In reflection of the cross-cultural sacredness of this season, I'd like to share my philisophical interpretation of the underlying oneness of all major religions and spiritual philosophies. I submit my ideas to the universe in a true intention of inspiring peace and freedom from suffering for all of existence.
We all are seeking to express the same truth, the same essence, the same depth and meaning of life, but we do so in our own subjective cultural and personal terms. Each religion and philosophy is like a hand pointing to the moon. There is only one moon, we are all pointing to the same light. Yet, over time, many influencial leaders and lay people from all groups have become distracted, loving their way so much that obsessively tout it as the only one possible way. They lose sight of the original purpose, which I believe some groups may call a form of idolatry or at least sin (which means "to mss the mark" as it translates).
There exist as many ways to point to the moon as their exist hands and more. But caught on the material, dogmatic or linguistic levels, the profundity of each tradition is flattened in the process. If we read a little bit about many different beliefs and worldviews, we can find that the original goals and teachings seem to overlap and really point to the same something meaningful.
Many ancient Indian philosophies, lumped into the catergory Hinduism, proposed an idea called monism. Monism means that all is one- that everything that is is part of one whole reality.
Monotheism is the term that refers to the belief in one God or Deity. Judaism, Christianity and Islam (and monism based Hinduism) are monotheistic belief systems. Many earth-based spiritualities believe in the male and female halves of a whole creative force, or a Creator that supercedes all other beings.
Buddhism refers to the "ground of Being", the source of consciousness, not as an entity, but as an experience we can access when we are fully present. Eckhart Tolle teaches religiously neutral spiritual teachings that refer to the importance of presence. Remembrance of God in each moment is an important Islamic and Sufi practice. Brother Lawrence, a Christian monk, found great peace through his "practice of the preence of God", remembering or being aware of the Divine in each moment.
Yoga teaches that all life is one on the deepest level. Quantum physics sees all of existence on the minute level as energy- no differentiation, just bits of energy.
The idea that this Creator, Source of life, ultimate reality, God, Allah, ground of being is an entity, a human-like figure is most likely a way people contrived to relate to this omniscient, omnipresent Reality. As Tom Porter, a local Mohawk leader, says, all beings see the Creator in their own likeness. To a bear, "he" looks like a bear. Thus to people, "he" looks like a person. But what if monism and monotheism are the same thing? What if we are all part of what is commonly referred to as God? What if all that is manifest is God, or Reality to call it by another name? So what if God isn't a person, but the ultimate underlying essence of all material life? What if what is commonly called God is the energy that forms everything in the material world? Could remembrance and mindfulness, the practice of being present and practicing the presence of God all be the same thing? Could we all be pointing to the moon together? Interpretting its light differently, calling it by different names, some seeing a face on it, others seeing it more abstractly?
During the darkest, longest nights of the year, many cultures celebrate with beautiful lights. We celebrate light, and the love that lights our hearts. We celebrate gratitude for those we love and the life we live. We celebrate light in all forms it may symbolize; wisdom, love, faith, gratitude, contentment, comfort, generosity and the world-view (religion, spirituality) that helps light our way.
May we all celebrate in our own way with love and peace in our hearts, respecting the different views and ways of others. May we love others as we love ourselves, do unto others as we would have them do unto us, harm none and celebrate the diversity and value of all life.
I wish nothing but peace, well-being and light for all of existence. Namaste! Happy Holidays to all!
If you are interested in interpretting various philosophies and religions for yourself to determine what you think, I recommend reading about Islam (especially Thomas Cleary's Essential Koran, Sufism (especially The Essential Rumi and Living Presence by Kabir Edmund Helminski), Advaita Vedanta philosophy, Judaism, Christianity (especially writings by Marcus Borg, Brother Lawrence and the Bible), Thich Nhat Hahn's The Heart of Buddha's Teachings, Sue Hamilton's A Very Short Introduction to Indian Philosophy. The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle is highly recommended too.