Friday, December 4, 2009

the found spirit within

(image above – Spirit Within Me, Oleg Zhivetin)

I remember seeing a few seconds on TV once how John Paul II had gotten into his private prayer as he was focused in on the God of his religion. Anybody looking at him might marvel and wonder if his religion is a true way, a one pathway to perfection.

John Paul’s pathway was true to him. He was surrounded by all the symbols and ritual of that religion. I believe that in a lifetime of prayer and meditation John Paul transcended all the worldliness, clutter, dogma, ritual and found his inner spirit, a piece of the universal whole, of God.

I believe that “the found spirit within” leads to rebirth after the physical death to the immortal soul. The physical body is theory on the other side of death, just as the soul is theory looking forward in time, beyond our time here.

I believe that some people can follow John Paul along his path to God and along his or her own religion, ethical and spiritual belief system. When we consciously do what is morally right over what is wrong and in recognition of a greater whole of the community, we are being spiritual, we transcend the body and touch the spirit within.

The pathway to God is a true pathway. There are many, many smaller paths that lead to that one major road to soul.

So too, Protestants, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and a hundred other religions and sects are capable of transcending the physical and attain a communion with the spiritual realm of the universe.

People who withdraw from religion do so sometimes because it can become a road block to development of the spirit within.

People who live with the words and ritual of formal religion may also be closer to oneself and one’s inner search and in transcendence to spirit and soul.

There is not one right way to enlightenment. It is an individual choice. Whatever works for you. Because it is right for one, it may not be right for another.

Man is religion. I talk of roadblocks to spiritual development. When a group of individuals believe and follow some social spiritual pathway it might be good for a small group. The individuals involved determine the quality of any quest or its ultimate destination.

Along the timeline of history past in the west, a groupthink, a goal for political oneness has overshadowed or stifled individual effort and energy in many personal spiritual quests.

In one sense the game that came down to us as organized religion was a package deal. You denied yourself the right to individual search and individual achievement. Your reward was a charter bus tour to heaven. Individuality was an unevolved alien concept in the past.

In essence, the teacher Jesus says that salvation is salvation. It has no real sense of measurement. It just is what it is. The laborers in the vineyand getting the same wage at the end of the day is the same no matter what the effort. The important thing is join in the labor of the vineyard. The search.

I have heard of and seen the aspects of Buddhism. The search is one of inwardness to inward calm and peace. While this is not necessarily soul it would appear to be spirit and the goal of an achievement of closeness to an inner self and or inner spark. Is that spark devine?

Buddhism changes from country to country and geography to geography. Buddha as a man is treated with great respect. Only in a few instances is he confused with “God”.

We in the west have confused Jesus with God and or the universal whole. With the collapse of our religious historic base in recent decades, people do not realize how free they are politically and freedom brings responsibility and the tools to be moral and spiritual on an individual basis. To worship the idols of materialism and consumerism would seem to become blind to the pathway to inner peace and inner soul.

This is what is happening in regards to the dying, in a cycle, of organized religion. The one size fits all dogma no longer reaches out and grabs individuals as it did in the dark and medieval ages. Man is lost somehow these days. Free to seek spirit and diverted away to hell so to speak by advertisements from Hell Central ( Madison Avenue ).

Who am I to judge?

I should attempt to understand Islam more considering its vast global reach. I have a classroom textbook view of it. I don’t yet have an inner grip gut feeling for it. The group thing, the charter tour bus to heaven or Paradise is I think a take it or leave it proposition for some? In my ideal global culture everone should have options beyond a local setting. Otherwise how can it be called global?

While there may many similar aspects of Islam with Christianity, there seems to be no option for some of other pathways to seek. In other words it is a crime punishable by death in parts of the Islamic world to part with Islam. That is a concept repugnant to me in the west with our tradition and its centuries old struggle for individualism directly and indirectly since the Protestant Reformation.

The west I believe has evolved passed faith to a secular civil substitute for faith, with no forced entry upon the path to enlightenment. This opportunity for religious freedom or spiritual enrichment is more than likely been vetoed by many with a day at the Mall.

The middle-east seems to be forever locked into no choice but the “only right” choice paradigm game. The “one true religion” path. Have heard that somewhere before, haven’t I?

Seems a bit like medieval Spain and the era of the Inquisition that lasted officially over three centuries to root out Judaism and Islam. The Spanish and the RC church standing by this extreme church/state matter forever killed faith in some ways and built up a permanent roadblock to spirituality amid the increased idol need for outward ritual over inner love.

In any case the yin and the yang, the eternal differences between east and west are no doubt programmed into the genes of the greater matter of all things. Conflict may be at the core of all universal physics as a key to a treasure chest of better understanding.

