One Common Faith ~ The Story – Part Two

youth_praying
Our last post began a story about my life and religion. It also set up a comparison between an individual life and the development of our human family. If you’re visiting for the first time, scroll down to the last post to read the first part or jump to it with this link.

The Story, Continued…

When I’d reached my early youth, I had a better grip on the difference between God and my parents; but, that’s not saying I really understood either of them.

Our ancestors entered a similar phase of development when they’d worked out a knowledge of the cycles of nature’s manifestations—lightning, rain, flood, fire, cold, and other regular displays of earth’s powers.

I continued to attend the church where my parents were the ministers, knowing there was an independent Source of ultimate power but still cringing under the manifestations of power my earthly keepers displayed. Mom was a sympathetic soul, though still full of power and command, and dad was a tyrant. Still, in my heart of hearts, I knew each loved me—in ways I wouldn’t clearly realize for many years. The hard part was understanding why they seemed to not understand me

Our ancestors had similar challenges. Even though they could predict when rains or cold would approach, they weren’t clear, in a conscious way, of why these powers were manifesting. The way they coped was to personalize the powers as gods and develop meaningful rituals to appease those gods. Usually, there was a major god who ruled the lesser gods and elaborate rituals to cajole the favor of that supreme power.

I was still mostly behaving and being a good boy at this stage but I’d certainly developed a strong desire for personal time, not just the time spent with friends but time with myself, time to ponder…

Early humanity made a potent space available for a tribal member’s personal time. They ritualized it and created ways to harness the individual’s creativity for the greater good of the tribe—go on the Vision Quest and bring the insights back to us so we may grow with you…

I didn’t realize, even though my parents were ministers, that my personal pondering was my conscious mind talking to my soul. It would be many years before my growing ego consciousness would surrender to my soul and clear the way for a deep and pure religious experience.

The tribe lives for the tribe’s sake. The individual lives within the tribe. Individual urges are shaped to the tribe’s necessities or are eliminated…

To be continued…

As in previous posts in this series, I urge you to reference an important document and a web site that explores that document:

Document: One Common Faith

Exploratory Web Site: Changeless Faith

Spiritual Quote:

“We affirm that a common set of core values is found in the teachings of the religions, and that these form the basis of a global ethic… There already exist ancient guidelines for human behavior which are found in the teachings of the religions of the world and which are the condition for a sustainable world order.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Oct, Turning Point For All Nations

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One Common Faith – Introduction

onecommonfaithI want to tell a story.

If you have a decided opinion against religion, you won’t like this story.

If you rigidly cling to one human expression of religion—feeling all other expressions are wrong—you won’t like this story.

I decided to tell it because I had an online friend recommend a site about an important document that discusses what’s wrong and right about religion—making clear sense of the tangled religious history we humans have created.

I’d already read the document, One Common Faith, and found the presentation of it on the site, Changeless Faith, a valuable and intriguing way to deeply understand a document that, all by itself, could be a major challenge and a difficult message to read and comprehend. The site is interactive and multidimensional.

I urge you, sincerely, to check out the site, Changeless Faith.

I recommend patience and an open mind.

I pray I haven’t lost my Internet audience…

As an introduction to the next few posts discussing concepts from this document, here’s an outline of the major sections:

History’s Turning Point
Disillusionment with the Promises of Materialism
The Progressive Globalizing of Human Experience
Humanity’s Current Needs Overwhelm Established Religions
Bahá’u’lláh Recasts the Entire Conception of Religion
Progressive Revelation and the Failure to Understand It
Religion’s Unity of Purpose
Religion’s Shaping of Civilization
Enacting the Principles of the New Age
The Power of Unity: The Model of the Bahá’í Community
Disunity and the Persistence of Evil
The Unfolding of the Bahá’í Global Community
The Day of Fulfilment

My upcoming posts about the ideas of One Common Faith won’t be a detailed exploration of all those topics—Changeless Faith does that. I’m going to choose just a few topics—topics I can relate to current cultural issues that I feel are critical to understanding the failures of humanity in its response to past religions and a hopeful and promising way to practice religion and not lose your spirituality…

Spiritual Quote:

“Religion should unite all hearts and cause wars and disputes to vanish from the face of the earth, give birth to spirituality, and bring life and light to each heart. If religion becomes a cause of dislike, hatred and division, it were better to be without it, and to withdraw from such a religion would be a truly religious act. For it is clear that the purpose of a remedy is to cure; but if the remedy should only aggravate the complaint it had better be left alone. Any religion which is not a cause of love and unity is no religion. All the holy prophets were as doctors to the soul; they gave prescriptions for the healing of mankind; thus any remedy that causes disease does not come from the great and supreme Physician.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 130

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What Good Is Religion ?

religious_strife
I live in the United States of America but I’m a World Citizen. I’m concerned about the moral collapse of my birth-country and I’m appalled at the insanities perpetrated world-wide that claim religious justification.

