At the World’s Parliament of Religions, held at Chicago in 1893, Swami Vivekananda quoted a beautiful verse from ancient Hindu scripture, Shiva Mahimna Stotra:
“As different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their waters in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths, which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.” 97
He concluded his address by summarizing the message of his master, Sri Ramakrishna: “Criticize no one, for all doctrines and creeds have some good in them. Show by your lives that religion does not mean words, or names, or sects, but that it means spiritual realization.”
There are two ideologies in the world today: the ideology of one religion or faith, and the ideology of multiple faiths. The believers in one religion feel strongly that their faith is the only one that leads to spiritual evolution and salvation of man. The believers in multiple faiths have a more open-minded approach and feel that mankind may attain spiritual wisdom through many different paths. There are many gradations of attitude, however, in this second category. Some practice tolerant exclusiveness; they tolerate other beliefs but do not wish any more closeness. Others believe in interfaith dialogue. They maintain a good communication with other faiths. Yet there are those who go beyond that to practice interfaith enrichment: They have a mutual respect for and an interest in learning from other faiths. Inter-religious tolerance is not enough; inter-religious respect is needed.