(4) Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant (5) or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; (6) it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. (7) It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
(8) Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. (9) For we know only in part, and we prophecy only in part; (10) but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end.
-Corinthians 13.4-13.10, Harper Collins Study Bible (Student Edition) p. 1950
Do I act from a place of love or fear? Do I treat myself in a loving or fearful way? Do I believe in a Higher Power out of love or fear? Is my Higher Power a loving all powerful being? Does my religion conflict with my beliefs? Does religion embrace or separate? Where do I fit in to it all?
These are some of the many questions I’ve asked myself throughout the years. I have had the pleasure of sitting through many wonderful services through a handful of different religions. I have also sat through services which preach fear, separation and judgment. The amazing thing is they could be within the same designated religion. How can religion be interpreted so differently? I have studied different theories and interpretations looking for what rests true in my heart. I have looked, observed, and studied people’s interpretations of their spiritual and religious paths. I do my best to leave my judgments at the door, but nothing puts my walls up faster then hearing about a God to fear or who creates fear in others. My vision of the Divine is in the verse above. Anything that contradicts that is not part of my spiritual path.
These are my observations. This is my path. Yours may be different and that’s Ok. I’m not here to push my beliefs on any one else. I’m not here to say I’m better or worse than you. I’m not! I don’t think your beliefs are better or worse than mine. I honor many different belief systems because they give me many opportunities to see love in action. That, for me, is what spirituality is all about. I love hearing about how other people’s religions help them be a better person and reach out to others. I know they are embracing what is right for them by the love and passion that they exude through action. Here is what I’ve seen on my path:
How we feel about ourselves reflects the the spiritual world we create.
When we don’t show ourselves love before we choose our beliefs in a Higher Power and/or religion, it becomes easy to focus on the fears of the religion instead of the spirit of our Creator. The more love we give ourselves, the more we have to give to the Creator. Jesus was all loving, to all people. He didn’t pick and choose. That is what I focus on. That is the path I am proud to follow, the path of loving action. His love was healing. Love is healing! Since I come from a loving foundation, I focus on all the loving acts I see. I want to follow those paths because of the power of that love. I have noticed when people come from fearful and judgmental places they will talk to me about the fear, shame, and sin of mankind. They will focus on being afraid of their God’s judgment. They will feel shame for being human. I see a lot of separation. I want to make sure my plate is clean and my love is pure. Judgment separates me, and I want to be connected.
The power of prayer crosses all religions.
The most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed is the power of prayer. The beauty of prayer is that anyone can do it. It is not limited to any one religious practice. Prayer is a true spiritual practice. When people of all religions get together in prayer amazing things happen. Prayer is sending loving energy into to the world. Prayer connects individuals, communities, and the whole world. People can come from all walks of life and discover the power of prayer.
I once read a book called Transforming Fate into Destiny by Robert Ohotto. This book changed how I prayed and saw prayer. In chapter 4 he describes ego prayers vs. soul prayers in a way I had never heard before. It helped me to learn how to pray more effectively and to let go of my ego. Pages 57-67 were pages I have taken with me. I didn’t connect with the whole book, but I am so grateful to have read it just for those pages. I trusted that I was supposed to keep reading. I knew I was connected to the Divine. I prayed for answers; I got them. We all have that power!
I believe that the Creator of all is bigger than any human mind will ever understand.
I find it fascinating when people tell me that there is no other interpretation, but the one they believe. All these books that explain religions are interpretations. Each one has had the hands of human on them. Each one has had to interpret words that may not have an exact definition. Pieces are chosen and denied based on humans. Each Pastor, Minister, Priest, Rabbi, Imam etc. are all interpreting from their belief systems. They are all doing the best they can to get clear messages to pass onto their congregations. They are still human and do not belong on pedestals. Each may have a beautiful message of love, what a shame to miss them because we don’t think there is anything to learn from other spiritual paths. If we believe in something from the core, it will not change, but it may grow, strengthen, and expand.
Good travelers leave no tracks. Good words leave no trace. Good counting needs no markers.
Good doors have no bolts. Yet cannot be forced. Good knots have no rope but cannot be untied.
In this way the Sage always helps people and rejects none, always helps all beings, and rejects none. This is called practicing brightness.
Therefore the good person is the bad person’s teacher, and the bad person is the good person’s resource.
Not to value the teacher, not to love the resource, causes great confusion even for the intelligent.
This is called the vital secret.
Shih wei yao miao
-Tao Te Ching Lao-Tau Translated by Stephen Addiss and Stanley Lombardo (#27)
My spiritual path does not separate me from anybody else. It doesn’t make me better or worse. When I am not loving myself and others, I am denying my spiritual path. I become separate and alone. I choose to live there as little as possible. Yet, I still do choose it when I am in my humanness and judging others and/or myself. I have accepted that nobody is perfect. I can’t expect that of an individual, group, country, world, or religion. I know that everyone who comes into my life has a reason for being there, and I choose to learn as much as I can from the experiences in order to grow on my path. Another person does not have to believe I am going home to my Creator; I believe it, and I will live following actions of love all the way home.
“If they are illusion, then I also am illusion, and so they are always of the same nature as myself. It is that which makes them so lovable ad venerable. That is why I can love them. And here is a doctrine at which you will laugh. It seems to me, Govinda, that love is the most important thing in the world. It may be important to great thinkers to examine the world, to explain and despise it. But I think it is only important to love the world, not to despise it, not for us to hate each other, but to be able to regard the world and ourselves and all beings with love, admiration and respect”
-Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha p. 147