From Pravda: 1/10/08  Russian authorities blame Internet for inciting ethnic and religious strife

From the New York Times: 6/3/06  Religious Strife Is Pushing Iraq towards Civil War

From the Guardian, UK: 15/2/04  Children to study atheism at school

From OneCountry.Org: April 2002,  “In a letter to ‘the world’s religious leaders’, the Universal House of Justice warns of the danger posed by ‘the rising fires of religious prejudice’ and calls for decisive action against fanaticism and intolerance….the six-page letter had been delivered to at least 1,600 leaders in more than 40 countries.”

I used news clips from 08 back to 02 to indicate the inertia that impedes eradication of the most perverted behavior humans engage in—antagonism and strife based on religious dogma.

Killing someone because they’re invading your home territory is bad enough. Killing them because they profess a different religious doctrine is demented.

The letter to the world’s religious leaders from the Universal House of Justice is a model of sanity and rationality from the governing body of one of the world’s major religions.

They begin by stressing the “Babel of incoherent identities of cultural, ethnic or national origin” that plague our global family.

They go on to indict the fanatical aspects of some of the world’s religions:

“Tragically, organized religion, whose very reason for being entails service to the cause of brotherhood and peace, behaves all too frequently as one of the most formidable obstacles in the path; to cite a particular painful fact, it has long lent its credibility to fanaticism.”

Then comes a review of the disunifying factors in society that are undergoing profound change:

“At the level of global discourse, however, the concept of the equality of the sexes has, for all practical purposes, now assumed the force of universally accepted principle…no one can mistake the fact that the fetish of absolute national sovereignty is on its way to extinction…racial prejudice has become so universally condemned in principle that no body of people can any longer safely allow themselves to be identified with it.”

Then, a stunning concept of religious unity that most organized religions oppose:

“In contrast to the processes of unification that are transforming the rest of humanity’s social relationships, the suggestion that all of the world’s great religions are equally valid in nature and origin is stubbornly resisted by entrenched patterns of sectarian thought.”

More on the tragedy of non-religious religion:

“…the greater part of organized religion stands paralyzed at the threshold of the future, gripped in those very dogmas and claims of privileged access to truth that have been responsible for creating some of the most bitter conflicts dividing the earth’s inhabitants. The consequences, in terms of human well-being, have been ruinous.

Then, hope:

“Vast numbers of people continue to endure the effects of ingrained prejudices of ethnicity, gender, nation, caste and class….The point, rather, is that a threshold has been crossed from which there is no credible possibility of return. Fundamental principles have been identified, articulated, accorded broad publicity and are becoming progressively incarnated in institutions capable of imposing them on public behaviour. There is no doubt that, however protracted and painful the struggle, the outcome will be to revolutionize relationships among all peoples, at the grassroots level.”

And, the increasing awareness of global Oneness:

“Out of the welter of religious doctrines, rituals and legal codes inherited from vanished worlds, there is emerging a sense that spiritual life, like the oneness manifest in diverse nationalities, races and cultures, constitutes one unbounded reality equally accessible to everyone.”

And, whether you’re religious or not, this final statement should resonate with your moral consciousness:

“With every day that passes, danger grows that the rising fires of religious prejudice will ignite a worldwide conflagration the consequences of which are unthinkable. Such a danger civil government, unaided, cannot overcome. Nor should we delude ourselves that appeals for mutual tolerance can alone hope to extinguish animosities that claim to possess Divine sanction. The crisis calls on religious leadership for a break with the past as decisive as those that opened the way for society to address equally corrosive prejudices of race, gender and nation.”

Spiritual Quote:

“Inasmuch as human interpretations and blind imitations differ widely, religious strife and disagreement have arisen among mankind, the light of true religion has been extinguished and the unity of the world of humanity destroyed. The Prophets of God voiced the spirit of unity and agreement. They have been the Founders of divine reality. Therefore, if the nations of the world forsake imitations and investigate the reality underlying the revealed Word of God, they will agree and become reconciled. For reality is one and not multiple.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 141

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Path Toward Peace – Step Six

religious strife

Eliminating religious strife


Mary and Martha were having a discussion in the coffee shop. They’d just met fifteen minutes before and had been chatting about the debate between Obama and McCain. Mary said, “Well, seems we agree about who to vote for. What are you doing Sunday morning? I’d love to talk again—maybe while we walk the lower trail in the Metro Park.” Martha said, “Oh, I’ll be going to church Sunday morning. How about Friday around noon?” Mary said, “Oh, I can’t, that’s our time for community prayer in the mosque.”

