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Question 133: What does the Gospel of Oneness say about superstition and religion?

Religion and superstition have been intertwined for a long time because various cultures and people groups have looked for external gods and forces outside of themselves in order to explain what was going on in their lives. Whenever people think they have to placate or supplicate to an external god, then superstitious practices will arise.

Some superstitions are relatively harmless such as wearing certain gems or symbolic jewelry to ward off evil. However, some superstitions can be very harmful such as the practice of human sacrifice to satisfy certain deities. That is rare in human cultures, but a more widespread superstition that was practiced in  many cultures and religions around the world is animal sacrifice.  Sacrificing animals was seen as a way to atone for personal and group sins. The animals became the scapegoats for human failings.

Religious rites and rituals can be turned into superstitions if they are practiced in a rote manner with no inner understanding of what the ritual means. The communion service or Eucharist in the Christian religion is an example. When people use it as an outer ritual to satisfy their desire to look and be religious, then it becomes a superstition they think will please God.

To be superstitious means to not take responsibility for ourselves. We have the power of God within us and we don’t have to bow down to outer imaginary gods. If we have done something that we feel was wrong, we don’t have to blame it on someone else or sacrifice an animal to make up for it. If we want our crops to grow and our businesses to succeed, then we need to take practical steps using our initiative and free will to make it happen.

In the Gospel of Oneness we realize that to be superstitious is to lack faith in our own powers, so we introspect in order to see if we are acting superstitious about anything. The goal is to become consciously aware of what we actually believe and then cast out superstitious beliefs so we can act with clear minds.

To affirm our own loving nature and our oneness with God and all life can also be a superstition if we don’t deeply feel it within our own hearts.

We boast of our emancipation from many superstitions; but if we have broken any idols, it is through a transfer of idolatry.—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Superstition is foolish, childish, primitive and irrational – but how much does it cost you to knock on wood?—Judith Viorst

To become a popular religion, it is only necessary for a superstition to enslave a philosophy. – William Inge

Superstition is the religion of feeble minds.—Edmund Burke

The religious superstitions of women perpetuate their bondage more than all other adverse influences—Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Question 132: What is the meaning of Easter in the Gospel of Oneness?

Easter is about resurrection. It is about raising our consciousness to higher levels. It is about coming back to life again. It is about rising out of the consciousness of duality and separation and into the realization of Oneness.

Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and have some evidence to prove that he was resurrected from the dead. And they use his resurrection to show that he must be God himself as he conquered death. However, Jesus is not the only person to show himself again after a bodily death. Many people have seen certain saints appear again in human bodies.

Here are some examples: Krishna, Buddha, St. Germain, El Morya, Lahiri Mahasaya, and Swami Sri Yukteswar. In his “Autobiography of a Yogi” Parmahansa Yogananda devotes a whole chapter to the resurrection of his guru Sri Yukteswar who came to him in bodily form in a hotel room in India a short time after he passed away. They had a fascinating conversation in which Sri Yukteswar explained some things about the after life and what his new life was about on a higher planet.

We are resurrecting ourselves whenever we rise above duality and live in the consciousness of oneness with our Creator God. It is something that all of us can do. So Easter can be celebrated all the time or any time we raise our consciousness above duality.

O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages.” (St. John Chrysostom, Easter Homily)

Jesus’s resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven. That, after all, is what the Lord’s Prayer is about.”
N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church

You were born a child of light’s wonderful secret— you return to the beauty you have always been.”
Aberjhani, Visions of a Skylark Dressed in Black

“It is not more surprising to be born twice than once; everything in nature is resurrection.”
Voltaire

“It always amazes me to look at the little, wrinkled brown seeds and think of the rainbows in ’em,” said Captain Jim. “When I ponder on them seeds I don’t find it nowise hard to believe that we’ve got souls that’ll live in other worlds. You couldn’t hardly believe there was life in them tiny things, some no bigger than grains of dust, let alone colour and scent, if you hadn’t seen the miracle, could you?”   LM Montgomery  in Anne’s House of Dreams

Question 131: What is the meaning of “Spiritual warfare” in the Gospel of Oneness?

This can be a tricky concept because it depends on who you think the enemy is and just how you would conduct a spiritual war.

For some Christians and Muslims it can be an outer war against other people who criticize their religions, or don’t believe in their ideas of God or their holy laws, or who they think represents the anti-Christ.

Some Christians think the war is against unseen principalities and powers like the devil and his fallen angels who are always tempting people and leading them astray. They say we need to put on the full armor of God to do battle with the unseen powers who rule this world. By “full armor” they mean living in purity and love and with a strong mind to put the devil in his place.

In the Gospel of Oneness the enemy is the human ego because it sees the world as a place of separation and duality. The Bhagavad Gita is the symbolic story of the struggle we have with our egos. Krishna is the “Christ Intelligence” who guides us in making wise decisions. Arjuna is the soul who is struggling with his ego and all the myriad forces that support the ego in its dualistic sense perceptions and worldly desires. Arjuna has many questions about how to fight the battle of life, and at first he is reluctant to even confront his ego. But Krishna urges him on and says it is his duty to conquer his ego. From that point on they have a conversation for the ages that has inspired Hindus and many other people around the world.

