You can tell a group by their behaviour. You can tell a religion by its symptoms. What does it mean when a group attacks and kills its own members simply because they interpret the parameters of their shared group differently? And if that group are willing to kill their own members, what will be their attitude and behaviour toward “the others” who are completely outside their chosen group?
Study any period of world history, even better, just look at today’s current global issues, and you will see that the cause of the most death and horror, the cause of the most vile acts imposed by one human on another, is the difference of interpretation of an idea. I’m not talking about political ideology, defence of borders, or national sovereignty – although often the boundaries overlap. I’m talking about belief in an abstract idea, an outlook on life, an interpretation of a thought. I’m talking about religion. Let’s leave aside for a moment the underhand hijacking of religion by economically motivated politicians to expropriate resources in an opposing territory for selfish ends and look at, for example, the historical conflict between Catholic and Protestant, where we have fellow Christians who have taken up arms against each other, whether in Renaissance Europe or twentieth century Ireland. That conflict may have simmered down, but take the current Middle East conflict involving Muslim Sunni versus Shia. What does it tell you when a person, in the name of their religion, can become a suicide bomber, blowing up himself, as well as others of his own faith, possibly even in a mosque at prayer time to promote that same cause, on behalf of a shared “merciful” God? It indicates that not only practically from a humanitarian perspective, but equally importantly philosophically, from a doctrinal perspective, the religion has failed to understand or realize the first and most basic fundamental truth – that God is one and we are all children of God. Even deeper than that, it shows a failure to comprehend the spiritual truth – that we are not these bodies but are, each one of us, a temple of God, a vessel housing not only the eternal spirit soul or Atma, but also housing the immanent expansion of God, the Supersoul or Paramatma. The tragic thing is that it is the failure of the religion to realize and understand its own doctrine that has led to the failure of humanity to endorse human rights – the right to life. It is this same failure that has led Semite Jew to dehumanise fellow Semite Muslim in the Middle East, although political hijacking may be involved here too. Political hijacking by a theology that sees any “other” or non-Jew as “goyin” the Hebrew word for cattle. The same ideology that in Islam sees the “other” as infidel and worthy of annihilation. All repeatedly indicating the basic failure of insight in consciousness, comprehension of doctrine, realization of theology. Even the Hindu, who sees one caste as lesser that another and therefore worthy of abuse, is showing by his or her action a failure in comprehension of their own sacred doctrine, a failure to know their God.
Not that all who practice religion are guilty or have failed, for in every religion we have the lesser known mystical path, whether Sufi, or Swami, Cistercian or Sikh, a minority that have realized the transcendent as well as immanent nature of Self and God. Who have comprehended the doctrine presented to them all along, and having realized this truth, exhibit that realization in their actions toward their fellow humans, and ultimately toward all life.
To conclude, I don’t claim to know the inside details of all these conflicts, the the history of who did what to whom, who threw the first stone. I can only look at the results and the results clearly speak for themselves in revealing the mentality behind the actions from an objective or humanist point of view. Therefore when Krishna says in the ancient esoteric text Bhagavad – gita 18:66 “Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me” He is not saying become an atheist to solve your “us and them” misconceptions. Rather Krishna is saying abandon all your concepts of my religion versus your religion, my dharma versus your dharma and surrender to the truth that we are all eternal, blissful consciousness, part and parcel of the same one Absolute Truth. There is no God but God. There is no winner in an us and them mentality and until we realize that point, then our so-called attempts at religion or spirituality are a failure and a sham. Your actions speak for themselves.