I belong to a small religious sect called the Quakers. Fortunately, we are comparatively few in number. So, even if we ever contemplated such a crazy idea, we could never have our own political party, we are a mere minority of a minority!

 

Gandhiji knew us, his and our faith in the power of nonviolence was common and well tried ground. In the present state of turmoil in the country, I keep on thinking of some of our ideas, ideas and principles. There is of course, the basic idea that we all, and everything around us, and about us, are part of creation and if you believe it, and feel strongly about it, we can say, we are part of God's creation. Many of us have our own ideas and others have adopted others' ideas of just what God is, but apart from what we see and hear and feel, it is all a matter of faith. Without concrete 'proof we 'believe'. But in any case, we are fairly convinced that creation was not just a Big Bang, but is a continuing creation of which we are a part.

 

If we can accept this idea, and feel we are part of it, we find we are part of a complex, unimaginably vast and moving creation. We soon realize that each one of us is, in comparison with the whole, infinitely small. But even so, we are all linked together somewhat in the same way as blood cells and bones and skin and guts are all linked together to form a human body. On its own, each separate bit of a body is useless and I think I am not wrong in supposing that it is this idea, which is behind such phrases as the 'brotherhood of man', or Gandhiji's phrase of 'children of God'. If and when we do feel, that we individually really are a part of a vast creation, some of us sometimes feel a sense of awe and wonder and amazement, and we want to express these feelings. Some call it worship, others praise, and others just sheer joy at feeling we are all part of the creation, and realizing that the Creator must be something far greater than the sum total of all he has created. It is difficult from a language point of view, not to identify, the creator with ourselves and we find ourselves calling him 'HE'.

 

Then it is this Creator who has not only made the physical 'us', but given us the ability to think and understand, and have all sorts of knowledge, and again, we are forced to realize that as the Creator, 'HE' must have at least as much understanding and knowledge as all our knowledge put together, and probably much more, so that it is all extending, and as the American language puts it 'and then some'.

 

When several of us together experience this sense of awe and joy and the need to worship and praise, we have tended to separate special places and often we ourselves create in them special areas, which we call holy, or sacred, and set apart for this special purpose of being together, and feeling ourselves to be a significant part of 'all creation'. It is only sometimes that we feel that it is a bit silly, when we realize that we are trying to contain the great creator of ALL, which we, small, tiny parts of a great whole, have ourselves created. All the time, everywhere, whatever we are doing, or whoever we are with, we are all part of this creation and cannot be separated or isolated from it.

 

Then there is another picture of this whole picture of us and creation. We sometimes feel, or want to feel, that we can have direct contact with the creator in the same way that parts of our body can feel and be aware not only of other parts, but of our whole self, body, mind and spirit, (as it is sometimes called). If, and when this is so, it is unreasonable to feel that we as an individual, or even as a group of like minded individuals, can have an exclusive access to, or knowledge and understanding of that which is so much greater than all of us put together. So conversely, if a feeling of oneness with all creation is available, it should make no difference, who or what we are, whether we be Hottentots, or Hill Tribals, architects or tea-tasters, two days old, or two years old, or old dodderers, geniuses or mentally retarded, short or tall, yellow or brown, priests or penitents. When we become exclusive and possessive, can it be because we are not in tune with the creation as a whole?

 

One other thought, most of us have experienced an occasion perhaps of great joy or suffering, which is shared with some one we love closely, yet no words are spoken, or even needed. The understanding is there, felt and understood in silence, if words are spoken, the spell is broken and spoiled. So perhaps it is not always necessary to limit "religion" to these occasions when a few people get together for religion exercises"?