Connexion: The multi-faith Deepavali Way

By Joachim Ng

Deepavali, the festival of lights, is a timely occasion to spotlight Hinduism’s greatest lesson: the underlying oneness of all religions. This fundamental tenet of the religion explains why yogis cherish multi-faith diversity, seeing it as many colours of the rainbow. Colours are just wavelengths; behind every colour there is only light that can manifest as any colour.

Appreciation of diversity explains why Hindus don’t go around converting others, although they are often targeted for conversion as happened to the under-aged children of Ipoh-based kindergarten teacher M. Indira Gandhi. Which colour of the rainbow is supreme? You may know the yogi’s favourite prayer: “Lead me from darkness to light.” The journey of truth is to find the light within all colours, and the good news of Deepavali is that the light has been found.

No, it’s not Shahenshah, the lightning-fast crime-fighting superhero of Bollywood-style Deepavali. The real Deepavali is a celebration of the Eternal Way or Sanatana Dharma in Sanskrit.  The word “Hindus” was coined to label the people of the Indus River in old India, and “Hinduism” was similarly a label for their religious practices. The eternal reality behind this label is “beyond names and forms” (Sanskrit: paramatman), and the natural state of every human being is to live in God or to live in communion with God.

The Eternal Way sounds very familiar to Chinese classical scholars. One of China’s two indigenous religions — Taoism — doesn’t have a name either. The word Taoism is just a label for classification. Taoism is simply following The Way. According to the sacred texts, The Way is “nameless and formless,” and is “the origin of heaven and earth.”

Christianity bids its adherents to follow “the Christ” (Hebrew: Messiah) and Christ identifies himself as “the way, the truth, and the life.” In like manner, Krishna of the Bhagavad Gita describes himself allegorically as: “I am the life of all that lives.” Islamic literature speaks of Abraham — the patriarch of Jews, Christians, and Muslims — as representing primordial humanity in following the ancient way of divine reality.

This divine reality is a seamless web, just as light is seamless. Whereas you can discern apparent borders separating colours of the rainbow — much as you can see big differences separating various religions — when you are fully in the light, you see no colours and no differences. You see a wholesome oneness. Light up your inner life with Deepavali today.

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Joachim Ng

A veteran interfaith researcher and science enthusiast, Joachim Ng has acquired more than 45 years of research experience in studying the world's scriptures and harmonising them with latest scholarly findings in many disciplines especially science and spirituality. In the 1980s, he penned a weekly interfaith column that won him a Promotion of Unity award from the Malaysian Press Institute. In addition to five earlier books, he has delivered papers at international conferences held in New York, Los Angeles, Seoul, Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Assisi near Rome. A Master's degree holder from the University of Hull, UK, he is a former chairman of the Interfaith Spiritual Fellowship and the recipient of an Ambassador for Peace award conferred by the Universal Peace Federation.

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