The latest statistics show that in England, unlike America, the number of Christians is declining. Attendance at Church of England services has dropped below a million. Frank Field, MP, himself a Christian, writes that there is a real possibility that Christianity could die out in the UK in the next generation.
Yet I do not doubt that the teachings of Jesus, like those of the Buddha and of the Upanishads, will continue to enrich individual lives.
What matters less than converting to Islam, to Judaism, to Christianity or Buddhism, is setting out on one’s own journey towards the Truth. And so the closing words of Christopher Fry’s play, A Sleep of Prisoners, resonate:
Affairs are now soul-size.
The enterprise is exploration into God.
Where are you making for? It takes
So many thousand years to wake.
But will you wake, for pity’s sake?
What many people are increasingly discovering is that, although we each set out alone on our inner journey, we are in the company of other pilgrims. As Herman Hesse wrote in Journey to the East:
I realised that I had joined a pilgrimage to the East, seemingly a definite and single pilgrimage – but in reality, this expedition to the East was not only mine and now; this procession of believers and disciples had always and incessantly been moving towards the East, towards the Home of Light. Throughout the centuries, and each member, each group, was only a wave in the eternal stream of human beings. The knowledge passed through my mind like a ray of light and immediately reminded me of a phrase by the poet Novalis, ‘Where are we really going? Always home!’