|WORLD RELIGIOUS QUOTES|
Kabir was a 16th c. Indian who taught that the Hindu God Rama and the Muslim Allah were one and the same, the one true God just worshipped under different names. Many of his verses are included in the Sikh scripture, the Adi Granth.
Jalal al-Din Rumi
Rumi was a 13th c. Persian/Iranian Muslim, considered one of the main founders of the Sufi tradition within Islam. He tried to reconcile all religions, believing that "the lamps are different but the Light is the same". He empathized music and dancing in worship of God, and his main book of poetry, the _Mathnawi_, is still considered by many to be the peak
of spiritual/religious poetry. In it he has a number of stories about Jesus; it is still learned by heart by many present-day Iranians.
This is Krishna speaking, in the most commonly loved &known of the Hindu scriptures. Krishna, the most loved of all Indian gods, according to tradition is a dark-skinned, blue --or black, the meaning of 'Krsna' in Sanskrit-- direct incarnation of Vishnu, the '2nd' or 'Sustainer' God of the Hindu trinity, who previous to becoming Krishna the man incarnated Himself up through the various other levels of life, ie. through the animal kingdoms. Krishna was born as a common cowherder babe, grew up a fun-loving, joyful, laughing and loving spiritual teacher as an adolescent and young man, and went on to become a goodly king as well as a revealer of truth. In the _Bhagavad Gita_, thought to have been written in the 3rd or 4th c. BC, Krishna is a noble warrior's common charioteersman, driving the horses while revealing Himself and God's truth to Arjuna the warrior.
Some of the _Bhagavad Gita_'s main teachings are the necessity of action for both man and God (therefore continual new life &manifestation/revelation); the beauty of the path of loving devotion, or Bhakti; the worthiness of that path for all people, regardless of sex or class; and acknowledgment that in all paths, of knowledge, good works, or (self-)sacrifice, there is truth to be found, though loving devotion is considered the 'best' path.
Many Hindus consider Jesus to be a later incarnation of that same 2nd God of the Hindu trinity as Krishna; and many also await another, possibly soon-coming incarnation.
the Baal Shem
Israel ben Eliezer, known as the Baal Shem, Baal Shem Tov or 'the Besht), meaning 'Master of the Good Name', was an 18th c. East European Jew who, in the face of sustained oppression of Jews at that time, taught faith and reverence towards God, joyful prayer, and finding the presence of God in everyday present-moment life rather than looking to the future. He used chanting and dancing in his worship to assist in reaching joyful communion with God. His teachings spread quickly, and his followers, mostly common folk and peasants, became known as Hasidics or 'pious ones', 'those who revere God'.
Not much needs to be said of Lao Tzu, I think, as most people know the _Tao Te Ching_, most often attributed to him. Lao Tzu is also spoken very highly of in The Urantia Book. He lived in the 6th c. BC in China, and (according to legend) after a long career as a public servant, decided to spend whatever time was left to him in solitary, meditational wanderings in the mountains.
On his way out of society, into his retirement to higher levels of life &truth, he was asked to put his philosophy of life, his deepest understandings down in writing, for others to also benefit from. He wrote the 81 poems of the _Tao Te Ching_, and disappeared into the forever of the high mountain path mists.
Anyone who's not yet read the _Tao Te Ching_, I personally hIghly recommend it. - al
Johannes 'Master' Eckhart was a 14th c. German Dominican Christian preacher, who was tried by the papal court for heresy after 67 years of service. One of many Christian mystics in the Middle Ages who taught as they experienced, that the goal of all spiritual life was an eventual personal 'becoming one with' or realizing of union with God or the Divine, Eckhart is probably the most widely influential of any of them. He believed in the direct *experience* of God, without any intermediaries, available to us all as we simply learn not to obstruct that God within us; and he believed that experience of God, once had, if accepted and cultivated, leads not only to deeper levels of consciousness of the reality of God being within us and each of us being in God, but to joyful, creative compassion and to the desire to work towards greater social justice, as well.
Some of his other teachings:
God is to be experienced in creation as well as in ourselves, as all of creation is God's continuing loving blessing...
Eternal life and newness is available to us all, right now in the present moment...
God is already again here among us, continually...
