My daughter loaned me a book by Cathleen Falsani called "The God Factor". In it various celebrities share their spirituality. There is a chapter about Barack Obama. He says "So, I have a deep faith. I'm rooted in the Christian Tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people, that there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and that there's an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived."... Great stuff Mr President Elect!!! That rings bells with me!
Then a few chapters later author and life coach Iyanla Vanzant (who I know nothing about) is quoted talking about "The Principles" She says, "All of the sacred Scriptures - the Qur'an, the Bhagavad Gita, the Tao, the teachings of I Ching, the Holy Bible - teach principles," .... "When you hear The Principles, see, people know. We know. At the very core and essence of our being is the calling of God. We know it. But we get so busy with bills and children and relationships and jobs and Kool-aid, you know, that we don't pay attention to it. But if you listen to people, you can hear the common thread." What are The Principles? "Faith. Trust. Honour. Respect. Awareness. Acknowledgment. Compassion, " she says. "I did a lot of reading. I did a lot of comparison... my gift is to be able to look at it all and see the oneness". Amen! Iyanla, whoever you are, you're talking my language!
I could quote others also but I love this reality. Behind us all is an underlying "oneness" and "essence of values and being" that we can discover, recognise in each other and fit into. That's what I find. I enjoy discovering, uncovering, drawing out the principles and essential values and unity in the people about me. I discover this essence in all sorts of people, in all sorts of situations, - believers and non-believers, intelligent and not so gifted, young and old and it is one of the deep core experiences. I must confess that I am disappointed not to find it as often as I would hope "in Church" among religious people where one would expect to find it. I wonder why? It is sad but I sometimes think the distortion of "religion" blocks the experience. We religious people think we know it, we think we have defined it and got it sussed out. But that's our mistake. Somehow when we lose that sense of journeying, mystery and openness in institutional dogmatised religion, when this "sacred" becomes taken for granted, the reality we talk about eludes us. Then, sadly, we lose touch with the essence, the reality that true religion is supposed to point to. When we retain a sense of learning, mystery, journeying and openness to others and growth, we are surprised by sensing and "knowing" the sacred in and around us. Obama confesses a suspicion of dogma. he says, "... there's an enormous amount of damage done ... in the name of religion and certainty." Now THAT rings bells for me.
I am enjoying the book because I am discovering a sense of kinship with these widely different people.