Like cars, SUVs and trucks, religions can become weapons if we are not careful. We need to “use” them well. The need to be aware of religions’ potency for good and evil has never been more pressing. The inter-religious world gets smaller by the day through globalization, just as the roads on which we drive get smaller and smaller the more vehicles are on the road and the faster we go. We need to become more mindful of our surroundings, and cultivate more space mentally as we drive down spiritual and physical paths of life.
I have witnessed people using cars as weapons. The same goes for religion. A little bit of religious knowledge in the hands of one not mindful of its power can be devastating. When one quotes a verse of the Bible or Quran or a sutra out of context to gain power over someone else rather than to control one’s own life, it can lead to harmful collisions. We need to place guards over our hearts so that we live well. As Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23; NIV). Or as my Muslims friends tell me, the great jihad is the struggle within oneself to overcome evil.
In our book Evangelical Zen: A Christian’s Spiritual Travels with a Buddhist Friend, Abbot Kyogen Carlson gives some helpful tips for driving through life: