The aim of religion is to carefully instruct and encourage you to believe in specific doctrines, dogmas and traditions with regards to God. Any deviation from these would subject you to prescribed penalties designed to keep you in compliance with those doctrines, dogmas and traditions.
Spirituality, on the other hand, encourages you to ask questions, evaluate the
answers from them, and draw your own conclusion based on what you've heard, read and experienced with regards to God, who is appropriately called the "Universal Consciousness" because he is present everywhere.
While religion can open the door to spirituality, spirituality is not necessarily a consequence of religion. Meaning, while religion in itself is not a hindrance to spirituality, it can become a hindrance to the extent that it imposes limitation on thinking outside the box regarding the question,"Does God Exist".
Nowhere is the push for thinking outside the box more telling than in the evolution of the human mind, and its expanding capacity to reason. This is the driving force behind the movement away from religion, in favor of spirituality, because the human mind is inquisitive, analytical and solution oriented, and does not uncritically submit itself to doctrines, dogmas and traditions written in stones.
However, I have found that the pursuit of the knowledge about God can go astray without a guiding light. Through the ages, God has revealed himself and his purpose for humankind to few selected men and women. These revelations have been codified in the holy books of the major religions.
Since I was brought up as a Christian, the bible is my guiding light for finding the answer to the question, "Does God Exist". I should add that the bible is not the only book of God. It is one among many books of God. Which is to say, it is narrow thinking to claim that one religion is better than another, or one holy book is truer than another.
For me as a Christian, the bible is the true book of God. Just as for a Muslim, the quran is the true book of God. Accepting this takes nothing away from my spirituality, and my pursuit to connect with God in spirit.
For me as a Christian, God's purpose for humankind is revealed in Matthew 7:21-23. The relevant question that arises from the quoted passage is, "What is the will of God". In Matthew 22:37-40, we read in effect that God's will is that you, "Treat your neighbors as you would want to be treated".
Practicing this spiritual principle, allows the human soul to be receptive to the spirit of God. This has been known and taught in all the major religions for centuries. The problem is that the word "neighbors" has been often misunderstood to mean only those in your religion, fraternity or social group. Nothing could be more wrong.
Your neighbors include all people from all religions, fraternities and social groups. When we rise to this level of enlightenment, we are able to find solutions to problems that are mutually beneficial to all affected parties. Not only that, we also elevate ourselves spiritually to the level of God, and are enabled to connect with God in spirit.
The twin rewards from this spiritual enlightenment are peace with our neighbors, and the gift of God's wisdom and power to help us find practical solutions to the problems that torment our minds and bodies. To read more about God's wisdom and power click here.
The Evolution Of My Thoughts On God And Religion
I was raised a Christian and carefully taught to believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, and that nobody could connect spiritually with God and be saved except through Jesus Christ. Over the years, I inferred from this that all non Christians would not be saved. In my conversations and writings I have presented my belief as incontrovertible facts to anyone who cared to listen to me, or read my work.
As I matured spiritually, I began questioning the belief that God would save only Christians, and would destroy the rest of humanity because they did not accept Jesus Christ as the son of God. It also dawned on me that people in different parts of the world, influenced by elements unique to their environment would, as a matter of course, develop traditions and cultures different from those in my part of the world. This being true, it is obvious that there would be different religions in different parts of the world, each created by the unique traditions and cultures of its followers.
Having realized this, it made no sense to me when a Christian says only Christians would be saved because the bible says so. Since followers of Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism, Sikhism, Baha'i, Jainism, Shinto and other religions would also claim they are the only true believers who would be saved because their holy books say so. This argument on who is a true believer and who is not has driven followers of each religion to circle the wagons, accepting those within the circle as true believers, and those outside as infidels. The consequence has been intolerance, wars, mayhem and death, there in the pages of history for all to see.
