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Thursday, May 14, 2009

7 Cures to Religious Intolerance

By James LeGrand

Many of us hold our spiritual and religious values
very deeply in our hearts. Yet, we often have difficulty expressing
them to those that may follow a different religious or spiritual path
than our own. As a country, we are a melting pot of cultures, religions
and beliefs. However, we continue to focus so much on our differences
that we lose sight of where our values are the same. Every major
religion in the world has the same set of core beliefs. Instead of
those, we focus on the names, dates and territorial issues we may never
agree on. The following are 7 areas of spiritual focus in your religion
that supersedes religious intolerance, if you allow them to.

Oneness

God, Allah, Buddha, Krishna, Tao, Jehovah, Super Conscious; the
names of this great spiritual energy varies greatly. However, they all
point to the same incredible, loving, creative and guiding energy. It
is that spiritual source that we agree created all of us. Just as we
put a part of ourselves into anything that we create, there is a
spiritual center within all of us that connects us to one another and
our creator. We are all one.

We share the same values of honesty,
integrity, unconditional love, support of our neighbor, and respect for
one another. We also share the same goals in life; peace of mind,
happiness and prosperity for ourselves and loved ones, and the desire
to be loved by others the way that great spiritual energy loves us.
When we experience thoughts rooted in difference or separation,
remember that we are all created and a part of one spiritual being.

Connection

Prayer and meditation allow us to connect to that great spiritual
energy. Both allow us to give thanks, ask for assistance and blessings,
and to dwell in healing energy. One is no better than the other because
they are truly both the same. While they are expressed differently,
they bring you to the same state of connection. It's not about what's
right. It's about what's right for you.

Whether you stand, sit,
kneel, sing, chant, or beat a drum, connection to that great spiritual
source is the goal. Just as you would like others to respect your
method of connection, remember to respect the methods others choose.
Their method is as important to them as yours is to you. All should be
respected, especially in light of what they all accomplish.

Acceptance

Disagreement and acceptance are two very different things. It is
possible to not agree with a particular belief, AND to accept it as
valid for others if that's what they choose. The various religions all
teach a form of non-judgment. Yet, we all continue to engage in
judging. It's almost as if we believe that when we accept another
religion or spiritual practice as legitimate that it somehow diminishes
our own. Nothing can be further from the truth.

It takes a person
truly rooted in spirituality and their chosen faith to confidently
accept another faith as legitimate while disagreeing with it for their
life's purpose. If you find yourself unable to truthfully be accepting
and respectful of those that differ with you, then you are not yet
rooted enough in the practices and beliefs your own faith teaches. Go
back to connection. An infinite being has infinite pathways leading to
it. Understand that the only limits that exist are within our own
perception. Find strength through the beliefs and practices of your
faith, and then accept and respect the beliefs and practices of others.

Forgiveness

It's important to free yourself from past hurts, outdated beliefs,
and unpleasant experiences in order to boldly move into your future.
Instead, most of us hold on to those things. The net effect is that we
project our past into our future and are surprised when we go through
the same types of experiences and relationships over and over again.
It's time to let go.

First, forgive others. Everyone is just like
you; they are doing the best they can with what they have. They can
justify every action they take or do not take, just as you can. They
have a perspective they trust that guides them, just as you do. When
you see things from that perspective, it's a little easier to let go of
what occurred. Next, forgive yourself. You did the best you could with
what you had. Today, you stand stronger from the lessons you learned
from your experiences and relationships. Hold on to the lessons and let
go of any shame or guilt you feel, as it only serves to hold you back.
Lastly, trust in your spiritual source. It has guided you to past
experiences for a reason that benefits and empowers you, and it will
guide you to new levels of understanding, relationships and experiences
in the future.

Gratitude

Every decision, experience and relationship you've ever had led you
to this point right here today. That's good news because it means that
you have the power to change the direction of your life anytime you are
ready to do so. Be thankful for that ability. Be thankful for who you
became and everything that's helped you to get here. Be thankful for
the choices you have yet to make.

Also, be thankful for the
differences that exist between people and faith-based systems. They've
served to provide you different perspectives that helped you to
understand your perspective even better. They've helped to expand and
shape your world-view. You've become broader and deeper because of
them. Be thankful for the differences. Appreciate and accept that they
exist. Respect them, while forming your own beliefs. Then, connect
through prayer or meditation and give thanks.

Love

When we are truly connected to our spiritual source, we can sense
and feel universal unconditional love. While it exists everywhere, in
those moments of true connection, it can feel like it is all there for
just us. Just as you love your children unconditionally, you too are
loved unconditionally.

Secretly, we want everyone to love us the
way that great spiritual energy loves us. Yet, we aren't willing
ourselves to love others in this way. We get so caught up on the
differences that we lose our connection to that spiritual energy, and
thus, one another. When all you can see are the differences, you aren't
being loving. When all you can see is how you are the same, you can't
stop loving. Every religion teaches love as a constant practice. Get
back to your fundamentals. Don't just love those that believe as you
do. Love those that are completely different. Through spiritual energy,
you are just a different perspective of the same thing. It's time to
get back to love.

Open Mindedness

The more you learn about something, the less you fear it. Rather
than sticking to the learning materials of just your chosen faith,
explore the materials of one that you disagree with. You may quickly
find that the values system is very similar if not exactly the same.
What may differ are the social norms around names, dates and real
estate.

Keep an open mind. Don't be afraid to learn more. It will
help you to understand another's perspective a little better to find
the areas where you are the same. It is this mindset that also allows
you to delve deeper into your own spiritual practices. You may find new
levels of understanding and belief by being able to understand new
concepts and philosophies from others.

In summary, the fighting
and bickering that we do over our differences takes us further away
from the religion we think we are protecting. Use these 7 areas of
spiritual consistency as a bridge to other systems, people, and
philosophies. You don't have to agree. If you truly believe what you
say you believe though, then you do have to accept, appreciate and love
those with differences anyway. There is no room for religious
intolerance.

James LeGrand is an Author, Life Strategist, and the publisher of http://www.SpiritualIndividual.com,
a free weekly newsletter that presents solutions to life's issues
through the lens of self-help, wisdom, philosophy and spirituality. He
is the author of an Amazon.com best seller in Religion and Spirituality
titled Evolve,
and an Expert Author with Ezine Articles.com & SelfGrowth.com.
James LeGrand is also a Radio Personality, and a Sifu in Shaolin
Kungfu, which has been known for centuries as a pathway to spiritual
enlightenment.


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