LET US NOT CONFUSE THE TWO

Much like last post, I must begin by saying in no way am I saying any religion, or religion in general is not good. Religion gives many people structure and guidelines that often help them to grow. As Haile Selassie pointed out in the statement above, it helps them grow spiritually. It is the goal of religion to help people grow and mature in a spiritual fashion.

Many of the practices include some of the same elements although they may be used in different ways. These include, but are not limited to, prayer, fasting, meditation and study. Whether you fast for Ramadan or for Lent you fast to mature and confirm your spiritual beliefs. It is your religious beliefs that are helping you to grow spiritually. Once again, this is a similarity to remember we all have in common. The same with prayer and meditation. The exact methods may differ but the reason and result is the same – to help us grow spiritually.

If you happen to observe someone engaged in a religious practice different than your own, please keep in mind they are doing what helps them grow spiritually. Just as people may use different exercise to improve their physical bodies or different types of learning to mature intellectually, we also use different practices to grow spiritually. Let us work toward and look forward to a day when everyone can become spiritually mature no matter what their belief. It will be then that we can accept each other in a spirit of love and understanding.

WHAT WAS THEIR RELIGION?


This is one of those quotes I really love. When you think about religion it is often, if not always created after the death of its most important figures. That being the case, as it is in the three examples above, it would be impossible for the individuals to be a member of a religion they inspired. That does not make these religions any less valid or take anything away from their beliefs or practices.
What it does is allow us to step back and take a good hard look at what is the common thread that was woven through all of these great leaders, and by consequence, through all great spiritual beliefs – Love. These individuals did not preach a certain religion, but rather a set of moral principles predicated on love. Love is the common thread that flows through most spiritual beliefs. It is a force that drives many of the other principles and tenets of whatever faith you may practice. It is the driving force behind a spiritual practice. Love, combined with faith and hope make up the basis for most of the world’s religions.
Which brings me to my point, if the founder of the faith you follow based their teachings on love, how can you not do the same? Interacting with those of different faiths should we not all come with a spirit of compassion, acceptance and understanding? Those are all aspects of love. The individuals mentioned above were strong in their beliefs and certainly strong in their love. When you are filled with faith, hope and love you do not judge another. You do not say evil words towards another because they are following a different path of love than you.
Let us all belong to the religion of love no matter what organized faith we may follow.

LESSONS FROM THE CIVIL WAR WE HAVE FORGOTTEN

The American Civil War (never really did understand that term) was about far more than just slavery. It represented rural verses city life. It pitted national governing against local governing. In broad terms, the southern way of living against the northern way of living. Of all of these issues the basis was the same, different people with strong ideological beliefs on both sides.

It can still be argued as to whether rural or city planning is better and healthier. I am sure there are benefits to both national and local governing. What I felt was really a no-brainer was dismissing the human rights of someone based on either the color of their skin or their ethnic upbringing. In today’s world of division, this can, and often does, include political and religious differences as well. While it is certainly ok and quite natural to disagree with each other on these issues, what is not acceptable is to vilify or dehumanize others who are or believe different than we.

As I tend to surround myself with people who are as accepting and open-minded as myself, these issues are not always front and center in my mind. In my own way I think of things like prejudice and racism as not only arcane, but ludicrous. Would you really deny yourself a blood transfusion because Dr. Charles Richard Drew, who invented a way to process and preserve blood plasma was African-American? Would you do without such inventions as paper, printing and umbrellas because they come from Chinese inventors? Would you do without all of Albert Einstein’s contribution to science because you are anti-Semitic? The fountain pen, windmill and one of the most important inventions to my writing – coffee are all of a Muslim origin.

To do without any of these inventions because you believe this or that group of people are less than you would not only be foolish, it would be ignorant and stupid. Every culture has its heroes and its villains. To condemn an entire race or group of people based on the actions of one, or some of its people is not only irresponsible, but asinine. Do I hate all of my German friends because back in the 30’s and 40’s there was a neurotic freak named Hitler who killed millions of people? Of course not. Do I hold a grudge against all of my Christian friends because many of them lead to the death of over 100 million Native Americans? That would be senseless.

If we are to hate someone based solely on the racial/religious or political differences we have with them, then we should be prepared to do without all of the amazing contributions brought on by that group. As I look around my group of friends and notice the vast difference in color, culture and creed, I look forward to learning from and working with all of them to make our world a better place. As the Dalai Lama said, we are all brothers and sisters.

ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS I HAVE EVER WRITTEN 

THE GOLDEN RULE. The basis of every religion and shown in this picture perfectly. I will never forget the first time I saw this picture, it was at a pow-wow I was at. I actually got chills reading it. Virtually every faith has the basic belief to treat each other as they wish to be treated. Then confusion set in. IF every faith believes this, then how come there is so much conflict between them? That is the million dollar question that has plagued man for centuries.

How can men of different faiths not only all get along, but work together to bring peace and love to the earth? By doing just that – working together. Most of us believe our faith to be the one true faith. That is fine, but understand that just as much as we would not enjoy hearing our beliefs are incorrect or spiritually lacking, neither would any other faith. It is ok for you to believe what you do and them to believe what they do, even if that happens to be different. Let us instead strive to learn what we can from each other and to view each other with love and compassion.

