My dog's better than your dog
My dog's better than yours
My dog's better 'cause he gets Ken-L Ration
My dog's better than yours..
My dog's bigger than your dog
My dog's smarter than yours
My dog's better 'cause he gets Ken-L Ration
My dog's better than yours..
You may have come across this delightfully funny TV commercial in your youth, or at least seen a replay. It was one of the all-time great ads, pushing ordinary canned and boxed dog food. You watch a gorgeous puppy compared to a mangy one. The little boy could sing, “My dog is better than yours.”
Of course, it is questionable whether that particular brand of dog food made the difference, but it is amusing to think that it might. This was all innocent fun that made its point brilliantly.
It is not so much fun, however, when you change “dog” to “God.”
As a fundamentalist or religious conservative, you are reflexively convinced that, not only your brand (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism or any other), but also your variety is the right form, AND EVERYONE ELSE IS WRONG.
Not only does this type of thinking separate and isolate people, it can also lead to hatred and warfare.
More people have been killed in the name of God than for any other single justification, including land grabs and naked assertions of power. This is especially shocking when Christian kills Christian, as happened decades ago in Northern Ireland, or Muslim kills Muslim, as is happening right now throughout the Middle East.
Ken Wilber, one of the 21st Century’s leading philosophers, developed integral thought based on the fundamental linguistic distinction of …
I - the person speaking,
YOU - the person being spoken to and…
THEM - the person or thing being spoken of.
Ken combined this with the recognition of stages of development, from the primal magical to the post-modern mystical.
When applied to God, integral thought is a breakthrough of the highest order. Ken supposed that the experience of God is very real, in some cases more real than our ordinary experience.
Yet that experience will be interpreted based upon a person’s level of psychospiritual maturity. One can have an enlightenment experience as a child. However, a child cannot interpret that experience in the same way as an adult.
The premise Ken demonstrated is that people experience THE VERY SAME GOD in totally different ways.
He distinguished between states and stages. A state can be a mind-blowing peak experience, with or without psychedelics.
However, stages of development take time, in most cases, years. This applies to, not only growing up physically, but also psychologically.
When we take the three parts of speech, and look at the theological implications, things become a whole lot clearer.
*** An image above was taken from the book - Awaken Perfection: The Journey of Conscious Revelation
Now, let's look at the three ways of experiencing God up closer.
You will hardly see yourself as divine if you look to God strictly outside yourself.
It is no accident that the entire Abrahamic tradition ultimately hinges on the name of God as I AM, speaking to Moses out of the flaming bush. Both Christianity and Islam look back to that seminal moment. The Gospel of John continually reiterates the expression, “I AM,” as in “I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
This is the favorite path of many mystics, called “Jnana,” that of the Nondual (Advaita Vedanta) tradition. God is “not two.” Not only is God ONE, but there is nothing BUT God. This means that God is my ONLY true and ultimate Self. Apart from God, I don’t exist.
Within the Christian tradition, Saint Paul had a beautiful way of putting this: “Nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but it is Christ Who lives within me.”
The most popular approach to God has been the path of devotion and loving service, or Bhakti. This is true, not only in Christianity, but also in all the great traditions, including Hinduism and Buddhism. This is so for a very practical reason.
Most people in most societies are ill-equipped financially to drop out and devote all their life to seeking God. In addition, were celibacy to prevail, the human race, itself, might dwindle to nothing.
Worshiping God as Second Person need not diminish you. If one totally throws himself, or herself, into it, as the Hare Krishna people do, one begins to become like the One they worship.
They become a saint through devotional exercises and acts of compassion. They realize that everyone they meet is an expression of God. By serving people, they are serving God.
Worshiping God can also lead to the realization that there is ONLY GOD.
The danger is getting stuck with your particular take on God, and refusing to realize that God has revealed Himself to all people at all times under every possible circumstance.
Most popular among modern and post-modern people is the idea that God is a sacred presence or energy that you can actually feel.
You don’t necessarily have to take an intellectual or devotional approach when doing Kundalini yoga. Yet the sacred energy can go all the way up your spine to the Crown Chakra, and you hit the jackpot. All the lights and bells go off!
This approach doesn’t require a church, sacred book or priesthood. Anyone can qualify to participate in mystic realization.
Hatha, the most popular form of yoga in America, is pursued by 10% of the population, both for physical exercise, but also for inner peace. Once you get comfortable with all those asanas, it is an easy step to start closing your eyes and meditating for 5 or 10 minutes at a time, maybe more.
What is not so obvious is that experiencing God as a Sacred Presence may actually trigger a strong devotional response, with the ultimate realization that “My God” is whom you really are.
All three paths can converge when you open up your heart, mind and body.
Many people around the world consider Sri Ramakrishna, a 19th Century Hindu priest, as an actual incarnation of God, like Jesus Christ or Lord Krishna. I have studied His life in considerable depth, and am awe-inspired.
He had profound mystical experiences, not only with Hindu deities, but also with Christ and Mohammad.
Ramakrishna told story after story of the different ways we all come to God, quipping that we choose to eat fish in different ways: broiled, fried, baked and pickled, among others. Yet it is the same fish. God is the same God. You can find God by different paths, as all climb up the same mountain.
It is helpful to distinguish between religion, spirituality and mysticism. Imagine a pyramid, much like you see on the back of a dollar bill.
*** An image above was taken from the book - Awaken Perfection: The Journey of Conscious Revelation.
The first third, the largest portion, is religion, focused on externalities. It merely houses the tradition, which can be a vehicle of the transmission of enlightenment.
The second third, a smaller portion, is spirituality, focused on inner growth. In spirituality, you don’t question your tradition, but you are wholly focused on practicing it to realize God.
The third tradition, the smallest portion, is mysticism, focused on unity. In a flash of satori, you suddenly realize that you are one with all there is.
As you go up the mountain, you arrive at the mystical peak where people from every religious tradition meet and find that they can speak the same inner language. They have all been worshiping the same God, only with different names!
At last, you find out that both religion and spirituality are means to the same end. YOU ARE IT. THERE IS NOTHING TO DO and NOWHERE TO GO.
When we finally come to His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, we find an extraordinarily humble monk who claims His only religion is kindness. He treats everyone as very special, divine. He gives his entire attention to the janitor as much as the CEO of a large corporation.
I’ve seen the Dalai Lama live, as well as watching numerous videos. In every encounter, He seems fresh, even when He struggles with the English language, with which He is increasingly familiar.
His Holiness is beyond being liberal. He honors the validity of every perspective, what the late Lex Hixon labeled omniperspectival, the ability to look at many perspectives as one and the same time without focusing on one to the exclusion of any other.
There is no such thing as… “My God is better than your God.”
The Dalai Lama honors the great religious traditions, including Buddhism, as well as the spiritual, but not religious, crowd seeking a bold new approach to transformation. He is witness to love as the universal language, and thus has become one of our Planet’s pre-eminent spokemen.
When you accept other perspectives than your own as an authentic realization of the very same God, “My God,” quickly goes to “Our God.” It is highly significant, that Jesus Christ, in His model prayer, had His students start with “Our Father.”
For the first time in history, humanity is finally ready for a Greater God, and a GREATER YOU!