It’s All Just Water

Ashland 2004 046

When I used to lead discussion circles with inmates and streetpeople we would often read passages from an array of spiritual teachers.  The quote below is from one section that was sure to stir lively conversation!  It comes from the 19th Century Indian mystic, Ramakrishna, a devotee of the Goddess Kali.

“Truth is one; only it is called by different names. . . .  A lake has many ghats [places to access the water].  From one ghat the Hindus take water in jars and call it JAL.  From another ghat the Muslims take water in leather bags and call it PANI.  From a third the Christians take the same thing and call it WATER.  Suppose someone says that the thing is not JAL but PANI, or that it is not PANI but WATER, or that it is not WATER but JAL.  It would indeed be ridiculous.  But this very thing is at the root of the friction among sects. . . .  This is why people injure and kill one another in the name of religion.”

Ramakrishna says this slippery liquid “Truth” is God (for him, primarily Kali).  But of course we could take the next step and simply say that Water is Water, Truth is Truth, Nature is Nature, though we call it by many names and fight over those names quite passionately.

Yet, I agree with the “madman of Calcutta.”

Truth is one.


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