God loves everyone, is the soul of everyone, and so has no enemies. It is a false idea to think that we must fight for God or that God takes sides in human warfare. God is love and is not looking to punish or torture anyone or have anyone conquer or subdue other humans in his name.

The only war, and it doesn’t have to be seen as war which implies violence, is to conquer or counter our egos with the realization that we are one with God and that we are eternal soul identities with the vast Spirit beyond and yet within creation. Such realizations will help us be much better co-creators.

“I am the origin of all. Everything emanates from Me. Understanding this, the wise ones worship Me with love and devotion. –Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita

“The body is mortal, but the person dwelling in the body is immortal and immeasurable” Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita

“I look upon all creatures equally; none are less dear to me and none more dear. But those who worship me with love live in me, and I come to life in them.” – Krishna in the

Bhagavad Gita

Sri Krishna said: The soul is never born nor dies at any time. Soul has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. Soul is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. Soul is not slain when the body is slain.”

Sri Krishna said: O Arjuna, there is no truth superior to Me. All this Universe, Every living being & Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.” (Bhagavad Gita: Chapter Seven verse 7)

Question 130: What is the Gospel of Oneness attitude toward animal welfare?

We start with the realization that everything manifests from the infinite creative mind of God, so everything from minerals to plants to animals has God consciousness within it. Everything in creation is on a path back to God. Humans have reached the point of being able to consciously recognize and realize their connection with God.

The consciousness that is within minerals, plants and animals is evolving toward Self-Realization. That is spiritual evolution.

As humans we can realize that God consciousness is in everything, so we can treat everything as having a divine purpose. Since animals are getting very close to evolving toward Self-realization we give them special consideration.

Animals have a high degree of intelligence, and they also have feelings and an emotional awareness. We can see this in our pet animals. We can also see this in the animals we raise for food if we take time to observe their behavior. So someone who believes in the oneness of life is likely to be a vegetarian or maybe a vegan since they know that animals suffer in the dairy industry as well as in the egg producing business.

But animals are killing and eating other animals all the time, this world is about eat or be eaten, it’s about killing other life forms to stay alive. Yet there is a balance to it all.  And beyond that balance it is an illusionary world that we have set up and we are collectively responsible for it. The only way to go is up and out into the oneness of Spirit. It is a long journey we have embarked upon.

The evolutionary story of this planet, this solar system, galaxy and universe is too vast for us to know at this time. Who knows why dinosaurs dominated this planet for so long? How do the awesome variations in animal and plant species arise?

We are ignorant of so much, but the one thing that we do know about is the efficacy and the primacy of love and kindness. It is the way to evolve to higher and higher states of consciousness. Treating animals with love and kindness is a way to evolve higher ourselves and to help animals evolve also. If you feel the oneness of all life it is the natural attitude to have.

“Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.” – Thomas Edison, American Inventor and Scientist

“He who harms animals has not understood or renounced deeds of sin. Those whose minds are at peace and who are free from passions do not desire to live at the expense of others.” – from Acharanga Sutra – Jainism – Non-Vedic Religion of Old India

Nothing living should ever be treated with contempt. Whatever it is that lives, a man, a tree, or a bird, should be touched gently, because the time is short. Civilization is another word for respect for life.” – Elizabeth Goudge, author of The Joy of the Snow

“As custodians of the planet it is our responsibility to deal with all species with kindness, love, and compassion. That these animals suffer through human cruelty is beyond understanding. Please help to stop this madness.” – Richard Gere, American Actor

“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.” – James Herriot, English Veterinarian and Author

Question 129: Do apostasy and blasphemy have any place or meaning in the Gospel of Oneness?

These are concepts of duality. They are made up terms by people who have a dualistic world view. They are predicated on the view that what we believe about God is so important that we could be killed or honored for what we believe about God or what we say about God or about people who are considered to be messengers or prophets or avatars of God.

These concepts have no place in the gospel of oneness. God is not, cannot be mocked. God cannot be insulted or hurt or shamed by anything humans can say about him/her, or it. Humans are the ones who get upset if they think someone is insulting their god. God doesn’t need any defenders, especially violent or hateful defenders.  The people who are considered to be messengers, prophets, or avatars of God also do not need violent or hateful defenders.

We are all a part of God, so if a person talks against God or doesn’t believe in a Supreme Consciousness, it is their God-given free right to do so. We can’t force anyone to honor God. It is a free will choice, and it can change over time. So blasphemy is out the window. We don’t care about it and we are not offended by it.

As for apostasy we don’t care about that either. If a person believes in the oneness of all life for awhile, and then changes his mind, that is all right. Maybe he or she never really had an experience of oneness. No one is punished or shunned for changing their mind about what they believe.  All of us are working out what we believe is true about life and about the existence of a Supreme Creator, and whether or not we have eternal souls, and what happens after our bodies die. To insist that we have the full truth about any of this, and that we have the right to punish people who believe differently than we do is just crazy.