The whole universe or cosmos rejoices and celebrates God, in joyous laughter and continual creative birthing, laughter and spiritual bliss being the 'music' of the divine...
'Letting go and letting God' is the most sure way of experiencing God's grace...
Spirituality is a growth process, with no limits to our own potential divinity...
Creativity is God working in and through us...
Compassion is the fullest expression of spiritual maturity...
Jesus was a child of God who was here to remind us that we are all children of God also, born to ultimately learn to be as responsible as he was for giving blessings for every blessing received, Jesus calling us through his life &teachings to become 'other Christs'...
With these as his beliefs, it's little wonder that the Church found him threatening &unacceptable (as I imagine it would find many of these beliefs still today), and only dropped its condemnation of him when he put into writing (according to the papal decree) that he "recanted and rejected...anything he had written or taught... that could produce in the minds of the faithful an heretical or erroneous sense opposed to true faith." (In my mind that doesn't say he recanted ANYthing he'd taught, however.) It's unknown how, exactly when or where he died, or where he was buried, except that he disappeared soon after his trial.
For anyone interested further in Eckhart, Matthew Fox, a Dominican priest who's director of the Institute for Creation-Centered Spirituality in Chicago and who has quite a number of worthwhile books out in my opinion, has written a couple of books about Eckhart, one a wONderful book of Eckhart's sermons called _Breakthrough_, Image Books 1980. One of my all-time favorites!, after The Urantia Book, of course :), it helped me get through one of the roughest periods of my life, back 15 years ago now.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich Nhat Hanh is a present-day Vietnamese Zen Buddhist master / poet-writer, with numerous books in publication, who has also been nominated several times through the years for the Nobel Peace Prize, for his efforts working towards peace in Vietnam and SE Asia. He particularly emphasizes in his writings the Buddhist ideals of mindfulness, insight and compassion, and the inter- connectedness of all beings.)
Baha'u'llah, 1817-1892, was the Persian/Iranian founder of the Baha'i religion, the most recent and fastest growing monotheistic religion in the world. It's the continuation of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim series of religions, in that it accepts many of the same precepts and all the same prophets of those before it, but then adds its own new prophet and revelation for the new times: ie., Just as Christianity accepted Abraham, Moses, and the 'Old' Testament prophets, but added Jesus as a newer and greater revelation; and as Islam accepted all of those including Jesus, plus Mohammad; the Baha'i faith accepts all those previous including Mohammad, and adds Baha'u'llah. Baha'is also accept as revealers of truth others who taught in times and cultures outside the Judeo- Christian-Muslim 'monotheistic' world, however, ie. the Buddha, Krishna, etc. Baha'is also, like the Jews, Christians and Muslims before them, trace their lineage as well as their direct covenant with God, back to Abraham. As Jews and Christians trace their 'family' lines back through Abraham &Sarah's son Isaac; and as Muslims trace themselves back through Abraham's child Ishmael with Hagar; Baha'is claim lineage through the descendents of Abraham's later marriage with Keturah (see Genesis 16:15-16, and 25:1-2).
Baha'u'llah, who spent most of his life imprisoned for his beliefs, in current-day Iran, Turkey and Israel, then parts of the Ottoman Empire --Baha'is are still severely persecuted in Iran esp., but also through much of the Muslim world, where they're considered heretic Muslims rather than members of a new religion-- taught that God in his mercy reveals truth anew to each successive age --"progressive revelation" he termed it-- according to the needs and understanding of the people of the world as a whole at that time, according to the 'next step' necessary for each age, to eventually lead us all to world unity. In reality, he taught, there is only one religion, the progressively revealed Religion of God, God the same all-powerful, all-knowing, continually- creating, merciful unique Being whether we call Him Brahma, Yahweh, Allah or whatever.
Baha'is do not give up their previous beliefs when they become Baha'is, but rather just 'enlarge' them, as all religions contain both divine truth and human error, Baha'u'llah taught. The Baha'i place of common worship, which is kept in silence, is an open white building with doors on every side, representing all the world's religions, leading directly into the center circular space which is kept empty, with an open space in the ceiling above as well, representing God's connection to all through the unity of our common center. The guiding overall philosophy for Baha'is is "Unity in Diversity" through God.
