Religion, Absolute Truth and Faith

Mankind, as a species developing out of the Ignorance, and subject to the limitations entailed by the involvement of consciousness in Matter and Life, should recognise with humility that “absolute Truth” is a claim that is clearly subject to some amount of debate. Many religious traditions, however, attempt to claim for themselves a mantle of infallibility and absoluteness which, on the one side, limits the ability of its adherents to progress in directions or ways not officially sanctioned or condoned by that particular faith, and on the other, makes the religion itself subject to question and denial by those who recognize that the claim of absoluteness is, at the very least, premature given the current state of evolved consciousness in humanity, or even that part of it that follows one or another religion.

It is clear that these claims are founded in an underlying experience that is overwhelming and patently true when and to the extent actually experienced as the underpinning of any particular faith. In addition, religion necessarily relies heavily on faith, particularly in areas that are not subject to any kind of purely objective physical validation.

Sri Aurobindo weighs in on these questions as follows: “Faith is indispensable to man, for without it he could not proceed forward in his journey through the Unknown; but it ought not to be imposed, it should come as a free perception or an imperative direction from the inner spirit. A claim to unquestioned acceptance could only be warranted if the spiritual effort had already achieved man’s progression to the highest Truth-Consciousness total and integral, free from all ignorant mental and vital mixture. This is the ultimate object before us, but it has not yet been accomplished, and the premature claim has obscured the true work of the religious instinct in man, which is to lead him towards the Divine Reality, to formulate all that he has yet achieved in that direction and to give to each human being a mould of spiritual discipline, a way of seeking, touching, nearing the Divine Truth, a way which is proper to the potentialities of his nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 24, “The Evolution of the Spiritual Man”