Unity & Peace Inside & Out – the Mind is Not the Bad Guy

scottsaw_eternal_embraceI recently went to a chanting circle.  In all the quiet spaces between the chanting, the leader of the group included some guided meditation instructions, reminding everyone to get our minds out of the way to let our hearts and souls just be.

At one point she spoke in a soothing voice to let our minds be quiet, that the mind was not designed to be in harmony with the soul… and from deep within my meditative state something inside of me said – say what??

How is it possible that I was designed with some part of me in constant conflict with my soul?  How could any part of me not be designed to be in harmony with my Self?  Why is the mind always made out to be the bad guy?  How can I truly find inner peace if I’m constantly telling a whole part of my being to shut up?  How can my heart and soul only expand by pushing a part of me out of the way?

These were the thoughts that were going through my mind in the midst of chanting God’s name – and I didn’t want to push the thoughts away.  As common as it is to use this kind of meditation technique, I realized that it’s still coming from a conflict paradigm – the soul vs the ego, the heart vs the mind… who will win?  But I do not want to conquer some part of myself.  And if we truly DO change the world by changing our thoughts and our internal world – then I want to love myself and create unity & peace with ALL parts of my being, inside & out.

Of course the mind was designed to be in absolute harmony with my soul – it was designed to be in perfect harmony with the whole universe!  God did not design us to be in conflict within ourselves or with each other.

So, I would like to change the conflict model of meditation.  Let’s have the soul embrace the mind and entice the mind to serve the soul.  If we love our minds instead of fighting with them, our minds will love us back and do anything for us.  The mind is amazing – it gives us focus, intelligence, insight and the ability to use words to express, to pray and to chant the name of God.  Ask your mind to help you focus on the stillness inside yourself, ask your mind to keep coming back to the peace you truly are, ask your mind to rest inside Divine Light. Invite your mind to be a full participant in your spiritual practice.

The mind is perfectly capable of understanding Truth – that is what it was made for – so let’s not push it out of the way.  Let’s unify the soul and the mind into one purpose of loving God, loving the Self and loving each other.

I Am an Everything & God is not a Christian

All ReligionsI have had people ask me “are you a Christian?” or “are you a yogi?” or “you’re a Hindu aren’t you?” It almost strikes me as a strange question. It was the same when I went to my first meeting with my new Interfaith Women’s group. We have two Muslims, one Jew, one Buddhist, one Hindu, a Native American and a smattering of various Christians – but what am I? I guess you could say that I am actually an interfaith woman. So, if asked, I usually answer “I am an Everything.”

The bottom line is that I just love God! I love God so much I couldn’t contain it to just one WAY of loving God. I want to chant like a Swami, I want to meditate like Buddha, I want to pray like Jesus, I want to melt into Mother Nature like the Native Americans, I want to teach like a Rabbi, I want to dance like a Sufi, I want to shout out God Allah Lord Jesus Christ Shiva Shiva Om! I want to praise God in every way humanly possible. I love God in all religions and I see God loving us through all religions.

God’s love is so immense – to think that God would constrain Herself to only love us through one savior at one point in time at one location on the planet… or that She even COULD! It doesn’t make any sense at all.

I was recently reading a speech by Archbishop Desmond Tutu called “God is not a Christian.”

“We should in humility and joyfulness acknowledge that the supernatural and divine reality we all worship in some form or other transcends all our particular categories of thought and imagining, and that because the Divine is infinite and we are forever finite, we shall never comprehend the divine completely. So we should seek to share all insights we can and be ready to learn from the techniques of the spiritual life that are available in religions other than our own… That what we call the Spirit of God is not a Christian preserve, for the Spirit of God existed long before there were Christians, inspiring and nurturing women and men in the ways of holiness, bringing them to fruition, bringing to fruition what was best in all.”

All religions tell us that God is eternal – God was certainly there in paleo times, in Jurassic times, from the very beginnings of the universe with the big bang to the birth of humankind – God was there. Of course God was loving us all along the way in every civilization and every culture – inspiring and nurturing us in the ways of holiness.

Think of a soul who lived on planet Earth in the year 30 B.C. and after he dies he comes to find out – too bad, if only you had been born a decade or two later you might have had a chance for heaven, but alas, eternal damnation for you. Or to think of a rainforest tribes woman who lives with a heart full of love and reverence and then dies and finds out, too bad those missionaries didn’t reach you in time, off to hell you go. I cannot imagine a God who would create such scenarios.

I love the way Bishop John Shelby Spong puts it in this interview:

“Every church I know claims that we are the true church and they have some ultimate authority… The idea that the truth of God can be bound in any human system, by any human creed, by any human book is almost beyond imagination for me. God is not a Christian, God is not a Jew or a Muslim or a Hindu or a Buddhist. All of those are human system which human beings have created to try to help us walk into the mystery of God. I honor my tradition, I walk through my tradition, but I don’t believe my tradition defines God, I think it only points me to God.”

▶ Bishop Spong Interview – YouTube. The quote is after the first part about heaven and hell.

That is one of the keys, isn’t it? Having the humility to realize that God cannot be contained by anything we could create – no religion, no book, no church. Isn’t that obvious?

So, I honor all paths, all religions – including all the individual ways of connecting with God and living here as a soul that anyone can come up with. And I honor all those who choose to follow ONE path – I have no interest in starting a religion that believes you have to embrace all religions. A person can just simply be a Muslim or a Christian and take that path all the way to God. Sister Margaret Ann, my catholic nun friend, is not interested in anyone else but Jesus and she has the purest dedication to follow him and that is enough. There are plenty of people who say they honor all religions but do not behave as if they honor any at all. It is sincerity and humility on whatever path you choose that makes all the difference. Bishop Spong need not say a single Sanskrit chant to know God.