I had an interesting personal realization yesterday as I roamed the street… One of the many lovely people who stopped and chatted with me was a woman who mentioned her desire to collaborate and learn from me regarding several aspects of my profession–how she might incorporate what I’ve achieved in her own aspirations. And part way through our conversation, she looked at me and asked, “Are you a believer?”
I have to confess that I had to pause, and in my own mind time seemed to stop for a very long time. 😳 You see, being raised in a sort of Christian extremist environment (and all the stress, confusion, and mental and emotional baggage that came with that), you might say that the Traditional-God-one-thinks-of and I, while not divorced per se, are in separation right now– we’re currently seeing other people. 🙂
However, in taking a moment to reflect upon my answer for this truly lovely and sincere woman, I took note of the “karma alarm” in my gut and pondered these flittering thoughts:
+ As I was in the middle of my peaceful activity, I sincerely opted for choosing a brief Yes or No answer.
+ I knew, without having the time to explain and hash out a complicated answer, basically what I’ve already hashed out at length here in this cyber-space, a Yes or No answer was inherently going to carry with it all sorts of assumptions, one way or the other.
+ So, am I a “believer”? What all can that potentially mean–both within and without the assumed Faith?
+ In my gut, I knew I resonated at a certain level with this soul’s sincerity and love, at the most basic root…
…So I said Yes. Because the statement that I’m not a believer would be far more untrue than the fact that I am, even if not everything we proclaim to believe lines up precisely in every detail with each other. And here, I appeal to my love of the Myth and allegory.
After all, is not the heart of the Christian Easter Story a story of renewal after death? Of spring emerging from winter? Of a wise teacher and master dwelling within us in spirit and memory for all time, never to leave us; his or her influence ever present? Of an eternal freedom available for all to embrace?
How is this basic celebration of life and hope and renewal any different at its core from those of other cultures, even the premises of reincarnation and transformation of Buddhism? The gnostic Sethian tradition implies at times that the historical Jesus was only a human vessel for the “spirit of Seth,” the chosen and righteous son of Adam and Eve; therefore one of this tradition could very well ask whether the resurrection was not merely allegorical to begin with… Certainly, to some in that era, and even today, it is.
Symbolically, however, the crucifixion idea itself embodied deep dilemmas and meanings of the human psyche, and so the Crucifixion per se became a far greater reality than the actual physical events that occurred at the time.
Only the deluded are in danger of, or capable of, such self-sacrifice, you see, or would find it necessary. Only those still bound up in ideas of crime and punishment would be attracted to that kind of religious drama and find within it deep echoes of their own subjective feelings. –(source)
We all share the same loves and hopes and dreams, and we all tend to embody these and personify them in differing manners according to our traditions; I would not that I harm another fellow being by even merely implying a snide rejection of what they hold dear.
Additionally, I realized, why am I afraid of my past tradition, my heritage? True, it did more harm than good when it was a part of my life; but that is not the case in The Now. (This is Aversion– it is the same as Attachment, only a pushing away instead of a pulling toward; it’s the same energy, the same poison.) My religious background is surely a part of me just as is any other spiritual heritage that has been passed down to us from our ancient ancestors. All is just a continuously evolving variation on a theme that has been playing since the dawn of existence. Tradition may surely have freedom to point toward god, while not defining god…. Remember, don’t confuse the finger pointing at the moon, as being the moon itself.
By my saying Yes, the woman instantly felt safe with me. It was palpable; she’d found a kindred spirit in me, someone who could understand where she was coming from when she spoke, someone who could culturally relate to her. Near the close of our conversation, she wanted to pray with me. And I asked myself, why should there be any qualms? Do I not speak and wish blessings and goodness upon this fellow being? If I pray to a Heavenly Father (for the woman’s sake) aren’t I also praying to The One Who Is?
The connection I made with this dear woman is more real than any labels we might have instead squabbled over. May we celebrate together in freedom this Day of Renewal, with mutual love and respect in our shared heritage.