The most fundamental principles of the Baha'i faith are: |
1) the Oneness of God;
2) the oneness of all humankind; and
3) the unity of religion. Other basic beliefs include:
4) the unity of religion and science;
5) full spiritual equality of the sexes, and the resulting necessity of equal opportunity, rights and privileges for both sexes;
6) all work done in the spirit of service to others or God is considered to be on the level of worship; and
7) the necessity of the faithful to work towards establishing and safeguarding a universal and permanent peace for all humankind --called "a new World Order", the term is Baha'u'llah's, coined by him long before our current-day politicians co-opted the phrase!-- which coming age of world unity and universal peace will require early on one accepted auxiliary international language, and compulsory education for all, male &female, world-wide. Baha'u'llah taught that humankind is currently going through the traumatic, severe up &down, rebellious growth period of 'adolescence', but that soon (he felt by the end of this 20th century) we would begin to enter as a whole 'young adulthood', learning to control and accept ourselves in all our diversity out of simple necessity, if not because of any true spiritual breadth or depth of understanding yet. This period he termed the "Lesser Peace", which will eventually be followed by the "Great Peace", which will be the "coming of age of humanity" through the "spiritualization of the masses" of the whole human race. Baha'is believe that eventual world unity is the definite will of God, but that it's God's will that WE must be the ones to achieve that unity, not He for us. Therefore every Baha'i must work as best he can towards practically helping bring about this eventually assured "kingdom of heaven on earth" to come. God, of course, will help us a He sees necessary, according to his wisdom, mercy and love for us, with further prophets or teachers, and deeper, more comprehensive revelations, as we're ready for them. The fact that the Baha'i faith is not mentioned at all in the Urantia Book, by the way, I feel is due to The Urantia Book quite simply being out of date in its sections on world religions, the same as is true of its sections on cosmology. The Urantia Papers were only received in the 1930's, after all, before the Bahai' faith had spread beyond only a very small number of followers to actually become a 'world' religion; and many of The Urantia Papers I believe were prepared much longer before that even, very possibly well before Baha'u'llah was even born --before he started teaching in the late-mid 1800's anyway-- when Sikhism was in fact still the "newest" of the world's religions, as The Urantia Book says. The Baha'i faith is currently growing strongly world-wide, esp. among the poor and the disenfranchised where the comfort that previous generations found in esp. Christianity or Islam no longer seems to be so present to many, if nothing else simply because of the many &severe conflicts and contradictions within and between both those two religions, and because of the conflicts between so much of modern life &science and them both (at least in their more traditional versions). The Baha'i faith's inclusionary beliefs and long-range, progressively unitive social-spiritual vision for humankind, very simply appeals both to those seeking social equality, justice and unity, as well as to those seeking personal spiritual truth. I personally came across the Baha'i faith about 25 years ago when I was first in college, and had I not found The Urantia Book just a couple years later, I imagine that I might be a Baha'i today? For those of you who may be interested further, there's a good introductory book out called _The Baha'i Faith, the Emerging Global Religion_, by William S. Hatcher and J.Douglas Martin. I would guess there are Baha'is in many of your communities, as well; Baha'is don't proselytize or advertise in any way their faith, but believe that by living their faith and working for their ideals day-to-day, they will draw others to them, as God sees those others as spiritually ready. Bahai's are usually very open to sharing their beliefs more in depth with others sincerely interested. Francis of Assisi Other than 'the Lord's Prayer' and the 'Sermon on the Mount', "Let me be an instrument of your peace" and "The Lord bless you and keep you..." may be two of the more commonly known and used prayers/blessings in all of Christianity, though not many people connect them with Francis. They may not be completely original with Francis of course --there's an old Celtic prayer that's very similar to the first one, for instance, that's much older than Francis, that he could possibly have heard &been influenced by... And of course there's other things similar to the second one as well... But I think they're probably just cases of similar inspiration to different minds in different times, from our common Father inside. In any case... Saint Francis, one of the more eccentric of spiritual teachers, I think, was a small-town 12th