Religions - The great global luminaries that foster human well being and solidarity

Religions are binding forces that provide a triple bind in the internal, external & transcendental dimensions of human life.

In primitive times, rites & rituals were performed in community atmosphere: funeral, marriage, hunt, harvest etc. - primodial signs of community worship.

Statues, symbols, images, totems & flags emerges as visible signs of the above said triple bind. The word BAKTHI in Sanskrit, Pali, Sinhala, & Tamil languages which are the mother tongues of Hinduism and Buddism, Jainism, inclusive of Christinanity and Islam in India and Sri Lanka, means "Bond".

Later on these binding forces, gradually evolved into dividing forces, when religions systematically transformed into economic and social power generating structures.

As religions acquired individuating qualities (Lakshanas), identifiability (Swarupa), assets (vasthu), authority(mamatthwa), they began to fortifythem selves with ramparts to secure their possessions. When the difference between wisdom and knowledge became negligible, commodities overshadowed culture, devotion grew into strategy for consumerism, and the absolute was introduced as the source for gain, Homo Sapiens gradually fouond themselves to have become into Homo consumens and religions became "spiritual super markets".

Piety and devotions became as in the words of A. L. Basham, similar to the "barter and bargain" system, of the pre economic society. Thus the frantic race of the devotees (clients), in search of the gods who dole out boons and blessings, began and yo gather ever increasing momentum.

Consumerism of the devotee is complementary to that of the dealer of the religion. Because in the system of barter & bargain, the buyers and sellers are interchangable.

This consumeristic spirituality and prosperity oriented piety have caused religions to become, introvert, competetive, clanish, exclusive, self arrogant and intolerant of others.

A clear distinction ought to be made between TRUTH and TRUTH_CLAIM. The former is boundless, common and impartial regarding its exponent and reciepient. While the latter arrogates to itself all the opposites of the above said mentalities.

Religions are binding forces that provide a triple bind in the internal, external & transcendental dimensions of human life.

Human well being is not to be identified with acquisition of assets commodities or consumerism. Well being while presupposes the possession amenities and facilitiesnecessary for a dignified life, it necessarily includes altruistic concerns, compassion, sympathy, mutual respect, accomodative tolerance and inclusivity of allour neighbors in the globe.

Since the attitude of "truth claim" is prevelant in all religions, a reversal of this attitude, is absolutely necessary to initiate solidarity and dialogue in order to arrive at Truth.

Inter faith dialogue and solidarity is not a carrom or chess game where players come with the agenda to score for themselves. Neither is it an auction sale where one exhibits the superiority of ones product with a marketing motives. Dialogue is not a series of monologues where people see and speak than encounter and interact. In my opinion, such "meet together" ought to inspire a corporative search of Truth and Good, accompanied by giving and receiving (mutual enrichment) all along the search journey (In this sense dialogue is true barter and bargain).

Dialogue comprises attitudes, thought, speech, praxis & life. Hence, properly speaking, dialogue is not an event but a JOURNEY (Marga).

World religions canbe devided into four categories: Monotheistic, Polytheistic, Henotheistic & Atheistic. Though each category has its own spirituality - spiritual world view (Weltamschaung), existantially they flow and overlap into the other. This is practical spiritual dialogue, which happens in families & friends belonging to different religions (dialogue in life). This is a reality in Sri Lanka in the social and religious spehres. Mixed marriages and inter religious foras are not negligible realities in the country.

In Pussellawa town, where I ministered previously An INTER FAITH SOLIDARITY FORUM comprising of all religions and leaders acts as a catalyst to address to the existential problems that the society faces irrespective of race, class or religion.

Cosmos: the wolrd is considered by all religions as the birth place, home and end of all life. Hence, it is here that every thing should happen to foster life and well being, peace and dignity.

All the paths to Bliss, Salvation, Muthi, Nirvana, Paradise, are based on the truth, good, dignity of life and fundamental human rights. Hence symbiosis and solidarity of religions will make them coresponsible partners for the emancipation and well being of humanity here and hereafter.