RHIMES (c) believes that no one religion is superior to any other. We do believe that, quite often, the development of institutional religions around the teachings of a spiritual teacher very often distort the teachings beyond recognition. In the case of our inherited wisdom tradition in America, Christianity, we believe the life and teachings of Rabbi Jesus have been so distorted by the institution that we can in good conscience no longer identify ourselves exclusively as Christians. We have come to believe that “followers of Jesus” more accurately (if not completely) describes our spiritual identity, and we refer to our perspective as “interspirituality.”
As followers of Jesus we believe that any system of spirituality or religion that has at its core the value of compassion, the value of and love for all human beings without exception, an affirmation of non-violence, and an affirmation of human potential and dignity to be good and of value. We see no benefit in comparing spiritualities with an eye toward determining that one is better or worse than another because spirituality is inherently very subjective. Which spirituality an individual is attracted to is determined by a number of factors, and so to assert that any one spirituality is good for all people at all times is naive at best and manipulative at worst.
At RHIMES we band together with our brothers and sisters of all traditions to make this world a more loving, more compassionate, more peaceful place. Nobody is excluded from RHIMES for any reason, including religious or spiritual background. There is nothing about anything that Jesus ever said that prohibits studying under other spiritual teachers from other traditions – it has been the institution that has said those things, and the institution will say whatever it need to say to perpetuate itself. Such things are the nature of institutions.
If we think of God as a mirror ball we quickly recognize that the part of God that we see is but one section, one mirror, of the entire ball. Our spiritual journey moves us around the ball and allows us to discern more of God, but we must also acknowledge that there are other folk from other traditions who view the ball from other perspectives. Me must learn to come together to share what we know of God. In this way other religions move from being threatening (as the institution wants us to see them) to being helpful. We learn that we can walk together toward God and learn from each other’s experiences.
Suppose that you had lived all your life being told that the only kind of cookie that existed was a chocolate chip cookie. When you tasted a chocolate chip cookie for the first time you loved it so much that you wanted to learn all about them. You studied for years all of the ingredients and possible baking methods for chocolate chip cookies, and because you thought that they were the only cookie that existed you were pretty sure you knew all there was to know about cookies. Imagine your surprise when one day you encountered someone with an oatmeal raisin cookie, and another person with a peanut butter cookie, and yet another with a sugar cookie. You would learn that not only did you not know everything about cookies, but you only knew the tip of the iceberg. What of snicker doodles?
This is an excellent analogy for the person who hasn’t ever looked beyond their own spiritual tradition. After all, despite all the closed-minded people in the world who would deny this truth, all religions have as a goal the same thing – achieving transcendence. There are, of course, different names for this transcendence – heaven, enlightenment, union with God, paradise, becoming one with the universe, and more – but in the end it is still a way to transcend this life and achieve union with something or someone bigger than us. In our experience, everything we have learned about how someone else understands the spiritual journey – regardless of their tradition – has helped us to understand more about our own journey.
You won’t hear that from many, if any, folks in the institutional church. Rather you will hear stories of the great perils that await you should you look into any elses view of the spiritual life. It is perhaps the only venue in which learning is discouraged. That seems more than a little odd. What would be the advantage of ignorance, of keeping people in the dark? For the individual kept in the dark there is never an advantage, unless they are a mushroom. Any spiritual path worth following must stand up to the test of intellectual challenge and questioning.
And so we encourage all followers of Jesus to learn at least a little bit about at least one other system of belief. There are decent introductory articles about most faith systems on sources such as Wikipedia, easily accessed on the Internet. And, if you are a member of a non-Christian belief system we would encourage you to do the same. The perspective of other systems of belief most often has the effect of helping us understand out own spirituality better, whether or not we leave our inherited spiritual system. There truly is nothing to fear except ignorance!
The day is overdue when we must come to see all other people as our brothers or sisters in God. Nothing less will do, for it is only with other people that we will come to know God who dwells in everything and everybody!
CONTACT US! RHIMESinterspirituality@gmail.com