by James Bonner
A personal take of religion and spirituality
I was raised to view spirituality not as a blind devotee unconsciously submitting to the absolute, but rather as a daily truth guiding us in moments of uncertainty; as something to keep at the forefront of my conscious self. I was raised to make a choice. While looking at life as an opportunity to create myself and embrace, as a result, whichever religion “chooses” me. This path of enlightenment (so-to-speak) has lead me to attend a variety of religious services from Christianity to Hinduism and I've discovered aspects of every faith to have truth. I expected, however, these truths to be independent of one another bordering on similar but ultimately, different. I've noticed that every faith is congruent to the others in every conceivable way but one: the axiom of experiences of those who created the faith to begin with, as a result of their culture and their traditions.
Regardless of the region a religion was established there was a time when all people were incapable of understanding the stars, the moon, the sun, or even our emotions and our feelings. And though we are all essentially the same we do differ by how we think, what we think, and why, consequent to our own personal experiences and our biology. We all needed to understand the world around us, and the worlds inside of us so we created, in our image, (a) something we could understand; a concept that became responsible for everything that we could not understand. This idea then spread by means of diffusion, and then changed, and evolved (to some degree) because of our cultures, traditions, and the different ways that we perceive the world. We would eventually create what we all now know today to be God, and the many religions of the world. Many of these other worldly concepts are ideas that we wouldn’t begin to understand until around the seventeenth century when what we consider to be modern science was realized. Three and half thousand years after the first few books of the bible had been penned, let alone a general concept of religion. And we didn't begin to form a better understanding of ourselves, our minds, or our emotions until the nineteenth century. Needless to say there is a gap between the birth of religion and the realization of the self, and our surroundings. Still though, religion and our concept of God has not evolved with time or a better understanding of ourselves, and of spirituality.
I have noticed similarities throughout the different religions beyond the borrowed, shared, and slightly altered parables of each tenet. There is a kinship of piety that is a coincidental and unintended reoccurrence that are expressions of love and faith. Footnotes that bridge our faiths and bind us to one another as deeply underlying principles impossible to ignore. Consider first, the Law of Attraction, made known by Rhonda Byrne and her book The Secret is the realization of our active thoughts positive or negative attracting to us a like reality. Simply, if you frequently have positive thoughts you will bring good things into your life. Does this sound familiar? It could be mistaken for the Buddhist concept of Karma, which is the creature of our thoughts in relation to our attitude that brings to us more of what we consciously or unconsciously attract to our lives. Samsara, meaning “continuous flow” is the act of living, and the ability to separate yourself from that every day routine yet realizing that you are also a part of that routine.
I should, at this point, help you to better understand an approach to love that you may, or may not, be familiar with. One that would open up to you a new perspective that I believe you should be familiar with. Love, as we generally understand it to be, is a feeling (or ability) that is shared between people whether it be our families, friends or a significant other. It is something we do, or that we feel, and believe, but most importantly it’s viewed as something that we “feel for” someone. As Shakespeare so eloquently puts it “Love is not love, which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove. O, no! It is an ever-fixed mark, that looks on tempests and is never shaken. It is the start to every wandering bark, whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.” However, reading this nowhere does he mention a love “between” people. He describes it in a way that many of us might describe God. Of course, though, that wouldn’t surprise most because people contribute this feeling of love to their relationship with God. We often say that Love is God. What if instead we considered the reverse, that God is Love. That love is in all things. In 2005 David Foster Wallace gave a commencement speech at Kenyon College, to begin the speech he used this Parable: “There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet and older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says,“Morning, boys. How's the Water?” The two young fish swim on for a bit then, eventually, one of the fish looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is Water?”” To better understand my comparison there is an analogy I was introduced to several years back stating that God is like water and we are the fish living our daily lives surrounded by water, going to work, or out with our friends or family; to a fish water is all there is, but does a fish believe in water?
Imagine, if you will for a moment, that God is not the creator but rather the act of creation and a collection of our combined thought. Imagine that Love in essence was not a feeling. It is like whiteness. Love is the harmony of all feelings. It is what makes reality comprehendible and the universal attainable. Love is like water, and that we are the fish, and a fish cannot exist without water. To the fish water is all that is. There does not exist anything outside of it. Love, then, becomes the act of creation. Love is an act and this life is the means in which we carryout that act. We instilled these ideas of intention to give ourselves meaning (Heaven, Nirvana, Moshka, etc) but without our designed meaning we have the opportunity to create for ourselves our own personal meaning. To consider life, and our spirituality by these means doesn’t suggest the falsehood of a God but rather allows us to view God in a different light, and one that still offers meaning in our lives while giving us reason to look beyond these differences we have created for ourselves in this life.