The Unfundamental Conversion
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I Believe in Relation, and I am a Universalist

November 3rd, 2013 | Posted by Lana Hope in Culture | Faith | Missions | Religion
J.O.Y | B.O.Y

Recently I wrote a post on Overturning Tables by R.L. Stollar on my journey from fundamentalism to universalism. Stollar as you know all is cofounder and coordinator for Homeschoolers Anonymous, and is a stinkin awesome writer himself.

A couple days ago here on Wide Open Ground, I talked about the problem I have with progress and this problem of grounding ourselves in a historical narrative and how this creates a tension between cultures and religions. In this guest post, I discuss how this might look differently in our faith journeys.

I was a conservative fundamentalist.

And a Calvinist. And a determinist.

I believed God preordained everything in our lives by this concept of middle knowledge — this idea that God knew what Adam and Eve would do in a certain environment (say, if he put Satan in the Garden at a certain time of day). Thus by creating that environment, he was ordaining them to fall from the Garden of Eden.

I believed God wanted us to fall, so he could save us. Or save a few people. And send the rest to hell.

Yea, that. I believed that.

And so it surprises people to learn that I changed my mind big time. I’m a universalist.

It started out when I took a journey into another culture while in SE Asia

Read the rest.

When you get to the end, don’t say I have my act together. I spent 20 something years faking things. Now I’m just diagnosing problems, not necessarily mastering solutions.

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  • I would never say you have your act together. 🙂 It is your journey, my friend. Where you walk, where you end up, is fine by me. Walk honestly and openly and you will be right where you need to be.

    I have great respect for universalists. I think they do their best to reconcile how and why we have the various religions in the world, and they come away with a worldview that is inclusive and tolerant. But, you are going to hell now, according to some Christians. 🙂

    I appreciate your openness and honesty, even when it looks messy to those who think they have everything figured out.

    • Lana Hope

      LOL. If I go to hell because I love people more than God does, then he wasn’t worthy of my worship anyway!!!

      • Correct. As I have said many times, we should be glad that many Christians are more moral, ethical, just, and kind than their version of God.

  • sgl

    good that you were able to give up the “idol” of an inerrant bible. i think that’s the sticking point that makes people blind to reality.

    i think you’d like the writings of maggie ross, professed solitary anglican and theologian. as i understand her work: ‘behold’ appears 1300 times in the original greek and hebrew of the bible, yet newer translation exclude the word.

    her view is that ‘beholding’ is centering the mind in the ‘deep mind’, the part that keeps everything in context.

    just a few years ago, she realized her work dovetailed with the work ofIain McGilchrist, author of The Master and his Emissary, who’s not a theologian but studies the neuropychology of the brain. the two different hemispheres of the brain work differently, and both are needed. the other hemisphere, the self-conscious mind, builds models of the world out of context, and thereby gets itself into trouble when it believes the out-of-context model is reality. (eg, ‘the map is not the territory’) so the bible has to be read not literally, but as paradox which gets to the ‘deep mind’ which cannot be accessed directly, but only indirectly. according to her, western theologians have lost the capacity to do this over the last several centuries, and hence now misunderstand what the bible is actually referring to.

    hard to summarize her work in a paragraph, (particularly because i’m not sure i understand it all myself, nor do i care about the details of the religious aspects of it.) but i think the excerpt below gives a glimpse, and the 2 links following should give you pretty strong idea of what she’s saying.

    and i do think she’s on to something, because it fits with other things i’ve been reading and observing outside the religious realm. (and as they say, ‘with all this horse manure, there’s gotta be a pony in there somewhere!’) Eg, i read an article about modern architects and how normal people have a psychological aversion to them, but the training architects get makes them override this aversion. in other words, architects also have a ‘mental model’ that they hold onto rather than the reality that they feel and experience. in the comments, someone said it sounded like it related to Iain McGilchrist, author of The Master and his Emissary.

    an excerpt from the second link below:
    —–
    “Neuro psychologists tell us that our brains are divided into two unequal parts, with two very different ways of functioning, having two different, often opposing agendas. However, by contrast with the simplistic ideas about the divided brain of the 1970s, both hemispheres are always at work in every situation, one side or the other predominating, depending on the task at hand.” [….]

