Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Every path is valid

Another interesting facet of spending time with people of differing beliefs and faith traditions (as I did at this weekend's ISAW Awards) is the strong temptation to evaluate the ideas you're being presented with to see if you agree with them.

I fall prey to this all too often. It's like this weird inner voice that wants to correct everything I hear. So, this morning I brought this with me to prayer.

What came to me is a renewed conviction that everyone's on their own path. I'm convinced we're all headed in the same direction, but how we get there, the images and rituals we use in the meantime, and the concepts we adhere to in our current limited perspectives, will be different. The paths are like spokes on a wheel, all headed toward the same center but divergent in other ways.

It's amazing, actually, that we can share ideas at all. Clumps of people on nearby spokes can talk to each other about what's meaningful to them and thereby encourage each other. When you try to jump clumps, though, honest convictions can sometimes feel like disagreements. And, because we've achieved our own light through honest endeavor and we'd like to help everyone else, we try to convince them that *our* path has things about it that *they* need to know and accept.

A lot of time this is well meaning, but it's not effective unless the recipient is at a place on their path where the ideas will resonate with them anyway. At those times, we have the privilege of being the conduit of Spirit in bringing a new idea to a fellow being. But trying to force it to happen just leads to a mess.

In the meantime, what I want to learn to do better is accept that the other person's path is valid for them. To not try to change it in any way, but to celebrate the spiritual progress that is meaningful to them. After all, we're all getting closer to each other as we near the center of that wheel. Eventually even the path that seems most different to me now will converge with mine and we'll be able to share the enlightenment we feel.

A lot of this percolating in my prayer came to me after happening on some passages from Mary Baker Eddy's Unity of Good this morning.

In this first one, she's discussing the reality or unreality of sin:

Every one should be encouraged not to accept any personal opinion on so great a matter [sin's reality or unreality], but to seek the divine Science of this question of Truth by following upward individual convictions, undisturbed by the frightened sense of any need of attempting to solve every Life-problem in a day. --Un 5:9

We don't need to solve "every Life-problem in a day." That's comforting to me as I struggle with this issue, and relieves me of the pressure of feeling I have to be "right" all the time.

This next paragraph follows the first:

"Great is the mystery of godliness," says Paul; and mystery involves the unknown. No stubborn purpose to force conclusions on this subject will unfold in us a higher sense of Deity; neither will it promote the Cause of Truth or enlighten the individual thought. -- Un 5:14

"No stubborn purpose to force conclusions"! Great phraseology. I can let go of any need to fix everyone else by recognizing it as a tendency to being intractable or stubborn.

The practical result of this for me is to watch what I'm thinking when someone shares their convictions with me. I need to embrace it as enlightening for them, and be grateful and supportive that they're moving along their path. And that's all I should be thinking.

I'll close today with this passage from Science and Health, also very meaningful to me over the weekend:

That God is a corporeal being, nobody can truly affirm. The Bible represents Him as saying: "Thou canst not see My face; for there shall no man see Me, and live." Not materially but spiritually we know Him as divine Mind, as Life, Truth, and Love. We shall obey and adore in proportion as we apprehend the divine nature and love Him understandingly, warring no more over the corporeality, but rejoicing in the affluence of our God. Religion will then be of the heart and not of the head. Mankind will no longer be tyrannical and proscriptive from lack of love, — straining out gnats and swallowing camels. --p. 140


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3 Comments:

At 11/01/2006 02:52:00 PM, Blogger Miki said...

I found this very helpful, Laura, thanks a lot.
Love
Miki

 
At 11/01/2006 10:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wonderful.
thanks,

 
At 11/01/2006 10:49:00 PM, Blogger Kim said...

great post, thx, laura.

To me, to be able to embrace all of mankind unconditionally comes from the basis of understanding God as infinite.

There are truly infinite ways of expressing Him, infinite ways of understanding Her. The genius of God is that all of God's ideas reveal infinity perfectly and are all based on the same Principle. What a boundless, ever-surprising thought! It makes peace scientifically possible (in that all ideas have the same source which sustains itself)

Even though I may not totally agree with or understand a specific individual's journey, I can see that it adds a whole new dimension to what I understand about God. My humility in accepting them comes from the humble recognition in an infinite God.

The larger picture is that we all lead to One.

 

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