c. Italian, who other than Jesus is probably the most widely known, loved &respected figure of Christianity, for NON-Christians. Actually, I think he may be better known to non-Christians than to Christians on the whole. When you visit Assisi and all the beautiful Giotto frescos of Francis's life there, about 3/4 of the tourists are Asians, &mostly non-Christians! Asians in particular, whether any kind of Buddhist, whether Shinto, Toaist, or just modern agnostics with a good sense still of appreciation for both nature and personal spiritual integrity, tend to see St. Francis as the one Christian through time who was able to see the full beauty and goodness of, as well as the revelation of Truth within, all of nature....As opposed to Christianity as a whole, and to most of the more well-known &influential individual Christians through time, where humankind is seen mostly as separate from, better than and above, meant to dominate and control nature; where the forces of nature and the body as well, incl. sexuality of course, are most often even seen as 'evil', or at least much more on the negative side of the good/bad, God/devil, heaven/hell, spiritual/physical duality that so dominates most 'Western' &monotheistic religious thinking... 'Eastern' religions have very little of that kind of oppositional duality in them. And so St. Francis, who exclaimed in poetry and song of the beauty and goodness and sweetness of nature, in all its many particulars; who humbly preached to the birds when no people would listen (and the birds dID listen, so the stories go); who according to legends made friends with the wolves in the surrounding woods; who got answers to his prayers and questions to God in the form of flowers the next day; and who praised God fully for and with his 'Brother the Sun', his 'Sister Moon &Stars', his 'Brother Wind' &'Sister Water', 'Brother Fire' &'Mother Earth', 'Sister Bodily Death', etc... St. Francis in these ways shines beautifully for people of any faith who love God through the constant life-death &new birth cycle of nature, even if they can't relate to or even disagree with, much of Christianity! No oppositional duality as far as nature's concerned here! --Though unfortunately Francis was still neurotically terrified of sexuality, this I think an over-reaction to his younger, partying &woman-chasing days! ;) Francis's life story: Expected to take over his father's financially successful silk-trading business and 'upwardly mobile' social standing, Francis cared only about partying as a young man. Until in sickness and on what he thought was his death's bed after a particularly good partying spree, he saw God in a common sparrow on the roof out his window, calling to him. He climbed out to it, it hopped into his hand, and he heard God's words telling him "Rebuild my church!" He stripped naked in the town square the next day, giving away his fine silk clothes and his father's inheritance, and dedicated himself to God and to a life of complete poverty, simplicity and humility, living only on what God would freely send his way each day and night as we went on his way round the countryside preaching to whoever would listen. He quickly had many more followers than he knew what to do with, including the most highly held &beautiful of the town's young women, and much to his dislike had to eventually agree to set up rules for and be the leader of a new order of monasticism, the Franciscans and Little Sisters of St. Claire. He received the 'stigmata' of Christ on the cross near the end of his life, and was declared a 'saint' by the Catholic church soon after his death, in his very early 40's I believe. Nikos Kazantzakis --one of my favorite writers of all time-- wrote a beautiful little book about him called simply _Saint Francis_, if anyone's interested. Mixing historical fact with legend and the author's own creative, personal spiritual inspiration, like most all of Kazantzakis' books, it struck me strongly back as a 20 yr.-old, as did NK's _The Last Temptation of Christ_, from which the movie was made 5 or6 years ago. --The book is better than the movie, by the way (as usual), and not near as controversial as it was made out to be, once you read it! A classic, in any case. Abdu'l-Baha Abdu'l-Baha, 1844-1921, Persian main interpreter of Baha'u'llah's teachings, who first stated taking the Baha'i faith to the world, and whose writings are also seen as sacred by Baha'is. the Kena Upanishad The Upanishads are a part of the Hindu scriptures coming after the Vedas and the Brahmanas, and are thought to have been written down between 800-300 BC. 