They chatted for a bit more but the conversation withered away into banalities and, by the time they parted, both knew there would be no lasting friendship.

From the Jerusalem Post: “The reality of today’s Middle East is the same centuries-old one of ethnic and religious strife that extends far beyond the borders of the State of Israel.”

From the Egyptian Daily News: “Rashwan rather blamed Israel for creating ‘civil and religious strife between the different Arab countries.'”

From the Times of India: “Barely eight months after it was ravaged by attacks on Christians, Kandhamal is back in the headlines as a symbol of religious strife. For more than a week now, Kandhamal’s Christians have been brutalized, their homes pillaged and burnt, chased into the forests, left to languish in relief camps.”

It’s a shame about Mary and Martha. They were headed toward a beautiful friendship but, because they adhered to different Faith traditions, they sacrificed fresh happiness and sharing.

Well, at least they didn’t start butchering each other’s families and friends…

How long has humanity been killing in the name of religion?

How many mothers have lost children because of religious dogmatism?

How many children have been orphaned because of political decisions empowered by absurdly false religious doctrines?

It’s no wonder so many people will say, “Oh, I’m definitely a spiritual person. I’m just not religious.”

Is there some way to practice a religion (including, of course, a spiritual life) and not exclude other people, not see those in different religions as evil, not try to keep the All-Loving God in an armored box locked tightly in a room of the ego?

Spiritual Quotes:

“That the divers communions of the earth, and the manifold systems of religious belief, should never be allowed to foster the feelings of animosity among men, is, in this Day, of the essence of the Faith of God and His Religion. These principles and laws, these firmly-established and mighty systems, have proceeded from one Source, and are rays of one Light. That they differ one from another is to be attributed to the varying requirements of the ages in which they were promulgated.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 13

“Religious strife, throughout history, has been the cause of innumerable wars and conflicts, a major blight to progress, and is increasingly abhorrent to the people of all faiths and no faith. Followers of all religions must be willing to face the basic questions which this strife raises, and to arrive at clear answers. How are the differences between them to be resolved, both in theory and in practice? The challenge facing the religious leaders of mankind is to contemplate, with hearts filled with the spirit of compassion and a desire for truth, the plight of humanity, and to ask themselves whether they cannot, in humility before their Almighty Creator, submerge their theological differences in a great spirit of mutual forbearance that will enable them to work together for the advancement of human understanding and peace.”
The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Oct, The Promise of World Peace, p. 3

“There can be no doubt whatever that the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God. The difference between the ordinances under which they abide should be attributed to the varying requirements and exigencies of the age in which they were revealed. All of them, except a few which are the outcome of human perversity, were ordained of God, and are a reflection of His Will and Purpose. Arise and, armed with the power of faith, shatter to pieces the gods of your vain imaginings, the sowers of dissension amongst you. Cleave unto that which draweth you together and uniteth you.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 217

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Why Do Religions Fight Each Other ?

fighting_religions

Uh… Isn’t religion about peace and love? Why would people of different religions fight? Could it be their “religion” is an imitation; dogma without substance?

From Dong-A Ilbo: No Religious Harmony, No National Unity

From Commentary Magazine: How to Manage Savagery

From Forum 18: RUSSIA: Religious dispute fuels state oppression of Kabardino-Balkaria Muslims

From the Kurdish Globe: The interfaith dialogue in Kurdistan

My personal belief is we were created to love, fashioned for compassion.

When we dip our spiritual wings in the muck of materialism, we find it hard to fly. If we do that often enough, we start believing we weren’t made to fly, we cannot soar, and we must fight to maintain our little plot of dirt…

If there is truly one God and if God’s Messengers speak the same language, we must, somehow, breach the walls of exclusivism, reach out to fellow folk on the spiritual path, and embrace the diversity that lives within Unity.

Here’s a short video about Compassion.

