"May Adonai bless you and protect you! May Adonai deal kindly and graciously with you! May Adonai lift up his countenance upon you and grant you peace!" (Torah, Numbers 6:24-26) And Jesus said, "Allow the little children to come unto me. Forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God. Truly, I say unto you, unless you receive the Kingdom of God as a little child does, you shall not enter therein." (New Testament, Mark 10:14-16)
Sojourning at an Oasis Paradise
Most of what you will see here is the result of extensive personal study, combined with some careful speculation. Occasionally, I may simply offer some Scripture or an inspirational text. I am a wide reader, and the connection of some topics and ideas to matters of faith and religion may not seem immediately obvious, but perhaps I may spell it out in the end... or maybe, you will decide that it was just a tangent. Anyway, I hope that you will find my meanderings to be spiritually enlightening, intellectually stimulating, or at least somewhat entertaining.
In the coming weeks and months, I intend to transcribe a series of essays that I wrote about 20 years ago in the hope that I might get them published. They represent the nucleus of my spiritual life and the focal point around which my wanderings revolve like an electron in an atom. I hope that they might eventually serve as a springboard for discussions about the common spiritual heritage of humanity. May we come together and embrace each other in peace.
Friday, December 4, 2009
God's Faith in Us
Aside from the original human frailties and faults of misunderstanding and self-interest, and a consequent mistrust, there are a variety of world-views and social perspectives that seem to be mutually exclusive. One reason for this disparity is the fact of different religions existing in different regions of the world. Naturally, this has been interpreted as meaning that "our" faith is the right one, and all the others must therefore be false or somehow corrupted. I humbly beg to differ with this assumption. Rather, I see this variety of religions as a sign that God actually trusts us as human beings to seek out that which is highest and best in us - in ourselves, our societies, our deeds and aims... God comes to meet us always where we are in the moment. He communicates in language we can understand (if He uses language at all), and uses concepts which we can grasp to try to give us a sense of what He desires and expects from us. His intent has always been to guide us, and to give us a sense of purpose. He wishes to help us to grow into our full potential as worthy companions, whom He can promote to full citizenship in Heaven. This action of God, blessed be His Name, is an essential proof that He sustains an eternal faith in us. For that reason He moves to confront us with His Presence and reveal His will to us, to choose us individually and collectively for various roles within His plan, and to promise us His favor if we will follow Him. It is His expectation that enough of us will receive His Word with gladness, and try to do what we believe is right and respond in turn with faith in Him. God (Baruch haShem) comes to us, within the world as we know it, and trusts us to respond with all the goodness we can draw from our hearts.
The problem lies in the fact that not every one of us has the same experiences, the same education, the same expectations, hopes or capacities to see beyond the everyday realities that also confront us. Therefore, the messages that God (BhS) brings to us become truncated into more easily understandable and communicated forms that bend to fit the various cultures we have built over the ages. The capacities of the messenger - the prophet - and the abilities of his audience to understand, contribute to the fidelity of communication through many stages of transmission... including translation into languages that were unknown to the original prophet. God tries to limit these affectations, but again, the openness and capacities of human beings in the moment can not be entirely overcome. That is a consequence of the freedom of will and self-actualization that He designed us for. It is all a part of His plan for eternity.
But we have often thought that whatever faith we considered as "ours" was the right one, either because our parents so taught us, or because the religion that imparted it to us claimed it as so. We looked outward to imagine that the traditions and faiths of others, because they were different, must be somehow defective. And yet, amazingly, one religion on earth has seen and overcome this problem - and some of us dare to call it a "pagan" religion. Hinduism discovered this problem and evolved a philosophy and theology that related all of the various peoples' faiths back to a unitary reality... bundled them all together into the almost ineffable, unutterable concept of Brahman, which they even then insist is a poor reflection of the reality they were trying to explain. Today, millenia later, many of us still only consider the "monotheistic" faiths to be on the path of truth, but I see that original philosophy of unification to be the hope of Humanity for a more civilized future.
Let me end this monologue now with a paraphrase from the last sermon of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him):
"All mankind is descended from Adam and Eve. No one has any superiority over any other except by piety and good action. Learn that every believer is a brother or sister to every other believer and that those who believe in God constitute one family. Do not therefore do injustice to yourselves."