“The essence of all religions is one. Only their approaches are different.” – Mahatma Gandhi
According to an article by the Washington Times, 84 percent of the world follows some sort of religion. There are approximately 2.2 billion Christians, 1.6 billion Muslims, 1 billion Hindus, 500 million Buddhists, 400 million followers of folk or traditional religions, and 14 million Jews. Recently, many people have become involved in the New Age movement as well, which can still be considered a faith because it requires believing in something.
Even though the world seems divided on what religion it chooses to follow, could our beliefs have more similarities than differences? Could we find some common ground and find a way to coexist while respecting each other’s individual faiths and ideologies? The major world religions listed above speak many of the same messages, and teach a lot of the same lessons, if you look past the variations of each.
First, we’ll look at the belief systems of the most popular world faiths, and then get into why we all need to take these teachings more seriously and what these different religions have in common with one another.
The Major World Religions And Their Main Beliefs
Christians believe Jesus Christ was the Messiah that God promised in the Old Testament. They believe that God embodies three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. However, even though Christians acknowledge the Holy Trinity, they still believe in only one God. Christianity teaches that by giving your life over to Christ, you can be released from your sins and be accepted into Heaven.
People who believe in the Islamic faith are called Muslims, and believe in one almighty God, called Allah. Islam means submission to One God, who created the heavens, Earth and every living being in it. Islam teaches that there have been many prophets, staring with Prophet Adam going down to Prophet Moses, Prophet Jesus, and the last Prophet being Muhammad. By giving up their life to Allah, Muslims hope to enter the kingdom of Paradise upon death. Muslims worship Allah through performing good deeds and taking part in devoted rituals each day.
Though Hindus believe in many manifestations of God, they recognize the supreme being as Brahman, a culmination of all gods and goddesses. They believe steadfastly in the laws of karma, so if you did wrong in a past life, your goal now is to become free from that karma in this life and correct your wrongdoings. All followers of Hinduism seek one ideal way of life, called dharma. All life is sacred according to Hindu teachings, so there is some freedom within the religion in regards to what the believer chooses to worship. What you reincarnate as is determined by your actions and devotion to your faith.
Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama, the buddha, in 500 B.C. in India. Contrary to popular belief, Buddhists do not worship the Buddha, but rather, look up to him because he achieved what they strive for: spiritual enlightenment. One of the most popular teachings from Buddhism is: “Desire is the root of all suffering.” So, they believe by freeing yourself from desire, you can reach the highest state of enlightenment. They do not believe in any gods, but simply believe that through disciplined meditation, they can reach “nirvana” or the highest state of consciousness. Like Islam, Buddhism teaches that a person will have countless rebirths unless they let go of all attachments and delusions.
Judaism is the oldest religion in the Western world, and followers of this faith believe in the teachings of the Old Testament. Jews believe in a Messiah, but do not recognize or believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah. They believe that God, or Yahweh, chose them to lead humanity and be an example of God’s way of life. Judaism teaches that God is the true Creator of all life, and transcends both life and death.
The New Age movement doesn’t have any concrete teachings or practices, but rather, it’s left to each individual to decide what spirituality means to them. Many followers of the New Age movement meditate, do yoga, and otherwise try to increase their own consciousness in order to become more Godlike. They believe in their own power to control and dictate their destiny, and believe God exists in everything and everyone, including themselves. They believe in creating their own reality through the state of their consciousness, and connecting with the Oneness present in all of the universe.
5 Reasons We Need To Take Faith More Seriously
1) Have you ever heard the phrase “believing is seeing?” Essentially, this means that by putting all your faith into some power, whether you believe it exists within you, nature, or a higher being, this energy will begin to manifest what you’ve envisioned right before your eyes.
Faith only works if you believe it will, and many people all over the world can attest to the powers that God, Source, Spirit, Allah, or whatever you wish to call it, has enacted in their lives. For instance, take these near death experiences and the common spiritual intervention the following people experienced into account. These types of stories are becoming more and more common as people awaken to their own personal spiritual journeys here on Earth and discover the wonders that exist beyond the veil.
In another powerful example, this woman had a 3″ tumor in her bladder, which disappeared within minutes after she went to a holistic hospital in Beijing. There, a group of practitioners simply applied conscious positive thoughts and feelings, set their intentions, and said a specific chant in order to facilitate healing.
This perfectly demonstrates how having faith can heal not only yourself, but others around you. It shows the amazing miracles that can happen as a result of simply believing in something with all your heart, and focusing entirely on love and peace.
2) Having some sort of faith allows you to see past this man-made world into a reality much greater, without boundaries or fears. No matter your beliefs, much can be learned by opening yourself up to new teachings and letting faith begin to work in your own life.
3) Faith restores a sense of purpose and meaning to life. Many people contemplate our existence and wonder why we came here, but only in silence can you engage with all of Creation and find those answers.
4) Having faith instills that inner peace that we all search for in life. Even if you just believe that you create your own power and destiny, you know that you can always lean on yourself for guidance and wisdom.
5) No matter your beliefs, all the religions mentioned have one overarching thing in common: faith in SOMETHING, whether that be yourself, a greater being, or simply the abundance of love present in the universe. At the root of all these religions, before any corruption by the media or other sources took place, is peace, love, and compassion.
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By remembering this ultimate truth, we can all coexist and learn to thrive as a species, rather than using our egos to defend our faiths and arguing against anyone who believes differently. Oneness is a truth that none of us can escape from, and one that will set us free if we choose to unite in our commonalities instead of letting perceived differences divide us further.