Saturday, 30 April 2016

The Ways May Be Many...

Dear Reader,

In the previous article I wrote:
I saw the commonality of the essential message in all [spiritual] teachings, And then (some 18 years ago) something caused me to observe that, after all, the teachings of Jesus made sense: they fitted in to the teachings described elsewhere; that there was a common direction in which all people are going. All paths do, indeed, lead to the One God! ...
The real issue  (as the old seers said) is to Know Thyself. That can really only come from daily practice, with the Love of God and the Love of Thy Neighbour, as the central themes, as well as spiritual study.
It has also been said by a being far, far better and greater than me:
Religions are many but the goal is one; Jewels are many but gold is one; Stars are many but the sky is one; Cows are many but milk is one; Beings are many but breath is one; Nations are many but earth is one; Flowers are many but worship is one.
That is, Unity out of Multiplicity is key to true spiritual understanding.

And in that last article I referred also to the media presentations by Joyce Meyer, and her practical interpretations of Biblical teachings as an aid to Know ThyselfBut I also uttered words of caution about the theology employed in those presentations.

I in no way have any wish, nor authority, to criticise the followers of Jesus. The problem that I see is that we do not entirely know what Jesus said or meant as his words were spoken in Aramaic and were translated and written into Greek and, from Greek, more recently into English. In that process, it is probable that deeper meanings were lost, as is the case when the Arabic Qur'an is translated into English.

Furthermore, it was only at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD that the Bible as we know it was formulated, some 300 years after Jesus. So: what was the 'religion' before it became formalised in the 4th c.? It must have been much closer to the original, real, teachings of Jesus, but had lost its zeal by the 4th c. And there were many more 'books' than what became bound as the Bible after that Council of Nicea.

To add to the mix, the then recently converted Emperor Constantine effectively directed that Council to arrive at a formulation of the Bible that suited the emperor's purposes.

My view is that the emperor wanted an arrangement to fit into the previous Roman religion of Mithras, so that his subjects would not have too much difficulty in 'moving across' to the new state religion and would therefore be controllable. But Constantine and the Roman Catholic Church had no way of knowing that 1600 years later both the Dead Sea Scrolls and (particularly) a collection of thirteen ancient books known as the Nag Hammadi Library or The Gnostic Gospels, would be found. They include the Gospel of Thomas, and these books were amongst those that were rejected in 325 AD. Also the ancient spiritual peoples known as The Essenes came to be known of, and links established between them and John the Baptist and Jesus.

The teachings of Jesus, therefore, should have been re-assessed by the Church some 50 years ago in the light of these finds, but the edifice of the Church changes almost imperceptibly over time. Those with (perhaps) more broad minds have compared other (non-Christian) spiritual teachings and, lo and behold, found a similarity in essence that cannot be ignored.

For my part, I find that Vedantic, Buddhist and Sufi teachings reveal different and more illuminating interpretations of the teachings of the New Testament of the Bible.

But all that is not to invalidate the talks of Joyce Meyer. She has experienced much, and that experience has brought about a great deal of relevant insight which, unfortunately (to me), has been constructed to fit into the Christian theology.

Joyce Meyer demonstrates, though, that what is key to understanding God's message is experience - particularly through suffering. And she emphasises - continuously - that a relationship has to be built with God on an on-going basis, not just one day per week.

Spiritual teachings are not meant to be just read, she says. They are to be applied and lessons learnt from the experience of that application. Learnt by the heart, not the head!

The over-riding thought, however, should be that Unity is key to true spiritual understanding. There is but One God. No religion is greater than another, and I believe that in reality there is no true religion other than the Religion of Love: Love of God and of my Neighbour. May God help all of us in that endeavour.

Thank you for reading this.

Love All; Serve All.