Unity & Diversity
'The Perennial Philosophy and its ethical corollaries constitute a Highest Common Factor,
present in all the major religions of the world.
To affirm this truth has never been more imperatively necessary than at the present time.'
Marianne Rankin, former Chair of the AHS, concludes her Introduction to Religious and Spiritual Experience (2008) with the words ‘However, as we are faced with an ever-growing need for mutual understanding and global co-operation, a spiritual approach to life may be our best hope for the future of the planet’. John Franklin (2006), Honorary Secretary of the AHSSSE echoes this sentiment regarding unification of world religions and the need for ecumenical concern:
'Today, it is of great importance to find a common basis for human co-operation. Much is quietly being achieved, through the Parliament of the World’s Religions, the United Nations, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), through Ecumenical and Interfaith movements, and through the attempts to achieve a ‘global ethic’. But still the religions divide through their interpretations of scripture and tradition: seeming too bound by the weight of cultural history to look further into the idea of a possible ultimate unity behind the traditions, a vision perceived by the mystics and often revealed in contemporary spiritual or religious experience. This is perhaps where the work of the Religious Experience Research Centre might contribute – by continuing to point to the growing evidence of personal testimony; by showing and sharing with other disciplines the ways in which this relates to revelation and to the core principles of the major world religions; and by “widening the horizons” of perception.'
I would like to emphasise that, whilst interfaith dialogue is obviously important, it is also important to preserve traditions and value their differences. Academic integrity should be sacrificed neither to the ideal of unity or an elitism of individuality.
Part three to follow...
Originally published in two parts in De Numine, No. 54 & 55, pp5-8.