    “The left side of the diagram indicates the small capacity, linear, hierarchical, two
    dimensional, self conscious mind that interprets, categorizes and speaks. David Brooks in The Social Animal suggests that it can hold in play perhaps 40 items at any one time and it deludes itself that it has everything under control. This is the self conscious mind, as in, ‘Don’t be so self conscious; be yourself.’ Its world is artificial; everything it thinks is reified and bent to its own purposes. It re-presents; its re-presentations are dead. It gives the illusion of objectivity.

    By contrast, the right side of the diagram indicates what I shall call the deep mind, which is holographic, and has an almost unfathomable capacity. It is objective in fact. It can hold up to 11 million items in play at any one time. This part of the mind sees directly; the world manifests to this part of the mind. It processes the more polyvalent aspects of language, such as metaphor, and is the source of insight, but, crucially, it does not speak. This part of the mind isn’t directly accessible but it can be influenced through intention, such as setting your interior alarm clock in order to wake up at a certain time in the morning. But it does far more: it is the place where connections are made, where our most complex thinking is done. Its perceptions are alive. We can open to this hidden treasure by what is often called unknowing, a kenotic relinquishing of the self conscious mind’s ideas, concepts, expectations and speech, along with the two dimensional analytic faculty that generates them.”

    —–

    2 links in particular i think you’d like:

    intro to book “in silence beholding”:
    http://www.brfonline.org.uk/pdfs/9781841018782.pdf

    bit more academic view of her psychological view of beholding, plus more theology support for it:
    http://gallery.mailchimp.com/63b4312d9bcf32f41ddfdb7cd/files/Behold_Not_The_Cloud_of_Experience_Maggie_Ross.pdf

    or you can read her blog:
    http://ravenwilderness.blogspot.com/

    • Lana Hope

      That’s crazy interesting!!!!

  • I too am a fundamentalist turned hopeful universalist.

    • Lana Hope

      I understand why Christians have concerns about free will, but I could no longer be less than hopeful.

  • Excellent article. I especially enjoyed your conclusion:

    “Faith exists in relation.

    Jesus exists in relation.

    Grace exists in relation.

    Narratives exists in relation.

    Culture exists in relation.

    Knowledge exists in relation.”

    This sounds an awful lot like the Trinity :-). The following is from a sermon from Rev. William A. Doubleday of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Mt. Kisco, NY that I used for my blog earlier this year:

    “The great Roman Catholic theologian Teilhard de Chardin wrote in the 1950’s of a vision of an evolving – processive -universe – in which, having been created by God, we are individually and corporately in movement towards completion – towards perfection – towards the omega point of creation. God’s purposes for us, as well as our own lives, are as yet unfolding.

    * * *

    If our idea of God is judgmental, we will be judgmental. If our idea of God is exclusive, our lives and churches will likely be exclusive as well. If our idea of God is distorted or self-serving that probably tells us something about ourselves as well. If our idea of God is Trinitarian – rooted in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit– our lives and faith are likely to be more Eucharistic, more servant-like, more communal, more cooperative, more balanced, more whole, more relational, and hopefully, at least a little more comprehensive, and hopefully a little more complete..

    Truly God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit; the One who Creates, Redeems, and Sustains Us; is the Very One Who Created Us, Loves Us, Calls Us Into Loving Relationship with God and with One Another – both on this Trinity Sunday and all the days of our lives.”

    Peace,
    W. Ockham

    • Lana Hope

      Oh wow, never thought of it quite like that! So thanks!

  • Omkara

    “my journey from fundamentalism to universalism.”

    Maybe I’m wrong but I always thought that universalists were fundamentalists. I thought that Western Universalists believed that the entire globe should be Westernized and converted to Christianity.

    Am I wrong about that?

    • There probably are universalists who believe everyone should be a universalists (I don’t know that they think everyone should be modernized, though; I’ve never heard that). But I don’t think that.

