Like many former fundamentalists I lived in a bubble. Everything I knew about God was taught to me from the podiums of traditional christian churches. Early in my teenage years I began to realize that something was wrong and the pieces were not fitting together. I knew the nature of this God being taught to me was not the nature of the God that I knew within my soul. I began to question why. Why would god send good people to hell because they believed differently? Why were Christians preferred by God when he had proclaimed the Jewish people as his chosen ones? Why would Native Americans who never had the opportunity to know Jesus be doomed by God? And the questions went on and on.
It took several years, one small revelation and discovery at a time, but I eventually distanced myself from the flock and stepped out into my own journey. And even though there are some good souls who quickly tell me that I am a heretic and eternally lost and damned to hell, I have not looked back since. Nor would I choose to step back into that bubble and live within a small man-made spiritual box.
One of my greatest spiritual discoveries was that of universal tenets. When I understood the major religions to have within their beliefs the same two tenets that I had been taught in Christianity it changed my entire outlook on spirituality. Everything that is relevant to God is based in love. All we need to know, and live by, are the two universal tenets: Seek God, and, live in peace and harmony with others. This is God’s universal law. Everything else is the superficial interpretation of men projected as the spiritual body of truth.
Below is a list of familiar religions and the universal tenets as described by their religious sayings. If we will accept that there are many roads to God and his will is universal and known to all we could choose not to condemn, judge, or hold in contempt other people based on their religious beliefs. There is little to dispute amongst us when the dogma is stripped away from the universal tenets.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, for this is the law and the prophets.
Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31
What is hurtful to yourself do not to your fellow man. That is the whole of The Torah and the remainder is but commentary.
Talmud, Shabbat 31a
Do unto all men as you would they should unto you, and reject for others what you would reject for yourself.
Hurt not others with that which pains yourself.
Tzu Kung asked: “Is there any one principle upon which one’s whole life may proceed?” Confucius replied: “Is not Reciprocity such a principle?- what you do not yourself desire, do not put before others.”
This is the sum of all true righteousness -Treat others, as thou wouldst thyself be treated.cDo nothing to thy neighbor, which hereafter Thou wouldst not have thy neighbor do to thee.
Mahabharata (Ganguli, Book13 CXIII)
Treat others as thou wouldst be treated thyself.
Guru Angad (Macauliffe vol2,p.29)
A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated.
Sutrakritanga Sutra 1.11.33
Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain; and regard your neighbor’s loss as your own loss, even as though you were in their place.
Taoism Tai-Shang Kan-Ying Pien
Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee.
As this new year begins I hope that we will learn to accept each other in our diverse expressions of faith by acknowledging the foremost tenets of our respective religions…because as shown above, each prizes as its tenet the harmony of living well with others.