My most beloved friend is an atheist. He does not believe in God. He is highly educated and thinks deeply about things. He does not make snap judgments or come to emotionally charged conclusions. He carefully weighs subject matter with great attention to detail. I admire him for thinking deeply so he is truly comfortable with his beliefs, to the point he does not try to get others to believe as he does.
In fact his calm and peaceful conviction for what is true for him caused me to appreciate him on an even deeper level because our discussions about God challenged me to question why I do believe in God. Without being challenged to think outside the box of the rote answers programmed into me by my religious upbringing, I would not have come to accept the Divine as I do today. And, just because my friend does not believe in the Divine does not stop me from loving him.
I appreciate differing points of view. When taken as an opportunity to grow and expand ourselves they always prove very beneficial. The challenge we face in learning from differing with one another is keeping our ego in check. To benefit from differing we must stop ourselves from automatically ego-defending what we think we believe as truth must be truth for everyone. As ambassadors of love we choose to remain open to thinking deeply about what we believe so we peacefully and calmly stand firm, while not attempting to convince others they too must believe as we do. I believe to believe, or not, is the free will aspect God put into each of our hearts.
You and I are souls – spiritual beings on great human adventures. And, through much trial and error I came to appreciate we create our best life by living from the soul part of ourselves.
I know soul to be the part of our being where the original creative consciousness put a spark of itself into our human form. That Divine part of us, soul, is where the values of #LOVE (peace, kindness, respect, responsibility, honesty, intuition, wisdom, etc.) reside. In addition to soul, we are also a human being with a personality and ego – sense of self.
A healthy ego (soul in the lead) allows us to see ourselves in others, to consider the needs, thoughts and desires of others. With a healthy sense of self we can see the big picture and how all life is connected. A healthy ego welcomes constructive criticism and accepts responsibility for our thoughts, words and the consequences of our actions. A healthy ego desires to learn from the experience and observations of others, our history, and from our negative choices. A healthy, balanced sense of self depends on the moral and ethical integrity of soul to guide our thoughts, words, actions, evaluations and decisions.
Unhealthy ego (wounded, victim, arrogant, bully, controlling, blaming, vindictive, self-centered sense of self) discounts the ethical and moral soul part of ourselves, and others. An unhealthy ego is focused on satisfying its unending lust for power, wealth, praise, and control, and will vilify and blame anyone who gets in its way. Ego will justify any behavior to get what ego wants when and how ego wants it. Including being dishonest with ourselves about ourselves and being dishonest with ourselves about others. Self-centered ego has no problem lying about anything to anyone and is very skilled at getting others to believe the lies it tells. Therefore, I learned one of the most important values to uphold, to stay aligned with soul – the spiritual part of us – is honesty (truthfulness, freedom from deceit or fraud.)
Honesty keeps us connected to soul, to the Divine, to the good, positive and caring part of us. Being honest is a cornerstone of a true spiritual connection to the Divine because honesty creates a clean, positive life where we have nothing to hide and no one to hide it from. The transparency of being honest is the foundation of all successful and mutually beneficial relationships because truthfulness produces trust, respect, and no hidden agendas.
Truthfulness will always be hugely important in creating our best life. BUT in today’s world, transparent integrity is even more vital to our happiness and peace because some people commanding our attention are blatantly lying without remorse, regret or ethical and moral misgivings. There are people in positions of “perceived” power who are spreading fake news, conspiracy theories, and trash talk with absolute disregard for facts, research and the investigative endeavors of others. This dishonest egocentric lying creates a lack of respect for the reliable information necessary to keep us informed. And, of equal importance, anyone who does not care about honesty, or telling, knowing or acknowledging the truth, is operating without ethical and moral supervision over themselves, their actions, their thoughts and their life. Without a moral compass they cannot make the best decisions for themselves or anyone else.
