2018 July, 31
The Principle that Religion is for Benefit, Love and Unity; Non-Baha'i Sources
Here is a brief, quick compilation that I just drew up in answer to a question on facebook about interfaith harmony and its basis in non-Baha'i sources. The Baha'i Writings often assert that all religions in their pure form aim at love and unity, but this is not delved into in detail. For that reason I have collected these quotes, which can be taken as skeletal evidence for the principle that "religion is for unity," or at least for benefit, is a more or less universal goal. I have put the quotes inchronological order, under the following categories: Philosophy (Plato), India and China, Judaism, Christianity and the Qur'an.
"...what is most beneficial will be deemed sacred. (Plato Rep V p. 179)
"Can there be any greater evil than discord and distraction and plurality where unity ought to reign? Or any greater good than the bond of unity? [-he goes on to define unity as wherever sorrows and joys are the same] (Plato, Republic, Book V, p. 184)
India and China
"When a feudal lord endangers the alters to the gods of earth and grain, he should be replaced. When the sacrificial animals are sleek, the offerings are clean and the sacrifices are observed at due times, and yet floods and droughts come, then the alters should be replaced." (Mencius VII, B. 14, also cf. Mencius, Intro 37)
"He who knows My glory and power, he has the oneness of unwavering harmony. This is My truth." (Bhagavad Gita 10:7)
"For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased." (Prov 9:11)
"Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife." (Prov 17:1)
"They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." (Isa 11:9)
"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee." [ie city of peace] (Ps 122:6)
"...whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." (Rom 15:4)
Addressing followers who wanted to call down fire...
"Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of, for the son of Man is not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." (Luke 9:55-6)
The teacher of God proves expertise by going to wherever the need is greatest:
"The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" He heard this and said,
"Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' I did not come to call the righteous but sinners." (Matthew 9:11-13)
"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal." (I Cor 12:7)
"...the words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life." (John 6:63)
An example of the principle that the purpose of religion is to build unity, and that therefore if there is disputation both sides are wrong.
"Every kingdom divided against itself goes to ruin." (Matt 12:25)
"Turn to Allah and fear Him. Be steadfast in prayer and serve no other god besides Him. Do not split up your religion into sects, each exulting in its own beliefs." (Q30:29)
"(This is) a Scripture which We have revealed unto thee (Muhammad) that thereby thou mayst bring forth mankind from darkness unto light, by the permission of their Lord, unto the path of the Mighty, the Owner of Praise." (Quran 14:1, https://quran.com/14/1)