What Is the Best Religion?

“What is the best religion?” queried a truth seeker.

“Self-realization,” Yogananda replied.

“Self-realization is, in fact, the only religion. For it is the true purpose of religion, no matter how people define their beliefs.

“A person may be Christian or Jewish, Buddhist or Hindu, Muslim or Zoroastrian; he may proclaim that Jesus Christ is the only way, or Buddha, or Mohammed—as indeed, millions of believers do. He may insist that this ritual, or that place of worship, bestows salvation. But it all comes down to what he is, in himself.

“A thousand Christ wouldn’t be able to give you God, if you didn’t first make love to Him yourself.

Could Any Dogma Encompass God?

“What does God care how you define Him? Could any dogma encompass Him, Who is everything and far more than everything? And don’t you suppose that a Muslim or a Hindu who loves God is as dear to Jesus Christ as any Christian—and much more acceptable to him than those among his own followers who believe in God with their minds, but have no love for Him in their hearts?

“Jesus Christ didn’t come to earth, nor does any great master come, to draw people to himself. He came to draw them to the truth—that truth which, Jesus said, ‘shall make you free.’ The divine message is ever impersonal as it relates to this truth.

“At the same time, it is personal in its relation to the individual seeker. That is to say, the masters don’t tell people, ‘You will be saved by the religion you follow, outwardly.’ They tell them, ‘You will be saved by what you do, personally, to establish your kinship with God.’

Self-Realization Is the Eternal Message of Religion

“Self-realization is the eternal message of religion. Whatever your beliefs and practices, the essential purpose of religion is to help you to fulfill your own highest potential, as a child of God.

“The wave must realize that its reality, as a mere wave, is temporary. It may appear again and again as other waves, but in the end it has to realize that its reality lies not in its separateness as a wave, but in the ocean of which the wave is a manifestation.

“Realization of its true identity demands merging into the ocean and becoming one with it.

“Let us say a Jew become converted to Christianity. He stops going to the synagogue and goes, instead, to church. Does the simple fact of his conversion ensure his salvation? Not if it doesn’t inspire him at the same time to love God more deeply.

“Your religion is not the garb you wear outwardly, but the garment of light you weave around your heart. By outward garb I don’t mean your physical raiment only, but rather the thoughts and beliefs in which you enclose yourself.

“They are not you. Discover who you are, behind those outer trappings, and you will discover who Jesus was, and Buddha, and Krishna.

For the masters come to earth for the purpose of holding up to every man a reflection of his deeper, eternal Self.”

Excerpted from The Essence of Self-Realization: The Wisdom of Paramhansa Yogananda

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