Love and compassion are the most important attributes that we can develop in ourselves. This was the great good of Jesus’ message to the world. Causing pain is a sin; to my mind, the only sin: if my actions intentionally harm anyone or anything, even myself, I have sinned. My retribution is to have to live with that, to have incorporated that into my being.
I am only a part of the greater Being, the Oneness, the all-encompassing One, which some people call God. Other languages and cultures have different names and different approaches. Allah, Ahura Mazda, Brahman, etc., are just names of other constructs for a concept of the Oneness, of the interconnectedness of all existance. The very idea of putting a Name to such an inconceivable and awesome power is the height of human arrogance. A word for that concept can not even take root in our meager minds, much less be articulated.
The evil of fundamentalism, in any form, is its assumption of supreme rightness. In the political arena this is called fascism. The inability to embrace the positive aspects of the belief systems of others is rejection on a very basic level. Resentment, suspicion, fear, anger and conflict are never far behind. Fundamentalism in religion has caused and is still causing pain and divisiveness throughout the world.
I believe in embracing all paths to “the Light,” all of the ideals and ideas which teach cooperation and peace. I believe in studying the different spiritual paths, not from my point of view but from that of the practitioners; learning what they really believe and how that came to be; incorporating that which is meaningful to me into my own paradigm for as long as I need it, and living as honestly and compassionately as I possibly can.
This means that I do not merely tolerate divergent beliefs from mine, I actually accept them. I do not necessarily practice all of these or even hold them as truth, but I honor their place in the pantheon of possibilities. As long as they do not impinge on my freedom “from” religion, I am content to have them coexist in my world.
In other words, I do not require that you believe as I do, only that you respect my right to believe as I wish.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.