As a Universalist, I believe that God appears in whatever form the beholder expects – except for that wonderful sequence in South Park, where God reveals Himself as a silly-looking animal that nobody would expect – which is, of course, what makes it so funny.
I was raised Christian, but I’ve taught Yoga for thirty-one years and I’m a student of world religions. For decades I wrestled with the dilemma of many faiths claiming to be the direct word of God, yet saying that all the others are wrong. At the same time they all preach respect for life and tolerance for those who are different. Universalists celebrate the commonly held teachings, while fanatics ignore those and focus on their faith being the only right one.
Out of this maelstrom of human confusion, I have come to believe that I must draw my own conclusions about everything and then take full responsibility for my choices. I believe this is the hallmark of spiritual maturity.
I am struck by Ernest Hemingway’s words in Islands in the Stream, “there is no one thing that is true — it is all true.” That is a powerful intuition, but by what mechanism would it work? I believe that theoretical physics provides the answer.
It can all be true if there are limitless alternate realities – universes or dimensions parallel to our own. Whatever doesn’t turn out the way it should have in our reality, does turn out that way somewhere else. And visa versa: whatever turns out well here, does so in compensation for the tragic, heartbreaking way it works out in a neighboring dimension. In this way, everything can literally be true. In this way, every scenario gets to be played out.
When you think about it, this Limitless Potentiality is the only model worthy of that vast creative matrix that we call God!
In order to honor my belief that all religions may be right – each in its own context, according to the vibrational attunement of the devotee – I cannot restrict myself to any faith that insists that I exclude the others. While I believe in God, I embrace the attitude of Buddhism as expressed by the Dalai Lama: “There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness.”
I decline to pick a specific sect, believing that simplest is best. I aspire to the Buddha’s suggestion that I be my own master and work out my own salvation. That way, if I should choose wrong and find myself in an unpleasant place after death, it will be solely on my head. I will not have compromised somebody else by following his beliefs, for he would then have to share in the karma of my error.
As I said, I believe that spiritual maturity lies in drawing my own conclusions about everything, and then taking full responsibility for my choices.
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