A NEW WORLD REQUIRES A NEW VISION

“A new type of person whose orientation and view of the world         profoundly transcends the existing cultures is developing from the complex of social, political, economic, educational (and religious) interactions of our time.”     – Peter S. Adler, quoted in Science and Spirituality, page 45-46

We live in a time of great change and challenge.  The only way that we are going to be able to move through this time of transition is to awaken to a new vision that allows us to relate to the emerging global community, the community of all races, cultures, and religions.

The challenge of this time of transition has produced an ever-increasing amount of interaction among the faiths of the world, and numerous  programs have resulted.  All of this activity is necessary and healthy.  However, it is important to know that dialog among faiths is not the same as producing a spiritual awakening.  Dialog is important, yet the nature of religion is beyond dialog and is of an experiential nature.  The new kind of religious experience does not require the giving up of one’s faith to join some other faith.  What it does require is the experiencing of pluralism and the deeper implications of freedom and democracy.  it requires the inner discovery that life in the new world is of a different nature than that which existed earlier.

In many cases it will require the experience of the role of science and consciousness.  It is very likely to include a vision of a world in which both science and religion have a role to play.  It is necessary that we discover a new level of faith that permits us to unite with all peoples and to experience our connections with all life, organic and inorganic.  This experience of living in a pluralistic world challenges us to respect different paths, to become good listeners so that we give place to those whose faith and culture are different from our own.

Life today is being lived in a very different context from previous times, and our form of worship needs to reflect that change.  Religion is not supposed to be an influence that holds us back and keeps us bound to a culture and faith of past generations.  Rather, it needs to lead us courageously into an often unknown future.  We new live in a world of great diversity, and we therefore need to create patterns of worship that absorb that diversity into our own understanding of life.

How we solve that problem within our particular ministry is to create a Unity-and-Diversity Center, one which welcomes religious diversity and builds it into the activities and programs of the Center.  Guest speakers from different faiths will help us to accept their teachings and life values.  Hearing from scientists who work on human consciousness will give us a broader view of the universe in which we live.  Artists and philosophers can also help us to move beyond our otherwise limited understanding of faith and culture.

World Scriptures helps us to understand the faiths of the world and to appreciate the teachings they bring.  But what is also necessary is that we explore the teachings that have been given in later times, ones which help us to see the values which have been emerging since the historic religions began.  The reason there is a religions called Christianity is that there was a New Testament to add to the Hebrew scriptures, which became known to Christians as the Old Testament.

In the case of World Scriptures, the new material has become World Scriptures Vol. 2.  It is designed to serve a similar function, which is to bring together scriptural-type material to help provide guidance for people throughout the planet to live in this interdependent world and find meaning for their lives.

SCIENCE AND RELIGION: The Need for Ongoing Cooperation

“Life is the center where the material and spiritual forces of the universe seem to meet and to be reconciled.  Spirit is born in life.”
~ Edmund W. Sinnott, Science and Spirituality, p. 182

Science is a product of the modern world, whereas religion goes back to the beginning of time.  The major religions of the world are of previous eras, where science is of this age.  How then can the two come together and cooperate?

Science is based on a method of examining evidence and coming to conclusions based on the examination: it is called “the scientific method”.  Religion, on the other hand, is based on revelation, which is an inner experience and may not be readily proven through reason.  People of this age have come to trust science because of its ability to produce visible results and through technology make many changes in the world we live in.

The reason that I use the word “religion” rather than spirituality is that it includes both morality and spirituality.  Both are important, and they do go together.  Religions exist as teachings, buildings, communities, and in many other ways.  “Spirituality” is the vertical aspect of religion; that is, it is the relation between the individual and God, called by any name or no name.  “Morality” is behavior based upon the teachings of religion that have certain standards.  Religions teach people how to live in ways that are supposed to be honest, loving, merciful, nonviolent, respectful, and hopefully also healthy.

The problem is that religions are largely ancient, and their ways of doing things are not necessarily congruent with the ways that people relate to in this age.  It is therefore an opportunity for science to approach religion differently, to make it more understandable and more applicable to this age.  We do need standards to live by, things to do and not to do, but we also need to be reached in a way that fits for this age.

We are in transition now between the end of western civilization and the beginning of global civilization.  The reason that there is so much violence and unrest in the world is largely due to the uncertainty which this transition brings.  As the guidelines become clearer as to what is acceptable behavior, and what are the goals of the new civilization, then gradually people will find a clearer purpose for their life and will be able to settle into fulfilling that purpose.

Our reaching out into space, seeking to discover what the other planets have to offer, and perhaps to find life on some of the other planets, is part of the discovery that awaits us on our journey.  Live has much to offer us as we look around and observe its many gifts.  It is in that discovery that life increases its meaning and becomes enriching for all of us.  “Spirit is born in life.”

Spirit is One; paths are many!!!

~Leland Stewart