Anyone who has read any of my posts will know that I see all spiritual ways are like the different petals of a flower: each has the same essential quality. The way an individual petal moves in the wind may differ, perhaps, but it is still a sibling of the other petals and they stem from the same source.
But what is it that practically joins the various spiritual ways together? It is surely the caring element; the notion that all people are shareholders of the same planet, together with the myriad forms of other life forms that dwell upon planet Earth. And that there can only be one Creator-God that has produced all that we behold.
So how is it that it's all gone 'belly-up' (as it were) and that peoples of different religious persuasions see themselves as something better, or that their God is greater?
Despite all the 'advances' we have witnessed in the West, we know there is so much suffering and alienation in society. Individuals often express a deep sense of loneliness and even dissatisfaction with their lives. It is true that modern medicine has prolonged life spans and prevented illness. Technology has made so many things easier. But happiness or contentment for most seem to be further from reach than ever before.
At the same time, religious structures both in the West and East, are often either becoming more superficial, or are getting radicalized. Fundamentalism is on the rise in all religions, as people with negative motivations take advantage of the new gaping voids in society and governing systems to spread a message that made Veer into hatred and discrimination.
Perhaps, if we were to develop a genuine quality of care, things could be different. So it is important to see how we might consciously develop the quality care, and consider it's deeper implications for society.
Caring seems to have many different dimensions. On one level, to care is to love and understand the needs of others, in what we could call a 'horizontal' way. Fundamentally to care requires us to first be aware: to be aware of our surroundings, to be in-tune with the needs of others. The awareness of the cry of suffering, the alertness of the immediacy of disruption, this juncture, in balance, or pain is one fundamental aspect of the quality of care.
In these cases of horizontal care, I care for my fellow being, neighbor, other sentient beings, even perhaps the gardens, or spaces I inhabit. I care for the situation at hand and seek to understand what might give greater comfort and ease, greater beauty and clarity to those around me.
The second, perhaps less known form of care is a vertical kind of care. This form of care may be care for a higher purpose, or even a transcendent, perhaps non-visible one. In this vertical form of care, I imagine that we care for things along an arc of the past and future that may be beyond our present moment. We care about our ancestors and the environment from which we are born. We care about the lakes and the mountains and the sky, for we know that they are our progenitors. We also care about qualities and ideals of our future embodiment. We care about realizing our potential, and the potential of each and every sentient being. With this form of care, prayer and especially virtuous aspirations, we may find care to be a very powerful vehicle of self-transformation.
We know that within each being a light is there to manifest, and we seek every way to help cultivate their awakening with our hands folded at the heart level, we pray consciously for their awakening. The horizontal care we extend to our brothers and sisters in the present moment naturally awakens the call for the vertical form of care.
To care means to make one's own life an example of good conduct. It does not mean that we must give big speeches or write fancy words; our actions should simply demonstrate our ideas. Perhaps even more importantly, our care should be evident even when no one is there to see us or congratulate us. Our lives should be our records.