“The ignorant must be taught, the sick healed, the sleepers awakened. The child must not be oppressed or censured because it is undeveloped; it must be patiently trained. The sick must not be neglected because they are ailing; nay, rather, we must have compassion upon them and bring them healing. Briefly; the old conditions of animosity, bigotry and hatred between the religious systems must be dispelled and the new conditions of love, agreement and spiritual brotherhood be established among them.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 239

“The challenge facing the religious leaders of mankind is this: to contemplate, with hearts filled with the spirit of compassion and a desire for truth, the plight of humanity, and to ask themselves whether they cannot, in humility before their Almighty Creator, submerge their theological differences in a great spirit of mutual forbearance that will enable them to work together for the advancement of human understanding and peace.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1989 Mar 02, Promoting Religious Tolerance

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Mother Earth Is Crying

pollution

What will it take for the leaders, political and corporate, to stop killing the very environment they use to make their profits?

From IC Publications, News from Africa: West Africa’s coastline redrawn by climate change: experts

From the Canberra Times: Adjusting for climate change a shared task

From Agence France-Presse: ‘Clock ticking’ on global warming: UN climate chief

One barrier to resolving this crisis is the highly fractured nature of our world community. There are, taking an opinionated survey, a few leaders of countries, some members of legislative bodies, a larger group of leaders and lobbyists for corporations, a number of representatives to global institutions, many leaders of religious communities, a few very rich people, and The Rest of Us . . .

Most of those groups are at-odds with each other.

Most people are struggling to just get along—making ends meet—dealing with depressive tendencies . . .

Many of our fellow family members in the world community are being treated like expendable non-entities!

Here are some personal responses, from Orion Magazine, to this crisis:

Storm’s Coming
Six Authors Respond to Climate Change

Recently Orion asked six authors to describe what the changing climate is doing to them personally–how it is affecting their hearts and souls. Here’s what they had to say:

A Quartet by Gretel Ehrlich

Anticipating Our Future by Jared Duval

Seeing Paradise by Jay Griffiths

The Source of Hope by Peter Sawtell

The Inner Climate by Pico Iyer

The Moral Climate by Carl Safina

The solution is not easy. The resolution of disunity is The major challenge facing humanity.

Today’s Spiritual Quote:

“Our efforts now and in the future to safeguard our common habitat and to promote the well-being and development of all peoples must be characterized by a unified approach within an effective universal framework. The unity we envision is more than an academic matter of geography, climatology or oceanography. It is based on the concept of the fundamental unity of mankind living as one world community, in which the problems of economic relations and the use of natural resources must be addressed from a global perspective with due regard for the wide diversity of climates and cultures. The universal framework proposed by Bahá’u’lláh over one hundred years ago calls for universally agreed-upon and enforceable laws, the equitable sharing of resources, fundamental adjustments to present institutional and economic relations, and world-wide changes in the values, behavior, and consumption patterns of individuals and communities.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1990 Aug 06, Environment Development

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“Bring thyself to account ere thou art summoned to a reckoning…”

Time for an accounting. I’ve been writing nearly everyday on this blog since March—since I was nearing the end of eleven months of taking five highly abusive medical drugs to rid my liver of a deadly virus—jury’s still out on whether it worked . . .

From the New York Times: Uncertainties About the Role of Doubt in Religion “Religious faith was once the air everyone, even the doubter, breathed. Today, religious faith, in its many forms, stands as but one possibility alongside a range of nonreligious outlooks that the honest believer cannot simply dismiss as deluded or depraved.
“Religious thinkers, of course, have long argued that uncertainty and faith are not the polar opposites often supposed; that indifference, and not doubt, for example, is the greater adversary of faith; that absolute certitude about God often reflects a dangerous arrogance.”

I’ve been trying to live up to my Faith for almost twenty years now—struggling against my grasping ego—contending with the oh, so easy rationalizations to just be “human”; imperfections flowering into weeds of uncertainty.

This blog is part of my personal covenant with God—hopeful action to stave off the demons of doubt.

I value the feedback I receive from my visitors, especially the indicators of which posts are the most viewed (see the far right sidebar). I struggle to interpret what’s going on in the world in terms of my Faith and post my thoughts and feelings here. What people choose to read is a “message” to me—a wake-up call—about how my private efforts are connected to other members of our human family . . .

So…

Thought I’d take the current most-viewed-posts and put them together (for my meditation and, hopefully, your edification) in these files:

Word File ——— PDF File
For an undetermined reason the Word file didn’t hold the images.
If you’re able, download the PDF…

~~~~~~~~~

“Examine the wondrous behaviour of the Prophets, and recall the defamations and denials uttered by the children of negation and falsehood, perchance you may cause the bird of the human heart to wing its flight away from the abodes of heedlessness and doubt unto the nest of faith and certainty, and drink deep from the pure waters of ancient wisdom, and partake of the fruit of the tree of divine knowledge. Such is the share of the pure in heart of the bread that hath descended from the realms of eternity and holiness.”
Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 5

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