The Light of Reason
Edited by James Allen
Vol. VII. June 1st, 1905 No. 6
Should any of our readers, who may be visiting North Devon during the summer months, care to call upon us, we shall be glad to receive them on Friday afternoons. We shall also be glad to see any of our readers at the gathering of the Home Group, at 8 p.m. of the same day.
He who has acquired the true spirit of Religion, who has attained to pure insight and deep charity of heart, will avoid all strife and condemnation, and will not fall into the delusion of praising his own sect (should he belong to one) and trying to prove that it alone is right, and of dispraising other sects, and trying to prove that they are false. As
the true man does not speak in praise of himself or his own work, so the man of humility, charity, and wisdom does not speak of his own sect as being superior to all others, nor seek to elevate his own particular religion by picking holes in forms of faith which are held as sacred by others.
Nothing more explicit and magnanimous has ever been uttered, in reference to this particular phase of the practice of charity, than is to be found in the twelfth Edict of Asoka, the great Indian Ruler and saint who lived some two or three centuries previous to the Christian era, and whose life, devoted to the spread of Truth, testified to the beauty of his words: the edict runs thus:—
“There should be no praising of one’s own sect and decrying of other sects; but, on the contrary, a rendering of honor to other sects for whatever cause honor may be due. By so doing, both one‘s own sect may be helped forward, and other sects will be beneﬁtted; by acting otherwise, one’s own sect will he destroyed in injuring others. Whosoever exalts his own sect by decrying others does so doubtless out of love for his own sect, thinking to spread abroad the fume thereof. But, on the contrary, he inﬂicts the more an injury upon his own sect."
These are wise and holy words; the breath of charity is in them, and they may be well pondered upon by those who are anxious to overthrow, not the religions of other men, but their own short—comings.
It is a dark and deep-seated delusion that
causes a man to think he can best advance the cause of his own religion by exposing what he regards as the “evils" of other religions; and the most pitiful part of it is, that while such a one rejoices in the thought that by continually belittling other sects he will perhaps at last wipe them out, and win all men to his side, he is all the time engaged in the sad work of bringing into disrepute, and thereby destroying, his own sect.
Just as every time a man slanders another, he inﬂicts lasting injury upon his own character and prospects, so every time one speaks evil of another sect, he soils and demeans his own. And the man who is prone to attack and condemn other religions is the one who suffers most when his own is attacked and condemned. If a man does not like that his own religion should be denounced as evil and false, he should carefully guard himself that he does not condemn other religions as such. If it pleases him when his own cause is well-spoken of and helped, he should speak well of and help other causes which, while differing from his own in method, have the same good end in view. In this way he will escape the errors and miseries of sectarian strife, and will perfect himself in divine charity.
The heart that has embraced gentleness and charity avoids all those blind passions which keep the ﬁres of party strife, violence, persecution, and bitterness burning from age to age.
It dwells in thoughts of pity and tenderness, scorning nothing, despising nothing, not stirring up enmity; for he who acquires gentleness, gains that clear insight into the Great Law which cannot be obtained in any other way, and he sees that there is good in all sects and religions, and he makes that good his own.
Let the truth-seeker avoid divisions and invidious distinctions, and let him strive after charity; for charity does not slander, backbite, or condemn; it does not think of trampling down another's, and elevating its own.
More from James Allen
James Allen was a little-known philosophical writer and poet. He is best recognized for his book, As a Man Thinketh. Allen wrote about complex subjects such as faith, destiny, love, patience, and religion but had the unique ability of explaining these subjects clearly and in a way that is easy to understand. He often wrote about cause and effect, sowing and reaping, as well as overcoming sadness, sorrow, and grief. For more information on the life of James Allen, click here.