I posted a blog piece in January 2017 titled "The Founding Fathers on Religion" about how our country was founded on the principle of religious freedom rather than being set up as a Christian nation.
It wasn't long before I received a rancorous response from a man who insisted that the USA was indeed a Christian nation and that Christ is who he said he was and what he said: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the father, but through me." He ended his lengthy diatribe by informing me that he would pray for my eternal soul.
I really didn't want to start a debate about religion. It's difficult to write anything about this subject without causing animosity from various directions.
However, there's a big difference between believing in a divine "heavenly" Spirit and the practice of an organized religion. One does not need to be affiliated with a specific organized religion to be a moral, righteous person.
The very 1st sentence in my Founding Father's piece reads -- "The Founding Fathers of our country were primarily made up of Deists and Unitarians who believed in unalienable Rights being endowed by a Creator."
Yes, the Founding Fathers believed in a divine Spirit, but they also believed all individuals were entitled to their own version of a higher realm in the universe & beyond.
And when the man added (John 14:6), "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the father but through me." it seemed like a subtle form of bigoted superiority. In other words, the only path to a heavenly realm was his path, a belief and worship of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, if you are a Buddhist or Hindu or Muslim or agnostic or atheist or Native American or a newly born child or Gnostic or Bahai or Judaism or Jainism or Sikhism or Taoism or Australian Aboriginal or Shinto, etc., etc., or any human being who passed away prior to the birth of Jesus, you cannot ascend to a higher realm because you do not worship Jesus Christ.
Somehow that seems unfair and untrue. Too many people worship the messenger and ignore the message.
Christians are led to believe that Jesus was the one and only son of God. However, there were many others before him who were conceivably of the same mold.
Mithras was a Persian & Greco-Roman God. The religion of Mithraism preceded Christianity by approximately 600 years. Mithras of Persia (Iran) was born of a virgin in a cave on December 25. His birth was attended by shepherds. He was considered to be a master and a teacher. He traveled with 12 companions, performed miracles, and promised immortality to those who believed in him. Upon his death, he was buried in a tomb and rose again after three days.
Attis of Phrygia (1250 BC) was a Phrygo-Roman and Asia Minor God. Attis was born on the winter solstice (near December 25) of a virgin mother (Virgin Nana). He was considered "the only begotten son" and upon his death was considered to be "the savior slain for the salvation of mankind." His cult had a sacrificial meal where "his body as bread was eaten by his worshippers." He was crucified on a tree and descended into the underworld. After 3 days, he was resurrected just after the spring solstice (near Easter time).
Dionysus, also known as Bacchus (1500 BC), was a Mycenean Greek God. Dionysus was born during the winter solstice (near December 25) of a virgin mother and placed in a manger. He was considered to be the son of the heavenly Father and was referred to as the ram or lamb or the "King of Kings" or the "only begotten Son." He was a travelling teacher who performed miracles, including turning water into wine. He was crucified on a tree. After 3 days, he arose from the dead and ascended into heaven just after the spring solstice (near Easter time).
Many others followed the same divine path prior to the time of Jesus, including Osiris in Egypt, Adonis in Syria, etc.
On June 19, in the year 325 A.D., the Roman Emperor, Constantine, summoned 318 bishops from the Empire to his lake house in Nicea, Turkey, and presided over this ecumenical council, known as the Council of Nicea. There had been much controversy concerning the divinity of Jesus and Constantine wanted to settle the issue. He proposed that "Jesus and God were of the same substance." After much debate, a compromise was reached, acknowledging Constantine's position. They debated as to which items were to be included in a book of sacred writings, the Holy Bible, and which ones were to be forbidden. They also agreed that Easter would be held after the first full moon on (or after) the vernal equinox (when the sun passes over the Earth's equator), thereby making Easter a movable day that would never again coincide with the Jewish holiday of the Passover.
Mary (mother of Jesus) had 6 children -- it wasn't until 70 AD that the Gospel of Luke first introduced the concept of Mary having a virgin birth, many decades after the death of Jesus.
There were no direct witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. Yet, there are six different accounts of the resurrection in the New Testament, recorded between 20 and 70 years after the event -- one account of it in each of the four Gospels, one in the book of Acts and one in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians
James and Thomas (both were apostles) were siblings of Jesus.
In the letters of James in the New Testament, there is no mention of a virgin birth or the resurrection.
In the Gospel of Thomas, there is no mention of a virgin birth or the resurrection.
In the Acts of Thomas, the brother of Jesus is on record as performing more "miracles" than Jesus, including raising people from the dead.
Jesus in Psalm 82 -- "I have said, ye are gods."
Jesus in John 12:14 -- "You will all do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these will you do."
Perhaps Jesus Christ was conveying a message that we all have the ability to become one with a divine spirit in a higher realm and thereby make the world a better place.
Buddhists and Hindus recognize the existence of non-physical realms and various states of existence.
Muhammad encountered an angel named Gabriel who revealed the entire text of the Koran to Muhammad.
Joseph Smith encountered an angel named Moroni who gave him the text of the Book of Mormon on golden tablets that vanished into thin air.
Certain Native Americans believe in a Great Spirit in the Sky and a visitation by sky-beings who guided them.
Perhaps we each individually reside in a divine spiritual realm that conforms with our own individual truths.
Perhaps we occasionally depart from our divine spiritual realm to incarnate (reincarnate) onto a carnal existence (such as Planet Earth) where we are confronted with pain, suffering, greed and injustice, in order to learn lessons, such as tolerance, forgiveness and love, to cleanse our eternal soul.
Everyone believes their way is the correct way.
Perhaps it's all correct and it's our mission in life to find the proper righteous path for our individual soul.
Far too much blood has been spilled over differences in religious concepts and affiliations, which are often deeply imbedded within our psyche based on our upbringing or geographic location.
We are all one -- it's time for the human race to follow the great truth about treating others as we wish to be treated.
With age comes wisdom -- I've had many experiences in my life where it has become manifestly evident that there exists higher realms of reality beyond our dimension of earthly life.
Spiritual growth and evolution is a continual individual process.
If you are a moral, honorable, noble, virtuous person, you are on a righteous path of atonement.
When we become one with the universe and beyond, we become divine souls in the community of divine souls.
- Religion is the belief in someone else's experience.
- Spirituality is having your own experience.
"It is not necessary to believe in God to be a good person. In a way, the traditional God is outdated. One can be spiritual but not religious. It is not necessary to go to church and give money -- for many, nature can be a church. Some of the best people in history did not believe in God, while some of the worst deeds were done in His name." Pope Francis
The quest for bliss is an eternal struggle. Human beings yearn for harmony, prosperity, happiness and fulfillment.
Unfortunately, there are a multitude of variations among the human race as to what constitutes human bliss, including insisting everyone think as they do.
Every minute on Planet Earth, 100 people will die and 240 people will be born.
This continual population expansion is problematic. Wars are manufactured by covert global elitists who profit from bloody conflict in an attempt to curtail population growth and create a world that conforms to their vision of bliss.
Demanding conformity to your concept of wonderfulness by attempting to change the world, when you cannot even change yourself, is an exercise in futility.
The quest for bliss ends when you realize it was already within you, simply waiting to be freed from the fear of what you fear the most, which is fear.
Follow your heart and trust your soul -- it knows the way.
Quote for the Day – "Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none." Shakespeare
Bret Burquest is the author of 12 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a few dogs and where Heaven on Earth is a state of mind.