Sunday, December 22, 2019

A Matter Of Faith

                                                                                                written 15 December 2019
                                                                                            published 22 December 2019

            Religions are born from direct experience of unseen spiritual reality, beyond description by the limitation of words.  But words can help in communication, and every organized religion has sacred text inspired by the direct experience, with advice for living an ethical life.  Like a finger pointing toward the moon, words point the way, but are not the experience itself.  If a person gets lost examining the finger, looking at the color of the skin, how callused the hand, how manicured the fingernails, they can miss experiencing the moon completely.  
            Within each organized religion, there is a mystical population which knows the words are only metaphors and are less concerned with literal interpretations, allowing them to get along with mystics from other religions.  However, this makes them suspect to the larger fundamentalist portion of their own religious community, which often views literality as demonstration of being pious. 
            My maternal grandmother attended a rather limited Christian church all her life, and my mother reacted by raising us non-religious.  My personal spiritual explorations began after college.  Influenced by quantum mechanics, philosophy, and Buddhism, I have become a spiritual mystic.  As a result, I view Christianity from the outside, unburdened by rigid dogma, but able to appreciate its deep spiritual truth.
            The heart of Christ's message is to love God, and love the other as you love yourself.  This Golden Rule is found within every religion around the world, testimony to its fundamental clarity.  Aldous Huxley's book, "The Perennial Philosophy", surveyed world religions looking for common elements.  In addition to the Golden Rule, he found they all suggest the work of humanity is a journey from egoistic self to experience of divine unity.  We are all relative expressions of the same divine reality, so to love God, we must love ourselves, and all the parts which appear as "other".  These instructions for living in a non-dual, unity reality, are very simple in concept, but socially radical, and challenging to accomplish.  People who describe themselves as Christian, but fear God and hate passionately, have missed the mark, and are living contrary to the heart of Christ's message.  
            The money, power, and politics required for the business of an organized religion subverts the mystical spiritual foundation of any faith. Christians have killed non-Christians since becoming the Roman state religion, and Catholics have killed Protestants for centuries, despite worshiping the same text, just as Sunni and Shia Muslims kill each other today.  
            A recent article by Alex Morris of the Rolling Stone, titled "False Idol - Why the Christian Right Worships Donald Trump", describes the history of how the Evangelical movement became politicized over time, leading up to the situation today. Trump, despite living contrary to Christian morality, garners Evangelical support by appointing judges who further narrow Christian social goals, but also put corporate rights above human rights, benefiting wealthy Christian donors.  Rick Perry, former Secretary of Energy, recently declared that Trump was "chosen by God", but a few years earlier described Trump as a "cancer on conservatism".  That kind of religious malleability corrodes the integrity of the system.  
            A conservative political commentator stated that if Democrats pick a candidate too far to the left, they will have to sell socialism to evangelicals, and Trump will win.  From a unity perspective, this is a flawed assessment, because at their heart, evangelical Christians and socialists are fellow travelers, because the foundation of socialism is commitment to the common welfare.  America was founded on the principle that all people are created equal, which is the essence of the Golden Rule.  We are all worthy, so the rule of law must apply to everyone.  When America was founded, this was socially radical, but we became a beacon of hope around the world.  Our communities and fates are united.
            The exclusive gain of our extraction economy is killing the planet and all life on it, for short term profit.  There is need for unity spiritual perspective to balance this, but religion constrained by the duality of fear and hate only makes things worse.  People of faith must call out the limitations within their own religion.  Reality has a socialist bent, as the Golden Rule implies.  We are all being challenged to live the best within us.