Posted by: Marie | February 22, 2009

(19) My spiritual journey – Part 6 of 9

Post #19
[Therapy homework assignment completed on Tuesday, April 8, 2008 – continued from previous post]

Over time, I got to know Jan better and came to trust her wisdom.  One evening we got to talking about souls and eternal life – I had come to believe in multiple lifetimes and I wanted to know her opinion about it.  She explained that we live multiple lifetimes so that we can learn a series of lessons.  In one lifetime, a person may be a poor woman so he/she can learn the lessons associated with femininity and poverty.  Then, to balance that out, he/she may be a wealthy man the next lifetime so he/she can learn the opposing lessons.  This continues until we have learned all our individually assigned life lessons, then we get to go be with God in our perfected state.

I asked her about the different religions.  She explained that the divine saviors and/or prophets associated with the different religions are really the same entity – that God created links between groups of people and Himself through various agents and experiences that were customized to meet the needs of each group.  She believes that worshiping God in one religion is as valid as worshiping God in another religion.

Now, just because I trust Jan’s wisdom a whole bunch does not mean that it is okay for me to substitute her beliefs for my own.  I believe it is my responsibility to weigh and test what I learn from her to see how it measures against my own belief structure and against what my heart and gut say is true.  However, against that backdrop, I must say that Jan’s teachings ring very true to me and I have absorbed most of what I have learned from her into my own belief system.

I never have gotten all the details worked out around how religions with conflicting teachings can actually be in harmony at a higher level.  For example, I believe that Christianity is a valid religion (valid = provides a path to eternal communion with God) and that Islam (for example) is also a valid religion.  This means I necessarily believe that Jesus Christ is not the only path to eternal communion with God – I believe there are other paths.  According to Christianity, that means that I’m not a Christian.

I struggled with that conflict for a while.  Then I realized that the conflict belongs to the Christian church, not to me.  It is the church’s dogma that excludes me – my belief structure includes the church.  It is not necessary for me to understand and resolve a conflict I didn’t create.

Furthermore, I think our feeble human brains are incapable of understanding how it all fits together.  I think it is like someone with a doctorate’s degree in physics trying to explain physics to a group of kindergarteners – no matter how well the doctor explains it, each child is going to absorb only a few small pieces of the puzzle – and only the pieces that can be related to that child’s life experience.

That means one child may believe that physics can be demonstrate in a baseball bat changing the speed and direction of a baseball.  Another child may believe that physics can be demonstrated in an airplane staying in the sky.  If those two children got into an argument, each child saying he was right and the other was wrong, the doctor would simply giggle and shake his head – he would know that, in time, the two children would come to understand they were both right.

That is how I see the apparent conflicts in religions.  I think we are all just kindergarteners – I think our brains are not developed enough, and we don’t have the foundational education needed to see the truth.  However, in the end, we will all have our doctorate’s degrees and will sit with God – with the complete understanding that we were all on the “right” path, all of us, all along.  Because of that, I’m not in a hurry to get it all figured out.  I only feel obligated to study and learn, and to live in accordance with what I believe is my truth right now.

On the other hand, embracing more than one religion can bring bittersweet moments – for example, attending church with my mother on special occasions – while I uphold the Christian faith in general and it is the faith with which I most closely identify, I find I cannot, in good conscience, sing songs that emphasize that the blood of Christ is the only path to eternal life.  That is tough because I love to harmonize with my mom on those old hymns on which I was raised.  Sometimes I just hum along and make up my own words in my mind.

[Continued in the next post . . . ]

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