      • Omkara

        Islam, Christianity and Bahai are three universalist religions that believe everyone in the world should convert to their religions.

        Islam claims the prophet Mohammed is the final prophet of the Abrahamic God so that Islam is the natural and final evolution of Judaism and Christianity

        The Bahais believe that all world religions culminate in Bahaism and thus should be absorbed into it.

        Christians believe theirs is the only true religion and only way to God, and hence the entire world should accept Jesus Christ as their savior.

        Strange isn’t it, this desire to make the entire world the same?

        What’s the point, exactly?

      • Omkara

        test

      • Omkara

        Islam, Christianity and Bahai are the three universalist religions I know of.

        Islam believes that their prophet Mohammed is the last and final prophet of the Abrahamic god and thus Islam is the final and natural evolution of Judaism and Christianity and hence Jews and Christians should “revert” to Islam (and so should the rest of us).

        Bahai believes it is the final revelation and culmination of all the worlds religions and that all religions should be or will eventually be subsumed into the Bahai faith.

        Christians believe the entire planet should “accept Jesus Christ as their lord and savior”.

        Strange isn’t it, this desire for a one world religion?

        • These religions are exclusivist rather than universalist. Universalism is generally understood to be a religious believe system that is inclusive rather than exclusive.

          • Omkara

            The Bahai Faith is an odd one. On the one hand they say they respect all religions and all religions are “true”, but on the other they say their religion is the culmination of all religions and therefore the natural next and final step for all the rest.

            They make much ado about “diversity” but ultimately, they are opposed to diversity if they believe that their religion is the “next step” for all the world’s religions.

            My understanding of universalism was that its a concept of a universal way for all humans. Is this understanding correct? If so, then I don’t see that as inclusive or diversity affirming at all.

        • Lana Hope

          I can’t imagine earth without different religion. Earth would lose it’s character. If there is an afterlife, I could see things looking differently, depending on what we will or won’t know.

        • Universalism, at least here in the US, is a religion. It is an inclusive religion that finds value in all religious faiths. Many Universalist churches even have atheist members. Some churches are labeled Unitarian-Universalist. They are definitely NOT exclusive.

          • Omkara

            Hi Bruce. Yes I know that. But I had previously asked Lana if by “universalist” she meant Unitarian Universalists and she said no. There is something called “Western Universalism” which is a theory, not a religion, and I think that may be what Lana is referring to. Or maybe not. She can explain herself what she means by “universalism” and what being a universalist means to her.

          • Lana Hope

            Well as I’ve said, I’ve never been to a UU church. But I am closer to them than I am to saying that everyone should be westernized or become a universalists. I’m not trying to convert people to universalism, that’s for sure. I just maintain a Christian belief system while also embracing the idea that other people will not spend eternity in hell. They call us evangelical universalists or Christian universalists although I’m not a fan of evangelical universalists because it implies that I’m trying to evangelize the world (i’m not).

          • And that is what I thought you believed, Lana. I knew you weren’t an exlusivist but an inclusivist. I will leave it to you to define how inclusive. 🙂 Most Universalists I know would never say all religions are equal. Some religions are inherently harmful and destructive. I doubt a UU church would be welcoming to an ardent fundamentalist Baptist. Their religion is exclusive and condemns anyone who disagrees with them.

        • sgl

          there’s not a single definition of universalism.

          richard beck, psychology prof and amateur theology blogger, is a church of christ member, and he’s also a universalist. you can read his blog entries talking about why he believes that everyone will go to heaven by searching for “univeralism” on his blog:
          http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/search?q=universalism&submit=Search

          or you can read the wiki on universalism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universalism