There were lots of universal truths presented here in this blog this week. If you have not had a chance to view them I invite you to do so. There are quotes that have inspired me from at least 3 different faiths. My apologies for those faiths I did not quote from, I promise in the future I shall show some amazing inspiration from yours as well. Which is what this is all about. We can learn so much and accomplish so much more by working together than we can focusing on our differences. The above example of the golden rule is but one example of the basic truths we all hold dear. The more you search, the more you will find. Sure, there will be differences and we must treat those with respect. As long as it does harm to nobody, we should all be free to believe and practice as we do. Our ritual may be different, our wording may be different, but our love can still be the same.

HOW TO TURN AN ENEMY INTO A FRIEND

This comes from the religious text of Islam. Without being Muslim myself, I have personally used this great secret often. Read the quote again. It shares with us the plan for turning enemies into friends. It also tells us what to do when we are faced with a negative, or evil situation. What is that? Repel it with what is better? Someone treats you harshly, treat them with love. Someone continually expresses views contrary to the ones you express? Treat their opinions with respect and consideration. Is this easy? Not at all.

Then why should we do it? Why, as the Quran urges us here, should we take the high road? If you look at the beginning of the quote is reminds us that good and evil deeds are not equal. Meaning that in the long run, doing good will be more powerful than doing bad. Thus, the quote instructs us to repel evil with what is better, not just what is opposite. I am a firm believer that good will always triumph over evil. Hitler, Stalin and lots of other famous evil doers had the final years of their lives filled with paranoia and suffering, even though at periods of time it seemed they may never be toppled.

Another reason why we should always counter evil with good, negative with positive is stated in the final line of this quote. The one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend. Enemies are a lot of stress. When we know there is someone who is against us we must always be on guard for deception and wrong-doing. This drains us of a lot of energy and physical well-being. So how do we turn enemies into friends? We cannot do so by force, or by proving our points or our person as superior to their own. The French revolution should be evidence of this. No, the only way we can turn the hearts of our enemies is through Love and compassion. The two most powerful tools against hate and evil.

Tomorrow we tie everything we have learned this week with one amazing example. I look forward to sharing that with all of you.

THE COMMON THREAD

This week we are going to look at inspiration from a few different spiritual beliefs. This page is not about telling you what to believe spiritually, i believe that is between you and your creator. This page is, however,  about living an amazing life. My life’s mission is to help people see the beauty in themselves, others and the world around them. It is the last two this week will be focused on. 

There are always differences between people and normally that is not a big deal. This person had long hair, this person has short hair. This person is tall and that person is short.  So why when it comes to religion and politics do differences have to divide us so? This week we are going to look at various quotes from sources in several different beliefs and what we can learn from them. We ate going to end this week with something that may surprise some of you, so check back at the end of the week for that. 

For the rest of today begin to look at the common thread that ties all of us together no matter where or how we pray. 

JAMES AND A CUP OF COFFEE

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Here is my current work situation,  a small table in the corner of a local Starbucks. I was deep in thought with the current post I was writing for this site when an interesting thing happened. A gentleman approached me and asked me if I could help him fix the Facebook messenger on his phone. My knowledge of technology does not rank near the top of the pile, but I told him to go into his app setting and try updating them. A few minutes later I was working away and the same kind gentleman came over to thank me and let me know that it worked. There was something in his approach and genuine sincerity that made his interruptions a pleasure. So as I watched him return to his seat a few tables away I felt the urge to share with him this site. What happened next is proof you should listen to your hunches. I went over there and give him my card. He thanked me and explained he could really use some motivation because in addition to being recently divorced he had just returned from a trip to Syria, where he was from, in which he was lucky to get out of the country. He explained to me the trouble was while he was there he was under suspicion because he was an American citizen. So he finally returns and guess what happens when a person of the Muslim faith returns from Syria? Yes again suspicion. He explained how frustrated he felt because he loved both countries and yet both of them were suspicious of him. We went on discussing our beliefs on compassion and life philosophy. We exchanged phone numbers and he even mentioned he might have an idea for my next book. All of this because I had the good fortune of helping a gentleman with his cell phone issues and trusting my hunches. There are many lessons that can be taken away from this, but I will leave today’s lessons up to your interpretation.

A COMMON THREAD

Working with the public you sometimes hear a lot of views expressed you would rather not.  Now I don’t advocate any spiritual belief except for the one that the individual decides is right for them.  In making that decision, however, it does not free you up to pass judgment on those whose opinions are different then yours.  After all, much like politics, what good will it do?  Telling them your beliefs are right and theirs are wrong, or worse yet, calling them names will not make them change their mind.  In fact, it only sheds a bad light on whatever spiritual path you may have chosen.

In every subject in which there is strong opinion my first suggestion is to understand.  My second suggestion, find common ground.  One ‘common thread’ that I have noticed runs through most of the common spiritual paths is the golden rule.  We have heard it a million times, said a million different ways since we were young.  ironically the teaching of the golden rule encourages us to look for that common thread.  We will discuss this ‘rule’ in another post.  Here I thought it might be interesting to show how the same phrase is present in several of the main belief systems.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” –Christianity

“What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow-man. That is the entire law; all the rest is commentary” –Judaism

“Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful” –Buddhism

“No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself” –Islam

Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself” – Baha’i faith

 

So if people ask, “How can you like these kind of people” you can see, because we are all human and we are not that different.