How Many Religions Can You Speak?

How Many Religions Can You Speak? November 1, 2019

So…you say you are a Pagan or a practitioner of traditional Earth Based Spirituality?  You know all of the right names, titles, rituals and symbols. You know all the holidays and what they mean.  You can translate them into lessons that will help you, your friends, and your family live better lives that are more kind, gentle, and in harmony with the Earth.  How about those outside of your circle? How about those who are from a different group, or who are engaged in other types of Earth Based Spirituality or maybe even Creation Spirituality (an interfaith tradition with a heavy connection to the Earth and the Divine Feminine)?  Can you help them? How many religions can you speak?  Can you convey your message to people with different core beliefs?  Can you help them become more kind, gentle, and live a life in harmony with the Earth, which is really the most important thing, or do you find yourself “singing to the choir” all the time?

This is a question we might all consider during this new age.  Things aren’t the way they used to be. There is a lot more diversity.  People are reclaiming their own traditional religions. Due to technology and more rapid transportation various cultures and belief systems are constantly rubbing up against each other.  Sometimes, in order to hold onto our core beliefs and keep them authentic, we learn to build walls in our minds to separate us from the other systems, which often works very well. The only difficulty is that the walls often take on a life of their own.  They become powerful entities in themselves if we are not constantly vigilant, that can narrow our understanding and move us toward becoming dogmatic and isolated. The main way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to begin to learn about other traditions and religions, connecting with what is aligned with our ideology and leaving the other behind.

Growing and Expanding

When we do this we find ourselves beginning to understand a little more about our own cultures and religions.  We begin to grow and expand. Unlike the blind people in the story about the elephant where one thinks it is like a wall because they feel the side, and the other thinks it is like a snake when they grab the trunk and so on, we begin to see the whole thing.  The whole elephant appears before us. This is accompanied by a growth that helps us to embody our gods and goddesses and to bring forth the love and strength they give us into the world. That is one reason it is important for us to be multilingual when it comes to expressing our experiences and beliefs, realizing that using another language doesn’t take anything away from our tradition, but spreads the best of our tradition to those who may be engaged on a different path.

The Taoists speak of religions being like the spokes of a wheel leading to one center.  If one goes around the edge trying to reach the center by exploring every path and never goes in, one can travel around it forever never reaching the truth.  But if one takes one tradition and follows it to the end, to the hub, or the center where truth and pure realization resides one can, at any time, explore all of the other traditions at the level of the truth.  Even the exploration of these other traditions may be difficult for us, however, at a lower level. Many of us, unfortunately, have had to deal with a lower level understanding of religion.

Dealing with Past Harm

Many of us, as Pagans or people practicing Earth Based Spiritualities, have been hurt.  We are not accepted in many places. We have to pull away from many other traditions completely because of the anger and hatred that has perpetrated against those who did not believe in the god of The Book as presented by those who lead the institutional religious organizations.  Superstition has prevailed against us because of their false depictions of who we are.  This makes it even more important for us to be able to convey our hopes, our dreams, our ideas and philosophy of the world directly to the people using their forms of religious symbology and vocabulary from the level closest to the center.

If we want to see the world change and return to what it once was before patriarchal religions started being forced on various groups by others, we need to reclaim all of the images, myths and stories, along with all the power that comes with those images, and return them to what they were.  For most religions, if we look at the founders, were at the level near the center of the wheel. The mystical understanding of those religions taught people about the sacredness of themselves and the Earth. The ability to do this as spiritual teachers and seekers, in essence, is what it means to be whole and to be a creator of life.

About Rev. Dr. Om Prakash Gilmore
Rev., Dr. John Gilmore (Om Prakash) was a UU Minister for more than fifteen years and is a retired UU Minister now doing a community based ministry in Health, Wellness, and Healing He served as a Parish Minister for many years, and a Wellness and Social Justice Community Minister at UU Church of Bedford, MA as working as the Director of the MA Chapter of the UUJEC and later the Co-Director and Director of the UUJEC National. Om Prakash was also a JUUST UU Consultant, and Director of Racial and Social Justice for the Joseph Priestley District. He has been a CUUPS member for several years and is now serving on the CUUPS Board in the Ministerial and Right Relations position. You can read more about the author here.
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