"Transcend and include... this is the self-transcending drive of the Kosmos—to go beyond what went before and yet include what went before... to open into the very heart of Spirit-in-action." Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything

"Wouldn't it be wonderful if a group of people somewhere were for something and against nothing?" Ernest Holmes

Friday, September 12, 2008

Seven Things All Religions Share

...and three things they don't
I am fascinated by Ken Wilber's list of seven commonalities of all religions.
  1. Spirit, by whatever name, exists.
  2. Spirit, although existing "out there," is found "in here," or revealed within to the open heart and mind.
  3. Most of us don't realize this Spirit within, however, because we are living in a world of sin, separation, or duality-that is, we are living in a fallen, illusory, or fragmented state.
  4. There is a way out of this fallen state (of sin or illusion or disharmony), there is a Path to our liberation.
  5. If we follow this Path to its conclusion, the result is a Rebirth or Enlightenment, a direct experience of Spirit within and without, a Supreme Liberation, which
  6. marks the end of sin and suffering, and
  7. manifests in social action of mercy and compassion on behalf of all sentient beings.
Of course, what everybody disagrees on is the exact nature of the path in #4--though all agree that loving your neighbor as yourself is some part of it.

The two other disagreements
Put clergy members from all faiths in a room for twenty years and they'll come out with a list like the one above plus two apparently irreconcilable differences.
  1. Is Spirit personal or impersonal?
  2. Is man inherently good or bad?
(as reported in The Common Heart, a report of interreligious dialogues at Snowmass. 1984-2204)

These two differences have a lot to do with how one sees "the path." Personally, I can embrace both sides of these two questions, depending on the level of reality we're looking at. But mostly I'm with Wilber that the existence of the seven core commonalities (and many more as well) speaks to the fact that all of us are preceiving the same spiritual reality--just from different perspectives and different levels of maturity.

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