is easy and that any person of any culture can have it through the twice daily practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique (TM). People of all faiths all around the world have been practicing this technique for many years and have realized that it supports the accomplishment of the highest ideals of their own faith.
“My Transcendental Meditation program, bringing the experience of transcendental consciousness, pure consciousness, nourishes all areas of life and purifies human awareness, rendering life worthy of reaching the altar of God—one’s own God through one’s own religion.
Here is the key to living life in accordance with the will of God—Natural Law—and enjoying Heaven on Earth.”
-Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Dr. Evan Finkelstein became a teacher of Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation technique in 1972. He earned his BA in English and Theatre Arts, a Master’s degree in Social Work and a second Master’s degree in the Science of Creative Intelligence for which he received the Outstanding Student Award. In June of 2005, he received his Doctoral degree in Maharishi Vedic Science and won the prestigious Veda Vyasa Award for outstanding doctoral level scholarship. In his dissertation, entitled Universal Principles of Life Expressed in Maharishi Vedic Science and in the Scriptures and Writings of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, he documented the fundamental principles shared among these faiths when seen in the light of Maharishi’s Vedic Science. He also teaches courses on Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism in the light of Maharishi’s knowledge. Dr Finkelstein has served on faculty since 1989 and is a professor in the department of Maharishi Vedic Science. In 2007 he was asked by Maharishi and Dr. John Hagelin to serve as the National Director of Religion and Culture for the United States.