Religions of many cultures and eras have all talked about their God. Their God is the “best” God, the “only” God, the “right” God to believe in, and they have the right way to reach him. This claim has caused on-going violence throughout the world, in every culture, century after century. Violence caused or justified by, religious difference. The Crusades, the French Wars of Religion, the Muslim conquest, the Reconquista, the Sikh pogroms and the horrors of the Taliban (to name a few) have never changed the minds or the hearts of the people who want and need to have their own ideals and beliefs surrounding GOD.
Could one consider, even to the slightest, that ‘God concepts’ are not and will never be able to be forced upon another? We, as individuals, will always strive and adhere to ideals and concepts that are personally real to us.. Since our concepts are built upon cultural, environmental factors and our individual cognitions, we will always have our point of view, no matter how much others may want to conform us. We find that our concepts help us relate at a human level, in this world of relativity. These mind ideas can touch us deeply in a way that each individual might explore God within their own belief structure.
Yet, are our concepts helping us discover God in our experience, or are they, at most, just a way to relate, probe, or judge? Could it be that a concept simply moves us from one point of thought to the next ? We may have mistaken the fact that a concept, by itself, can NEVER actualize the experience of our true nature, or depth of experience of God. Our experience exists only in the present moment. Concepts live in the past or future. With this in mind, it may be a waste to argue concepts after all. Surely, we have mistaken the means for the ends.
St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), a well admired Saint in the Western World, wrote a beautiful poem called “Concepts, A Jar We Break”. Below is what she has to say:
Anxious to see you, I died to the world.
Hearing your voice at the city’s edge,
At the horizon of form and space,
How could I then notice anything hands made;
How could I adore or suffer time?
Anxious to hold you, I forgot myself completely
But you did not care about the way I came to look
I mean Your shape and mine, what were those?
The seed husk that falls,
Because it could not contain our mingled feet.
Anxious to see you, our souls became your glory,
Our eyes became your fire.
All concepts of God are like a jar we break,
Because only the infinite can
Contain our perfect love.
Spiritual Masters of each era proclaimed the importance of loving God with your whole heart, mind and soul, and to love your neighbor as yourself. So, what is all the fighting for, really?