1. “Love God, and love others as yourself,” or – The “Law of Love.”
This is what Jesus is reported to have said about the two most important things in life and spirituality, from the New Testament book called “Mark,” chapter 12, vs. 29-31.
Love God in whatever way “God” is to and for you. The simple test to know if you’ve found God: If the God you love produces love in you, you’ve found God. If you do not have love, you do not know God. Also, love isn’t love unless it is shared, and that is why we are to love others as ourselves. If we do not love ourselves, and others, we do not love God. There is nothing more important than that.
This idea is echoed in all the great religions of the world.
2. “By their fruits you will know them,” or the Faucet analogy.
What actually comes out of any religious “faucet” (theological belief system) is far more important than how fancy or plain the faucet is made. Also from the book called “Mark,” chapter 7, verse 16.
Even if a set of religious ideas has logical force – what do they finally produce in the world? Look at the history of Christianity, if you dare. Some logical religious arguments about God and the Bible there, but a whole lot of terrible results for the last two thousand years.
Also, people say a lot of things about Jesus, but their actions are unloving. Belief+Action is called “Praxis.” Test every religious faucet, not by looking at how it’s made, but what comes out when you pull the lever. Is it clear or dirty? The answer is its “Praxis.” If it’s clear, the Praxis is good. If it’s dirty, well, it isn’t worth consuming.
3. Truth is true, no matter what the source.
If you read any book from any tradition, or hear anyone speak, and what you read or hear is emotionally/intellectually/spiritually healthy – it’s true. Simple as that. It doesn’t matter what book it’s from or who says it, including Buddha, Confucius, Steven Hawking, John Bradshaw, Mohammad, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, René Descartes, Moses, Jesus, Bozo the Clown, or anyone else.
4. God is not “Out there somewhere.”
It is written that Jesus said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” From the book called “Luke,” chapter 17, vs. 20-21.
Since the kingdom of God is in you, if you are quiet you will hear “a still small voice.” This “voice” is found in the Hebrew Bible (the one Jesus studied), the book of 1st Kings, chapter 19, vs. 12. This is the voice some call your “Conscience.” Under all your other thoughts, it’s the voice you can’t hide from, if you really listen. It will tell you if your motives are good or not. It will remind you to do the right thing. It will help you feel in your gut what your decisions should be in life. Learn to listen to and follow your inner-self faithfully and you will have learned one of the deepest secrets of a healthy, productive life.
This idea is also echoed in many of the great religions of the world.
5. You must be “Born again.”
Everyone is a product of our family’s upbringing. We are first-born into our family of origin, and they are the only voices we can rely on at first in our tender and dependent infancy. We learn our speech patterns and personal mannerisms from those people, and we learn to think in the manner those people train us to think.
However, if we stay in that state as we grow up, we are incomplete human-becomings. If we forever only listen to those outside voices we are doomed to repeat the very same system we grew up in. Our growth is stunted if those people insist that we think like they do for the rest of our lives.
This can be changed. If our family encourages us to change our point of reference, from them to us, or, if we wake up to our own internal voice (God) on our own, we grow into our true selves. In psychological childhood development terms this is called “Individuation,” like when a cell splits in two. It is the way nature was created.
Being “born-again” is the healthy process of individuation. To be spiritually and emotionally reborn is the result of the transforming growth of God’s spirit – in us; the thing that makes us who we truly are and become what we are supposed to be. (See #4) It takes growing up from our cocoon called “family,” spreading our wings and flying our own course by creating our own new family. This could be our own circle of friends and acquaintances, or a literal family with our own children. If we are healthy friends and/or parents, we will allow our friends and children to be “born-again” into their own lives, listening to God inside themselves for themselves.
6. “The Airplane Rule,” or “Put your own oxygen mask on first!”
We are no good to anyone else if we are not healthy ourselves. The point of taking care of yourself first is NOT selfish, as long as taking care of yourself isn’t the only point. What kind of person would put his or her oxygen mask on and then simply watch everyone else suffocate? However, if we try to help another first and then suffocate, we squander the potential to help many. (See #1)
If you aren’t good at the instrument you play, practice hard, then teach. If you are sick, don’t spread germs, go home or to the hospital and get well. If you are grieving death, take the time to feel all those feelings before resuming life. If you are an addict, detoxify, and then be productive. If you are confused, seek answers before giving direction. If you live in anger or hate, learn to forgive, and then live in the world with love.
Take care of yourself first. Be healthy. Then you are ready to care for the world you find yourself in, in the only way that can be trusted.
7. Yin-Yang is a cool “thang.”
We humans are not, as some will try to tell you, all bad inside. We ALL have light, and, we ALL have shadow. Friedrich Nietzsche said, “You must have chaos in you to give birth to a dancing star.” In some amazing and strange way, these two forces in us keep us on the path of deep learning and self-understanding that leads to peace with God and each other. The combination of Dark and Light in the Universe is also the catalyst (creative force) of new life and artistic beauty.
Further, in terms of male-female, and as the Yin-Yang symbol displays, males have some female characteristics, and vise versa. We are all connected in the dance of life because we all have a little of each other in us.
8. There is so much we don’t know, and we fool ourselves if we say we do.
It has been said, “The more we know, the more we know we don’t know.” More answers mean even more questions. Sciences of the inner human body and of the outside Universe are continually dis-covering new realities.
Before the Hubble telescope was put into space we could not see what we can now. The world was stunned when the telescope began sending back pictures to Earth. We can now see things no one in history ever knew existed before, and that is just with the technology we have now. The science of Quantum Physics is just beginning to conceive of realities and mysteries of existence that no one has ever known before. Just think what the world will find in 500 years; things we can’t imagine.
This idea applies to religion. No one human religion can possibly know or describe God fully, as we are all finite creatures with finite insight. This is why inner-faith and Inter-faith dialogue are absolutely crucial. We need to come together to join our personal understandings and discoveries in order to know God in ourselves more fully (not that we can ever know God completely).
In other words, we’re all in for big surprises when we die because death is like the Hubble telescope. It will put us in a new position to see what we could never see before, and just when we thought we knew it all.
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