The Key to Unity

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic
In spite of our race being in an 'Age of Enlightenment', our world is still divided along social, racial, and religious lines. This is an attempt to bring unity to all living beings on Earth, for the good of all.

Submitted: November 07, 2016

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Submitted: November 07, 2016

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Background:

 

Some time ago I watched a video of a young girl who followed a certain religious belief. She was saying that it is not her duty to judge or condemn those who do not agree with her beliefs, but to treat them with love and respect. While I applauded her courage, I happened to read through some of the comments posted in reaction to her statement. Some of them agreed with her, and even congratulated her for the video. It is worth mentioning here that many of these even belonged to other faiths. However, sadly there were those who criticised her, and even ridiculed her, most of them coming from her so-called fellow believers. One even called her a coward and a traitor to her faith. Another told her that she had turned her back on her Saviour.

 

One of her statements is that it is not her purpose in life to force her beliefs onto others. Alas, one of her critics told her, and I quote: 'It is not only your DUTY, but it is your RIGHT.' In short, what this person said was, that because all other religions are 'wrong', it is this particular religion's right to force people to follow their beliefs. After all, theirs is the only way to Heaven. It is this kind of draconian religious puritanism that has caused so much strife in the past, and one would have hoped that it would have come to an end as mankind progressed. But alas, it seems to be still all too rife, even in this enlightened age.

 

These reactions reminded me of something my father told me: He was entertaining some neighbours who were very religious. They began telling him about all the good people who had followed their specific religion, and how God would reward them for all the good deeds they had done. Up until this point, my dad was in full agreement with them, but then he posed the question: What about all the individuals who had achieved great things, things that had improved the lot of people, either among their own communities or nations, or even around the world? Were these also to be welcomed into the 'Kingdom of God'? Well, the answer was emphatic. With a very stern voice, one of them said: “It doesn't matter how good they are, they are still on the wrong path.”

 

To which my father quickly reacted by saying: “Oh - and I suppose that means that it also doesn't matter how bad a person is, as long as he is on the 'Right Path'!”

 

This caused a confused silence, and the guests suddenly had other things to do. They excused themselves, and left in a hurry.

 

The Problem:

 

This is the same kind of religious narrow-mindedness that brought about the 'Burning Times', in which many Pagans, as well as countless innocent people, were slaughtered because they were accused of practising 'Witchcraft'. The truth was that many of these victims were respectable members of their particular community, and faithful believers in their own way, long before those who condemned them even arrived. But, because they refused to abandon their faith, and bow down to another Deity, they were tortured, burnt at the stake, skinned alive … along with any number of terrible acts. It is worth noticing here that these followed a Master who had told them to love their neighbour, and even their enemy! A teaching that had obviously been forgotten by that time.

 

Later the same bigotry caused those who claimed to follow the same Leader to turn on those who should have been their brethren. These they treated the same way as the Pagans, the Moors, and anyone else who did not adhere to their religious beliefs. The difference was, that these actually did, but just in a different way.

 

Small wonder then that it has been said that religion has caused more strife and death than any other force in history. Nation has turned upon nation, people upon people. Even families have been torn apart! All in the name of some religion or another, and mostly under the so-called authority of some omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent Deity.

 

Many have suffered most brutally at the hands of those who claim to worship a 'god of love'. Too many atrocities have been committed by 'civilised' people, acts that not even animals or brute beasts would even think of committing, because their victims dared to believe differently than they do. It is as though the gods themselves are at war with one another! And over such petty disputes that one has to call to question whether these Beings are so 'Divine' or not!

 

Although, by and large, the wholesale killings and torture have stopped, with the exception of only the religious fanatics who continue such barbarism, the basic motive behind them persists. Even within certain religious groups, because this one doesn't worship the way the other does, or because of the way their priesthood is structured, or because of the way they pray, or … again the list goes on and on, anyone who does not fit certain criteria - none of which are laid down in the Scriptures to which they claim to adhere - is treated as an enemy of the faith.

 

So then, is the answer to ban all religious groups? Do we say that all religion is bad? Certainly not! What then is the answer? Perhaps the key is that we realise that it is not the validity of one's Deity that should be called to question, but the validity of one's faith. Let me explain:

 

A Possible Solution:

 

If one were to remove the dogma from most religions, that is the human interpretation of the so-called Word of God, one would find that all faiths have certain principles in common. In fact they have more in harmony with one another than they do differences. Here is an example: In the Christian New Testament, Jesus is quoted to have said: “Do unto others as you would them do unto you.”

 

The Wiccan Rede states: '… And (as long as) ye harm none, do as thou wilt. Do what you will, so long as it harms none …'. In another place, it says: '… Ye must live and let live, fairly take and fairly give …' (In the Old Testament, Israel was accused of corruption in the area of giving and receiving.)

 

Again, the gospels teach that one should: '… Love your neighbour as you love yourself …'

 

This too is echoed when it is written: 'Bide the Wiccan laws you must, in perfect love and perfect trust …' In fact this is the first instruction, given prominence by its position in the Rede. This in itself is interesting, because Jesus was answering a question about which of Jehovah's laws were the most important. The first was to love God above all else, and the second to love your neighbour. Later on the Rede states: '… True in love ye e’er must be, lest thy love be false to thee …'.

 

Although the words are different, the principle is the same. And yet the Church persecuted and killed those who adhered to this Rede.