          as for me… i don’t attend any religious group, and haven’t for several decades, since i was in late high school. i consider myself an agnostic universalist. ie, i don’t believe in god. if there is a god, i think religions have all added a bunch of human gibberish to anything that may have started with god. ie, i really don’t think a being capable of creating the universe, that’s 100 million light years just across our own galaxy, really is going to send me to hell for *eternity* because i ate pork, or ate cow, or ate something other than fish on friday, or did or didn’t chop off a bit of foreskin, or didn’t say the right magic incantation before eating, etc. i think those are all human tribal customs, and human power plays, not holy writ. and if that god sends a hindu born in a remote himalayan village who’s otherwise a kind person, to hell for eternity because he never heard of jesus, while giving a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card to catholic priests who molest children and cover it up, but have the ‘right beliefs’, then that god’s a jack-hole. (this of course presuming the christian god exists; same applies to sending a kind christian to hindu hell for not being hindu, etc.)

          but, stripping out all the obvious power trips, and tribal ethnocentricity, there seems to be a common dynamic among religions, namely controlling the ego, being nice and compassionate to others (ie, golden rule). and among the mystics among the various religions, there seems to be quite a bit of commonality as well. so exploring human conciousness and how it works seems to be the key to the mysticism of the various religions. now, whether those mystical finding are an artifact of how the brain works, or it’s “god”, that’s a lot harder question to answer. but already i’m far far away from what 95% of people seem to mean when they talk about “religion”, hence i don’t find much commonality with any major groups.

          • Lana Hope

            yes, that’s the part that puzzles me most about hell. I don’t agree that someone who was once a Christian goes to hell. But my mind can at least wrap around that one. After all, one could argue, they decided they didn’t want Jesus. Which, free will. Makes sense. (minus the burning part). But people who have never heard of Jesus going to hell because they didn’t believe in him? That’s like punishing a colored blind person for not seeing color. Not buying it here.

          • Omkara

            But Lana, didn’t you write elsewhere on your blog that you conceive of it as eventually all religions merging in Christ somehow? I coulda sworn I read some comment like that somewhere on here.

          • Lana Hope

            I don’t know what blog entry you are refering to. You may have read one of my entries on hell???

            I guess I’m saying there is a difference between saying that I believe that people will become more aware of Christ in the afterlife and saying that people will become aware of him in this life. Actually I wish people knew of God in this life. Not because I’m trying to convert people per se. But because there are a lot of people who want to see him face to face. Christians tell me this all the time. Why is God so hidden? Probably the best argument for atheism is that God is so hidden (people usually say the existence of evil and suffering, but I personally don’t find that one persuasive). So no, I don’t believe that all religions are going to convert in this life. It’s not going to happen, and it would collasp economies if it did (Thailand, one of the best economies in SE Asia, would not function without Buddhism because Buddhism supports their schools, at least in part).

            As far as the next life, who knows what that will be like, but surely, if there is a God, he would reveal himself to us. It’s one thing to conceive of a fraction of time with God’s face hidden. But eternity? That I can’t believe.

            Also, other religions already experience different pieces of the truth. Christians don’t have it all right either. In heaven, we won’t be Christians. We will be people who worship God (or maybe soem people still choose not to worship him; that’s possible). Whoever that God is, I have a feeling it’s quite different than what we hear in church or in the temple, yet at the same time, maybe it’s quite like what we hear, just way better. I dunno. Sometimes I brainstorm. So don’t take me too seriously and feel free to comment on my muses anytime.

    • sgl

      in my experience, i haven’t seen anyone with a view of “universalism” that fits the definition that you seem to be using, (and there are various flavors of universalism too; still i haven’t run across this view that you seem to have).

      and all your repeated questions are simply variations on this unusual defintion. so, where did you get your definition? ie, names of theologians, blog entries, wiki entries, etc, of people that hold this view?

      from the answers that bruce and lana have given you, i don’t think they’ve seen the defn your talking about either. and yet you continue to persist in your definition.

      • Lana Hope

        yea I’m curious too. Not saying you are wrong, Omkara. I would be interested to know who holds this view.

