PREPARING FOR THE NEW LIFE: Using this week to make our moral and spiritual resolutions

`by Rev. Leland Stewart

At the heart of the emerging global civilization lies the gospel of the interdependent unity of all things.  All forms of life are interrelated with all other forms; none can exist without the others.  It is time, therefore, to proclaim this interdependence and to draw together those who feel ready to live by its dictates.  We are in the beginning days of the new dispensation whose transforming power has not yet been felt in a major way.  In drawing together these beings more and more throughout the world, the good news of the age now coming into existence will be ever more widely heard and its fruits realized.

                   A Unity-and-Diversity Gospel, World Scripture V. 2, page 181

Today is New Year’s Sunday, which lies in the middle of the week in which we are invited to reflect on our life and to make resolutions as to how we will move toward a more meaningful and spiritually awakened life in the coming year.  It is time also to improve on our commitment to the ethical principles taught by the world’s religions and by the learnings which have taken place since the ages led by these religions.  One of these teachings has been proclaimed by the DVD “Beyond Right and Wrong” that has been shown recently.

This month was opened with the question: “What Is the Good News?”  What is meant by that question is that every civilization has been guided by a new vision, usually brought forth by a religious leader.  In Asia its visionaries were initially Lao Tze and Confucius, and later on by the Buddha.  In the Middle East it was made manifest initially by Moses, then by Jesus of Nazareth, and later on by Mohammed.  From these religious visionaries, the religions moved to other countries of the world.

Our present world is in need of a new vision, and conditions are getting worse for the lack of such a clear vision.  Democracy is different in how it gives birth to the needed vision; it can no longer be just one person but rather the coming together of a community that manifests the vision, and eventually the awakening of the world to the power of that vision.   It may well be that a single individual will first give voice to that vision, but its effectiveness in transforming the world will require a mass movement that extends around the globe.  Many such efforts are underway, but they have yet to fully come together and to cooperate toward that end.

The Unity-and-Diversity World Council has focused on holding some form of interfaith gathering at this time of the year for more than half a century, beginning in 1958 at the Los Angeles City Hall.  This year, and for the past three years, it has been called the Interfaith Celebration of Light.  It was held on Saturday evening, December 13th, at the IMAN Cultural Center.

Now that it has been held, it is our turn to use this period from December 25th to January first to focus on our need for awakening and for making resolutions to establish our need for ethical and spiritual transformation.  What is the good news for you?  What is it that in your life needs changing in order for your highest and best to be released?  By the 31st of December it would be great for you to write down these resolutions and then commit to their actualization in the New Year.

Spirit is One; paths are many!!!

BEYOND RIGHT AND WRONG: A New Way of Seeing Ethical Behavior

“Seek good and not evil, that you may live, and so God will be a part of you. Hate evil, love good; and establish justice in the gate. …I hate, I despise your feasts; I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.  Take away from me the noise of your songs, to the melody of your harps I will not listen.  But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everlasting stream.”
-Amos, Old Testament, Science and Spirituality, page 387

The above quotation from the Book of Amos in the Christian Old Testament gives a clear statement about the traditional idea of good and evil.  We are to seek good and to overcome evil.  Justice and righteousness are to be sought, and the paths of carousing and ignoring of these virtues are to be shunned.  There is much to be said in behalf of these teachings, and yet there is more.  It seems that in the “more” is where we are getting lost today as we remain addicted to war and violence.

The recently created DVD called “Beyond Right and Wrong” does a good job of presenting an alternative view of justice and forgiveness, brought forward in stories throughout this important presentation.  We were to see the short version of this DVD at Peace Sunday, but circumstances changed the picture and it did not get shown.  I wanted to bring it to your attention and to invite you to see the film for yourself.

Some years ago there was a family in this area of the United States whose daughter wanted to go to Africa to see the countryside and to help with some of that continent’s problems.  She was in her late teens, and she went by herself.  During her stay she was attacked and killed by a group of older men, who for some reason felt that she was a threat to their continent.

Her mother and father were very concerned about what had happened, but instead of being angry and resentful, they also went to Africa to find out more about what had happened.  They eventually found the men who had killed their daughter, and they spoke with them about the crime they had committed.  The men realized how wrong they were to have killed the young woman, and they got to know the mother and father; eventually the two parents ended up staying with the killers, and a whole new relationship was built.

Some of you may have heard a statement from the poet Rumi, where he said that somewhere there is a field which is beyond right and wrong, and that he would meet others there.  It is the same idea expressed in a somewhat different way.  We are not saying that there should be no penalty for wrongdoing, but that beyond the penalty there are the human relationships to be considered.  When Mahatma Gandhi was killed, he forgave the man who had killed him.  When Nelson Mandela was kept in prison for twenty-seven years because of South Africa’s policy of apartheid (keeping blacks and whites separate in an obvious commitment to the superiority of the white population), Mandela forgave his captors and went on to become South Africa’s first black president.

Today we are being called upon to have a major shift in consciousness and to apply the practices of nonviolence to replace war and violence, to re-establish the sacredness of life, and to find diplomatic ways of solving the many problems facing the emerging global community.  War is now obsolete, and it is time to stop engaging in its destructive ways.  It is time to wage peace using nonviolent means, so that moral and spiritual values can once again be in the forefront of our awareness.

The United Nations can help in that process, since its original purpose was to “eliminate the scourge of war”.  Now is an especially good time to get the U.N. to be more active in pursuing that purpose, since next year is its seventieth anniversary.