Religions ought not to create separation. Instead of advocating for eradicating religions and deny religions all together (Sam Harris’ argument), one can also choose to view that all these different religions and spiritual practices are simply means to the end. They are tools to assist us to accelerate our spiritual evolution, to help us to attain enlightenment, or liberation or whatever you want to call it.
Also, there is no one size fits all as each individual is unique. We are all brought up by different cultures, traditions, with different conditionings, personalities and natures (and past lives!), so each person will have his or her own unique path. That is why the world is filled with all these beautiful religions and spiritual paths that are available for people to choose from.
Just as all paths lead to Rome, all paths lead to enlightenment too.
According to Buddha, attachment is the root of all suffering (second noble truth). Oftentimes when we suffer, it is because we are attached to either the past or the future, to people or things. We are attached to our jobs, our relationships, and pursuit for worldly success. Even fear, anxiety, anger and all negative emotions stem from attachment.
The Buddhist way is a path of renunciation – don’t do this, don’t do that, renounce this, renounce that (except perhaps Vajrayāna Buddhism). Many religions have monastic elements, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Jainism, though the expressions differ considerably.
To put it simply, Buddha found the world to be bitter to begin with, that is the premise and foundation of Buddha’s teaching – all life is suffering (see first noble truth).
A person may avoid suffering by following the Buddhist path, but he or she may also appear a bit dead, not really alive. Also, the path of renunciation is not really an easy path for modern people.
Another way is the Sufi's way, the Taoist way, and the path of Tantra (also found in Tibetan Buddhism). In these paths, there is no need for you to renounce anything. In fact, you welcome everything, you enjoy everything. You enjoy the world deeply without attaching to it, understanding that all is illusion, except Divine love.
The Sufis and Taoists found the world to be sweet. The Sufis never mention anything about detachment. It doesn’t even bother to talk about the mind. This is a path that transcends the mind and go straight to the heart. It's a path of love and open heart.
The Sufis talk about love all the time. They sing, dance and write poetry to connect with the Divine within. That is their way of meditation. Sitting silently to meditate is not their way. Mevlana Rumi, the most significant figure in Sufism, obtained enlightenment by whirling continuously for thirty-six hours. Everyone thought he was mad until they saw what happened to him after whirling. He fell after thirty-six hours because the body could not whirl anymore, but when he woke up, he was a totally new person.
“For thirty-six hours he danced and danced. The dancer disappeared in the dance, there was only dance and no dancer — the ego died. And he could see his own body from the higher plane dancing somewhere on the earth. He became a watcher on the hill, the body was in the deep dark valley. And that's how he introduced the method to his disciples.
- Osho’s commentary on Rumi
Rumi’s teaching is very simple – love and dance. Love the whole existence so you can dance, and dance to abandon so that you can love. The Sufi’s way is the way of the ecstatics, the drunkards - people who are drunk in Divine Love.
People are fighting with existence, that's why they create misery. Dance with it, sway with the wind, dance with the trees, whisper with the clouds, sing songs to the stars. Create a friendship. It is our existence. Don't remain alienated, don't remain a foreigner, don't remain an outsider; become part, part of this great dance that existence is. "
- Osho’s commentary on Rumi
So are the Taoists and the path of Tantra. They never speak of renunciation or abandon anything. They follow the nature, they enjoy life deeply, including sacred sexuality.
The yogic path falls somewhat in the middle, but perhaps more connected to the Buddhist path, except maybe Bhakti yoga, the path of devotion, which is somewhat similar to Sufism.
Personally, I embrace all paths, with a preference towards the Sufi, the Taoist & Tantric path. I find all these paths don't necessarily contradict each other, instead they complement each other. One can apply the Buddhist path, Vipassana to purify the mind, to cut through all the attachments, the yogic path to purify the physical body (also mind).
Once all these are purified, one can move into the world deeply without being attached. One can do anything without being affected by the outer world because one has such a strong foundation and clarity to see through the veils, to understand the impermanence of all things. And to enjoy existence deeply, to enjoy life in celebration (the Sufi, Taoist & Tantric path).
That's why I have so much love for my beloved Guruji Osho. Osho never tells us to only follow this path and not that path. Osho never says which religion or path is superior than the other. Osho tells us to explore all and to choose which one is more compatible, most suitable to one's own nature as every individual is unique.
All religions and all spiritual practices are simply means to the end. And when you finally "reach the end", the mean also needs to be dropped, because it's not necessary anymore. When all the layers have been peeled, why still be attached to the tool? The tools are only tools. Pick whichever one suits you the most and apply it. If you find one tool no longer works, then try the other. Don't be stubborn on one path as all roads lead to Rome. However, if you find the path that really suits you, then move into it deeply and see what unfolds.
My own spiritual journey has been the most wild and enchanting journey I have ever taken. And the more I open up, the more I realize how little I know.
When I started out my journey I was so sure yoga was my path, the only path (I still do yoga and yoga is still my path), then after practising and also teaching it for a while, there was a point that I found I had lost interest in it, and found it rather boring (that's why I stop teaching).
Particularly with the way yoga is taught in the west, too much emphasize on the asanas (and no, I do not like Iyengar style, thank you very much - except there was one Iyengar teacher I really liked when she blended spirituality in her class without being too strict).
(Also if I sound judgmental - do excuse me - that is not my intention. I am simply sharing my honest feeling. I respect that the style of Iyengar yoga could be the path for some people, but I know well and clear that this is just not my path.)
“I need more spiritual yoga!!” I thought to myself (Yes asana is important too but let's not overdo it and I was a bit sick of scrolling Instagram seeing photos of twisting yoga poses). I found I can't do Gymnastics yoga anymore!! I thought to myself.
Then I encountered Sufism, mystical dance and Tantra. I discovered a whole new world and am deeply in love with it. I also discover tantra yoga which makes me fall in love with yoga again.
So do not be afraid to change and explore the unknown with your heart. If you don't explore, you will never know. Even Buddha tried everything too, he did yoga and found it alright - although a lot of teachings in Buddhism also seems to be similar to the yogic tradition. Buddha has definitely drawn wisdom from the yogic tradition when creating Buddhism. Explore all paths and see which one suits you the most or just draw wisdom from all of them.
I'm eternally grateful for my beloved Guruji Osho's invaluable teaching. You are the light of my life, my temple at midnight. You are always here whenever I feel I need answers and guidance. In your presence, there's joy moving. You are my music, my poetry, my eternal divine love. I bow at your feet. I also bow to my beloved Rumi, Lao Tzu, Shiva, Buddha and all the enlightened ones who have contributed so greatly in uplifting humanity, to guide us from the darkness to the light, moving from the unreal to the real.