Meanwhile, believers are asking, "Where is God?" Bad things are happening to good people. They lose their jobs, they lose their health insurance, they lose their homes, their lives fall apart before their eyes. They are involved in violent accidents, or struck down by degenerative diseases that leave them disabled. Their children are born with congenital diseases that deprive them of ever living a normal life, or are struck by a terminal disease like cancer that kills them even before they've had the chance to know what life is all about.
Thinking about these life changing events believers ask, why me? They have become skeptical of God and his relevance in their everyday lives. They are not getting the answers they seek from God, and are venting their displeasure by walking away from organized religion in large numbers, raising the inescapable question, "Does God exist at all?"
I believe the Universal Consciousness (God) exists, on the strength of the argument that the earth and life could not have come from nothing. Even as I write this, I am challenged by the question: if there was nothing before God, isn't it conceivable that God came from nothing? And if this is true, am I not agreeing with Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking and Lawrence Krauss that life and the universe came from nothing? I would admit trying to answer this question logically is like entering a black hole where time stops, and light cannot survive.
All the same, while cosmologists work on their mathematical models to prove that everything came from nothing, I believe that in the beginning was the Universal Consciousness from whom came all there is. Your question would be, if so how did the Universal Consciousness come into existence? This question can neither be answered by the tools of science, nor by logic. It is a spiritual question answerable only by faith which is the tool of the spirit. And contrary to the popular notion, faith is not believing blindly. Faith is the pursuit of spiritual knowledge.
The Universal Consciousness
You may have noticed I am calling God by the name Universal Consciousness. I am doing so because I don't want to be tied to any one religion, and secondly, the Universal Consciousness is no respecter of man or woman. He puts no person or group of persons above all others. The Universal Consciousness is absolute good, and he reveals his goodness through love made equally available to all who live by the universal divine law of good and evil which reads, "In everything you do, treat your neighbors as you would want to be treated". And as proof of it's universality, in one form or another this law is found in every major religion around the world.
Living by the universal divine law of good and evil is the only means by which
we are elevated spiritually to become children of the Universal Consciousness. In other words, our relationship with the Universal Consciousness is based on spiritual laws. No person or group of persons have an exclusive claim on the Universal Consciousness as their father. As human beings with physical bodies, we become children of the Universal Consciousness who is spirit, by going through a spiritual process that elevates us from the physical to the spiritual, and this is possible only when living by the universal divine law of good and evil.
We delude ourselves when we believe that we are children of the Universal Consciousness simply because we are members of a particular religion. Many have found the hard way that this is not true. They have lived by the administrative and ceremonial laws, and teachings of their religion all their lives, yet have not received the miracles they expect from God. As a result, many have become disappointed with their God.
There is now great confusion among believers concerning the Universal Consciousness. If he exists and is not lifting a finger to help believers with the problems of life, he couldn't be the God they know from their religious teachings because they have been taught that God is just and generous. But if God exists and is just and generous, and can see the pain and suffering of the poor and needy, why is he doing nothing to help? To the critics, the answer is simple: God does not exist.
I must say emphatically that the Universal Consciousness is a living spirit. However, being certain that the Universal Consciousness exists doesn't come as a matter of course. Your relationship with the Universal Consciousness is based strictly on spiritual laws. It doesn't matter at all whether or not you are a member of a religion. What matters is whether you are living by the universal divine law of good and evil. What's more, the Universal Consciousness rewards those who treat their neighbors as they would want to be treated, by giving them the things they ask for in prayer.
How Does The Universal Consciousness Answer Your Prayer
In what form do we receive from the Universal Consciousness the things we ask for in prayer? This is a critical question because for many believers, receiving what they ask for in prayer is proof that the Universal Consciousness exists. Sadly, many have been disappointed because they have not received what they pray for. Many more are yet to fully understand that regardless of how much they pray, they would not miraculously find a check under their pillows sufficient to make their car, mortgage or rent payment. Neither would they miraculously find a letter in their mailboxes offering them six figures jobs that they are not qualified for, or have applied for.
