I like to learn about the religions of the world. For my dissertation research: Practices of Religion, Practices of Spirituality and Personality Styles, I read many books and articles and now understand that adhering to a religion is one of the ways that people live and express their spirituality. AND there are many others…
I have just read The Heart of Christianity, written 30 years ago by Marcus J. Borg. The section of the book that I found particularly appealing is how the religions of the world are known as “wisdom traditions”, a phrase from Huston Smith, a historian of religions. Specific attention is made to wisdom that is about the two most important questions in life: “the real” and “the way”.
How aware are we of the times and ways we ask “What is real?” AND “What is the way – how shall we live life?”
Borg writes that all enduring religions share central similarities:
- They all affirm the presence of the “More”, the real, the sacred which can be known in the sense of being experienced.
- They all affirm a way, a path and all paths are variants of the same path, the same way.
This same path, this same way, is the path to an old identity and way of being and being born into a new identity and way of being.
All religions refer to the same transformation of the self.
As a clinical counsellor, I am honoured to hear and am deeply touched by the spoken stories of those who describe themselves as fearful, discouraged, anxious, hurt, worthless, confused, and…many variations of these…
Life of experienced awareness can be the REALity of what is felt as a dark presence of self and self in relationship with others and the world.
This darkness calls for an exploration, a search for the light – the MORE of what for some is found in religious doctrine, for others is found in self-reflection and for others, a combination of both. The light provides the energy to walk the path to a new identity and way of being.
My curiosity asks what is present in both the experience of the dark and the light – what connects, what is shared by the many world traditions? What does the MORE, the Real, the Sacred, offer so the seeker walks the Life-Affirming path?
Borg writes that religions are “communities of transformation.” What is central to all of the enduring religions: the transformation of the self from an old way of being to a new way of being, and the transformation of the world through compassion. I understand compassion as being with the suffering of others.
AH, so this also explains my current interest in “self-compassion” – to be loving, empathic and kind in the experience of one’s own pain.
Those who want to bring healthy change into their lives with no connection to a particular religion find other ways, other paths, to create a new identity and way of being. Some even say their counselling experience helps with their desired transformation.
Connecting, belonging and sharing stories together, honours the transformative power of community. Thanks to supportive networks that encourage openness to what is experienced!
When the usual and familiar supports are unable to help us, challenged by the frailties of their humanness, then we explore other possibilities.
What is my MORE? What is my way, my path that honours the challenges in everyday living?
From my many years of life practice and many guides and mentors, I have come to know that breath, energy and movement are accessible through connection with the Life Force, Spirit, God.
I was recently introduced to a song: “Angel on my Shoulder” by Charley Thweatt. The words confirm for me how the MORE is present in an angel and how the WAY, the PATH can lead us to the peace we desire.
So now I’m going to trust my angel
Knowing help is here at hand…
So now I dive into my freedom
With these wings I know I can
To find the deeper kind of wisdom
And God’s peace I understand
Where the human and divine are connected, we find joy and delight to help us meet the challenges of life. Metaphorically, while in community with both friend and angel, we transform our worries to reassurance and hope.
From this place, the wisdom of: “What is real?” and “What is my way – how shall I live my life?” deepens, widens and strengthens the calling, the passion, for healthy living.
I invite you to continue along with me and Wisdom on this interesting and mysterious experience …
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