What if every person who practiced any kind of religion or spirituality on the planet came to this awareness: Any thought they had about God or heaven or anything spiritual was just that—a thought? And that the reality they were thinking about towered over their thought, and possibly contradicted it. What if they knew that the best that could happen is that the thought they have is somehow a reflection and an expression of a reality and may be a doorway into an experience of a reality, but is not the reality?
An implication of this approach is that any spiritual practice is simply that. It is just a spiritual practice. It is not the reality to which it might connect a person. And presumably, if a certain spiritual practice could be created, another one might be created as well. If a given practice opens a person to a larger reality, then it has a benefit. But the practice, of itself, is not the reality of God or heaven or anything else. It’s a practice.
I believe that if we understood that our thoughts can be a transparent expression of a reality, thinking would become a lot more fun. We might become interested in letting our thoughts help us make a deeper spiritual connection. If we realize that the way we actually connect spiritually is at an intuitive level, and not at the level of belief, we could share our beliefs without the illusion that the belief itself is the reality. And I don’t care if the belief is about Jesus or Mohammed or enlightenment or salvation or Almighty God—they’re all simply what somebody thinks. If that sounds like a put-down, what I say is that it is humility as a human being. It’s humility to understand that what I’m thinking is just what I’m thinking. Do I believe that because I think something, it is the truth? That Jesus Christ looks a certain way just because I imagine him to be so? Or that whatever the belief is about the Saints of heaven, the Plebeians or Ramtha or anything else, it all comes through my own thought, and so it is all subject to whatever prejudices and limitations I may have? Yet even if the beliefs about such things were perfectly true, they would only be a thought that embodied the reality and not the fullness of the reality itself.
If a person is humble enough to accept that, they can begin to see that some thoughts are empowering and are putting them in touch with a larger reality. They can begin to see that, in all humbleness, the reality they are touching is not really the belief in their head. The reality is not the image of Buddha or Jesus that a person may hold. It is not a spiritual axiom or teaching. Someone may have done a good job painting the image and so it may resonate in the mind. Someone may have given an excellent lecture on spirituality or written a wonderful book. Are we then worshipping the image, the belief or the words of the book? It is the ineffable spiritual reality that deserves our adoration and loyalty.
If the image or idea is true, then when I entertain it in my mind I connect to the reality that it is pointing me to. If new levels of love and beauty, nobility and even holiness are invoked for me, that tells me something. The thought is connecting me with a reality that my human mind cannot encompass but which it can touch. The thought assists me to resonate with the holiness it is embodying. And then, in touching that holiness, I have the opportunity to express and embody it in my living.
Is it too much to ask anybody practicing any religion this: that as holy as the images, beliefs and practices of that religion may be to them, the reality behind the religion or spiritual practice is what is worthy of their worship? It is that reality which may imbue the religion or spirituality with holiness.
If a spiritual practice is putting you in touch with something holy and life-giving that is relevant in your life and empowering you in your life, and if you’re loving your brother and your sister more and you are being called to be of service, and if you’re stewarding the birth of life and the thriving of life on this planet, then I say keep it up. But if the thoughts associated with your spirituality become a bludgeon, if those thoughts become a reason for hate, if those thoughts become your God, you might need to think it over again.
I do believe there is an approach here for any individual to take, and it is the truth of humility that actually is at the core of every religion anyway. As it is said in our King James Bible in the Old Testament:
I am the Lord thy God….
Thou shalt have [no] other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make…any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above….
So what are the graven images for people today? The graven images are all the things in our head that become God, all the images of God, all the beliefs about God—those are the graven images. If you look at it, all the true religions of the world, right at their core, are telling the believer that there’s a reality that is bigger than you and bigger than what you think. So let’s call on all believers and call upon ourselves. Be a believer if you want to be a believer, but be a true believer. Don’t put your beliefs about above the reality of the God that you say you are worshiping.
There is a true reality of Being that is the true God. But it isn’t the God of any religion. It is the real God. We could live life in relationship to that real God and in the knowing of that real God every day. But you can’t do that if your life is all about the belief you’re clubbing somebody else with. Of course, in postmodern society, what is prevalent is that people reject the idea of God because they see those ideas being worshipped as if they were God.
When a logical person considers that kind of spirituality, they reject it. They might choose to live what they think of as a normal life. But in the process, they may pass up the opportunity to have a real spiritual experience. They might end up choosing to live a life that is relegated to the outer forms of existence without an experience of what makes life worth living. They might miss the spiritual experience that is natural to us as human beings because they become so obsessed with the outer forms of their life.
When people become consumed with their spiritual images, beliefs and practices, they can end up having unrealistic expectations of what the spiritual experience is. They think, If it was really spiritual I would always be happy. I would be illuminated. I would never have any negative feelings. I would be immediately wealthy. Jesus would appear to me.
How about the everyday experiences of the wonder of life? That is where we come to know an intuitive connection with our primal spirituality. How about the inherent beauty of another person? How about the creative ideas that come into your head? Is that not a spiritual experience? People who consider themselves spiritual can look away from those things as if they are nothing and then try to worship some God someplace, or even reject all that and say, I’ll just get on with my life. How about realizing that we’re made to experience the wonder of the spiritual every moment of our lives? We’re not just living in a world of energy and matter; we’re living in a world of wonder, an embodiment of an inner, unseen reality that’s within everything that’s around us, and within us.
If the world does become just stuff, that’s the stuff of depression. There is soul in this world. There’s being in the people you’re with and in yourself.
So let’s get honest as human beings. We’ve got a global problem in how we think about spiritual things. That leads to a state of consciousness that ends up omitting what is most precious in life—the fact that we are in a living world, at the heart of which is Beingness—by whatever name, God.
As humanity, we have a problem that is worse for some, while others of us can make it through okay for a while. Meanwhile, some of us end up in the ditch, in real trouble in one way or another. Others of us seem to be able to get along okay for a while. But still, as humanity, we’ve got a problem.
I do believe we need to see the problem for what it is at its root. It is not a technological problem at its core. The problem has technological implications. It has social implications. But at its core, I do not believe that this is a social problem or a technological problem. We have a consciousness problem. We have a spirituality problem. At our core as humanity, we have lost our Beingness. We have lost our soul. How else can what happens in human experience be explained? We’ve lost our soul. We have substituted a belief for real knowing of the spiritual reality within us. Or we have rejected a belief about spirituality and, in the process, walked away from the experience behind the belief. Either way, the result is the same—a loss of the soul of humanity.
We have to see the problem for what it is: see what we’re believing, or see what belief we are rejecting that is causing the problem. And then, for ourselves, allow a healing of the problem. The healing of the problem is an appreciation of the Beingness of all things, and living in that, allowing our human personality world to become reconnected with the sovereign soul of all Creation that is in us and in all people and all things.