Looking into Religion

Dear Friends,

Warm greetings to you! I have been deep into my studies as I am in One Spirit Interfaith Seminary to become an ordained Interfaith Minister. I have been on a spiritual journey for most of my life, and so these Interfaith studies are an addition to a very devoted path that has long been established.

As I learn a bit more about Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Taoism, and Confucianism, I realize that there is profound and deep truth, that inspires something within  that knows, expressed in many of these teachings and sacred writings.

At times though, it is clear that some of the Religions were more useful and profoundly revolutionary at the time, but are now a bit outdated in their need to evolve towards more equal human rights. There are instances of blatant sexism in Islam, Judaism, and Christianity in particular, which to me reflect a less than fully enlightened view. I believe there is a lot of good in the teachings of these religions, but there needs to be a rooting out of what was clearly an expression of fallible man, not illumined God-consciousness.

It’s interesting how those historical religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam all had mystical branches that formed their own sects. I have always been attracted to the Christian mystics Meister Eckhart, St. Francis, St. Augustine, and Teresa of Avila. I also am especially attracted to the Sufi path, which is all about love, ecstasy, and intuitive/direct knowing of God.

What I realize is that I have only minimal interest in “information” about Religion, but am  deeply interested in direct experience of the Divine, which every Religion points to. All spiritual practice is to help us realize the Truth. To help us discover the Self that is so much more than we imagine or experience ourselves to be most of the time.

Something that I have felt more strongly aware of lately is the feeling that we (as a society, community, and family of friends) need to commune together. We need spiritual support. We need that “jewel” that the sangha or spiritual circle of friends or community is. Where we can be reminders and reflections to each other to make every effort to awaken, to stay awake as much as possible, to live a gracious, generous life about love, kindness and mindful living.

People seem to need two things. One, skills for living a meaningful and gracious life; and two, spiritual wisdom and inspiration that inspires one towards discovering the mystery of the true Self.

Great teachers are an indispensable help. There are some very great teachers here on the planet now. I recommend Amma, Mata Amritanandamayi, the Hugging Saint, as her example is unparalleled. There is also the Dalai Lama, Tich Nhat Hanh, and a number of lesser known but helpful teachers whose lives are solely lived to awaken humanity. We only have so much time left here in this life. How will we spend it?

I leave you with a very beautiful and rich quote from the Tao Te Ching that rings so true to my heart and inner knowing:

Empty your mind of all thoughts.

Let your heart be at peace.

Watch the turmoil of beings,

but contemplate their return.

Each separate being in the universe

returns to the common source.

Returning to the source is serenity.

If you don’t realize the source,

you stumble in confusion and sorrow.

When you realize where you come from,

you naturally become tolerant,

disinterested, amused,

kindhearted as a grandmother,

dignified as a king.

Immersed in the wonder of the Tao,

you can deal with whatever life brings you,

and when death comes, you are ready.

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About Kathy Zavada

Recording/Performing Artist Inspirational Speaker Retreat Presenter www.kathyzavada.com
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