        • Omkara

          “I guess I’m saying there is a difference between saying that I believe that people will become more aware of Christ in the afterlife and saying that people will become aware of him in this life. Actually I wish people knew of God in this life. Not because I’m trying to convert people per se. But because there are a lot of people who want to see him face to face. ”

          Well there, that’s what I was getting at – “becoming more aware of Christ in the afterlife”. The vast majority of the world’s religions do not have Christ as a divinity figure so they are not aiming to become “more aware of him” in this life or the afterlife or any life. They all have their own divinity figures and various states of consciousness than they are aiming to become aware of.

          I see no reason you would want them to become of Christ specifically.

      • Omkara

        I’m not referring to Unitarian Universalists because they don’t have any specific theological beliefs but honor a wide variety of religions and focus on social justice.

        I guess I’m going by things I read and heard years ago about Western Universalism and Manifest Destiny.

        But Lana does seem to reflect this in her idea that “everyone will go to heaven”.

        Different religions have different goals. The Christian concept of God and heaven is not a goal for most of the world’s religions.

        We don’t know what ultimately happens, if anything, but in the interim I say that practitioners of various traditions reach the states of consciousness that they aim for.

      • Omkara

        sgl, see here where I qoute Lana;

        Lana, “I guess I’m saying there is a difference between saying that I believe that people will become more aware of Christ in the afterlife and saying that people will become aware of him in this life. Actually I wish people knew of God in this life. Not because I’m trying to convert people per se. But because there are a lot of people who want to see him face to face. ”

        Me: Well there, that’s what I was getting at – “becoming more aware of Christ in the afterlife”. The vast majority of the world’s religions do not have Christ as a divinity figure so they are not aiming to become “more aware of him” in this life or the afterlife or any life. They all have their own divinity figures and various states of consciousness than they are aiming to become aware of.

        Why would you want them to become “more aware of Christ” when they have their own spiritual goals and methods to reach it?

        This is what I mean by the difference between universalism (one-ism) and diversity.

        • sgl

          yeah, there’s probably a few christian universalists who can’t really give up their view of jesus. but at least they’ve given up innerrancy enough to not try to kill everyone who has a different belief! so we’ve gone from “i’m right and you’re wrong”, to “we’re both partially right, but i’m more right than you, and we can peacefully coexist”. not perfect, but far better than before. maybe in another couple centuries it’ll be better. and universalists are probably less than 5% of the overall population. (of course, the majority of the people that think jesus is the only way don’t go overseas and start killing infidels either, altho they don’t protest when the <5% of rabid exclusivists do.)

          as the author of the twitter feed "[stuff] my dad says" puts it: "We ain't a sharp species. We kill each other over arguments about what happens when you die, then fail to see the [f*ing] irony in that."

          @lana
          given you don't like to privilege one culture over another, how do you think your "everyone will know jesus after death" sounds to other religions? to turn it around, how would you react to a hindu who said: "oh yes, jesus was one of the many incarnations of vishnu! just like krishna, buddha, mohammad, etc. so, your worship of jesus will give you very good karma, and your rebirth in the next life should be very very good!"

          • Lana Hope

            I do not care if they say that my Jesus and Buddha are the same. Actually they tell me this regular, and I usually say okay! I don’t believe they are literally the same, but I think symbolically there are a lot of similarities among religions. There are a lot of differences, but in the quest for meaning itself, religions speak to that. So in that sense, we have a common thread.

            I think that when God does reveal himself, we will all be shocked because we will all have gotten some things wrong. You brought up reincarnation to Omkara. It’s possible Jesus is God, and people have second lives, for example. I don’t tend to believe we will be forced to be reborn, but if there is an option to come back as an eagle, I’d probably take it. It’s also possible that Buddha was awakened and Jesus is God, or that there are multiple heavens like some of the religions teach and yet there was still a King David. Obviously I don’t believe in all these possibilities, but I do believe that for myself, I don’t know everything, and what I do know is probably either a tiny glimpse of the truth or a distortion of it. So I believe Jesus is God? So what. That does not mean much in the scope of all there is to know assuming that I am even right about that one fact.

            It sounds great to say that after we die we will all be right about what we know, but that’s not realistic. What if our religions are no longer needed? what if we are faced to face with God (or gods)? I think the pieces that we knew on earth will no longer matter.

