It occurred to me this morning, that the famous critic of religion, Richard Dawkins, and so many others too, choose to behave in a manner that is not pragmatic.
Whether by accident, or by design, the obvious truth is that they are, inevitably, perceived to be attacking religion itself.
I think they would do well to start over. To begin again, by valuing the pearl of wisdom passed down by my sagacious Nanna:
A man convinced against his will,
is of the same opinion still.
‘Religion’ has always been with us. Throughout recorded human history. That is what the evidence tells us.
A practical man, then, might be inclined to accept the likelihood that religion, in one form or another, is here to stay. And try instead, to make the best of it.
Perhaps the secret to resolving concerns about religion, and religious difference, is not to be found in trying to discredit religion. Or worse, in suggesting, or implying, that any one religion might be superior, or inferior, more “right”, or less “right”, than another.
Perhaps the secret — the secret to practical conflict resolution — is to be found in identifying that which is truly good, in each religion. And then, encouraging more of the adherents of that religion to keep it simple, by focussing their attention only on “the best part”.
Of their own religious tradition.
It seems to me that possibly the greatest danger facing humanity in recent times, is the appearance of ever growing tensions between the “Christian” West, and the “Islamic” East.
A solution, I suggest, is not to be found in the use of weapons, whether physical, philosophical, or legislative. On the contrary, if you ponder it carefully, along with my Nanna’s pearl of wisdom, you will see the obviousness of the truth. That all of these serve only to increase tensions.
It seems to me that the Christian mystical tradition, and the Islamic mystical tradition called “Sufism”, both share that which is essential to the goal of peace and love within. And so without.
A central theme, a continuous focus, on Oneness.
On the experience of being one with — of being in — the Presence of God.
Not just after (physical) death, in a placed called “Heaven”.
But here and now.
It is not possible, or so it seems to me, for any soul to truly glimpse the path to Oneness, to have an experience of Oneness — that is, to feel, if even only for a moment, a true sense of connection, with that which is Pure, Infinite, Timeless, Everywhere — and not to want for more of that connection.
And so, inevitably, in consequence, to also feel the need, the desire, to feel a greater, and not a lesser, connection to every other creature.
I can quite understand why it is that those who focus their time and commitments upon the “fundamental”, doctrinal, and essentially hierarchical traditions of their particular religion, have often exhibited a tendency to downplay, to distract, to encourage others to look away from mysticism.
In a very real sense, each religion’s own mystical tradition represents their greatest danger. That is to say, a danger to that religion’s temporal place of power in, and over, the lives of its subjects. The danger is that it comes from within.
Once a soul, whether self-identifying as “Christian”, or “Muslim”, begins to see that the central truth of their own religious tradition is found in, and through, an inner movement towards a deep and personal sense of oneness with “their” God — who, they soon begin to both feel and Know, is not “their” God only, but the God who is of, and through, and in All, the God who “lights every man who comes into the world” — inevitably, there is no longer any need felt for human authority. From someone to instruct, or command them, to be a “channel”, or “connection”, between them and their God.
For now this person has begun to Know the inner truth. The best part, of their own religious tradition.
Now it came to pass as they went,
that he entered into a certain town:
and a certain woman named Martha,
received him into her house.
And she had a sister called Mary,
who sitting also at the Lord’s feet,
heard his word.
But Martha was busy about much serving.
Who stood and said:
Lord, hast thou no care that my sister hath
left me alone to serve?
speak to her therefore, that she help me.
And the Lord answering, said to her:
Martha, Martha, thou art careful,
and art troubled about many things:
But one thing is necessary.
Mary hath chosen the best part,
which shall not be taken away from her.
One thing is necessary.
The best part.
To sit, and listen.
It’s not complicated.