Bridging InterFaith Barriers: The Role of Compassion.

We live in a world which seems to be divided.  Divided between black and white; rich and poor; Christian and Muslim; Pagan and Non-Pagan, and so on.  We take these divisions so seriously that in some extreme cases (becoming more and more common, unfortunately) we feel justified in killing over them.  Wars and “Holy Wars” have become the new normal of the 21st Century.  At the same time poverty runs unchecked and is growing world-wide. Disease, famine, homelessness – the banes of ages past – are becoming so prevalent that we prefer not to notice them and turn the other way.  We take the wealth that our societies generate and spend them – not on feeding the hungry, or curing the sick, or housing the homeless – but rather on endless wars of dominion fighting over which culture (if you can even call it a culture) will dominate the human race in years to come.  What would the founders of our World Religions say to all this strife and carelessness? Would it be, “Well done good and faithful servant,” or “Depart from Me you evil doers!”  In many ways we have shunned the teachings of ages past urging us to a life of compassion, and embraced the way of death.  But there is another alternative.

In inter-faith dialogues over the past few years I have noticed many commonalities emerge.  The basic tenants of The Sermon On The Mount (Love, Compassion, Forgiveness, Non-violence) can be found not only in Christianity, but also in most every other religious and spiritual system known. The Golden Rule of “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” is universal.  The problem is that we usually don’t follow that rule; not corporately as nations, or even individually as followers.  Yet the teachings of basic love and humanitarianism are to found if one but digs into their respective scriptures and searches.

In building bridges of understanding between our different cultures and religious schools of thought we need to become more than just religious scholars; we need to become scholars of the heart and of humanity.  We need to understand the words of the prophets, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”  We need to learn to see The Divine, not just in Temples and religious services, but in the hearts and needs of our fellow human beings who go hungry, homeless and sick on a daily basis.  We need to learn that by taking care of the needs of our fellow humans, we likewise serve the Desires of The Divine and fulfill the commandments to “Love your neighbor as you love yourself,” and “Love one another as I have loved you.”  These are more than just words of poetry, these are teachings from The Divine Source which often go unheard and overlooked in our lives today.  These words need to be heard and practiced.

I believe that in serving the needs of our fellows, we serve the needs of The Divine.  I believe that The Divine Source is the origin of all things, and can be seen within all things – the common denominator linking us all.  By learning to see The Divine within all things, we learn to love The Divine above all things, loving all things and all Peoples with the Love of God.  In day-to-day life we are taught the illusion of separation and fall into the trap of “Divide and conquer.”  In a deeply Spiritual life we learn to see beyond the illusion of separation and we begin to see all things as being one; Children of The Divine Source.  By living a deeply Spiritual life (each in their own way) we can see beyond the barriers which seem to separate us, and find the Bridge linking the hearts of all.  The toll we pay to cross this Bridge of Understanding is Love, and the price we pay ultimately is our frail small ego in exchange for Union with The Divine and our fellow Sisters and Brothers.  A trade of rags to gold if there ever was one.  This Quest of Spiritual growth is open to all, and is the Quest our Temple of The Infinite Universe is all about.  The Quest to find our true nature both as Children of The Universe, and as True Human Beings. Those who wish to follow this path are welcome to fellowship with us!

Blessings,

Frater Ralph

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