Saturday, June 28, 2014

My One, Personal Absolute Truth

Watching the video by Matthew Vines (see below) regarding The Bible and homosexuality prompted this blog post. I share in order to document my own views and beliefs in a comprehensive way, more than I have ever done before, which is helpful for me in my ongoing quest to know myself as fully as possible. I also share in case my journey is of value to anyone else, and for insight into the foundation of my work.  

I recognize and appreciate great wisdom in religions and sacred texts, and respect that they can be a source of truth for others. I, however, do not view them as the ultimate, absolute truth or The Word in their totality given the various interpretations, translations, etc. Even if the Bible -- or any sacred text -- DID clearly condemn same-sex loving relationships, I wouldn't care. It would not form my opinion about the matter. (For those who don't know me personally, I most certainly advocate for equality -- all equality -- including marriage equality.)

The only Absolute Truth that resonates with me, personally, is this:

We are all interconnected; what is done to one is done to all.

It's not something I can prove, but it is what I choose to believe. Maybe that's what "truth" is:  A belief or concept or personal knowing based on experience, even if it can't be proven to others, which is so powerful that it becomes a personal truth? It feels right intuitively, intellectually, and based on my life experience thus far, including powerful experiences in my youth. I don't feel this belief and way of being causes any harm, to anyone or anything. (Note that quantum physics has placed this discussion at the fore from a scientific perspective.)

To me, this interconnectedness is the core message or teaching of all prophets, so I choose to see and appreciate that commonality rather than debate any scripture or religious path. An acknowledgment of our Interbeing and faith in the same can lead to profound love and a reverence for life.

Why can't that one message be the basis of how we interact, and also be the basis - though, granted, not the totality -- of one's religious faith?

Those drawn to various religions can still be guided by their chosen prophet and sacred text and embrace that as their truth, one which brings them comfort, strength, connection and other positive experiences. (Edit to add:  I use the word "chosen" prophet, as I feel it is a choice to follow a specific religious path, or not; I respect that many people feel they were chosen to follow a path, rather than the other way around, and I don't intend my use of the word "choice" repeatedly to be offensive in any way.)

The one seemingly simple, straightforward universal truth or reality of our interconnectedness and Interbeing doesn't negate nor diminish any religious path in my opinion.

When one's chosen religious path nurtures a GENUINE feeling of harmony, and an appreciation and love of other people...all people, including those of other faiths and belief systems, as well as agnostics and atheists...rather than separation and disconnection and feelings of superiority, isn't that a very good thing?

When someone's choice not to embrace a religious path nurtures, for them, a genuine feeling of unity, appreciation, respect and love of Humanity...without a sense of superiority...isn't that a very good thing?

I think so. And I would love to see more of this particular manifestation of GOOD.

As I see it, no book is a comprehensive handbook with CLEAR instructions for every situation, for every time period, for every culture, for every human being; if there were, surely it would contain step-by-step instructions for parenthood (haven't all parents wished there were a manual with clear, practical instructions for every situation, for every child, not subject to misinterpretation?).

There is guidance to be found in many writings, including sacred writings, though it's often subjective based on our individual experience and culture. It's still up to us to put any wisdom we glean into practice each day.

Therefore, in my most humble opinion, we need to cultivate and explore our inner wisdom and develop stronger intuition in order to do that. If religious sacred text and a reverence for the same is how someone gets develops a stronger connection to their inner wisdom and intuition, and strengthens and deepens relationships (physical and metaphysical), I think that's wonderful -- even admirable -- so long as the heart and discernment are engaged in a meaningful way.

I do realize a declaration to follow a chosen religion, prophet and scripture is how many believe they will be saved in the afterlife, and thus they worry about loved ones, or perhaps even strangers, not joining them. I don't know what to say about that other than we all believe different things about life and afterlife. No one really knows for sure how this all works and with the ability to prove to all others, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what they believe regarding how this all works.

