Beads on one String

I don’t care how you name Him
He is always the same
I just know that we shame Him
When we kill in His name

This can’t go on forever
This war in a ring
Gotta bring us together
Like beads on one string
(The Who)

In the song “Beads on one string” from the current LP “WHO”, Pete Townshend quotes the words of his spiritual master Meher Baba (1894-1969), who admonished humanity to religious peace. In this way Townshend shows that the influence of his former spiritual teacher is still strong and alive in him. The legendary concept album “Tommy” was inspired in a special way by the encounter with Mehre Baba (later Bobby McFerrin was to record “Don’t worry, be happy!”, some other words of the master to a pop hymn). “The greater the love, the softer the voice,” also a word of Mehre Baba. Still the world has not found this peace, still one yells at the other. Yet it is secretly clear to everyone that only justice, peace, freedom and friendship can form a basis for living together.

When will the religions of this world stop fighting each other? The wind should be taken out of the sails of fundamentalism on all sides, but how can this happen? It is time for a religious reform, says Shaikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed al Salmi, however difficult it may be. It’s time to realize that hardened positions of faith throw the baby out with the bath water when they take God as exclusively and literally as possible. What was authentic revelation became false religion again and again, in the dangerous belief that the theological system and God’s will are one. Man has the right to be wrong. If God Himself allows the devil and does not destroy him, the more He will tolerate human beings of other faiths. Fundamentalism is blind to the fact “that everything that does not happen out of freedom is morally worthless and religiously incorporeal.” (1)

The “war of the ring” is still going on, even though Gotthold Ephraim Lessing had shown a way out of the dilemma 240 years ago with his Ring parable in “Nathan the Wise”, a parable that goes back to the 11th century. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism are the most important religious expressions of the present. Apparently, each tradition tells a different story and is in many ways contradictory to the competing revelations. Christianity has still not overcome its separation into Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants, the Islamic world is divided into Sunnis, Shiites and other currents, and the other religions are also familiar with the phenomenon of schism, the dispute over faith. If it is not even possible to create unity within a doctrine of faith, how can this be achieved in the concert of the different religions of the world?

It cannot be a matter of playing one “bead” off against the other. What is at stake and what we all thirst for today is the renewal of true religion, that is, the reunification of humanity with the divine. We should all listen to the beating of the heart of the world. And something can be observed in today’s world, which is so far removed from this goal: there is “a climate of expectation in the world – expectation sustained, contemplated and intensified through the course of the centuries. Without being nourished and diected from above, the energy of human expectation alone would have exhausted itself long ago. But it is not exhausted; rather, on the contrary, it is growing. This is because it aspires to a reality and not an illusion. And this reality is the historical accomplishment of the great work of uniting spirituality and intellectuality, revelation and humanism, on the vast scale of the whole of mankind.” (2)

Hindus expect Kalki, the tenth avatar, the last incarnation of Vishnu; Buddhists expect Maitreya, the Buddha of the future and great coming world teacher; Muslims expect the twelfth Imâm, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Mahdi; Jews expect the Messiah and Christians expect the return of Jesus. What if all these expectations would be fulfilled in a person who does not found a new religion but teaches AND brings about the way of salvation? A historical personality who is the answer and fulfillment of all revelations? “He will not simply explain the profound meaning of revelation, but he will bring human beings themselves to attain to the illuminating experience of revelation, of a kind that it will not be he who will win authority, but rather He who is ‘the true light that enlightens every man coming into the world’ (John i, 9), – Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, who is the way, the truth and the life”. (3)

(1) Valentin Tomberg, Innere Gewissheitt, S. 165
(2) Anonymus, Meditations on the Tarot, S. 608
(3) Anonymus, Meditations on the Tarot, S. 614

Illustration of the ring symbol in Baháʼí Faith: “The calligraphic ring symbol (بهاء bahā’, DMG bahāʾ ‘Glory, Grace, Splendor, Beauty’), shows three levels: the level of God, the level of the religious founders and the level of humanity. These levels are connected by revelation.” (de.wikipedia.org)