This is not to suggest that miracles do not happen. Miracles do happen, but not in the form we've been made to expect. Normally, you have to create the conditions in which the miracle you hope for can become yours in material form. And if you have tried everything you humanly can and are getting nowhere, the time has come to seek divine help from the Universal consciousness, if you can recognize the form in which he sends his response to your prayer.
Keep in mind that the Universal Consciousness is a spirit. He answers your prayer in spirit by giving you his divine wisdom and power to augment your human wisdom and strength to fuel your willpower to create the conditions in which the things you hope for take physical form. It's analogous to using a pair of binoculars to augment your eyes to see further and clearer than you could with your naked eyes. But receiving divine wisdom and power is just the beginning, the divine gifts would remain dormant until you put them into effect by your willpower.
When willpower is understood as your ability to choose a goal, formulate a plan of action to achieve it, bring together the resources needed to implement your plan, and having the inner strength to stay motivated until you achieve your goal, then nothing is more critical to your good health and happiness than your willpower to achieve them.
By your willpower, you can choose to live by the universal divine law of good and evil, allowing you to spiritually connect with the Universal Consciousness. But unlike the physical laws of nature where all you need is meet the prescribed conditions to have the desired results, with spiritual laws, for every positive course of action you take, there is an opposing negative course of action pushing against it.
In other words, when you decide to "treat your neighbors as you would want to be treated" which is a positive course of action, the opposing negative course of action which dictates that you "treat your neighbors as you wouldn't want to be treated" would push against your decision to do what is right. This explains why in all facets of human life it's difficult to do what is right. Consequently, it's not enough to want to do what is right, we should also overcome the evil found in every human being to do what is wrong.
In this raging battle between good and evil, keep in mind that your willpower is a double edged sword, it could be used for good as well as evil. When willpower is used for evil, you can be sure it's not from the Universal Consciousness. The Universal Consciousness is absolute good, and for this reason nothing evil can come from the Universal Consciousness.
Why Is There Evil In The World
Critics of the Universal Consciousness make the argument that if everything there is came from the Universal Consciousness, who is absolute good, why does evil exist in the world? In their haste to disparage the Universal Consciousness, the critics have overlooked the fact that our relationship with the Universal Consciousness is based on spiritual laws, just as our relationship with the physical world is based on physical laws. For example, when a book falls off a shelf, it doesn't levitate, it falls to the floor in compliance with the physical law of gravity. In the same way, good or evil come to exist depending on whether or not we treat our neighbors as we would want to be treated.
And by the way, we are free to choose our means to the ends we desire. Nobody would want to have it otherwise. Imagine how terrible life would be if you got in your car, and wanted to go north on the interstate highway, but was forced by an invisible hand to go south. There would be chaos. Knowing this, whether your means to an end are good or evil, the Universal Consciousness would not stop you because your relationship with the Universal Consciousness is based on the workings of spiritual laws, and not on the exercise of paternal authority over you.
All the same, the Universal Consciousness is not completely absent while you choose your course of action. The Universal Consciousness rewards those who choose to treat their neighbors as they would want to be treated by connecting with them spiritually. When connected spiritually with the Universal consciousness, that which is good would flow from the Universal Consciousness into your mind and body. The flow of that which is good would push out all that is bad in your mind and body, with the ensuing effect that all that is good in your mind and body would be enhanced to perform at their maximum.
For example, when spiritually connected with the Universal Consciousness, your brain, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, joints and other organs of your body would perform at their best because you would be making better decisions on your diet and physical exercise to maintain your health. If you are on medications, they would work better and faster to return you to good health. You would have no complication during surgery for a medical problem. The relationship with your spouse would change for the better because your changed attitude would incentivize your spouse to change in kind. All these good things would occur when you are spiritually connected with the Universal Consciousness, and receiving the flow of that which is good into your mind and body.
Putting The Universal Divine Law Of Good and Evil To The Test
The flow of that which is good into your mind and body is the form in which you would receive answers to your prayer from the Universal Consciousness. You would receive your answers in spirit, in the form of divine wisdom and power to enhance your ability to make better decisions, and the inner strength to stay motivated to create the conditions in which the things you ask for in prayer become yours in material form. If you have any doubt that divine wisdom and power can be transformed into material things, put the universal divine law to the test.