We can choose to believe, with a fervor and loyalty and reverence and indeed a strong sense of knowing, but we don't really know...not for everyone else. I do feel strongly that when we know ourselves, and I mean truly Know Who We Are at each phase of our journey, we can recognize that something is true for us; conversely, when we really know ourselves, we recognize when something is not true for us or doesn't resonate in a deep, meaningful way. I've never understood how anyone can say that the truths they believe -- intangible, metaphysical, spiritual truths -- are true for others, especially when our own individual truths/beliefs/knowings often shift throughout our lives and also given our current limitations in awareness. What we can "see" and prove has evolved throughout the course of Humanity's history. Our awareness evolves.

I personally believe there is more integrity and wisdom in the asking of questions, accepting humility in the face of Being Human and all that entails, than in the intransigent, unyielding, authoritative voices of those who profess to know THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH.

Having never been religious though do consider myself spiritual, I've been told by a few people close to me that my views about religion are offensive, in that I don't accept any one sacred text as The Absolute Truth. I've never intended that to mean that I feel those who do embrace one path and one sacred text as their truth are "less than" in any way; it's simply that I don't fully understand it, because it's not something that has ever felt right for me. (That said, no doubt I have made snarky or even hurtful comments at some point in my life when I have perceived religious persons or groups as being hypocritical and causing harm as a result of their beliefs.) What I have a problem with is when religion is imposed upon others, or when it is used to imply or overtly say that anyone who doesn't believe the same is inferior or less than in some way. That is a subtle form of harm and "othering" -- a feeling of disconnection and isolation as a result of feeling judged as inferior in some way -- though we also know the tragic examples of religion being manipulated in horrible ways to inflict overt harm and destruction throughout our history.

Is anything I wrote above offensive to anyone, religious or otherwise? Granted, I realize some who are extremely devout may take pity on me, feeling I am lacking as a human being in some way or that I am lost. In truth, I don't feel lost…no more than anyone else, if they're being honest with themselves. I tend to feel we're all lost and broken to various degrees. For the most part as I look back on my life, I do feel rather whole and integrated concerning my spirituality, always striving to remain open and mindful, learning as I walk this path of Being Human. I have, however, most definitely experienced cycles of a dark night of the soul and a crisis of faith.

When I use the word faith I mean faith in humanity, faith in myself and, most importantly, faith in our shared connection to a transcendent, cohesive force beyond our current realm of comprehension; a force or energy that, as yet, cannot be described or explained. While my faith in Humanity and myself may waiver, my belief in a transcendent force I interchangeably call God or Spirit never has. I cannot prove the existence of how I perceive this energy that I shall call Spirit or God, and that is precisely why I say I have faith in its existence. I don't ridicule or condemn anyone who doesn't share that belief. It is my personal choice to have faith, and I respect the choice of others to not believe, because the existence of Spirit cannot (as yet) be proven in an absolute way.

Rather than tout a knowing of an Absolute Truth, it's more accurate to say that I believe in the Absolute Truth of our interconnectedness, with a "higher" unseen energy residing within us and all around us, providing the glue for our interconnectedness. (Both Tinker Bell ["Clap if you believe!"] and Star Wars ["May the force be with you"] just came to

Alternately, some may condemn my way of seeing things and of being in this world, or doubt my faith and spirituality and individual journey. That has only happened once in my life, fairly recently. I found the questioning and lack of respect for my own faith much more hurtful than someone pitying or even condemning me. Considering that religious persons may have felt judged and questioned and condemned by me in the past, I can empathize with that hurt. That was never my intention, and even though I put a lot of effort into being mindful of my intentions and how conveying them may be perceived, I can't control how others interpret what I say or do. But the thought that I may have caused others that particular pain makes me pause and is another reason for writing this, to offer an apology.

Finally, with all that said, I now have a question:

Is a belief that all life is connected -- our Interbeing -- a fringe belief or do you also embrace this belief, regardless of your religious or spiritual faith or lack thereof?

I'd love to hear your thoughts and feelings about what I have written, so please feel free to comment. Thanks for reading.

~ Dena

EDIT TO ADD:  I would love to collaborate with the faith communities in my work at Our Good If anyone reading is interested in collaboration, please contact me.  :)

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