If I have any readers, they will probably have worked out that essentially I am only interested in one thing: living my life to become a better human being.
I've written elsewhere what the characteristics of a human being are and that it is the positive side that I am trying to manifest, such as kindness, clarity in my decisions, love and joy. It's not easy - it demands constant work to be conscious of what I am and what I'm doing. One of the key elements is acceptance. But what exactly should I try to accept? And why?
I like the definition of religion which Swami Vivekananda offers. His analysis points out that generally speaking, many if not all religions and sects have dualistic approach. There's God and there's everything that we see as the manifested universe. We have been offered a set of rules which the religious organisations have developed over time, together with rituals to assist in living according to those rules. looking at many of these religions and their practices, it's possible to identify many common elements, suggesting that all are trying to reach the same goal of being a good person who, according to the rules will achieve an afterlife in what most call paradise.
However, that viewpoint doesn't hold up. I am a very logical thinker - having studied philosophy strengthens that enormously - and the reason it doesn't hold up for me is contained in the word "infinite".
It is claimed by religions that God is infinite. Infinite as in everywhere, and almighty. And here comes the BUT! "Infinite" offers an either/or choice. Either something is infinite as in neverending, or it's not. It is also said that God is the creator of everything. If that everything includes the universe, then the universe is also infinite. Why? Because there can't be two infinite things - that doesn't make sense. The infinite being, is infinite and there can only be one infinity.
Where does that lead us? It means that we are all part of infinity and being a part of it means, by extension, that we are infinite. We are a part of the Total, not separate from it. We are part of the endless variety of infinity and the infinite part of us, is always there and, because it is infinite, cannot be created or destroyed. Physics supports this. So am I God? No, I am a part of that infinity. It is the part which never dies. My body is subject to all the natural laws we find exist and will change and go back to its constituent parts, but the infinite part merges back into the infinite.
Infinity can be viewed like an ocean. From the ocean the process of evaporation lifts endless minute particles into the air which together form clouds. These in turn drift and eventually comes back to earth as raindrops. Each drop naturally seeks the way back to the ocean, forming streams and rivers and torrents until each drop is again merged with the ocean. So we are like drops of the ocean and it is our natural need to do whatever it takes to get back to the ocean.
So, I see my life as the opportunity to merge again with the infinite. The infinite is always there in each of us, but we are so distracted by the external, we forget to look where that infinite resides: inside each individual: in fact inside everything is that spark which has manifested itself in all the myriads of forms and shapes that make up the whole universe.
So how can I become conscious of that infinite part inside me? That is what I've been looking for all my life and it's what I put my effort into. I am doing everything I can to become conscious of that. It is hard work - as Prem Rawat once said, the world is the perfect distraction; why? Because it works! We are so immersed in the world of change that we forget to look for the unchanging, that which keeps us alive and that which one day will go back to that infinite ocean. The only real thing there is. I equate reality with the unchanging, the endless, the infinite. The external world offers me nothing, it just attempts to pull me away from reality and mostly it succeeds. That's why I practice everyday and put my effort into experiencing the most wonderful thing there is: infinite love, infinite clarity, infinite kindness, infinite joy. I recently gave all my family a copy of the new book by Prem Rawat, called "Hear Yourself in a Noisy World" with the subtitle "How to find peace in a noisy world". In that he points out practical steps on the way to true consciousness. I have been practicing his Knowledge since 1975 and I can only tell you, it works. I am most definitely not the person I was before that time and have been working on myself since then. The benefits are huge. Currently I am wrestling with the hardest experience I have had in my life: the abandonment by my children. Slowly, through regular practice, I am beginning the process of letting go of the attachment I have always had for my children and finding that peace again. But it's hard. But my longing for that infinite is everything and that gives me the strength to keep going - the rewards are paradise, but here and now and not in some imaginary place after I'm dead.
That raises another point. I am most familiar with the Christian religion, but have studied many of the books of the various religions, including the Koran, the Tao Te Ching, the Bible and the Torah, the Bhagavad Gita, the Guru Granth Sahib, as well as numerous other Holy Scriptures during my long search. Each one claims to be the only way. and yet they all search for the same thing: a way to the infinite. Sadly, instead of recognising that we are all human beings searching for joy, peace and love in the different ways, each of the religions views the other as wrong, not as a variation on the same theme. The result is the world we have today, where hate and fear and greed and stupidity rule, always at the cost of others. It's time to stop and realise we are on a journey in which we can aid each other, not as now, attempting to force all to believe the same thing. I don't want to believe, I want to Know! So, let's start with the common wish of all: enjoying a life of peace and joy, instead of seeing each other as rivals or worse. We are, whether we know it or not, all part of the infinite, and there isn't a single human being better or worse than the other. The only difference is one of conscious awareness. Making it big in the external world means nothing - go visit a few graveyards and you'll see that all those people, high and low, took nothing with them and all their wealth or lack of it never gave them a single extra breath when it came to the end. That is reality: we are temporary beings and the question we have to answer is: did I make the effort to leave richer in joy and consciousness? If yes, then going is just a change of circumstance and nothing to fear. Certainly, given that everybody goes against the rules of their religion at various points in their lifetime, nobody is going to get to paradies anyway!