If you had any doubt that 2 parts of hydrogen and 1 part of oxygen produce water, you would go to the laboratory and test the formula. Similarly, you can prove the existence of the Universal Consciousness (God) by testing the validity of the universal divine law of good and evil. I can assure you the Universal Consciousness would not be displeased you want to find proof that he exists.
When testing the validity of the universal divine law of good and evil, begin at home by treating members of your family as you would want to be treated. Let's face it, if you cannot treat members of your family as you would want to be treated, how could you treat your neighbors as you would want to be treated? During the test, even when the other person is not reciprocating, continue treating him or her as you would want to be treated. Your perseverance would reveal the ugliness of his words and actions, and bring a change his attitude toward you.
Keep in mind that you don't have to force the other person to reciprocate in order to connect spiritually with the Universal Consciousness. Simply practicing the universal divine law of good and evil in your relationships with others, is primarily all you need do to connect spiritually with the Universal Consciousness, and start the flow of divine wisdom and power into you.
While receiving divine wisdom and power from the Universal Consciousness, keep in mind that every positive course of action you take would be countered by an opposing negative course of action. Don't be frustrated by this, even when the attack against your decision to do what is right is persistent and ferocious. Fortify yourself with the belief that you are not alone, and allow the Universal Consciousness to work through your willpower to create the conditions in which the things you hope for would become yours in material form.
Do You Have To Be A Member Of A Religion To Connect With The Universal Consciousness
Contrary to the popular view, you don't have to be a member of a religion to connect spiritually with the Universal Consciousness. Still, being a member of a religion would not harm you in any way provided its dogmas, rituals and teachings focus your mind on treating your neighbors as you would want to be treated. In this regard, religion is just one among many pathways to the Universal Consciousness. Whether religious or not, the onus is on you to live by the universal divine law of good and evil to connect spiritually with the Universal Consciousness.
Having highlighted the benefits from connecting spiritually with the Universal Consciousness, we still have to answer the question, "Why do bad things happen to good people?"
My answer to the question is, so long as we live in a physical world, and have the free will to make decisions and take actions, it's an inextricable part of life that somethings would go wrong. Our task is not to eradicate all the bad things in life, our task is to eradicate those that we can, and to manage those that we cannot to the extent that they do not destroy our inner strength and drive us into despair.
But even as we strive to do this , good people would continue to lose their jobs, they would lose their health insurance, they would lose their homes, their lives would fall apart. Children would be born with congenital diseases that rob them of ever having a normal life. Good people would be involved in violent accidents, or be struck by terminal diseases that disable them for life. Good people would be trapped in jobs at subsistence income levels where the pursuit of happiness would remain a dream.
Looking at these problems the critics would ask, where is God in the face of all the pain and suffering in the world? Is God dead? I would say to the critics, the Universal Consciousness is dead only to those who don't live by the universal divine law of good and evil. And although those who live by the universal divine law of good and evil cannot solve problems like blindness, down syndrome, lameness and incurable diseases, the effects of these problems would be diminished by the inflow of that which is good from the Universal Consciousness such that it would seem the problems did not exist at all. In other words, connecting spiritually with the Universal Consciousness would motivate our unfortunate brothers and sisters to pursue and find happiness, which would otherwise be impossible to attain.
To sum it all up, our relationship with the Universal Consciousness is based on spiritual laws, foremost of which is, "In everything you do, treat your neighbors as you would want to be treated." This is the divine law that allows you to connect spiritually with the Universal Consciousness. When you live by this divine law you are concurrently recognizing the existence of the Universal Consciousness, and thus met the requirement to receive divine wisdom and power to create the conditions in which what you ask for in prayer becomes yours in material form.
If you have any doubt about the existence of the Universal Consciousness (God), contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for help on how to live by the universal divine law of good and evil. Meanwhile, as preparation for your meeting with the Universal Consciousness, click here.