Monday, January 16, 2006

The Great Spiritual Traditions


The jewels of the world's great spiritual traditions are many and bright. Only the very largest can be outlined here, for the smaller ones are so

Buddhism is the world's richest source of spiritual psychology. Buddhists realize that everything is all about Mind. Even ultimate Reality (God) they define in terms of Mind. Mind, as in mysticism generally, is the only Reality ("truth"). Everything else comes from that.

You are "a mind." So, you are part of this Mind. God lives in your heart as Love. The Buddhists call this karuna (compassion), metta (unreserved friendliness), or maitri (Love). These are the paths to "Buddha-nature," or "Buddha-mind," the deep Mind that is already fully enlightened. So, at some deep level of mind, you are already an enlightened being (a "buddha"). For "Buddha" refers both to ultimate Reality and to your own enlightened mind. Discovering that the world is maya ("illusion," or a dream-image) frees us from being controlled by the world, and, instead, makes us "masters" of our world instead of servants to it. (The "Buddha-nature," or Love-nature, within everyone, is the same as the "Christ-nature" of Christianity.)

While the strength of Buddhism is spiritual psychology, including that of transcendence, mysticism, and freedom from suffering and karma, the powerful jewel of Hinduism is its recognition of the great beauty, diversity, and variety of the infinity and immeasurable nature of all the universes. God, as the great "Dreamer" of the universes, manifests the Mind in countless, innumerable forms. The Mind spills out into a quadrillion quadrillion forms in this and every other universe. But God ("Brahman") is the Actor playing all roles. That is why the rich and beautiful mythology of Hinduism has so many "gods and goddesses." Hinduism is NOT polytheism; it is polymorphic monotheism. That is, there is only one real, true God; but that God manifests in many forms as Mind. You are Mind, I am Mind, the trees, fruits, flowers, crystals, rainbows, and stars are also Mind. God is in everything. But the universe is not God (as in pantheism), but it is the dream of God, the great mind or Spirit. All the countless "gods and tgoddesses" of Hinduism are simply symbols of this one Mind.

Taoism is the path of effortless flowing, cooperating with the forces and events of the universe. This saves so much wear and tear on the nervous system! There is a great Power, called "Tao," which we generally call "God," which regulates and controls all things. If we have true faith, we will not always be worried, and not always be trying to control everything. We can simply relax and trust. Jesus' sermon was very Taoist when he said to imitate the birds and flowers. For they, he said, do not worry or frantically scramble to control, yet they are cared for.
Early Christians said that God worked through nature to do this. Most do not know that the earliest Christians recognized nature as a Goddess," whom they named "Sophia." God works through nature to control us, our friends, the events of our lives, and everything else. Jesus was also Taoist when he commanded, "Never worry about tomorrow." Taoism teaches that you do not have to do most things, because they are not a part of your "job-description." In fact, most things are "God's job." This is the "Tao" in action. Full faith allows us simply to love whenever possible, without seeking to control, and makes our lives very easy and bright.

Islam is one of the youngest, and often, most legalistic, of the world's religions. Much of it is mechanical, such as the recited prayers and rituals. But even Islam has a transcendental movement within it, called "Sufism." Sufism emphasizes the great Love that binds God personally with the learner. Sufism is famous for its Love-poetry, not only between women and men, but between the learner and God, who is called the "Beloved."

Judaism also has a mystical (enlightenment) component called "Kabbalism." It is famous for its "Tree of Life," a diagram which shows the Mind manifesting in ten different forms. These include "justice," "loving-kindness," "beauty," and the "material world." Kabbalism outlines many "paths" to the One, and also, like Hinduism, has a very rich mythology of angels. Kabbalists might be seen as spiritual "angel-specialists."

Nature-faiths, such as the native American, emphasize as their jewel the richness and fullness of "Mother Earth" and "Mother Nature." They make us aware of how indebted we are, every minute, to nature and to the earth, reminding us that nature, and so, ecology, is sacred. At times, they can emphasize Goddess instead of male God, but since God is neither "male" nor "female," it is all the same.

These are the giant jewels at the heart of the world's major spiritual traditions; within each are dozens to hundreds of subtraditions. Within and among those are many denominations, sects, and cults. Each has its own points of emphasis, and each its own strengths and weakenesses; some are spiritual, some unspiritual, and some, even antispiritual (antiagapic).

This is only the most microscopic outline of a vast spiritual cosmos; entire libraries have been written on each of the spiritual traditions.

So, if you have any specific questions about any of them, please feel free to inquire further. Drop me a line, or give me a call, at 513-737-LOVE (5683).

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