Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Colors of Faith

From the moment we are born we are presented with a lush landscape that expands before us as we age and with it grows a sense of wonder of all that appears and disappears to and from our senses. We marvel at the sight of our hands and our ability to grab hold of and release objects or our inability to do so. We are bombarded with sense gratification as our mothers and fathers nurture us and become perplexed when those same sensual needs are not met when we think they should be. As we grow older what once seemed miraculous becomes mundane and our emotions slowly moderate as we learn that happiness and fulfillment are not always at our beck and call. Still older, in our teens and twenties, there is a sense of having lots of time to do whatever our whims dictate and in that perceived freedom we learn the effects of one action as opposed to another. The sum total of our experience then, takes on a psychological shape of relative permanence as we learn to approach each new moment in the context of the moments that preceded it. For example, some folks when they are quite young know instinctively what they want and go on to their desired goals more or less on target with fewer detours than do others. Some indeed have few or no goals at all, other than to find some type of satisfaction in whatever day they happen to be in. Each trail an individual embarks on has its good and bad stretches and with any luck, we end up turning out well, having good jobs and good families with our bank accounts and investments heading in a positive direction. Some of us, though, whether it's due to choice or fortune do not end up quite as well off as some others who are more goal directed. Their orientation maybe toward the wind, the smell of the sea, the lay of the land or the sounds of insects and the flight of birds so they don't think as much about practical things like making a good living or getting their name written down in history for future generations to marvel at. I guess I'm of the latter variety and so I confess that my view of utility has always seemed to lack a degree of inspiration since I've always tended to prefer dreaming to that of concentrating on the business at hand. Be that as it may, we are all so very different within though our bodies appear similar in form. We need both realists and dreamers since they are complementary as are the two wings of a bird. Likewise spiritually, we may seem cosmetically very different from one another in ritual and practice but when we get down to the bone, we are really all believers in the same eternal truths since they are common to all religions.

The great teachers have always desired to guide humanity back to a proper course heading for our little ship called Earth and those that dwell within its decks and though everyone is on the same ship, each claims that his or her course is best, given their master navigator's instructions on which one is best to be followed. Thus the ship goes this way and that and heads into great storms needlessly because of the sincere but heated arguments that take place on board. In the same way, people I think tend to think they own their teachers and have a lock on the truths which were entrusted to them, not realizing that their shipmates also have the same truths, though they may appear superficially different. They argue about small insignificant details of the rigging while all the elements that make the whole ship work together as one to accomplish the task of traversing of the sea to arrive at their desired destination. So it seems that people of one faith tend to have the greatest enmity not toward those who are atheists but to those who strongly adhere to different ones than their own. They denigrate their brothers and sisters because the colors of their faith are not quite the same shade as their own and so they crusade to win them over or to change them by force. When we look at a stationary color wheel we see the gradual gradation from one end of the visible light spectrum to the other end but when we spin the wheel there appears to be no particular shade of color in the wheel at all. The only visible color is white! Sunlight, after it leaves a prism becomes a rainbow, but in its unprocessed state it is a glowing yellow-white and so we need to understand that things aren't always as we might initially interpret them to be. In the same way, all diverse thought on the nature of God eventually merges into one and all faiths are in essence emanating from the same brilliant single Source. Change and variety are what makes life what it is and nothing is ever static due to the effects of time and space in its interaction with matter and energy. What we think we know is therefore suspect when examined from a source other than the human mind and that source I believe is Deity, of which we are of in substance. So it seems better and healthier to allow for differences of belief and welcome diversity since it ultimately leads to a greater understanding of the One out of which everything came into existence. So it may be of help not just to look at only one's own vision of truth, for there are many. Each has its own distinct color signature, helping to enrich our understanding of what makes us who we are both in and out of the physical state. God is the Whole, the One. God is also the Many, since nothing can exist that is not part of the infinite. If we consciously make an effort to ignore ideological and theological difference and look to where our ideas of God intersect, I think we could come to a greater understanding of who and where we are in the great tapestry of life and learn to react more positively by exploring the commonalities between faiths instead of highlighting the differences.

Art by Peter Eglington 'Rainbow Tribe'

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