Supposed that you had lived all your life being told that the only kind of cookie that exists is a chocolate chip cookie. When you tasted a chocolate chip cookie for the first time you loved it so much that you wanted to learn all about them. You studied for years all of the ingredients and possible baking methods for chocolate chip cookies, and because you thought that they were the only cookie that existed you were pretty sure you knew all there was to know about cookies. Imagine your surprise when one day you encountered someone with an oatmeal raisin cookie, and another person with a peanut butter cookie, and yet another with a sugar cookie. You would learn that not only did you not know everything about cookies, but you only knew the tip of the iceberg. What of snicker doodles?
This is an excellent analogy for the person who hasn’t ever looked beyond their own spiritual tradition. After all, despite all the closed minded people in the world who would deny this truth, all religions have as a goal the same thing – achieving transcendence. There are, of course, different names for this transcendence – heaven, enlightenment, union with God, paradise, becoming one with the universe, and more – but in the end it is still a way to transcend this life and achieve union with something or someone bigger than us. In my experience, everything I have learned about how someone else understands the spiritual journey – regardless of their tradition – has helped me to understand more about my own journey.
You won’t hear that from many, if any, folks in the institutional church. Rather you will hear stories of the great perils that await you should you look into any elses view of the spiritual life. It is perhaps the only venue in which learning is discouraged. I don’t know about you, but that strikes me as more than a little odd. What would be the advantage of ignorance, of keeping people in the dark? For the individual kept in the dark there is never an advantage, unless they are a mushroom. Any spiritual path worth following must stand up to the test of intellectual challenge and questioning.
And so I would encourage all followers of Jesus to learn at least a little bit about at least one other system of belief. There are decent introductory articles about most faith systems on sources such as Wikipedia, easily accessed on the Internet. From time to time this blog will discuss perspectives from traditions other than Christianity, for exactly the reasons detailed above. There will also be information available on our new website at http://www.ChristEnlight.ning.com. It is my hope that you will check the information out, take what works for you, and leave the rest.