What is religion?
Religion is an act of vision that guides and leads us to the Beyond. Religion is intuitive. Religion is so near and dear to each of us, so familiar to our soul and so intimate to our heart, that it requires no definition.
Religion is not fanaticism. Religion, in the purest form, is a feeling of the universal oneness of Truth. A fanatic never sees the Truth in its totality, even in his wildest imagination. A fanatic has nothing to offer the world precisely because he has not kept his heart's door open wide, and because he lacks the capacity to commune with his soul.
What are the signs of a true religion?
Forgiveness, compassion, tolerance, brotherhood and the feeling of oneness are the signs of a true religion. If you live in your oneness-heart, you will feel the essence of all religions, which is the love of God.
/In the Hindu tradition one speaks of atman equals Brahman, the individual soul equals the universal Soul. Jesus Christ once said, "I and my Father are one." Are these two statements, coming from two different spiritual backgrounds one and the same?/
It is the same statement. We say in Sanskrit atman and Paramatman, the individual soul and the Supreme Self. God comes down into the manifestation and takes the form of the individual soul. Then the individual soul, in the process of its evolution, reaches and becomes the Supreme Self, Paramatman. But to fulfill Himself integrally and wholly in the material world, God needs the individual soul, the atman.
The statements are the same. When Christ said, "I and my Father are one," it was like saying that atman and Paramatman are one. That is why in India we say, "Atmanam viddhi"- "know thyself."