No relationship, whether between partners, friends, neighbors, countries, political leaders and their citizens, or world-leaders will be peaceful, respectful, and beneficial unless there is a priority placed on honest and impeccable values. Only when heart is involved do we stop to care how our actions, our words, our agenda will impact others. Only with soul can we have the courage to treat others as we want to be treated. Only with soul can we truly know an untruth when we hear it. And, only with soul’s wisdom are we capable of seeing the big picture to view the challenges we face from a different perspective and bring a higher level of awareness to solve what egocentric blindness cannot.
God gave each of us a soul so we can care for one another. God gave us a soul so we can think before we act. God also gave each of us the power of choice to be ruled by a wounded ego sense of self; to discount and deny our soul’s wisdom in order to justify our actions and the actions of those in positions of “perceived” power. OR, we can choose to lead with the higher, wiser, loving part of ourselves to be truly powerful over our selfish egocentric side.
One way you and I choose to lead with the best of ourselves – soul (our LOVE connection to the Divine) – is through valuing honesty, in ourselves and others.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, says, “My religion is simple. My religion is kindness.” How beautifully humble and empowering. An uncomplicated goal; to be love in action. But this is not the religion I was taught.
I was brought up in a fundamentalist Christian church in Texas. I was taught God is angry, vengeful and male. It was under a strict religious system I was continuously threatened with hell, unless I fit in by automatically accepting what I was taught to believe. By living according to their specific views I would go to heaven when I die. If I behaved in ways deemed contrary to those beliefs, I would go to hell.
Even as a young girl, I found attempting to accept such limited, disparaging ideas of religion and God caused me such anxiety, I lived in constant fear and confusion. How can such a fearful and negative experience ever have been God’s intent for our religions? Logically that makes no sense, merely because of how horrible judgment, blame and abuse of others in God’s name feels to our heart. And, how can God only be male when all life is birthed from female? Also, why would a loving God dictate we must all believe this, don’t believe that, even when those beliefs are contrary to our Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, or Muslim friends? The answer I received was they were going to hell.
That is when I evaluated my religious experience as one of people desiring to neatly put the Divine into a box of their limited understanding. They wanted to control God and each other because once God was in the box they created, they felt entitled and righteously justified to force others to adopt the same beliefs they held or persecute them as non-believers. But, in my heart God, the loving original cosmic source, Divine parent and creator of all things is, LOVE – caring and affection always displayed as KIND action: peace, support, forgiveness, patience, honesty, forethought, responsibility, empathy, attentiveness, compassion, presence, respect, courtesy, and logical evaluation.
The infinite expansiveness of God cannot be boxed into one form or religion. Yet, today we continue to witness world-wide conflict because of the belief our religion is the one sanctioned by the Divine. We keep God in the box of a narrow perception. We justify ourselves as entitled to make one another wrong and ourselves right based on ancient religious text. We rationalize this practice as caring or having concern for one another’s salvation. And, to make certain we and others fall in line, we perpetuate the fear that to question what we are taught is blasphemous. This thinking is ego-driven, not love based. You and I were born from the miracle of Divine love. We are souls, spiritual beings on great human adventures charged with ending conflict over God and religion. We are charged with bravely turning our focus from religions that divide to live as the Divine wants us to. To treat one another as God always wanted us to, following the only religion ever needed – that of kindness. Namaste (the divine in me honors the divine in you)
I found a wallet yesterday laying on the sidewalk under a piece of newspaper. While walking Ruby I have a habit of picking up paper and trash. I figure making the neighborhood cleaner while walking my dog is sort of multi-tasking.
When I got home I looked through the wallet trying to find a phone number to call but could not find any contact information other than a P.O. Box on his driver’s license. So I called the bank of one of his credit cards hoping they would have a contact number and they would call him.
The woman told me she did not have that information so we agreed I’d take the wallet to a bank branch in my neighborhood today. I have an account at the same bank so the branch manager knows me. I took the wallet to her and told her the story. She looked in her system and called the man.
He was so excited someone had not only found the wallet but also turned it in. It is important to me to do the right thing. I’ve learned being honest and treating others as I want to be treated is a great way to live. Just because I work hard to lead with my heart does not mean I always get treated kindly or respectfully by others in return. But, as mom taught me – being an ambassador of love always leaves me feeling good about me.