I'm always (well, usually) glad to admit when I've been wrong about something.
So I'm pleased to say that during my true believing days, which stretched into over 30 years, I was decidedly wrong about the world's major religions having a common denominator.
Namely, an all-pervading conscious spiritual energy known in India as shabd. Various "Radha Soami" sects claim it is possible to return to God by connecting one's individual soul-consciousness with this universal divine-consciousness -- which manifests as inner sound and light.
Shabd is referring to spiritual current which can be perceived in meditation as inner light and sound. Yoga is referring to the uniting of our real essence (soul) through an inner listening with focused mental concentration (surat) upon an inner sound (shabd) which it is maintained emanates from Radhasoami the Supreme Being. It is therefore taught as the unchanging and primordial technique for uniting the soul with the supreme being via the power of Shabd.
Following the practice of meditation under the guidance of a spiritual teacher who is himself in contact with Shabd, is considered of paramount importance.
Pre-requisites for successful achievement of the meditation practice are a lacto-vegetarian diet, abstaining from drugs and alcohol, and maintaining a pure and moral lifestyle.
Now most people, religious or not, would find the description above to be at odds with the teachings of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Taoism, and even Hinduism.
To offer up some examples, Christians believe in the divinity of Christ, obviously. They don't meditate "under the guidance of a spiritual teacher" unless they're in some sort of a cult. Buddhists don't believe in a Supreme Being, nor in a soul. Islam and Judaism don't promote vegetarianism, though some members of these religions may choose to be vegetarian on their own.
And certainly adherents of the world's major religions would never go to their church, temple, mosque, or wherever and hear someone preaching the glory of shabd as the "unchanging and primordial technique for uniting the soul with the supreme being."
Yet some (and maybe all) of the Radha Soami sects claim that their "shabd yoga" spirituality is part of the core of every religion, even if this isn't widely recognized.
To which I now say, bullshit, though I used to say "so true." Radha Soami followers have to stretch religious scriptures to the breaking point to find mentions of shabd in them.
To them the Gospel of John supposedly praises shabd because of the words, "In the beginning was the Word." But "Word" is a translation of the Greek "Logos," and one would be hard-pressed to connect the Indian notion of Shabd with the Greek conception of Logos as it is used in the Bible.
In some recent comments on a Church of the Churchless post, there's a debate about the universal nature of Radha Soami teachings.
As you should be able to tell from the above, I'm in agreement with "RS Sceptic," who wrote:
The notion that SHABD is some kind of universal truth and the way of all religions is a myth propagated by radha soami. It is not true. All religions are not the same. They don't all teach shabd yoga. Once you believe this then you think sant mat is the only way and only truth. It is not. And by the way I am not saying this because I hate rssb or anything like that. It is a simple observation.
Yes, all religions are indeed not the same. And it is very rare to find any argument about this. When have you heard a Christian, say, claim that every other religion agrees with the central tenet of Christianity? This would be a ridiculous assertion.
Actually, the world's major religions revel in their differences, not their similarities. Each claims to have some special understanding of the cosmos that the others lack. So we'd have to believe that the followers of Radha Soami sects somehow comprehend other religions more accurately than members of those religions themselves.
I can't accept that. Nor can I accept that shabd is a common denominator of every religion.