We live in a world where we are our own authority and we do what we think is right. This is the situation of our country in the Post-Modern world.
Out of the several burning issues that we deal with on a daily basis, religion seems to be one of the most important one. When it comes to religion, one is eager to prove themselves right, more than ready to have their hands bloodied to prove their superiority over the other.
But, in doing so, the question arises as to whether or not there is an end to these fights between religions, killings, chaos, bloodshed and pain. Can Inter-religious dialogue then be a means to help people love one another?
We are well-versed when it comes to our religion but unfortunately know very little about that of others. There is very less willingness to learn about the other religion, so much so that we choose to live in oblivion and go through our entire lives without knowing who our neighbour is.
Inter-religious dialogue, in this present situation of ours, is certainly one of the paths to increase brotherhood and love among people. If the true meaning of this term is understood then it will become the ray of light that guides us to the ‘morally’ right path.
Inter-religious dialogue is not only sharing the foundation of one’s religion with the other. It is a way of life.
While dialogue is defined as the exchange of words between people, Inter-religious Dialogue is the exchange of love and harmony because the final goal is to attain fulfillment and spiritual satisfaction.
It does not pertain to a few ‘religious’ people sitting on a stage and propagating what is right and wrong according to their religion. Moreover, it should be a daily routine, a part of who you are.
A word with your neighbor, smiling at someone on the way to work, serving the other, listening to the other, sharing moments of happiness and sorrow, wishing people and exchanging pleasantries on the other’s days of religious celebrations and feasts- All of this, in a real sense, is inter-religious dialogue.
Very often we become selfish and like to keep our lives personal, making ourselves the center of the universe. We try to prove that we are the authority and that we make the rules, but in doing so, we must try not to put down the other. We need to learn to rise with the other.
The question then arises as to how this inter religious dialogue can be inculcated?
Well, here are a few Guiding Principles to enable one to build a better world:
Open mindedness: To keep an open mind is the most important of all of the principles because, when we keep an open mind we don’t judge the other, we do not think less of them.
Accept the other: To accept the other is the most difficult of the tasks which we have in our hand. We are not able to accept the other fully because we are taught that way but we must try to overcome such barriers and try to accept the other.
Lend a hand: There are people in need of various things. Lending a hand of help and caring for them will only do us good in the longer run. It comes back a hundred folds remember?
Be empathetic: One cannot help the other unless he puts himself in the shoes of the other. Understanding one’s situation and emotional turmoil will indeed help one make the world a happier place to live in.
Try and get to know the other: This dialogue helps us to know the view of the other towards the world, their thoughts, their ways and their ideologies of the world.
Learn: This dialogue can be a learning process for every person. One doesn’t know everything in the world, there are new things to be learnt and new things to be explored and hence we can try to learn something new from the other.
Build peace and harmony: When we know how our neighbor is and we trust them, then there can be no reason for conflicts. For this to happen we have to remove the prejudice that is there in our mind.
Emphasize similarity: All religions propagate love and care, equality, justice and several other good things. So focus on these aspects to build a better neighborhood.
In this Post-Modern world, these kinds of dialogues are necessary because they promote fellowship, love, care, and teaches one to accept the other.
The few aspects we need to keep in mind are that, we should be open minded to accept a person of another religion, should try to lend a hand to the person in need without the distinction of religion, so that we can soon upgrade from Inter-Religious Dialogues to Inter Religious-Personal Dialogues.
Everyone is equal- We all live together in the same world and occupy the same space and hence one needs to accept that no one is above the other. Once this milestone of equality is reached then nothing can stop us from changing the world and making it a better place to live in.