Why do we all need to believe alike? Better question, do we all need to believe alike? The answer, in my mind, is no, we do not. At the center of all religious divisiveness is the uncompromising belief “I am right and you are wrong”. We like to believe we are open minded, willing to entertain other ideologies, tolerate others with belief systems different from ours, but when push comes to shove many dig in determined to defend why their beliefs are superior to others. And, often digging in means I don’t have anything to truly base my dogmatic beliefs on except that “I am right and you are not”. Wars are fought, people are brutally killed, and congregations, sects, or the like, split because of differences that cannot be resolved. Perhaps the more accurate statement is a refusal to resolve differences.
I used to be one of those people. Well, to be completely honest, I wanted to be one of those people because I wrongly assumed ‘church people’ knew God. I tried, but still felt like I was on the outside looking in, and wearing a mask to ‘fit in’. Other people were deeply committed to their beliefs, while I, on the other hand, wanted to be deeply committed, but had too many questions. And, it didn’t feel right. For me, at least. As an adult, essentially my belief system was a modification of the one I grew up in. It was far more fundamental, however; all who ascribed were held to strict doctrinal beliefs that included literal interpretation of the Bible, the need to be ‘saved’ from sins, and an attitude of veiled humility to hide the fact that all who believed the same were superior. Hard as I tried, I could not fit a round peg in a square hole.
I believe we all are sparks from the Divine flame, from God. As such, we are all just a bit different from one another, created to think, feel and be, in fitting with our uniqueness. Therefore, our uniqueness will lend itself to a perspective slightly different from another’s, yet we are conditioned to believe the opposite. This is where the feeling of being out of step with others comes in, but I don’t mind being out of step with those on the outside. I have to live with me, and I don’t like feeling divided within.
The pursuit of God through the practice of spirituality resonates with me. It took me nearly a lifetime to figure that out, but hey, better late than never, right? Spirituality allows me to reach outside the accepted norms, to explore without fear of plunging headlong into satanic worship and ritual. Personally, I have come to understand the Bible was fashioned in a way to create fear among the masses, to prevent them from questioning, responding to the beat of a different drummer, and yet, one of the most radical people of all time was Jesus. He rubbed the establishment the wrong way, and didn’t care. He lived a life of integrity, love, and loyalty to a Higher Power, at least, that is how I see it. Jesus operated beyond the confines of what others perceived to be reality, thus teaching that reality is perception.
Think about it. What exactly are the stories about Jesus and Peter walking on the water, calming the storm, raising the dead, if not to teach the reality of perception? I sat through many a sermon teaching the acts Jesus performed were available to us, and those were just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Is it the act, or the purpose behind the act of greater import? We could say any acts Jesus performed were so much smoke and mirrors, the stuff of illusions, no different than those performed by modern day illusionists. Collectively, many have accepted the fact the acts Jesus performed were real, and not the stuff of illusion.
Reality is the product of perception. Sounds like a radical statement does it not? But, if you think about it, what would reality be if not perception? Two people could look at the exact same situation and walk away with different perceptions. I may interpret a situation as an opportunity, and you, looking at the very same situation, may see it as failure. Why? Perception, plain and simple. Peter’s perception of reality in terms of water, prior to walking on it’s surface, involved sinking, whereas, on the other hand, Jesus helped Peter to change his perception of the water, and then Peter was able to walk on its surface. Same with raising people from the dead. Jairus’s daughter and Lazarus were dead; Lazarus most sincerely dead having been in the grave three days lest any make the supposition he had merely been in a coma. Jesus perceived the little girl and Lazarus to be alive and well. How?
The ‘how’ certainly was not magical in any way. Jesus was connected to the Divine, to the Higher Power, to the Creator of life, to God. His relationship with God so tight it transcended earthly perception. The lesson was the relationship rather than to walk around raising people from the dead or walking on water. Jesus taught we are capable of living at a level of spiritual connection with God while at the same time living on the earth.
This is the way I read the Bible, view Jesus, experience God. Is it right or wrong? It’s neither. Life and how we experience it is through our perception. Shades of gray…..