Recently, I came upon a book titled “Man Seeks God” by Eric Weiner and it turned out to be a jewel of a book. The story opens with Mr. Weiner having had a serious health issue and while waiting on the test results, a nurse whispered in his ear, “Have you found your God yet?” Not ‘the’ God, but ‘your’ God. At the time, he hadn’t given it much thought, but it got him to thinking what exactly does he believe about God and religion?
This started him on an adventure to research various religions, some of which were Sufism, Buddhism, Franciscans (Christians), Taoism, Wiccan, Shamanism, Kabbalah, and others. During his time researching these religions and the people involved, he found that there was good to be found in all of them! He met and got to know so many wonderful people who shared with him their spiritual wisdom. In the end, he learned to go within and find his very own ‘God’ (the God of his understanding).
I love learning from the various other religions and I embrace the diversity of all that I’ve studied. By doing so, it really helps me understand where others are coming from, and we can share and focus on what we have in common! At their cores, most all religions stress the Golden Rule of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” as well as their Spiritual Masters teaching unconditional love for all and to not harm anyone.
No one knows exactly who or what form God takes. We only have our beliefs. Some believe in an angry, judgmental, punishing God, who sends people to a place called hell for the slightest offense. Others believe in an unconditional loving, kind, compassionate, and all inclusive God, who brings all people back into that loving place many call ‘the other side’ or ‘heaven.’ Some don’t believe there is a God per se, but they do believe that there is something greater. And others don’t believe in anything at all. I’m certainly not going to tell anyone which to believe in.
Why can’t we all just believe? Early American Indians and other indigenous people around the world who have not been indoctrinated into a religion had that belief and that was enough for them. Why can’t it be enough for us? Why do we have to fight and argue over details, sometimes even going to war and killing over those details, and using those details to separate us?
I like what Jim Palmer said when he stated, “People often feel angst about whether or not their beliefs about God are correct. Perhaps some alternative questions would be: Do my beliefs bring peace? Are my beliefs a source of joy and freedom? Do my beliefs inspire kindness and compassion? Do my beliefs dispel fear? Are my beliefs empowering my full self-expression? Do my beliefs motivate love for all people and living things?”
If you feel you need to belong to a certain religion, I think the above questions are excellent ones to ask. Is that religion teaching the actual teachings of their Spiritual Masters of harming no one and of unconditional love for all, or is it teaching hate and separateness? Are those religions tearing people down or lifting them up? Are they working towards peace and bringing people together or tearing them apart? These are all questions we should ask ourselves about the religion we belong or the one we would like to belong. Do we even need to belong to a religion at all? Can we just believe in a Source of the All-That-Is, share what we have in common, and just get along in peace and harmony?
Personally, I’m tired of all the fighting and arguing over the details. I totally believe in a Power greater than we are, though I couldn’t tell you what form that Source takes. To me it doesn’t matter; nor does it matter what I call it. What matters is am I loving enough? Kind enough? Am I following the teachings of the Spiritual Masters of loving all and harming no one?
The Dalai Lama said, “I believe deeply that we must find, all of us together, a new spirituality. This new concept ought to be elaborated alongside the religions in such a way that all people of good-will could adhere to it.” That doesn’t mean we have to give up our personal religions or beliefs, but why not find a way to bring them all together so that we can live together in peace?
As a line in John Lennon’s song “Imagine” says, “You may say I'm a dreamer, But I'm not the only one, I hope someday you'll join us, And the world will live as one.”
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen July 17, 2015.