We are all “true believers”. Our life experiences have brought every one of us to a point of “believing” that something is “true”. But here’s a question to consider – do your cherished beliefs of what is true about life tend to separate or unite you with others? If your beliefs lead you into a sense of separation, then maybe it’s time to transcend them.
It’s fascinating how a phrase can be co-opted by a certain group. Take the phrase “true believers”. What comes to mind for you when you hear that? For many of us it holds the connotation of fundamentalist Christians who hold faith in the idea that Jesus was the son of God, that he died for our sins, that belief in him is our only way to salvation, that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, etc. Those Christians who draw strength from these viewpoints have come to call themselves “true believers” to connote that they are the ones who believe what’s really true.
Yet we are all true believers in our own way. There are millions of people who follow other religious paths. Their acceptance of that path means that it holds true for them. There are a growing number of people who consider themselves either atheist, agnostic or “spiritual but not religious”. These people either have come to believe that there is no God, they’re unsure (which is a belief!) or they hold a belief in God or Spirit not limited to one of the traditional religions. The conclusions drawn by each of these groups is a reflection of what they have come to believe is true.
There’s an interesting battle going on right now between atheists and Christians over Christmas. The group American Atheists has funded a series of billboards in parts of the country showing a nativity scene with the message “You Know It’s a Myth, This Season, Celebrate Reason!” In outrage opposing groups have posted billboards also showing a nativity scene but with the words “You Know It’s Real, This Season Celebrate Jesus”. The dueling billboards have led to a atheist versus Christian argument in the media. Each true believer on both sides of the debate believes they have” the truth”.
Sometimes it seems to me that most of the conflict on the planet boils down to different groups of people who are so entrenched in their version of the truth that they can make no space in their world for the other groups version of the truth. They think that everything would be all right if the other group would see the truth as they do. In the worst-case scenarios, if they can’t make the other believe as they do, then they work towards their elimination.
Now I want to be clear here – it’s okay to hold different beliefs from other people. It’s the dynamic interplay among these different beliefs that fuel our growth and evolution in consciousness. It only becomes a problem when we become so entrenched in our version of the truth that we become frustrated by others who believe differently such that we seek either to control or destroy them. Beliefs leading to actions to control or harm others are the worst possible “sin”. If we discover that our beliefs are leading us on to this path and fueling our sense of separation, then it’s time to transcend our beliefs.
In spite of all the attention that’s been focused on the differences from one religion to another and the debates between religion/spirituality and science/atheists, there is really a place beyond the differences where we all come together in unity and oneness. Interestingly within each religion there have been mystics who discovered this place. There have been scientists whose use of data and reason have come to the same discovery.
Within Christianity, one might look to the writings of Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, Thomas Merton, Emmanuelle Swedenborg, and Teilhard de Chardin to find evidence of those who moved beyond the dogma of their religion to a place of direct revelation. Within Islam, mystics such as Hafiz and Rumi found the same place of divine oneness. Indian mystic Sri Aurobindo landed there too.
Social scientist Claire Graves analyzed statistical data and realized that humans evolved or moved through a consistent pattern of world views. In the earlier or “lower level” viewpoints, we tend to believe that our way of seeing the world is the only way. This is true whether our viewpoint is locked into a particular religion or into a materialistic scientific way of seeing the world. He found that when we transcended these viewpoints we came to a place of realization that everything is interconnected. This awareness allowed one to see even the value of moving through our previously limiting view of life where we thought we help the only truth.
The increasingly popular integral theory points us in the same direction – we are evolving in consciousness, early stages of awareness may lock us in black and white thinking where we see ourselves as right and others is wrong, but as we transcend these levels we open to a place of seeing truth in all paths and belief systems.
In all cases, the key is to lift our eyes and our minds away from seeing that our truth is the only truth, from releasing our battle towards beliefs that differ from ours, and casting our gaze to a space beyond our apparent differences. Perhaps Rumi said it best in his poem “There Is a Field “:
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.
So what beliefs do you cling to so much that they divide you from others? It’s time to join with me in transcending them, to release the need to be “right” and to see others as “wrong”, to move to that place of love and wonder where the world is too full to talk about, much less argue. I’ll meet you there.
Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!