Now where we do draw the line, and this has nothing to do with apostasy or blasphemy, is when religious beliefs call for violence unto others. For example, if a moon-god religion called for the sacrifice of a child or a virgin once a month, we could make a civil law forbidding such a practice. If a religion calls for the killing of people they think are apostates, we can and have made civil laws against such practice.

“If you do not have the possibility of abandoning your religion, you do not enjoy the possibility of freely embracing it, either.”
Paul Berman

“Describing the process of making her decision to leave, Patricia said: “It is as if there is a shelf where all your doubts and misgivings are placed while you are in that group. Over the months or years you observe so many things that may conflict with your original beliefs and values, or you see things done by the group or leader that are just not right. Because of the indoctrination and not being allowed to ask questions, you just put it on the shelf. Eventually, the shelf gets heavier and heavier and finally just breaks, and you are ready to leave” (p. 55).”
Madeleine Landau Tobias, Captive Hearts, Captive Minds: Freedom and Recovery from Cults and Other Abusive Relationships

Was there ever a more horrible blasphemy than the statement that all the knowledge of God is confined to this or that book? How dare men call God infinite, and yet try to compress Him within the covers of a little book!

Swami Vivekananda

Blasphemy has always seemed to require taking things very seriously.

Donna J. Haraway

Question 128: What is the Gospel of Oneness view on the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States?

Politics represents the best of duality, or should I say the worst of duality. In a way it is a struggle to see who can best represent duality. Politics is about gaining control of society in order to make rules and policies that come from dualistic worldviews.

Donald Trump is a businessman turned politician. He has the typical views of someone lost in duality. He sees the situation as “us against them” or “me against you.” He wants to build a border wall because it’s us against them. He wants to continue the policy of bombing others and torturing them if necessary. He has trashed his political opponents by making personal attacks on them and calling them liars even though objective analysis has revealed he is one of the biggest liars of all.

We could go on and on about his faults, but what about our own faults? The problem isn’t out there in political people. The problems are always within us, and in order to reform the world and change things for the better we need to purify ourselves, a difficult and life-long assignment, given to us by Life itself.

When we look at the life of Jesus, he did not talk about how terrible Caesar and Herod were. He didn’t talk about overthrowing the Roman Empire and establishing his own world view as the ruling ethic. He did criticize the religious leaders of his day though because they were not teaching people how to establish their inner communion with God. Instead they were enforcing a lot of outer rules such as not doing any work on the Sabbath. In other words they were not entering the kingdom of God within and they were discouraging the common people from going within also.

We can look at a more modern figure for guidance on how to see political figures. Paramahansa Yogananda, author of the spiritual classic “Autobiography of a Yogi,” lived through two world wars and saw the rise and results left by such tyrants as Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung, Mussolini and others. His own country of India was colonized by a foreign country, and yet he spent his time teaching people how to enter the kingdom of God by going within and meditating to gain the experience of oneness with God. He did not spend much time if any criticizing the terrible tyrants of his time.

However, does this mean that we should ignore political figures who are wreaking havoc on the world? No, Hitler could have been stopped if enough people had realized just how crazy he was at the beginning of his rule, but that raises the questions of “how many is enough and what could they really do?” Let’s take a look at Syria. Assad is a brutal ruler, but the rebellion against him has led to a devastating civil war. And sometimes a brutal regime is replaced by one just as bad or worse.

Here in the United States we have a long tradition of orderly government with peaceful transitions of power. We can impeach presidents. We can vote in new people. As long as we have freedom to dissent we can put forward alternative policies. If you believe in the oneness of all life you can support any policy or plan that recognizes that we are all one in the Spirit.

 

Question 127: Why is meditation important in the Gospel of Oneness?

Our five senses keep us enthralled by all the dualistic experiences in this world. There is so much to see, to taste, to hear, to touch, to smell in this world that these sense experiences keep us busy in living outer directed lives.

We also have the sense of intuition that goes beyond what our five senses can detect. It is this sense that can connect us to transcendental experiences, including the amazing experience of Oneness with all that is.

We don’t have to be in a meditation mode to experience oneness, but if we set aside some quiet time every day, even for 15 minutes, we can quiet the sense telephones and get in touch with something beyond the outer shows of this world.

Many methods and teachers of meditation are available. Yes, some teachers have ulterior motives, and some have methods that may not work for you, but that doesn’t mean meditation is not a highly beneficial practice.

The simplest method of meditation is to stretch and exercise gently before sitting down in a comfortable posture with your spine as straight as possible. Then follow your breath as it goes in and out. Your breathing will slow down and so will your heart rate. Your eyes can be closed or half open with your gaze directed slightly upward. Focus on love and gratitude, and let your body relax. The more you do this the easier it will become. If it becomes a habit so much the better.

Of course if you already are or want to be a deep practitioner of meditation, then it would be a good idea to find a highly qualified teacher who can guide you when you have difficulties. Maybe you have such a teacher who has overcome his or her ego and can guide you wisely. If so, I’m sure you are very grateful.

To summarize, if you look at the state of the world in this year (2017) how many people do you see in politics and religion who are lost in duality? How many do you see talking about this gospel of oneness? So engaging in meditation is very important in order to help this world.

through meditation, the Higher Self is experienced. – Bhagavad Gita


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