2012-12-20

Not Answering

Difficult as it is to hear and understand the words of the other,
Keep open the channels of human discourse
Spirit affirms, the breath of life praises,
The teachings live:
Our way together is the way of life.
Herbert Bronstein, “Chant for the Universe”
“We’re in a different age now, but we have the same genes those tribal ancestors had. Natural selection has selected in us the genes to: (a) protect ‘us’, and (b) identify ‘us’ as the ones who share rituals and sacred stories with us.” (Previous Lake Chalice)
Our genes give us proclivities. We also have tremendous elasticity in what we do with those proclivities. We have circuitry for loyalty to “our tribe.” The trick is to train that circuitry to regard all of creation as our tribe. This training doesn't come naturally to brains built like ours – but neither does learning theoretical physics. It takes a lot of good teachers and intentional efforts at reshaping our thinking.

Cooperation has huge pay-offs -- and we can certainly see those pay-offs for both sides in the Middle East, if they could learn to cooperate. But cooperation is also risky. The risk is that the first one to make a cooperative move will get taken advantage of. So we evolved to be wary -- because wariness enhanced our survival. It takes a lot of education to re-train brains -- and if they aren't re-trained on both sides, then the fear of being taken advantage of is not irrational.

Why can’t we get along? Why is there fighting in the Mid-East when all three religions in the region teach peace?

To respond to this question rather than merely answer it requires a commitment to the ongoing neural retraining. Let the questions be ones that we keep and live into – that we keep asking, and ask doggedly. Can’t we get along? Can’t we live in peace?

Instead of answering, keep asking.

Yes, our religions are very different – at least until the members of each grow spiritually enough for them to begin to come together. At the same time, our inherent worth and dignity is the same.

“Difficult as it is to hear and understand the words of the other,” can’t we listen to one another?

Can’t we “keep open the channels of human discourse”?

“Our way together is the way of life.” Can’t we walk that way together?

“Spirit affirms, the breath of life praises, the teachings live.” Can’t we learn that all of life is our tribe?

The insistence on the question, not on an answer, is how we move to a more developed faith – to a stage at which all the religions flow together. Can’t we love one another and live in peace?

The root of violence and injustice is any thought, word, or deed that treats a being like an object or diminishes a being’s sense of value or security. Can’t we end violence and oppression at its root? Can’t we?

Keep pressing the question, dear readers. Accept no answer, but repeat the question:
Can’t we love one another and live in peace?
Accept no answer until the day comes when the answer is:
“We can, and we do.”
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This is part 5 of 5 of "Religions: Same and Different"
Previous: Part 4: "Answering"
Beginning: Part 1: "Where Do You Live?"