I feel this is the first step towards trying to grasp the ultimate purported purpose of religion which is understanding that we all have a soul/spirit and which is part of an universal soul/divinity/god whatever you wish to call and therefore all of us are equally qualified to create a paradise here on earth with tolerance,humility , understanding all born out of conscious reasoning
An Argument For Religious PluralismWhereas I found great beauty and solace in the ritual of the Catholic mass, and tremendous relief in the opportunity to have my sins forgiven me in confession, I was left feeling that there was so much more to spiritual life than this one perspective. I left the Church around the age of seventeen and began my quest for freedom. From age seventeen till age fifty-two I dove sincerely into various world religions. I traveled to
by Audrey Pearson
When I was a child growing up within the Roman Catholic Church I believed, like those indoctrinating me, that we were utterly, unequivocally, superior human beings. The idea that this land of separatist thinking went against the very platform of Christianity didn't seem to occur to us. I was taught -that in order to be "saved," the non-Catholics would first have to convert to Catholicism! Yet I was taught in Sunday school that I was to "do unto others as I would have them do unto me." The contradictions, although not consciously noted by me, were taking an unconscious toll on my faith in God/myself.
When I think of my early spiritual life I feel some sadness. I think it is a great pity that so many world religions have felt the need to separate, to isolate themselves from and judge others with different cultural and social definitions of God. To sentence others to eternal misery, (as if they had any say in the matter), says more about the fear of not knowing the truth, than anything else. When someone is united with God and certain of their own worth in relationship with God, there is a natural relaxation, a purity of Being, a tolerance and love of all others. For that is what God is—pure Being, without judgment, separation, hate, fear or condemnation. Where is the trust in the Creator? It's not as if life never existed before Christ. To say that those that lived before Christ or those born into non-Christian cultures after Christ are to be banished to eternal damnation is ludicrous, and an insult to God. We must enter a new paradigm where the Eternal One—God—is held at the center of each and every religion and we must move away from the thought that any one path is at the center. The Eternal One is perceived differently within different human cultures and that is the beauty of our great world religions.
I am arguing for religious pluralism. The pluralistic consciousness has only recently emerged in the western Christian world. Even today, religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, Judaism and Islam, are generally seen by fundamentalists as strange, dark and inferior, and in desperate need of saving. If we truly love God, if we truly love, we will honor the differences in others and not try to change them to be like ourselves.
It was the combination of devotion to Jesus the Christ and His holy Mother Mary, coupled with the Hindu principles of self love, devotion to the Lord Krishna and utter respect for the awesome Holy Mother Kali, that provided the spiritual grace I needed to restore my faith in God/myself. Whether one is a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Sikh, a Hindu, or for that matter a Marxist or a Maoist, usually depends on where in the world God decided you were to be born!
In visiting other places of worship, let's notice not only the differences, but the similarities taking place. People are coming together in their different communities to better their lives and open their hearts to a Supreme Creator, all in much the same spirit. The various trappings may be different — hat, no hat, shoes, no shoes, pews, floor, music or no music. The spirit of devotion feels the same. The Supreme Being is referred to as God in a Christian church, as Adonai in a Jewish synagogue, as Allah in a Muslim mosque, as Ekoamkar in a Sikh hurdwara, as Rama or as Krishna in a
There is an important sense in which what is being done in the several forms of worship is essentially the same. People are coming together in gratitude.
We are living in an age when all the cultural and religious differences are made known to us by our technological advancements. We can gain insight and information about all our world religions by simply clicking a button on our computer links to the world wide web. This not only provides us with information on the differences, but we can also see our similarities. I welcome the possible future when we as a people show interest in our different communities, cultures and religions instead of fear, contempt and prejudice. Wealth of variety is what makes our world community rich with spiritual beauty. It is the variety of differences among the individuals that makes a community pulse with excitement. It is the differences like gender, age, origin of birth, race, ethnicity, within our religions that makes I the gathering pulse with the ' very spirit of community.
Imagine then, a tolerance for the differences within all the various communities and ideologies of the world. We in the Christian Western world can learn so much from other world religions. We could benefit greatly by incorporating the teaching of self-acceptance, practiced within the Hindu religion. Instead of looking upon ourselves and others as sinners, we can begin to look upon ourselves as temples of God. If we are temples of God, who, then, lives in the temple? God does. This J. would also give practical meaning to the Christian teaching that the kingdom of heaven lies within, and we could experience connection to God, rather than unworthiness.
Imagine also practicing the principles of detachment from material possessions as the Hindu faith teaches. We in the Christian West generally feel so unsafe. Our understanding of a judging God and preying devil drives us to accumulate enough wealth, enough protection and enough control, in the hope that more stuff will create more safety. Of course all it creates is more to control and more to obsess about, and creates further separation and isolation.
We could learn that the important tradition of non-violent living supports connection to all. We could learn to merge with the Creator through a love of nature as the Earth religions do and as a result consciously enjoy the natural essences that Mother Nature showers upon us daily. As I imagine such respect and tolerance for religious freedom, I experience a relaxation and peace within myself and-a sense of connection to all, which describes my personal relationship to God. We all have a deep inner yearning for connection. Our fears and judgments about the unknown continue to keep us separate and disconnected.
Religious pluralism is not only a good idea, I think it is a necessary paradigm shift whose time has come. Religious pluralism makes sense because perspective is always limited to the perceiver, limited to the place and culture born into, and to the religious beliefs held within each culture. No one perspective is truth for everyone else. All paths lead to God. My understanding is that God, The Source, lies within each and every one of us and is experienced through each and every one via their own relationship to God. Religious tolerance evolves as a paradigm shift. As we evolve and see each other as partners in the universal connection to all, I believe that such fear based on prejudice as religious superiority will die away and will be replaced with cultural and religious appreciation.
Audrey Pearson is a nondenominational minister and healing practitioner. She is a Reiki Master/Teacher and a Conscious Relationship Facilitator. Audrey can be reached at 508-740-9870 or email: ReikiMaster@mediaone.net. Please visit her website at www.consciouscounseling.com.
This article was originally published in Spirit of Change Magazine—not to be confused with OfSpirit.com Holistic "Internet" Magazine & Resource. We thank Spirit of Change,
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