Spirituality – Polarizing or Unifying
by Michael Mamas
The holiday season is upon us. It’s a time when families reunite. It is a time when a very delicate issue inevitably comes to the forefront. The other day, I was watching television with my older daughter when a holiday season ad appeared. “We give thanks to God for enriching our lives with all that is good.” We were quiet for a moment and I asked my daughter, “What do you think of that quote? Do you feel there is anything wrong with it?”
She was quiet for a second and responded, “It’s cheesy.” I smiled, understanding and respecting that response.
The quote is lovely and heartwarming. However, I think most of us can relate to my daughter’s reaction to it.
The beauty and truth in the quote can be more deeply understood if we remove the cheese and appreciate the essential meaning. A meeting of minds will be created between all people sitting at the dinner table together this holiday season. Without it, spirituality is undermined, and those who find the quote cheesy and those who find the quote lovely are polarized.
The essential meaning is best conveyed by first understanding that Einstein was right. There is a unified field—one thing underlying and breathing life, harmony, and coherence into all existence. Not only does it create and sustain life, but clearly it enriches our lives “with all that is good”. Thanks to the modern physicists, this is no longer the domain of religious fervor, it is also science. It is a common ground that we can all share. Once understood, it is not at all cheesy to be thankful that such a thing as the unified field exists. If your relationship with it is purely scientific and rational, religious, emotionally indulgent or otherwise, it becomes of secondary importance. Of primary importance is the unification it brings to all people.
Some people are naturally emotional. On the other hand, it is the nature of others to be more rationally oriented. One is not better than the other. One does not make a person more spiritual than the other. If we can set aside such biases long enough to acknowledge and celebrate the common ground among us all, there would be greater harmony within ourselves, our families, our communities, our nation, and throughout the world. May that begin with you this holiday season.
Developing the ability to see people fundamentally instead of superficially is a huge step forward in your life. How often the emotionally-based scoff at the rational people, and vice versa. Imagine a level of life when you are capable of seeing people for whom and what it is they truly are. A view unfettered by the biases of perception. Certainly, you will have your nature. But the world view inherent to that nature will not have such a rigid grip on your heart and mind that you cease to understand (stand under – humility is built right into the word). It’s difficult for me to overstate the importance of the ability to do that.
I recall having a discussion about God with a very nice lady. With all respect, I believe many would have regarded her viewpoint as particularly ungrounded and, if you will, cheesy. As carefully as I could, I tried to discuss that with her. She immediately bristled, saying, "How dare you question my relationship with God!"
In courteous sincerity, I suggested that it is our spiritual duty to question that relationship. It is through such questioning that our relationship with God evolves. Not being willing to do so, is the fabric out of which fanaticism and narrow mindedness is woven. Such narrow-mindedness is epidemic on all sides, ranging from the deeply spiritual to the staunch atheist. Finding what can be agreed upon and exploring from that starting point evolves every individual’s understanding of God. It does not undermine it. Though it is a subtle art and a slippery slope, we would all do well to become adept at it. In fact, I believe that skill is essential in all walks of life. Certainly, it would serve you and your family well at the dinner table this holiday season.
The other day, my wife and I attended a parent-teacher meeting with my older daughter. Her sixth-grade teacher described some of the group projects the students had been working on. Then she asked my daughter to explain why she, like so many others, preferred working alone. I was pleased with my daughter’s response. She described her relationship with each of the individuals in the group, explaining where the tensions arose. What impressed me was her lack of judgment. After she finished, I complimented the teacher for giving the students that opportunity and I mentioned to my daughter that learning to take a step back and look at the nature of a relationship with other people is one of the most fundamental skills you can acquire in life.
Know that we all share common ground. It dwells at the depth of our being. Common ground on the surface, devoid of recognition of the depth, is not common ground at all. In fact, it is called collusion. Are friendships based upon collusion truly friendships? Certainly not, in the deepest sense of the word.
Nor is tolerance the ability to find common ground with others. It is not about tolerating people’s differences. Common ground is about unification, a celebration of essential oneness. This holiday season is an excellent opportunity to explore and work with that. The increased incidence of intra-family conflicts and need for counseling during holiday times underscores the fact that many would do well to further cultivate that ability.
So to return to the quote, “We give thanks to God for enriching our lives with all that is good.” I believe we can now see that by resting in the common ground underlying that quote, our relationship with that quote evolves, regardless of whether our first visceral response to it was positive or negative.
Like everything else, the quote is not the issue. But, your relationship with that quote and others’ relationship with that quote and how you hold those relationships is of utmost importance. Remarkably, the inability to do that is the cause of conflicts and even wars.
May this holiday season be a time to bring forth peace on earth.
© Michael Mamas, 12/10