 

Above all, most faiths believe that one will ultimately be judged by one's actions and their consequences. Now, whether this be on the 'Day of Judgement', as some faiths believe, or by some act of Karma, or by the 'Great Council' before one enters into another incarnation … or by whatever standard. The fact remains, it is the deeds that one's faith inspires that will be judged in the final analysis. All religions, or should I say all faiths, believe that their ultimate purpose is to do good, and to adhere to their own Scriptures as best they can. Of course there are those who do not hold to this, but by-and-large they are in the minority. Most scriptures state that Love is the highest of all motives - love for your god (or goddess), and love for others.

 

Surely then, the best way to ensure that one stands before whatever 'Judge', depending on one's belief, knowing that one is not guilty of anything that might stand between oneself and Heaven, Nirvana, the Far Green Country - or whatever, is to be true to your faith. By this I mean the very core of one's belief, that which remains once one has removed the dogma and the semantics that so often hides the underlying truths that are inherent in every belief system.

 

One must also accept that one cannot do this perfectly. One writer puts it this way: 'I do not claim to have reached perfection. But this I do: Forgetting that which is behind me, I press on …' But perfection is not the criteria. It is what is behind one's every action. Even those mortals who are pure in heart cannot claim perfection, and those who do are liars. So how does a being achieve this? The answer lies in the motive. One's decisions and actions might not always be perfect, but one motive above all is, if it is true that is. And that motive is Love. This is why one should do all 'in perfect love, and perfect trust'.

 

Love is the Key:

 

Love that is not perfect is not love either, but one of its substitutes. There are many such imposters, but I will mention but a few: Selfish ambition as love: Often people will do charitable acts - give to the poor, support those in need … - and although they seem to be inspired by love, the real motive is selfish ambition. This is different to selfish gain, which would be if the person was earning some form of material gain from his deeds. Selfish ambition does not necessarily mean material gain. It could be that the deeds are done in order to gain the praise and recognition of others. Now - that's not love. A wise man said that '… Love seeks nothing for itself, nor anything but itself …'.

 

Duty as love: Many people have done, seemingly the most selfless of things, but not out of love. Instead it is because they feel it is their duty. Often these deeds are done without any feeling of empathy with those who might benefit from them, and more often than not, they are carried out in spite of much complaining about it being their 'lot in life'. Love that does not come from the heart is not love either.

 

The last substitute I will discuss is the most difficult to explain, and this is mainly because of a misconception as to the nature of love. That is Emotionalism as love: Emotionalism causes one to react to a certain circumstance, and urges one to act according to the need. For example, someone sees the need to give to the poor. After all, they are suffering, are they not? The person's emotions flare up, and she begins to act without a second thought. For a while, the poor community that she is helping benefits from the person's efforts. But then the work begins to take its toll on him, and he suddenly doesn't feel as charitable as he did before. Emotionalism is soon replaced by a sense of duty, or in an even worse scenario, the person gives up completely.

 

The misconception to which I was referring is that love is a feeling. The truth is that love is an attitude of heart. It is the underlying factor that governs all actions and motives. If two people truly love one another, they will do anything for the other person, and rightfully so. But, if they were to do exactly the same things, but there was no love between them, then the deeds in and of themselves would count for nothing, and contribute nothing to the relationship. After all, there is no relationship to speak of. But if the underlying motive, the real inspiration, is love, even the smallest of actions can take on much more significance than even the greatest deeds that are motivated by anything else.

 

 

This is why it has been said: 'Though I can speak with the tongues of men and of angels, if I have not love, I have become a sounding brass or a clanging gong. And though have I the gift of all the Prophets, and understand all the mysteries and knowledge. And though I have faith that can move mountains, if I have not love, I am nothing. Even if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and give my body to be burned, if I have not love, it will profit me nothing.'

 

What then is Love? What is its nature? Well, ironically the answer to the second question is spelt out in the remainder of the above mentioned chapter: 'Love is patient and is kind. Love does not envy. It does not parade itself, nor is it puffed up (arrogant). It does not behave rudely, does not seek its own. It is not provoked (to anger), and thinks no evil (another version states that it does not keep an account of wrongs). It does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails.'

 

And at the end of the passage, it states: 'Now abide faith, hope, and love – these three – but the greatest of these is love.'

 

There are many other worthwhile quotations on the subject of love, but for the purpose of this piece, 1 Corinthians 13 is the most appropriate. Later, there are a few surprising statements that are seldom even mentioned in religious literature. It is clear that the writer is saying that the only way to become spiritually mature is to be inspired and motivated by love, and that - once all the peripheral aspects of our lives have fallen away - the only thing that will remain will be love. Perfect love.

 

Not only that, but once we have discovered this ultimate key, we will find that we truly begin to know ourselves, even as we are known by the One who created us. This does not take place in a flash, however, but over time, until when we look into the 'Mirror' of Divine love, we will behold our own faces as they truly are.

 

Small wonder then, that the writer closes with this exhortation: 'Pursue love.' We are urged to concentrate on love. It is the only thing that will bring peace to this still troubled world. But this love must extend to every living creature. After all, are we not all part of this Creation? However it may have come about, individually we are still members of a collective, and each one of us is an integral part thereof. If we are truly motivated by love, we can contribute to the whole. Therefore, let us pursue love above all else.

 

Namaste.

 


© Copyright 2017 Tristan Biggs. All rights reserved.

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