How is one convinced of the truth? That a certain religion, for instance, is the true one? I would think that besides the actual doctrine the religion must be able to prove it’s authenticity through miraculous occurrences of some sort to give proof that it is not some man-made innovation but has otherworthly qualities.
I’ve been reading The Gurus, the Young Man and Elder Paisios and one of the interesting things about the book is that the author is not introduced to Elder Paisios at the end of the book but towards the beginning of it. What’s more, he has some out of this world experiences with the holy elder. At one point he lists the many things he’s witnessed occur to others through his prayers. He even notes how once he was walking and came across a very handsome young man, dressed in regal deacon’s robes. He didn’t think much of it until later the elder told him that that was his guardian angel he had seen. God had allowed him to see things which we who are caught up in the material world are too distracted to take note of.
And so after all these meetings with the elder on Mt. Athos, which lasted some time, he still had not given up on other religions. He travels to India to meet some of the well known gurus that he had read about. I’m not finished with the book. In fact, I’m at the part he is traveling through India meeting the various famous religious men. He recognizes in each of them some power, though he admits it’s not as strong as what he experienced on Mt. Athos. For the most part he’s disappointed.
There is one interesting part of the story while they are still in India. He went with some friends who were also interested in different religions (they experimented in witchcraft, hypnosis, etc.). After visiting one of the famous gurus he writes:
“As we walked away from the ashram, one of my friends turned to me and said, ‘What was wrong with that fellow who ordered us to bow down and worship him [the guru]? There’s a certain sweetness about our religion, but he was downright savage.’ I could not be believe what she was saying. Both my friends were hostile towards Christianity and favorably inclined to yoga and witchcraft.”
Here is an example of someone who doesn’t recognize the treasure they have in their own tradition, their own proverbial back yard. It’s only after traveling across the globe that she recognizes ‘the sweetness of our religion’. Like I said, I’m not done yet but it’s my first read of 2011.