Those who seek God are often frustrated in various ways; they do not understand whether or not it is possible for their search to be fruitful. Some seekers complain, "I have tried meditation. I have tried concentration and prayer for two years, or three years, or four years, but illumination has not come." Others complain that they have tried to meditate upon God in different ways and are confused about what God really is.
I once met a lady in Paris who as soon as we were introduced asked me to draw a picture of a horse—which I did, somewhat mystified. She then explained that she asked everybody she met to do this because it was amazing the different ways in which people draw pictures of horses. Some people only draw the head, some the whole body. Some draw the horse in one position, some in another. She had worked out a system by which she could judge people by knowing what kind of a horse or portion of a horse they would draw.
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.