The global culture at present and its reality and its future shape is way beyond my puny parochial way of seeing or looking at things. That is a good thing.

The Global Culture is. The Global Culture will be. Being part of Global culture is one thing. Being is quite another. Worth repeating - being is quite another.



Debra Harris-Johnson said...

Great post as usual. I'm coming to N.Y. next week can you reccomend a good restaurant (seafood or american) in Manhatten? Not too expensive.

Anonymous said...

"I do not see Islam as necessarily a good thing."---I am a Muslim. There are a lot of misunderstandings about Islam or what the Quran says...etc. Would you like to ask any questions?

Mike McShea said...

Where is Islam's place in a future global culture?

Anonymous said...

"Where is Islam's place in a future global culture?"---right alongside any other philosophy, idea or religion.

Did I answer your question---not sure....?

I am open to more questions or to clarify any assumptions you might have.

Dave said...

Can Islam coexist with ALL the other world faiths? I know they are to accept the People of the Book but what about the rest of the world? Islam has a much broader history/cultural swath than American history/culture and I see a problem with America being gracious to Islam in light of 9/11. The fundamentalist/radical arm of Islamic faith has stolen what is truly good about your faith and turned it into something ugly and hateful. Do you renounce them?

Dave said...

Inter-faith dialogue is the only way we can overcome the mistrust and anger. Please come visit this site often as my church and it's people are open to this idea of trying to understand your faith so we can make inteligent choices in life and our children too.

Dave said...

I fear that Islam has taken the place of communism in a majority of Americans minds and hearts as the common enemy of free thinking peoples around the world. How can we persuade them that this is not true?

Anonymous said...

Thankyou for your kind invitation Dave.
Can Islam coexist with ALL the other world faiths? I know they are to accept the People of the Book but what about the rest of the world?
Can Islam co-exist with other faiths?--Theologically(Quran), Yes---The Quran says that God is omnipotent and had he wanted to, he could have made us all the same---instead mankind has diversity---this is so that we can grow in tolerance, compassion and mercy towards one another.
Socio-Politically---Muslim-majority nations have different political systems and social problems--these need to be looked at on their own terms.
"People of the Book and the rest of the world"---I am an "Eastern" Muslim--not Middle-Eastern. I see Islam co-existing with other world religions in my part of the world. The Quran says that the Biblical line of Prophets were not the only Wisdom teachers sent to mankind---therefore, I can say, that other religions (other than Judaism and Christianity) contain wisdom also.
Condemning terrorism---I condemn all acts of terrorism---whatever the religion or ideology behind them----Muslim organizations, scholars, community leaders, politicians and heads of state have ALL condemned terrorism and continue to do so. ---The western media does not give it much attention--which is unfortunate---but it is more important that we Muslims, especially our youth hear these condemnations and that is happening--at least here in the East.
---However, a note of caution---terrorism is a complex phenomenon mixed in with political agendas and simplifying it might cause misunderstanding.
"Islam is the enemy of free-thinking people"---I might suggest --what with the recent minaret ban issue in Switzerland---that fear and hate are the enemy of not only "free-thinking people" but of democracy itself.
The light of knowledge can dispel the darkness of ignorance--that is my hope.

Mike McShea said...

I have stated my position on minarets I think. I have no fear of my Muslim neighbors down the street. What I see in your writing is that we in the U.S. perhaps have a POV that Islam is monolithic, one body as a threat to our security. This is how the Soviet Union and communism was portrayed here for half a century. From your POV you do not see yourself as part of a monolithic threat to the west?

Anonymous said...

Islam is monolithic?----President Obama referred to the "Muslim World" which some of us Muslims found amusing---when did we become a separate planet?---anyway---the answer is actually both no and yes. The perception that Islam is monolithic comes from the fact that ALL of the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world (60% of which are in Asia, 20% in Africa and 15% in the Middle East) read the exact same Quran and all of us follow the 5 pillars. This gives a perception of homogeniety which might make it difficult for non-Muslims to see the diversity within Islam. But there is a lot of diversity in the traditions, cultures, philosophies, law, politics...etc within Islam
"Threat to the West"---My part of the world (the East) as well as the countries in the Middle East have had an unpleasant experience with the "West" in our history---the European colonization left much mess that we are still cleaning up. Some people may use this for their own political agendas, just as the "West" uses Islam (and Islamophobia) for their political purposes. Apart from this small section of people on both sides, most people in both the East and West are willing to co-operate in all areas that are mutually beneficial--after all, we all want prosperity and peace. IMO we are all global stakeholders and the best way to move forward is to recognize this.

Mike McShea said...

I agree with you on the dispicable nature of European coloniation and its collateral damage to this day. I thank you for your stats and input. I have edited my text in reaction to your input. My text remains my own.