Anger is an interesting emotion. It can move a person to action or, if it becomes a sustained feeling, be a force of destruction from the inside out. In truth, anger can’t be suppressed completely. Even the most advanced spiritual masters admit to succumbing to the emotion from time to time. Therefore, anger is best utilized in a sprinting fashion, by allowing short bursts to move one to action, followed by a period of recovery.
But what are we to do if the outside world seems continually angry? How are we to respond to sustained emotional attacks that would under normal circumstances be rare and evoke an appropriate amount of anger?
Under those conditions, most people don’t fare very well. They either try to match the intensity of the anger they perceive as being pointed at them or try to numb themselves to the emotion with food, alcohol or drugs.
Outrage is Not Sustainable
If you mix anger, fear, and discontent with a dash of other emotions, you get outrage. In recent years, we, as a society, have experienced one wave of outrage after another. Even when justified, outrage is not a sustainable emotion. The reason is simple. Outrage is so enervating that it is bound to evaporate. It cannot be sustained for any length of time. Even when a person has every reason to be outraged, the feeling will dissipate because it will, eventually, cause exhaustion. I know that many people are greeting the New Year with less energy than they are used to for exactly that reason.
Love equals relationships. To experience love you must be in a relationship, either with yourself, your lover, your spouse, your children, your friends, your family, nature, the universe or your creator, to name a few of the most common love relationships.
The Glue That Holds Us Together
Love has been named the glue that holds people together. Some even say that it holds the universe together. A child that receives no touch and no love when newly born can actually wither away and die. Love is the most spoken about, written about, sung about and in other ways expressed feeling in the world.
Many Types of Love
Anyone speaking of love must realize that there are many types of love. There is the excitement at the beginning of a relationship (closely related to the second human need for excitement and sex), a mothers love for her child, the love of a married couple, the love for a friend, the masters love for his student, Gods love for his children and so on.
Here are three distinct types of love:
Religion has a spotty track record. I’ll be the first to admit that. It has been, and in many cases still is, used as an excuse to brainwash, exclude, shame or condemn people—sometimes all at once—and there is no denying that atrocities have been committed in the name of religion.
But… religion has also shown itself to be exceptionally valuable, both personally and culturally. It has produced a number of outstanding people, been a guiding light for peace and unity, created beautiful communities all around the globe, given purpose and meaning to millions, and encouraged people to tend to their spiritual side, to name a few.
Music Appreciation and Religion
Comparative religion author, Huston Smith, once said that religion was like music. He said that despite the fact that the world had, on average, produced more bad music than good music, music appreciation classes spent very little time on listening to bad music, that most music appreciation was about listening to, or, in some cases, learning to appreciate, good music.
There is a significant difference between interfaith and interspirituality. Interfaith is about working towards harmony and finding ways to co-exist despite ideological differences. Interspirituality is an exploration that can unveil the few strands of experience that the religions of the world share.
Keep these differences in mind and try to spot which is which while you read the following quotes. They appear in chronological order, based on the birth years of their authors.
In The World’s Religions, Huston Smith wrote: “We can define theology as the systematization of thoughts about the symbols that religious experience gives rise to.”
Take a moment to think about that sentence.
I did. It stuck with me. In fact, I thought about it so much that it became the basis for an interfaith model that I created.
For clarity, it is helpful to reverse engineer Smith’s sentence.
Ergo: Experience is the starting point, theology is the outcome.
Why is that important? Because, most of us define religions by customs, rituals, and stories, not by their spiritual underpinnings, and, as a result, religious and spiritual experiences get pushed to the side.
Hunger for Direct Experiences
Today, people hunger for direct experiences like never before. They want peace of mind, genuine feelings of love and compassion, a deepened sense of empathy, a feeling of being calm in the storm, and much more. With this in mind, why don’t more religious institutions focus on experience?
In his masterpiece, The Varieties of Religious Experience, William James proposes an answer. According to James, a prophet’s journey usually begins with a religious experience. If the prophet starts to preach based on that experience, he is promptly labeled a madman. If, however, the theology spreads, it is labeled as heresy. Finally, if the theology survives persecution, it becomes orthodoxy. At that point, according to James, its days of “inwardness” are over, because orthodoxy effectively stops “all later bubblings of the fountain from which in purer days it drew its own supply of inspiration.”
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Our mission is to train and support people who want to do good in the world. We do this by providing access to strategies, methods, and ideas that promote social harmony and enable bridge-building across divides. Our primary goal is to help others create harmony in diverse communities.
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Founded in 2018
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