“Although I was raised as a Christian, I have explored other spiritualities and believe that the Universe, God, the All That Is, whatever name we attribute to a greater creative power, conspires to help us succeed, if we know how to tap into that power within ourselves.”
Very interesting. You have described a world view that is becoming increasingly popular in our nation. In contrast, the Biblical Christian perspective would see the sovereign, living God and creator of the universe as a spiritual being distinct from the universe, His creation. The God of the Bible is not only holy, just, and merciful; He is also personal – having a personality – as opposed to the universe, which is impersonal. Biblical Christianity would say that within ourselves, we only have human power. We have a body, heart, emotions, mind, and spirit, with the latter having the ability to connect with spiritual powers – good or evil. Christians can become filled with the Holy Spirit, and I know of many miracles that have taken place as the Lord has worked through His people, just as Jesus promised. Furthermore, individuals can become possessed by demons, sometimes attaining supernatural strength. But they are in service to their master, the great deceiver named Satan.
Unlike New Age beliefs about tapping into power within ourselves (the higher power), the Christian perspective is that Christians are sinners saved by Christ, and that the power of the Holy Spirit can flow through us. But it is His power, and not our own.
“My own beliefs and faith are rooted in the commonality and community between all spiritual beliefs – the core belief that Love is all there is.”
While this notion is appealing, it overlooks the fact that “Love” is interpreted defined through the lens of each religion. For example, I understand that devout Hindus believe that to help a poor person interferes with his/her karma, so it shouldn’t be done. The poor person is living out the consequences of his past life, so he has to go through this in order to be born into a better station in his next life.
Love for a Muslim would entail converting non-believers to Islam, which requires their repudiation of all other religions. While Christians also seek to win non-believers to Christ, we are also admonished to love all people, including our enemies.
How different religions see life after death is a clue that the “commonality of all spiritual beliefs” is more theory than real:
- Devout Muslims believe that if they die in jihad, they go to Paradise, with access to 73 virgins (I don’t think Muslim women fare so well).
- Devout Mormons believe if they call out their wife’s name when they die, they get their own planet, where they can procreate spirit babies that are then born on earth as persons.
- Devout Hindus, if they are good enough, eventually escape the Wheel of Samsara (reincarnation) and become one with all that is, like a drop of water falling into the ocean.
- Devout Christians believe they go to heaven, where they dwell in eternity in the presence of other saints and the Lord.
By the way, a cardiologist named Maurice Rawlings received a lot of patients in bad shape over the years. Many of them died under his care, and he was able to revive many of them with modern medical means. He discovered that about half of them did not want to come back to life, as they were having a very pleasant experience which some described as being in heaven. The other half came back screaming that they did not want to die again as they were experiencing hell. This would not be the case if there was a “commonality of all spiritual beliefs” and “Love is all there is”.
”As the Dalai Lama said “Loving kindness is my religion”, I too believe. But this also entails, for me, embracing the duality of our nature and understanding that you can’t have light without darkness, beauty without ugliness – all very subjective, human-based concepts anyway.”
Biblical Christianity would define duality of our nature from two perspectives. First would be the distinction between the physical world we inhabit vs. the spiritual world, which is just as real, but largely invisible to us. Christians are citizens of heaven and ambassadors for Christ into this world.
The second duality would be for life in the flesh vs. life in the Spirit. The fruit of life in the flesh is selfishness, deceit, violence, etc., while the fruit of life in the Spirit would be love, peace, joy, concern for others, etc. An example of this would be when the early Romans threw their unwanted babies on the trash heap, they were rescued by Christians, who knew they were created in the image of God.
We are all subjects/persons (as opposed to objects), so from one perspective, we encounter the world subjectively. On the other hand, historic Christianity is based on the premise that the world as we know it exists objectively, and is not an illusion. Its existence does not depend on our awareness of it. (If the bear craps in the woods, it is real, even if no one else knows about it).
There is substantive evidence supporting the Biblical world view. One example is the fact that the Bible was written by 40 authors from many stations in life, on 3 continents, in 3 languages, over 1,500 years, and yet has a single theme that runs through it, testifying to a supernatural author. The fulfillment of over 40 Old Testament prophecies is another.
“Transcending duality is really the objective of Buddhism – to reach the point of the great emptiness, which isn’t an easy concept to grasp, but once in awhile, in my meditations, I get a glimpse.”
It sounds like “transcending duality” is to deny/transcend one’s physical reality and to dwell in the spiritual realm. But rather than encountering the sovereign, living God of the universe as a Christian would, the Buddhist, in his/her highest state, seeks to find and experience nothing. Perhaps it is similar to a drop of rain falling into the ocean; it loses its identity as a drop and becomes part of the ocean.
The image of emptiness which comes to mind is that of the survivors of the Nazi death camps in WWII – poor souls who stagger out from behind barbed wire, their bones sticking out from starvation, with a gaunt look on their faces. Have these people achieved emptiness? Can emptiness be forced on us, or do we have to achieve it by ourselves?
Finally, the Biblical perspective is that the spirit realm is inhabited by angels and demons. Seeking to enter the spiritual realm without the protection of the Holy Spirit may even be dangerous, as it opens a person up to demonic influence and possession.
“If we accept that the world’s dramas are an illusion – a huge stage play – and we all have a starring role, it becomes easier for me to feel equanimous when things seem to be spinning out of control. That’s my spirituality in a nutshell.”
Yes, and if we accept that the moon was made of cheese, we would never starve if we could just bring a chunk of it back to earth. While it is an intriguing intellectual exercise, it poses some real questions:
- Then food would also be an illusion; so how would you account for hunger if life is just an illusion?
- What would your loved ones feel or think of you if they knew we perceived them as just an illusion?
- If life is illusory, then moral constraints would also be illusory, would they not? So anything goes, including mayhem and murder.
We had dinner with some friends recently, and the husband stated that life was an illusion. His wife seemed a little startled, so she pinched him – hard, and asked if that was real. He stated that it was.
Finally, when things seem to be spinning out of control in our lives, we can call on the Lord, who promises to be with us through thick and thin.