Sunday, April 24, 2011

Doing the best you can with what you've got

In a recent conversation with my father, I got some information that grabbed my attention. It's one of those things that we have probably talked about a hundred times, in one form or another, but I never heard it until now. Amazing how people can be told and shown things but never actually hear or acknowledge them until they are ready.

For a while I have generally held that religions should be allowed to flourish, but separately. After all, for many individuals, religions serve a real purpose. They provide a form of organization and rules for living life. They provide a code of ethics and morals to those who are unsure of things. They even provide a kind of emotional sustenance and fulfillment. These things are real. People really feel and believe. Good for them!

Of course, no two religions agree on everything, or else they would be the same religion. (No two people within each religion agree on everything, but I digress!) These disagreements can range from minor to outright terrorist attacks. For that reason, I have held that they need to be separated. "You go over there and do your religion, and I'll go over here and do mine." I also believe (and still might believe) that religions should be private.... like underwear. We know you got it. We just don't want to see it in public. (I even made bumper stickers with this saying on them once.) Expressing religion in public invites discord.

However, something else is arising in my thinking right now based on the conversation with my father. Everyone is given a set of tools in life. Each person is given his or her own unique capacity for Consciousness. Why fault anyone for only doing what they know or only what they have the capacity to do? Instead, shouldn't we nurture and have compassion? Shouldn't we give people space to use their tools and grow? Shouldn't we go so far as even to aid each other in our practices even though they may be wildly different? If everyone is using what they know in order to grow, why not do that?

Of course this should all be tempered with another tool: Reason. I don't advocate helping someone to blow up a building because their religion says so. Things that divide and things that increase hatred in the world work counter to what I am talking about here: lifting the illusion of separation. When it comes to that, I don't think things are relative.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Arising from "nothing"

You may have heard the expression that life is a theater and all the world is a stage. The analogy often goes on to express that people are actors on that stage, like characters in a movie.

In many ways, this analogy is an expression of what ails us. Any particular actor on that stage swears that he or she is the only one, and that all the other actors are just characters that set the scene and offer interaction. When the interaction goes badly the actor forgets about being an actor and really thinks that something awful is happening, and that the results will mean something horrible... like death. So what does the actor do? He acts. He tries to beg and plead his way out of the plot, even though the script is already written. It's all quite unfortunate.