Bahai News -- The Oregonian - All religious, spiritual paths lead to one Divine Source Beaverton News

All religious, spiritual paths lead to one Divine Source

08/14/03

So many religions, so many seemingly opposing views of life!

Can we ever come to a state of peace in our world today with so many opposing views? This is surely a thought in many people's minds today. And yet the promise of the great religions and spiritual teachings of the world is one of peace, harmony and divine love!

How can this become a reality when what we see all around us is so much continued strife among people who follow these religions? It seems as though looking only at the outer differences is not the place where we will ever find an answer to this question.

When I participated in a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration earlier this year, I was inspired by a thought that the Baha'i group, who sponsored the event, had as a theme for the celebration: One heart beating.

When you think of the fact that every person on this planet shares that same rhythm of the heart beating, it makes you think more in terms of the commonality of the human race rather than about the differences. And perhaps understanding that commonality of purpose is the point from which we can begin to make sense of the seemingly endless differences that we see before us in religion.

Here is a way to think about what the many religions and spiritual paths of this world represent. It can be seen in how a wheel is made. At the edge of the wheel is a rim, at the center a hub and in between are the many spokes that connect the two.

It is around the rim of this wheel that we travel in our search for meaning to life: what its purpose is and what our part is to play in it.

The hub of the wheel is the Source from which we all have come; called by some God or the Divine, and by others Spirit or the Higher Self.

Each of the spokes of the wheel, which originates at the hub and extends out to its rim, is said to represent a religion or a spiritual path by which we can return from that rim to that Divine Source.

When looked at from the rim, each of these spokes appears to be separate from the others; some even begin at the rim from totally opposite directions. But as we follow the path of each spoke in toward the hub, we see that each one comes closer to all the others, and at last merges into that one hub, which represents the one Source of all of creation.

In the East this is said to be a way to understand the seemingly opposing views and teachings that are taught by the many spiritual paths and religions found in our world today. One religion may teach something that seems in total opposition to another. And yet each one, if followed sincerely and completely to its source within, leads to the same Divine Source from which all of creation has come; each religion being an expression of that Divine Source.

Within each of the great religions of the world there is a tradition and there are teachings that lead to the experience of the inner life and how to actually attain oneness with that Divine Source.

In Christianity, we have the example of the early Desert Fathers; in Judaism, the Cabala; in Islam the Sufis; in Buddhism the many traditions of meditation; and in Hinduism there is the science of yoga. As people actually practice and live the teachings of this inner life, each one in his own tradition, they find that they draw closer, in both consciousness and understanding, to those of other traditions who are engaged in these inner practices.

Paramhansa Yogananda, who arrived in the West in 1920, experienced this understanding as he traveled both in the United States and in Europe. At one point he visited a Roman Catholic abbey in St. Louis. As he entered the abbey, looking very Indian with dark hair and skin, the monks he encountered were nervous and laughing at the unusual looks of this 'heathen' in their midst.

But Yogananda had been told that the abbot there was known for his deep spirituality. When the abbot arrived, he greeted Yogananda very warmly saying simply, "Man of God from India, I am so glad that you have come."

Those who follow the inner life that leads to oneness with the Divine Source find that no matter where they begin that journey, it leads to the same deep experience of that Divine Presence within. They also recognize others, no matter what their religious or spiritual affiliation, who themselves have made that same journey and have achieved that same inner divine realization.

To live in a world of peace and harmony, we must have an understanding of that peace and harmony within ourselves. By beginning to see the world and our spiritual life as part of a greater whole, we can begin relating to each other with a level of trust and respect that is otherwise very difficult to achieve. Parvati Hansen, a minister at the Ananda Self-Realization Mandir in Beaverton, has been practicing meditation and yoga for more than 30 years. She can be reached at 503-626-3403 or by e-mail at anandap@europa.com.

©Copyright 2003, The Oregonian (OR, USA)

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