A strange place to start a philosophy…

Buddha Light and Jesus Christ LightImage by annamatic3000 via Flickr

When I was an evangelical Christian, we had a system by which we would share the Gospel of Christ with others (although it is based on a book written by Paul). We called it the Romans Road.

The first step on the Romans Road is taken from Romans 3:23 – “All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.” In one sense, this seems to be a starting point of shame, something I once considered to be a horrible place to start a philosophy. However, on the other hand, it is a tenet of equality. For if we look out into the world around us, when we often see people who enrage us with their selfishness, stupidity, fear, and violence, this verse reminds us that we are all in the same boat.

We have all forgotten the spark of divinity which resides within us. As Marianne Williamson put it, in archery, to “sin” is to miss the mark, and we have all done it. Not one of us has been at our best one hundred percent of the time. Very few of us fully dwell in the Presence of God.

So as we make our way down this road of life together, let’s remember that we’ve all fallen at one time or another. Let’s give each other a hand up when we’re able instead of opting for the compulsion to shame.

I also find it an interesting correlation that the first of the Buddhists’ Four Noble Truths is that “All Life is Suffering.” While the rest of Noble Truths and the steps along the Romans Road differ greatly in their unfolding, they both start with the idea that we are lacking, handicapped, and in need of a new understanding.

I’ll be writing more about the rest of the Road as well as the Truths in later blogs, but I wanted to point out that two of the largest religious traditions in the world start out in relatively the same place. And while I want very badly to dismiss the idea that we are lacking and realize the perfection of the Universe, I can’t help but look around at the state of the world and realize at least some truth to this idea.

We’re engulfed in wars and battles of ideologies. We’re wreaking havoc on the environment. Our economic system is in turmoil. We’re almost defined by our addictions. And I just have to wonder if it is our nature to live our this idea of our necessary suffering and separation from God, or if our belief in this idea is creating the fact for us.

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