I had a realization this morning, and I want to share it with you. Perhaps you will not find it as profound as I did, but nonetheless I felt it was important to give it a voice.
As I was driving to work this morning I was listening to Eat, Pray, Love for the second time on Audible. I enjoy the entire book, but the second book that takes place in an Ashram in India is my very favorite. I suppose I connect with this portion of the book so much because I feel it pulls me closer to God, right through the author, Elizabeth Gilbert.
Anyway, round about chapter 70 Gilbert is telling a long ago story about a cat that was tied to a pole before the temple could meditate. (At this point I am going to share what I remember of this portion of the book. This is not exact, nor an attempt to plagerize in anyway, just to be clear. I am merely sharing the backstory so I can make my point.)
Now the cat was only originally tied to the pole because it would bother those in prayer during meditation; so it was ordered to be tied outside everyday for an hour to help limit distraction.
Interestingly, over time, the origination of the reason for tieing the cat to the pole was lost and people began to regard this action as a sacred practice that must be performed before they could meditate. When the cat finally did pass, there was much concern, because how could they meditate if they did not tie the cat to the pole first?
I believe the point of Gilbert recounting this story was to suggest that we need to be careful when enacting rituals in an effort to get closer to the Divine. She went on to write, that in the Yogic scriptures, it is said that God does not care how humans pray to Him, as long as it is sincere. That it does not have to be as a part of some elaborate ceremony…and that there is not only one right way to do it.
In this moment, I hit pause on the book. What an amazing point. There is so much fighting, death, and destruction in the world today over who (which religion that is) has the right to God’s name, who has the best right way to approach the Divine, who has the only way to the Father…and that all others are fakers and non-believers.
But get this…no matter the religion or spiritual practice you chose to pursue, even though you may identify with others around you, that doesn’t mean you are practicing, honoring, or regarding God in exactly the same way.
Let me say that another way. If you and I are both Christian, we may have some of the same fundamental beliefs about our faith…however we are most likely not acting or thinking in the exact same manner. So, we both believe in Jesus, but when I pray I lift my hands and when you pray you don’t. Does that mean that one of us is right and one of us is wrong? That only one of us is really reaching up to the Heaven’s? We are both still earnestly seeking our Lord, so does it matter?
But you see, that is just it. Even when we think we are the same, we are not the same. There is so much blood, both literal and metaphorical, that has been spilled in the name of religion. RELIGION. God is not religion. Religion is a system of faith; a process by which to interact with the Holy One. But God is not a process!
Therefore, no matter what name we give it, there is not one of us approaching God in the same manner. Each of our pathways are as different as fingerprints from one person to another.
So why are we fighting about it? I even go through this with my Dad sometimes; that there is only ONE right way to think, and act, and praise God. But we all see through different filters…even when regarding the families we grew up with. We were not conjoined 24/7 with everyone in our families, so that means we have all had different experiences in our lives, which adjust our frames of reference.
Not to over simplify, but if I say “blue” my Dad may hear “blue”, but in his mind he sees a midnight blue, when what I saw when I said blue was a pale blue. Do you see my point? Even when we think we are the same, we are still different. Our fighting over who is right and who is wrong is only taking away precious time in which we could be praising the infinite I AM.
Use your energy to seek the Lord, not to condemn others for not thinking like you; because no matter how alike you think you are, there is still a difference. Even identical twins don’t have the same fingerprints.
Seek peace, praise God, and live with an extension of grace and mercy.