As I can see my post on the Painting of Buddha caused many ideas, questions and arguments. And all I have read in the comments made me dwell on the idea of all the religions depicted as flowers on one tree.
First of all, no Great Master/Prophet/Teacher has ever created any religion. Religions were created by men. Some of these men even could not understand the ideas expressed by the Master and, therefore, were sure that other people would not understand Him either – in such a way new interpretations appeared. As Goldmare has mentioned in his comment, “It’s a terrible thing – I had a friend in one of my old schools who abandoned Christianity because she saw how all the denominations couldn’t agree”. Some other men, seeing that the teaching really influenced people, used it in their politics including some parts into it which were beneficial for them. For example, let’s take Christianity. Paul even was not Christ’s disciple. He has never heard the words uttered by Christ Himself. On the other hand, he was in touch with Romans ruling in the country at that time. The greatest part of the Bible is written by him… Mohammed never wrote Koran. After His death his nearest and dearest were killed by, so to speak, Mohammed’s followers…
Then how can we understand what is really true in the Scriptures and what is not? What we, ordinary people, should follow and what not? Already when I was a teenager I was sure that there should be some True Values /Dharma/ that men should follow and after I had got acquainted with different cultures and religions I came to the conclusion that these values are the ones which are the same in all the religions. That was one of my spiritual achievements.
After I had started practicing Sahaja Yoga, this idea developed into a new dimension. There were
Great Masters/Prophets on the Earth who came at different time to different places but each of them tried to teach people almost the same values: there should not be greediness, stealing, lying, adultery, etc. but there should be forgiveness, love, generosity, creativity, etc. Of course, each Master emphasized only some of the qualities but that is the whole idea! Christ appeared in Jerusalem at the time He was needed the most there as people had been losing morality. By the example of His all life He was teaching that one should have compassion and forgiveness. These were the qualities He came to work out on the Earth. Mohammed appeared on the Earth in 570 in Mekka. Can you remember, please, what was going in Arabia at that time? There were many tribes who were at war with each other often and who were worshipping different idols (though in the same place – Kaaba). Yes, there was some notion of Allah but He was considered to be abstract and transcendent. The Great Deed by Mohammed, first of all, was that He announced Allah the only All-mighty God. By the way, he respected the teachings of Christ and said that Koran was only for Arabians as those were they at that time who needed the rules given by Him. And there is nothing in the Teaching of Mohammed that contradicts the teaching of Christ if we look deeper. For example, Mohammed allowed Arabian men to take several wives. Nothing strange. Many men had been killed in battles and if Mohammed had not allowed polygamy (which is not allowed in Christianity), prostitution would have been prospering.
By the way, why should one limit the list of the Great Masters only by the ones mentioned above? Why not take into consideration the teachings of Raja Djanaka, Abraham, Moses, Zaratustra, Lao-Tzu, Confucius, Socrates, Guru Nanaka, Sai Baba from Shirdi. There were also Great Masters even before Christ: Buddha, Rama, Krishna, Mahavira.
In a word, there is one and the same Almighty God (though each of us can call and depict Him differently: the Creator, All-pervading Energy, Allah, Supreme Power, etc.) and He is the personification of all the virtues. For us, people, not to lose the path to these virtues, to spiritual growth, Prophets and Great Masters were sent to Earth for them to work out different aspects of one and the same God in people. Thus, Great Masters/Prophets are flowers on the Earth planted by God for people to teach from each of them. And as Axinia has mentioned, there is a part of God in each of us. Therefore, I see the aim of my life in the development of these virtues in myself for God to see His reflection in me. And the real meaning of the words “All the religions are flowers on the same tree” is the following: there is one tree, one God, and there are many interpretations of Him and ways to Him but the aim is the same and the path to it is also the same – spiritual growth. And all the religions are flowers as if we separate seeds from tares in each of the religion there really will appear a beautiful flower.
photo by the author