Much of humanity’s challenge in finding unity is conditioned by varying understandings of religious truth. These comments are not intended to promote any one expression of faith but to pose a question that, if considered dispassionately, might offer a more fruitful approach to envisioning humanity and its relationship to religious truth — one that recognizes that diversity does not imply any lack of unity.
I was pondering, this morning on the challenges of coming to terms with the concept of the Primal Will of God as the acting principle of human accessibility to the divine. If one takes the metaphor of a perfect mirror as a Manifestation of God, the reflection in it of God’s Will, the frame of the mirror as the Revelation, and then adds humans, whose purpose, according to all religious expressions, is to know and to worship God, there enters the possibility of a good deal of confusion.
The problem is that some people, seeing the reflection of the sun in the mirror, equate it with the reality of the sun and think that they understand it because they see the reflection and, by extension, can have some relationship or association (partnership) with it.
Others reduce spiritual growth to the size and appearance of the frame, i.e. historic and cultural diversity. It doesn’t occur to them that the sun reflected in another mirror varying in size and having a different type of frame is still the same sun. More dangerous, is the much too common extension of this notion that denies that the sun is capable of appearing in another mirror of different dimensions or with another frame.
Ultimately, the only relational possibility is to the reflection which appears within the confines of the mirror since any attempt at relationship with the sun itself would result in destruction of the viewer because of the fragility of human reality.
Following through on this metaphor, I realized that my conclusion regarding one significant childhood experience required some adjustment. My parents were remarkably open minded people, given that we lived in a little town of 2,000 people. They were spiritually minded but not religious, and felt that I should be able to make up my own mind about faith when I was old enough to do so. At the same time, they understood that to be able to decide on such a thing I should have knowledge of the options. So, when I was eight years old, my father started taking me to all the various churches in town and even to a synagogue in a larger neighbouring town. I also remember him telling me what little he knew about Muhammad and Buddha, relating them to Jesus and trying to be fair and non-judgmental.
The result, I think, can be summed up by a memory of walking down Main Street with my parents, from where I could see three of these churches and realized that each of these little groups thought they were right and all the others were wrong. I concluded, since truth can only be a single thing, that most likely, they might all be wrong.
Reflecting today on that childhood experience, I realize that, while my observation may have been intuitively insightful for a young kid, my conclusion, though headed in the correct direction, was wrong. It’s not that those denominations and understandings were all wrong but that they were all both right and wrong. Each of the little groups, in reducing their relationship with spirituality to the nature and limitations of the size of the mirror (degree of revelation) or the artistic (culturally specific) expression of the frame or the historically specific time of its appearance, had mistakenly concluded that their own traditionally specific mirror and its cultural frame was the only valid vehicle for the understanding of God.
For example, when Jesus said (paraphrased) “No man shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven except by Me”, He was not referring to His physical self as Jesus, but to Christ as the manifestation of the all-encompassing Primal Will of God. As such, the Will is not limited to a single appearance in one or another specific aspect of creation but, in the broader sense, is present in all of creation and, specifically, in a whole range of appearances and qualities that address the needs and maturity of humans at given periods of time and in specific historical circumstances.
In this discussion, the person, Jesus, is represented by the physicality of the perfectly polished and flawlessly reflective mirror. The title, Christ, is represented by the appearance of the Primal Will of God in the mirror, and His Revelation (teachings) by the context or frame of the mirror which is historically specific and relative to the maturity of humanity at that time and for a limited period thereafter until growing maturity could bear a fuller message.
Jesus said, “Come and I will show you My new Name” and “I have many things to tell you but you cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of Truth, cometh, He will show you unto all truth”. This is clearly indicative that there is a difference between the vehicle carrying the message, the ongoing development of the message, and the capacity to receive it.
So I ask, given the increasing incidents of disconnects in nearly every part of the world, many of which have at least some religious overtone, isn’t it about time we review our foundations of belief, where exactly they emanate from, and, if continued, what result they might incur?