In honor of World Religions Day, January 2nd.
Here at New Dream, we started a new practice in our weekly newsletters. We acknowledge some of the people celebrating high sacred holidays in various spiritual traditions. We do this because we believe all paths lead to the Divine. We are aware that the concept of the Sacred Feminine is a part of many spiritual traditions. We also know the Sacred Feminine existed before any spiritual tradition was created. In a sense, all traditions are children from the womb of the Feminine.
While we state this clearly on our website, I noticed that recently our complaints have increased since we began this practice of honoring many spiritual traditions. When we look at the data from our e-mails broadcasts, we don’t know what people are complaining about. We simply know that some percentage of our readers hit a complaint button available to them through their e-mail software. Because the increase in complaints coincided with our new acknowledgement, I can’t help but wonder if people are “complaining” because we are honoring people within spiritual practices that some of our readers don’t approve. If my speculation is even remotely accurate, I’m saddened by the possibility of what I think I am seeing.
Is there any one of us that is not a child of the Divine? We are the blessed expressions of the Divine exploring itself through the experience of being human. Kahil Gibran expressed it in this way, “They (we) are the sons and the daughters of life longing for itself.” I may or may not agree with another human being’s expression of their Divine self, but who am I to decide my spiritual exploration of the Divine is right and another person’s perception is wrong? Who am I to limit Divine love? What does it say about my limited perceptions, if I am willing to put constraints on the limitless, boundless love of the Divine? What does it say about my own fears and limitations if I am not willing to acknowledge the Divine expression and uniquely sacred journey of another?
There are no others. We, all of us, are the expression of the Divine Oneness exploring what love can be. The best to the worst of us are still children of the Divine. I have not yet discovered that religious preference has anything to do with one’s goodness or rightness. People that carry ill will can be found in every religion. In fact, most of us, if we are really honest with ourselves, would need to admit we have wished ill will upon ourselves and people we know and don’t know, more than once in our lives. Nor have I discovered that there is a significant preponderance of good people within any single religion. They are everywhere. People of good heart, in love with the Divine, living their love through various religious and spiritual practices are everywhere.
I have been fortunate to attend Islamic mosque; Jewish temple; Protestant and Catholic church services; Native American and Wiccan ceremonies; New Thought services; drumming, sounding and healing circles; Hindu Sat Sang; Buddhist ceremony, and more. There was one constant I discovered in every experience—love for the Divine. There is a palpable, unmistakable love that permeates the space when people come together with their hearts open to honor the Divine
Dogma, doctrine, rules, guidelines and beliefs are the form we give ourselves so that we can maneuver through the challenges that come up when we commit to experiencing this Divine love with every fiber of our being. They are guideposts on the journey and can be very useful in that regard, but the real journey is in discovering how deeply we can allow ourselves to know Divine love, not in whether we can follow all the rules of one religion to perfection. The real spiritual journey does not lie in who is better or right. The real journey is in how wide we will allow our sacred hearts to expand
There is a golden rule found in nearly every, if not every, spiritual practice. It is, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Let me take this concept a bit further by asking you this, “Are you thinking about others as you would have them think about you?” Life is not just about actions. Life is reflected in what we think about others too. How honest are you willing to be with yourself? Are there some judgments still lurking around in your mind? Are you willing to let them go?
Remember the wisdom of Gandhi, at a time when many Muslims and Hindus were fighting each other and murdering each other in India. Gandhi began fasting and told the people around him he would continue fasting until the fighting stopped. A Hindu man came to him and asked what he could do to encourage Gandhi to eat. The Hindu man was hurt and understandably enraged by his son’s death, blaming the Muslims for killing his son. Gandhi told him to raise an orphaned Muslim child. Gandhi knew that the only way to experience true peace would be through love and compassion for one another.
Jesus told us much the same, as did Buddha, Mother Teresa, Ammachi and every great saint and mystic that has ever lived. I could create a long list of spiritually enlightened people from every major spiritual tradition that have taught us to love, and that love is what truly matters.
As we begin this year of 2011, perhaps we could join together in discovering just how deep our love can be. Are we willing to discover who we have deemed as other, from ourselves, and as a result we have judged them to be lesser (or even greater) than ourselves? Are we willing surrender the judgments as we discover them, whether they are judgments about people of different spiritual traditions from our own, our boss, our spouse, or co-workers and friends we don’t understand? Are we willing to discover the limitless capacity of love that we as Divine expressions can truly be?