In June of this year I attended a seven-day interfaith symposium at a Camaldolese (Benedictine) monastery. It was profoundly inspiring to be surrounded by deeply committed spiritual seekers from other faiths. During the time I was there, the topic for this issue, "The Vedanta Way of Life," had been placed on the mental backburner. Yet the more I listened and learned from other spiritual traditions, the more the topic kept popping up in response to the speakers' presentations.
Before the school closed for the Christmas vacation, a teacher asked her students to have their New Year resolutions ready and show them to her when the school re-opened. A fortnight later, after exchanging New Year greetings with her class, she asked each one to read out his resolution. The little ones had their papers ready. Most of them had a long list of shall’s and shall-not’s, and the reading class was becoming somewhat monotonous when a bright little girl read out her small resolution which stunned the whole class including the teacher. The little girl had resolved never more to make any New Year resolutions! "But why?" asked the teacher with a puzzled look. The girl answered, "Simply because I have never been able to keep my resolutions in the previous years, and it seems pointless to make promises which I know I won’t keep."
In the Vedas, the earliest scriptures of India, we find this truth: "Truth is one, though sages call it by various names." Later in the Upanishads, we come across a similar statement: "As different streams coming from various sources ultimately flow into one ocean, so do the many religions of the world, emerging from innumerable sources, at long last mingle in the great ocean of love." In this present age, we have again been taught: As many religions, so many paths. All reach one and the same goal. Thus, from the earliest Vedic times up to our modern age this ideal of harmony and universality has been taught to every Hindu.
The skies are clearing after a major storm, and the future of religion looks bright—even assured. From another weather station, however, we hear a different report. A tornado is approaching that could level religion forever.
Nowadays every mother's son and daughter is the bemused intimate of the amoeba and the crab-nebula. With uncanny mechanical eyes we now peer outward at the wheeled forms of untold billions of galaxies, and inward at the dizzying choreography of subatomic particles hurtling through the void. In a matter of decades we have decoded the coiled DNA templates of ourselves, and we have caught fugitive glimpses of that place east of Hercules where space curves in upon itself and time collapses.