Imagine a world in which we could walk up to people from any culture and say, “Hello, Brothers and Sisters, my soul is happy to be in your presence, because we are one.” And they could answer back: “Our spirits are united in God, who watches over us all.” Or the greeting might be: “Hello, Brothers and Sisters, the love of God is infinite and unconditional for us all.” And the answer might be: “And our love for you is the same. Welcome to our community! May the peace of God be with us all, now and forever.”
There are many steps along the path to peace — but none so important as the letting-go of attachment to beliefs that do not reflect God’s unconditional love. This love is something we all carry in the core of our beings, as our innermost heart is a spark of God’s light and therefore contains the essence of God; we have only to bring out our true essence to become conscious of the fact that we are all Brothers and Sisters for eternity. The greetings mentioned above represent both our universal kinship as children of God, and the unconditional love of God that makes one eternal spiritual family possible. They also represent the hope that such greetings will become a universal occurrence throughout the world. But we do not have to wait until some distant point in the future; we can start such conversations now, in the present, wherever we may be!
My message is this: It is time to let go of past grievances regardless of how old they may be, lay down our arms, abandon all divisive beliefs, and embrace the knowledge that can unite us forever. We are one spiritual family under the parenthood of God — the Source of Love, Compassion, Peace, and Wisdom. This means that representatives from all faiths must sit down — alone and collectively — to take a deep look into their various traditions, and identify which principles and beliefs are in harmony with the true nature of God and which are not. They must have the wisdom, as well as the humility, to focus on that which unites us — that which reflects universal love; compassion for all; responsibility for one’s own thoughts, words and actions; respect for the lives of others as well as one’s own life; and respect for nature — which includes kindness toward animals as well as our planet itself. After all, we are here to create, not to destroy; to bring Light, not Darkness; to bring peace, not war; to bring health, not sickness; and to bring knowledge, not ignorance. And we are here to bring greater love, not to sow the seeds of hate.
Wars have been waged for centuries based on one simple argument: “My religion is the true path, yours is not, and therefore you need to be subjugated.” What follows from this “reasoning” is: “My understanding of God is greater than yours, and therefore you must either convert to my faith or else be a second-class citizen before God.” In other words: “Only those of my faith know the true God, you do not.” What follows from this, all too often, is: “Since my faith is better than yours, I am better than you, and therefore more worthy of life than you.” It is a very short step from this mentality to the commission of violence against human beings who follow a spiritual path different from one’s own — all the more so when the egos of spiritual leaders dominate the conversation and persuade followers that their ways are the the best.
What can be done to counter these long-engrained attitudes? There are many steps along the path to lasting peace — but none so important as the letting-go of attachment to beliefs that do not reflect God’s unconditional love. For example, when one finds a scriptural passage that says God will take vengeance upon those who offend Him, it is important to recognize that passage as being out of touch with God’s true nature. If there is a constructive way to use such passages, however, it is as a reminder that when we human beings act against our inner Light, life reflects our negative words and actions back to us — and this may appear as God taking “vengeance” upon us, but it is actually we ourselves causing this reaction. Everything we send out, positive or negative, comes back to us. God created the laws of the universe, which include the law of karma — the law of responsibility. But in no way are misfortunes on Earth a denial of God’s unconditional love; everyone has a different path, depending on what one has incurred from previous lifetimes, and God’s laws of responsibility toward ourselves and others apply equally to all.
In addition to focussing on those principles which unite us, therefore, one must identify those beliefs which divide us: conditional love, anger and vengeance toward one other, belief in superiority over others, beliefs that label one group of people as more worthy of God’s attention than another, the division of humanity into the saved and the damned or believers and unbelievers, and so forth. It should be clear from an honest reading of any scripture whether a passage stems from truth and the Light or whether it stems from falsehood and Darkness — and whether the interpretation of any scriptural verse is motivated by bigotry and prejudice or by universal love and compassion.
But another facet of the spiritual diamond is the potential for followers of any particular faith to develop greater love, tolerance and compassion for those of different faiths, simply by following the core teachings of their faith – which, among other principles, includes some version of the “Golden Rule”: Treat others as you would be treated yourselves. One need not relinquish one’s given faith to accomplish this improvement in spiritual attitude; the very least that could happen would be to recognize the stupidity of fighting each other! And the next step after that would be to tell oneself, “If it is stupid to fight each other, then why are my spiritual leaders essentially telling me my faith is superior to other faiths?” Going on from there: “If my faith is not better than any other, then why do so many people claim that their group of human beings is more worthy than another?”
The answer to this question is rooted in centuries of indoctrination. Many people, however, later realize that those of other faiths are not so different, are equally “worthy,” and have the same feelings about life as they do: Everyone loves, has a family, rejoices or grieves, and prays in one form or another. The question then arises: “Maybe there is something more universal than the belief system with which I was raised!” For some, an interest in interfaith work may emerge — work which involves the building of spiritual bridges among the various faiths through dialogue and mutual understanding. The next question, however, goes beyond interfaith and addresses the fundamental issue of unity: “Why should there be a world that depends on spiritual bridges among different faiths, when we can get to the point at which there is no more need for bridges, because a conscious state of unity will have arisen throughout the world?” Along with this, the whole concept of conversion from one faith to another will be re-evaluated in light of our fundamental unity — after all, how can we convert from being a child of God to being child of God?
In the future, then, why would we need any bridges when conflicts among different faiths will have faded into history and all human beings will have realized they are Brothers and Sisters in the same spiritual family? As long as people persist in attaching their identities to particular “clubs,” however, claiming superiority over others because one club is “better” than another, there will be no lasting peace. But when everyone finally lets go of this “club mentality” and associates one’s spiritual identity with the universal love that is our eternal birthright, all conflicts will cease and lasting peace will be established forever.
After reading my words, some might say: “How do you know it is inevitable that the spiritual state of humanity tends toward unity rather than chaos?” My answer is this: I have complete faith that the Light will win over Darkness — because of the constant presence of God in all life, and the slow but constant spiritual progress made by human beings through many lifetimes on Earth. Yes, tragedies will continue to happen, mostly because of our misuse of free will, but the Light is present at the innermost core of us all — the spark of God within each of us — and the Light, I believe, will eventually guide everyone’s impulses in the direction of reconciliation, forgiveness, compassion, unconditional love, and spiritual unity. When this will occur is known only to God, but occur it will — and when it does, we will all be able to celebrate peace with the deepest and most fervent joy!
Rev. Roger Davidson