There is a beautiful legend which says that, in the olden days, God spoke from Mount Sinai. And when he spoke, the voice was heard by the people, as they listened from east and west, from north and south, from earth and heaven. But each man—we read—heard the voice in his own tongue. That story is suggestive of a great truth. The one voice of God has spoken to all but has, in its utterance, become many. The one religion has become the many religions of the world. And this truth has been intuited by the great religious geniuses of the race.
So, one great Sufi writer says: “The ways of God are as many as the breaths of man.” And a text in the Gita expresses the same idea wonderfully well: “On whatsoever path men approach me, on that I go to meet them. For all the paths are mine!”
Prophets of the race, in east and west, have glimpsed this great truth. And yet there is conflict in the religious world.
Rivalry in religion, as it seems to me, is due to two things—want of knowledge, and lack of sympathy. Sometimes, there is lack of knowledge: sometimes, there is lack of sympathy: and often, I think, there is lack of both.
There are some who believe that there is but one and full and final revelation of the spirit; so that those who stand outside the circle of their own faith must necessarily be in error. Again, there are some who approach the religious problem in no spirit of sympathy. They fix their attention on certain aberrations and extravagancies of a particular religion, and say, “Look here, this religion is a monstrosity!”
So, it is that quarrels, discord and hatred, have entered the religious world. Religion, which was meant to be a bond of union, has become a source of sectarian strife.