          • Lana Hope

            Also, back to poststructural theory, Hayden White says it’s not the facts that matter. It’s the meaning. That’s what I’m saying. The truth is not in the fact. The truth is in the meaning. And this is what can unite religions.

          • sgl

            in general, i find people that use religion to try to improve themselves to be good people. (and you’re definitely in this first category lana.) however, people that use religion to try to “improve” (boss around) everyone else tend to be at best obnoxious, and at worst evil.

            so, theologically, i’m sure i profoundly disagree with the amish and mennonites. however, they don’t try to force everyone else to have no school beyond 8th grade, and don’t try to force everyone else to not use various technologies. therefore, it’s easy to get along with them.

            unfortunately, too many religious people now are using religion to try to control everyone else. and when they have a theology that says their beliefs are right, and everyone elses beliefs are of the devil, then that’s going to be a problem.

            if the majority of christians too your view, ie, that it’s a way of expressing meaning and value, then there would be a lot less antagonism all around. alas, i’d guess your views are a tiny minority, or at least a mostly silent one.

          • Lana Hope

            That’s one reason I like Buddhists is they are not that way. They never cared what I believed or anyone else. I’d say a lot of them where I’d lived (not true for all regions, but they are not atheistic in SE Asia, or at least my area was not) would have a harder time with non-religious people because they see religion as helping become self aware. But yes, overall 100% more tolerant than most Christians.

            So I agree with you, but part of the problem is the human tendency to know ourselves in our histories, and our need to drag others into our narratives. Religion is one way we do, but history tells us there is many ways.

          • Omkara

            “given you don’t like to privilege one culture over another, how do you think your “everyone will know jesus after death” sounds to other religions? to turn it around, how would you react to a hindu who said: “oh yes, jesus was one of the many incarnations of vishnu! just like krishna, buddha, mohammad, etc. so, your worship of jesus will give you very good karma, and your rebirth in the next life should be very very good!”

            As a Hindu myself I cannot stand hearing Hindus talk like that. But the few that do, do so out of ignorance of their own tradition as well as out of ignorance of Christianity, Islam and other traditions.

            I am not a fan of the concept of the “unity” of all religions. I am a fan of diversity of thought, diversity of metaphysical goals,diversity of states of consciousness, and diversity of practices to reach those states of consciousness and goals.

          • Lana Hope

            I have never been around Hindus, so don’t know how they would answer this. but the Buddhists regularly told me Buddha and Jesus were essentially the same.

          • Omkara

            “Also, back to poststructural theory, Hayden White says it’s not the facts that matter. It’s the meaning. That’s what I’m saying. The truth is not in the fact. The truth is in the meaning. And this is what can unite religions.”

            Please explain what you mean by “uniting religions”. Do you perceive all religions of the world eventually merging into one? I’m a lover of diversity and see mutual respect between widely diverse religions and cultures to be more appealing than homogenization.

            “The truth is in the meaning.”

            And the meanings are diverse.

          • Lana Hope

            I am not for diversity. I am for difference. I am not saying there will be a day when there is only one religion. I am saying that we need to create a culture among us where we can still share and learn from each other. I am not for diversity. I am for difference. I want us to be different, but I want us to learn from each other. Diversity is not the goal. Difference is. The reason I am not for diversity is that I believe that binary labels divide us. We have to let go of the you/me binary and think in terms of sharing in our differences. Again, this does not mean mean religions disolve. It means that we stop privledging our differences and dine together.

          • Omkara

            “I am not for diversity. I am for difference.”

            Same thing.

            ” I am not saying there will be a day when there is only one religion.”

            That’s good because it will never happen anyway.

            ” I am saying that we need to create a culture among us where we can still share and learn from each other.”

            That’s already going on.

            “Diversity is not the goal. Difference is. ”

            Again, diversity and difference are the same thing. I don’t know about either of them being a “goal”. A goal for what?

            “The reason I am not for diversity is that I believe that binary labels divide us.”

