A History of Conflict in the Name of the One God
Monotheism – in spite of its name – is a highly dualistic system, not a unity based approach. Monotheism has divided humanity into hostile camps of believers and non-believers, which easily results in misunderstanding and conflict.
An inclusive unity consciousness is not the prime concept behind the monotheistic mind but rather a sharp duality that leads to the need to convert or eliminate the heretic, heathen, kafir, enemy, sinner or idolater – for which many negative terms have been created over the centuries. Monotheism is authoritarian, often intolerant, and poor at dialoguing with other spiritual persuasions, which it tends to dismiss on principle as wrong and dangerous.
Over the last two thousand years, we can clearly observe the monotheistic history of conquest, jihad, crusade, inquisition, and the massive missionary conversion efforts that continue to the present day. Such efforts to promote the true faith for the entire world, and subordinate or remove all other points of view, clearly does not arise from a sense of universality, but from a feeling of division and duality.
The assertion that there is only One true God and all other Gods are false has gone along with a recognition of an absolute evil, devil or satan, with whom God is at war. That war between God and the Devil has its reflection in the war between the true believers or people of God on Earth and the non-believers, whose lack of faith draws them under the influence of evil.
A true believer can tolerate the non-believer for a time, but eventually must try to convert them. If the non-believer resists, sterner methods may be used, which have involved allures, deceits, or even violence. When it is a case of saving souls from perdition, anything can be justified.
The Monotheistic Split in the Human Psyche
Monotheism has looked at the world through a dualistic lens of good versus evil, God versus the devil, heaven versus hell, the saved verse the damned. Such a radical duality can have devastating effects upon human psyche, causing a split that can lead to emotional and behavioral imbalances. Those who seriously adapt this view have a conflict-based view of the world.
This duality can create of phobia in the mind, not only at individual levels but also at collective levels, as when the masses of believers rise up against the non-believers. This view of God versus the devil is the basis behind crusade and jihad, which essentially mean the same thing, conquering by force the non-believe as heretic, heathen or kafir. It gave rise to the inquisition in which torture was one of the prime instruments of the faith. It was responsible for the burning of witches as well.
Monotheistic Dualism Today
Of course, one may look upon this dualistic conflict in monotheism as simply the shadow of the Middle Ages, and dismiss it as a distortion from that dark period of human history. After all, the world is now in an era of secular democracies, where religion has been placed on the sidelines and not allowed to compromise political or cultural freedom.
However, today Islamist terrorism and the Islamic State are still acting out this dark duality of monotheism in a brutal manner. In Islam, defeating the non-believer also gives the joy of paradise. Soldiers in Islamic armies receive the keys or even passports to paradise to assure and encourage them in their battles. Saudi-funded Madrasas promote this chauvinistic Islam globally as the main form of Islamic education.
On the other hand, many Christians today do not take their religion literally any more, especially in Europe. Yet there still remain strong believers in the millions, Evangelical Christians and staunch Catholics among them, who still take this duality seriously – perhaps not to the point of overt conflict, but to the level of massive conversion efforts and denigrating propaganda.
Evangelicals coming as missionaries to Bharat today preach the same old hell, fire and brimstone, Biblical creation theory, and the impending End of the World. They openly call Hindus as idolaters, superstitious, possessed by demons, worshipping false Godmen, ignorant of God’s truth. Catholics are more subdued but still refuse to recognize that Hindu Dharma is a valid spiritual path with any deep experience of the Divine.
Beyond Monotheism to True Unity
For monotheism to mature spiritually, it must give up its background dark duality and embrace a deeper unity consciousness beyond all beliefs and labels. True believers versus non-believers is a false opposition that permanently divides humanity into warring camps, in which men, women and children suffer, and no peace remains.
Yet without this duality, monotheism as we know it might disappear. The statement that there is only One God implies defending the One true God against all false Gods. An honoring of unity consciousness would end any need for such en masse faith based beliefs. Meditation based spirituality would replace belief based dogmas, without the need for any rigid boundaries of religious identity.
We must recognize that there is a unitary consciousness behind the universe that is all-encompassing, not owned by any group or institution. This unitary truth is beyond all acceptance and rejection, conversion or damnation. It is an original state of bliss and peace apart from all sorrow.
The monotheistic view of divinity is flawed and should be rectified with a deeper spiritual monism, such as found in Vedantic thought. There is only one Self and Consciousness in all creatures. There are dualistic currents in nature, some complementary like day and night or male and female. Others are contraries like good actions versus bad actions. But all of these can be understood from a transcendent unity that requires no justification, no conversion and certainly no holy wars to spread the faith.
The greatest evil occurs when we demonize other people. This gives us the right to control or destroy them in the name of God. It is time to stop saying that ours is the only One true God – and recognize the Universal Consciousness that abides far beyond all boundaries and divisions of faith.