Easter is a good time for reflection on what it means to be spiritual and how to seek Spirituality.
The Easter Egg Hunt is a fun activity for children, searching for the chocolate eggs hidden around the home or garden. I can’t help but see a similarity with our search for meaning and spiritual connection. If you can, imagine the eggs as different religious or philosophical perspectives. They are all wrapped in different colours – different dogma, doctrine, rituals, characters and stories. But inside of each are core universal truths – the chocalety goodness inside.
So, we go out hunting for meaning and discover these teachings, all promising to bring you to a connection with the Divine. And they can – after all, they all have the sweet delight of universal truth inside. But to discover these truths, we must peel away the dogma, doctrines, rituals, characters and stories. Just like the way we peel away the shiny, colourful wrapping around our chocolate eggs.
If they are universal truths, why don’t religions just teach those? Why are they shrouded in colourful wrapping? There are two reasons for this – one is an individual reason and the other is a societal reason.
At the individual level, the subconscious is the connection between the conscious and the Divine. The subconscious understands through metaphor and stories. And because the subconscious is the connection between conscious and Divine it “feels” the meaning or universal truth behind the story, parable or ritual and can relay that interpretation back to the conscious mind. This is why we can “feel” music or poetry. So, wise women and men of different cultures and religions created rituals, stories and parables to allow the subconscious to understand the concepts or universal truths.
At a societal level, it is unfortunately a little darker reason. Religion is a construction of humanity. And because it is a construction of humanity, it means it can also be used to control or manipulate humanity. And because we have had clever women and men controlling religion who have also understood how the subconscious works, have also used ritual, dogma and doctrine to maintain and increase control of others. This is another layer of wrapping.
History has shown us that it is easy to get people to become enthusiastic supporters of any given religion without them digging deeper and unwrapping it to reveal the truths. Like a little child enamored with the colours of the egg wrapping, jealously guarding it from others. Religious wars, bigotry, religious colonisation and persecution are all examples of this jealous child…
So how can we tell what is universal truth and what is manipulation? How do we peel back the wrappings to feel and understand the Universal Truths inherent in all religions? When I am introduced to any new Spiritual concept, I like to apply what I call the Universe Test. Given that we are a microcosm of the macrocosm that is the universe, three conditions apply: 1. The universe is expansive, not constrictive. 2. The universe is inclusive, not exclusive. 3. The universe resonates outwards not inwards. (It pushes your energy outwards, not shrinking inwards) If all three of these conditions are met by the concept or belief, I then measure it against the 7 Teachings which to me are the cornerstones of Universal Truth – Love, Respect, Courage, Honesty, Wisdom, Humility and Truth.