            I don’t understand this statement, being different and being diverse are the same thing. Binary labels, or I guess calling diverse traditions by diverse names (because they are in fact not the same) doesn’t have to divide us in a hostile manner. What it does is orientate us to what can be expected and hence we can more easily find what we are looking for. If I go to a Jain temple I have a pretty good idea what to expect. If I go to a Sikh gurudwara, similarly I know what to expect. The labels indicate these different traditions and make it easier for us to google what we’re looking for 😉

            ” We have to let go of the you/me binary and think in terms of sharing in our differences.”

            Again, the only people I have seen heavily into the us/them mentality and unwilling to share about their traditions on an equal footing with other traditions are generally strict Muslims and Christians. For some reason these people just can’t grok the concepts of religious liberty, freedom of choice and mutual respect.

            “… this does not mean mean religions disolve. It means that we stop privledging our differences and dine together.”

            I’m always inviting guests from diverse backgrounds over for prasad.

        • sgl

          re: “This is what I mean by the difference between universalism (one-ism) and diversity.”

          so omkara, do you think that all religions are true? ie, that christians go to heaven, and buddhists go to nirvana, and hindus get reborn until they stop the wheel of rebirth? ie, that there are multiple gods, and each god takes care of the people that worship it?

          or is one religion correct and the others wrong? or multiple religions are partially correct and partially wrong?

          or do you think that the seemingly multiple gods are really the same god filtered thru the human misperceptions, and that everyone is actually worshipping the same god?

          seems to me that there’s either no god, one god, or multiple gods. which is it in your view?

          and lastly, what should be done about it, if anything?

          • Omkara

            “seems to me that there’s either no god, one god, or multiple gods. which is it in your view?”

            None of the above.

            I “believe” that whatever we fill our time and head with, will be what we are “aware” of. It will be our state of consciousness – in the here and now.

            As far as what happens after death – I have no idea.

          • Lana Hope

            The problem I have with this theory is that it lacks compassion on the victims or even the perpetrators. Some people are creating a hell to live in, and to think that this is how our afterlife will go confuses me. Say you yell on earth and are always angry. Does this mean you will live in anguish after death? If you live in peace here, does that mean you will live in peace after death? And why do we want to live in our minds anyway? I’m not giving answers. I’m asking you to clarify what you mean.

          • Omkara

            “The problem I have with this theory is that it lacks compassion on the victims or even the perpetrators. Some people are creating a hell to live in, and to think that this is how our afterlife will go confuses me. Say you yell on earth and are always angry. Does this mean you will live in anguish after death? If you live in peace here, does that mean you will live in peace after death? ”

            Lana, there is not a single living person on earth who can tell us with certainty how he, she, you, I, or anyone is going to “live after death” or if we live after death at all.

            What religions or spiritual paths provide us with are models for living life according to certain ethics, as well as practices such as meditation, chanting, prayer, etc, that increases our awareness about certain aspects of ourselves and our environment as well as transforming our consciousness.

            This is useful, beautiful, life affirmative stuff.

            None of it can provide us with absolute certainty about what happens after death though and its foolish to pretend that it does.

          • Omkara

            “The problem I have with this theory is that it lacks compassion on the victims or even the perpetrators. ”

            What about anything I wrote denotes a “lack of compassion”?!

          • Lana Hope

            Nothing you said. I just mean that I find it difficult to believe that our afterlife will exist in our minds.

          • Omkara

            “Nothing you said. I just mean that I find it difficult to believe that our afterlife will exist in our minds.”

            I don’t know that it does. I have absolutely no idea what the after life is like or if its the same for everyone or different for each individual. I do know that what I choose to fill my mind with in this life will affect my emotions and behavior in this life.

  • Omkara

    Regarding our old topic of “universalism” I just got off the phone with a Christian who told me “all religions believe that Jesus is god”. I replied, “No, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Jainism, Hinduism, Buddhism etc do not believe Jesus is god.”

    She replied, “Then those are not religions”.

    Um, ok.

    • Lana Hope

      Lol, um, no

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