The Mind of Jason

Personal Values and Beliefs

Note: Please note that since I was raised as a Roman Catholic many of my references may reflect the teachings and names of the Catholic faith. I use these terms out of convience and familiarity. In many if not all cases the name of your supreme being and/or names of places and holy beings/people can be substituted for the Catholic names.

When it comes to more spiritual values and beliefs, I look more at something known as interspirituality. Interspirituality spans across all religions and looks for the common values and principles of them, such as, but not limited to, compassion, love for our fellow human beings and charity. To better explain interspirituality I will share a quote from Brother Wayne Teasdale’s book, The Mystic Heart:: Discovering the Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions :

“The rise of community among cultures and religious traditions … makes possible what we can call ‘interspirituality’: the assimilation of insights, values, and spiritual practices from the various religions and their application to one’s own inner life and development.” Wayne Teasdale

When I first read The Mystic Heart, the concept of interspirituality really sang out to me. For years I had found that the world’s religions each were lacking something alone. No one religion seemed to truly “work” for me. The chief reason for this is because religions are man made institutions and therefore by their nature corrupt and lacking. Why? Simple, because we as humans are not perfect, flawed and on some level corrupt and/or open to the possibility of becoming corrupt.

It is important to understand that spirituality and religion are two very different things. As I said before religion is a man made institution and therefore flawed; whereas, spirituality can be defined as:

“An inner sense of something greater than oneself. Recognition of a meaning to existence that transcends one’s immediate circumstances.”
www.nature.com/nri/journal/v4/n11/glossary/nri1486_glossary.html .

This is not to say that religions do not incorporate spirituality, many religions, if not all of them, are centered around spirituality. Spirituality to me speaks of a personal covenant and relationship between oneself and their God. Another difference between being spiritual and religious is that religion is often practiced in large groups and bogged down with a large amount of various rituals. When one practices spirituality rather than religion, it becomes a more personal and intimate relationship that is shared only between God and the individual. It also becomes much simpler as the rituals that bog down religions falls away.

While I am by no means an expert on the various religions of the world, I have found that they all share the same core beliefs and values. Each of the world’s major religions teach the same fundamental things, they all have the same essential stories in there holy books. Stories about how the world, people and animals came to be. Each religion has it’s holy or wise figures, they all, except Buddhism, have one or more divine beings. The stories and figures may be different, the locations and times may change but the underlying meaning and lessons they teach are the same. It is not only modern religions that share this commonality, but rather they go back at least as far as ancient Greece. Part of one of the myths related in Plato’s Phaedo reads as follows:

Now when the dead have come to the place where each is led by his genius (daimon) [i.e. by Plato's equivalent of Hermes, Guide of the Dead], first they are judged and sentenced [i.e. by the Judges of the Dead], as they have lived well and piously, or not. And those who are found to have lived neither well nor ill, go to the Akheron and, embarking upon vessels provided for them [i.e. the equivalent of Kharon's skiff], arrive in them at the lake; there they dwell and are purified [i.e. by the equivalent of the Erinyes], and if they have done any wrong they are absolved by paying the penalty for their wrong doings, and for their good deeds they receive rewards, each according to his merits . . . Those who are curable, but are found to have committed great sin–who have, for example, in a moment of passion done some act of violence against father or mother and have lived in repentance the rest of their lives, or who have slain some other person under similar conditions–these must needs be thrown into Tartaros, and when they have been there a year the wave casts them out, the homicides by way of Kokytos, those who have outraged their parents by way of Pyriphlegethon. And when they have been brought by the current to the Akherousian lake, they shout and cry out, calling to those whom they have slain or outraged, begging and beseeching them to be gracious and to let them come out into the lake; and if they prevail they come out and cease from their ills, but if not, they are borne away again to Tartaros and thence back into the rivers, and this goes on until they prevail upon those whom they have wronged; for this is the penalty imposed upon them by the judges.”

This passage from Plato, thousands of years ago gives a very similar account of judgment day and the afterlife as to that of the Christian accounts.

Another reason that I tend to be critical of religions themselves that they are often used to divide people and hold people down. They often do not teach people to be good for the right reasons. How often have we as people been taught that the reason for being good is to avoid being “damned.” It is not enough for a person to be “good” out of fear of consequences from either God or man, a person should be good for the sake of being good. A person should practice love, compassion and charity because they help lift up others, not because they want a reward, be that reward entrance into “paradise” or a rebirth as a “higher life form.” Unfortunately, what is it that religion teach us? Do religions teach us to be good because it is right or because “you will go to hell” if you don’t.

Religions also speak of love, compassion, forgiveness and charity, but then in the next breathe say that those who worship a different God are lesser people and are damned, in some cases they even go so far as the encourage hatred of these other religions. A few sad examples that I know of that involve the Christian faith are, the mass extermination of the Jews by Hitler. While the church did not promote or take part in these events, they provided silent approval of them. There was no condemnation by the church of these events. The church kept silent and allowed Hitler to continue his extermination. A part of the reason this occurred was because of the animosity between the church and the Jews.

Two more horrific examples, that the church was directly responsible for are the infamous inquisition of the middle ages in which the church at its’ worst tortured and murdered “heretics” or apostates. There were several “rounds” of inquisitions from the 12th to 19th centuries. The church no only tortured and killed people but also used proscription, imprisonment and a number of other forms of punishment for those found “guilty.”

The most famous of all inquisitions is the Spanish Inquisition.

It aimed primarily at converts from Judaism and Islam (who were still residing in Spain after the end of the Moorish control of Spain), who were suspected of either continuing to adhere to their old religion (often after having been converted under duress) or having fallen back into it, and later at Protestants; in Sicily and Southern Italy, which were under Spanish rule, it targeted Greek Orthodox Christians. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inquisition

So the church persecuted and prosecuted people just because they weren’t Catholic! The final example I will mention are the crusades, so much blood was shed in the name of God during the Crusades. These examples are horrific. Religion talks about loving everyone, showing forgiveness to all, showing compassion to all, etc; however, the reality of it is that these things only apply to those who believe as you do. If religion practiced what it preached, would so much blood have been shed and continue to be shed in the name of the various God’s of each of these religions? I think not.

Finally, when it comes to the very topic of God, my personal belief is that all the names used for God are different “labels” for the same being. I personally believe that there is only one God and that he has revealed himself to different groups of people at different places, at different times in a variety of ways. Why? There are many possible reasons for this, one possible reason is that God has revealed himself to various groups in ways that they would understand and comprehend. While God is all knowing, man is not, our brains can not comprehend or understand even a small portion of his knowledge. In earlier times, our brains and our understanding of the world we live in and our ability to reason were less evolved then they are now, and less than what they will be tomorrow. So, through the ages God continues to reveal himself in different ways to different groups. The more we evolve, the more we can understand. The more we understand the better we can know God, though we will never truly know God until we die and are in his presence. Only then can we hope to truly understand him.


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