IN Christendom the idea prevails that the Christian religion is superior to all other faiths. The apotheosis of this false idea is the doctrine that Jesus Christ is the only begotten son of God, and God incarnate. Educated people, who have never taken the trouble to study the facts of history and philosophy, hold to these beliefs more for the sake of form than as life-principles. There are thousands, however, who having looked into the evolution of these dogmas have relegated them to the limbo of absurdities. Priests of many churches continue to influence the mobs, who ignorantly, albeit honestly, hold that a personal God exists outside of themselves and the universe, who sent his Son to save the world, and who could only be appeased from his wrath by having that son crucified before his eyes.
As religion is a most potent factor in the lives of all, these absurd and egotistical beliefs have engendered, among many other evils, the dangerous and war-provoking view of the superiority of Christians, over pagan and heathen. The war exposed us. We have been found out. "Christians" of one nation indulged in barbarity towards "Christians" in another nation, and it was a gratifying sight for the devil himself! The non-christian Turk set us an example of superior morality. Also we know how Frenchmen noted the fine gentleness and finer chivalry of the Indian troops who came from their far-away motherland to help the allies of their King-Emperor.
It is high time that masses of Christians learn the truths of and about their own religion. It will not hurt any one to know the facts. In what is the Christian religion superior to other creeds? The life of Jesus, as depicted in the four Gospels themselves, does not teach any more exalted ethics than the life of Gautama, the Light of Asia. The metaphysics of the Upanishads is certainly superior to the theological speculations of Christian church luminaries. Penitentiaries and crime are rare in "heathen" Buddhist lands. "Pagan" art, both literary and pictorial; inventions; and government are yet to be recognized as worthy of emulation by Christian peoples. Jesus was one of the noblest and grandest figures in human history, but his teachings remain yet to be practiced by western peoples. Many historical characters have done great things under the influence of their respective churches, as have other men of like character in connection with other creeds. What about the Moors inspired by the message of Islam, for example?
That tolerance which begets brotherhood is itself born of understanding and appreciation. The noble ethics of "heathen" and "pagan" prophets are but repeated in the Sermon on the Mount. The life achievements of Jesus and Paul take on a deeper significance if compared with the equally grand achievements of Krishna and Buddha, Lao Tzu and Zarathushtra. The Church Fathers like Origen will be better understood by reading the works of Sankara and others. The significance of the failure and deterioration of the real church of Jesus is a repetition of the degradation of that Taoism which Lao Tzu proclaimed so gloriously. Noble ideas were beautifully expressed by saints and sages who went before and came after Jesus.
How many times has it not been claimed that the golden rule and the doctrine "resist not evil" were first proclaimed by Jesus? Have not many millions believed that fiction? The following passages should serve to kill out the unchristian feeling of egotistical superiority, toward the so-called "pagans":
"To those who are good, I am good and to those who are not good, I am also good -- and thus all get to be good. With the sincere I am sincere and with the insincere I am sincere -- and thus all get to be sincere" -- Lao Tsu's Tao-Teh-King.
"Let him not do to another what is not good for himself." -- Yajnavalkya Smirti.
"Cross the passes so difficult to cross; cross wrath with peace; cross untruth with truth." -- Sama Veda.
"Let him not be angry with the angry man; being harshly addressed, let him speak softly." -- Manu Smriti.
"Let not any man do unto another any act that he wisheth not done to himself by others, knowing it to be painful to himself. And let him also fashion for another all that he wisheth for himself." -- Mahabharata, Shanti Parva.
"Strength might be vanquished by forgiveness, weakness might be vanquished by forgiveness; there is nothing which forgiveness cannot accomplish; therefore forgiveness is truly the strongest." -- Mahabharata, Vana Parva.
"He, who is not angry with the angry, is a physician unto both. He saveth himself as well as the others from great danger." -- Mahabharata, Vana Parva.
"If man attempts to do me wrong I will return to him the protection of my ungrudging love; the more evil comes from him the more good shall go from me." -- Buddhist Sutras.
"Hatred ceaseth not by hatred at any time; hatred ceaseth by love; this is an old rule." -- Buddhist Dhamma-pada.
"Let a man overcome anger by love, evil by good; let him overcome the greedy by liberality, the liar by truth." -- Buddhist Dhamma-pada.