'Upanishad' in Sanskrit means a 'sitting down near' session, or a lesson heard from a teacher.) Stephen Mitchell Stephen Mitchell is a fairly controversial translator of poetry, prose and scriptures from various cultures &traditions, controversial to some because he translates as much from what he feels is the 'spirit' of a piece as from the actual words, and puts it into modern phraseology &trans-religious terms. I personally love and recommend his stuff. He has several anthologies out, plus translations of the Book of Job, the Tao Te Ching, RM Rilke's poetry, etc. The Dhammapada A collection of sayings of the Buddha that's held as the primary scripture for many Buddhists in Sri Lanka and SE Asia.. Yunus Emre, d.1320. Yunus is considered by many to be the greatest "folk poet" of all Islam, as Rumi is looked on as the greatest of all poets. His tunes are still sung by people today, as Rumi's poems are still recited by heart. Yunus was an illiterate shepherd of Anatolia/Turkey, and his "poems" are the songs he sung to his flock. He's sometimes referred to as the "St. Francis of Islam".). The Zohar The Zohar, meaning 'the Splendor', is the main work of Jewish mysticism, or Kabbalism. Thought to have been written in the 13th c. by Moses de Leon, a Spanish Jewish scholar &mystic, de Leon himself ascribed it to Simeon ben Yachai, a 2nd c. rabbi who fled Jerusalem to live in a cave for 13 years with his son, after the crushing of a revolt by the Romans. While living in the cave, tradition has it, he was instructed celestially in the writing of _The Zohar_ by the prophet Elijah. Kabbalism teaches that God the Absolute or 'En Sof', both Hidden as well as the All, projects Himself through different channels of light or 'Sefiroth', which flow down ultimately to the creation of the world and us. The last manifestation of God's light is the 'Shekhinah', the indwelling presence of God in each of us. The aim of life and all religion, according to Kabbalism, is the re-union of the indwelling piece of God's presence & light, in each of us individually, and through us all as one whole community, with the original, infinite En Sof, or God Absolute. Gospel of Thomas The Gospel of Thomas is one of many apocryphal teachings about Jesus that circulated widely during the first couple centuries after Jesus' life. There are gospels of Mary (Magdalen), of Thomas (the apostle), and many many others, though just like the later officially accepted gospels included in the New Testament, authorship of each is questioned. The Gospel of Thomas is thought to be one of the oldest of the apocryphal texts, and possibly older than some of the New Testament works. Though The Urantia Book doesn't present the apostle Thomas as going to India to teach, the Gospel of Thomas has sayings in it --like the above "lift up any stone and you will find Me there"-- that seem very Buddhist-like in influence; and there is a Christian community on the West coast of India that has been traced back at least to the early second century --before most of Europe became Christianized-- and which by its own traditions traces itself back to the apostle Thomas, who they believe started the community when he came there to preach in the mid first century. Another unique thing about this work is that it presents Jesus as dancing with his apostles in worship, an image I find very beautiful indeed. Guru Nanak, 1469-1539 Guru Nanak was a 15th c. Punjabi who founded the Sikh religion. A contemporary of Kabir, who was also a mystic monotheist blending the truths of Hinduism and Islam, Nanak taught that God lives everywhere and is equally accessible to all through the path of bhakti, or devotion to God. He was succeeded by 9 other Sikh Gurus, and lastly by the _Adi Granth_, the holy scripture of the Sikhs, which is made up primarily of hymns by Nanak, and poems by Kabir. the Hindu Vedas The Vedas are the most ancient and sacred of the Hindu scriptures. Claimed by some to be up to 10,000 years old, they're generally accepted as originating sometime between 2000-800 B.C.. Passed down orally for centuries, the oldest known written version of the Vedic hymns comes only from the 14th c. ad. P'ang Yun, or Layman P'ang, 740-808 Layman P'ang in his time taught to the Chinese Buddhist world the ideal of being able to reach &live one's spiritual potential while still being a dedicated family person. Wealthy after working professionally most his life, in middle age he gave away his house to be used as a temple, put all his possessions and money in a boat and had it burned, and lived very simply thereafter with his wife and daughter, teaching while making bamboo utensils in exchange for food &clothing. All three members of his family, together, became known as teachers and examples of how to live truely. Kobayashi Issa, 1763-1827, Japanese Zen poet considered one of the great Haiku masters, after Basho of course. Thomas Merton A Catholic monk who through the study of Zen Buddhism and Meister Eckhart among other things went through a personal spiritual transformation which then led him to become one of the more influential religious/spiritual voices of the mid-to-late 20th c., Merton helped several generations to more clearly see &understand, and find through personal experience, the similarities in spirit --beyond the differences-- between the major traditions of Buddhism and Christianity. He did this, I think, primarily by pointing to the spiritual connections between the practices of meditation and prayer throughout time. The love &compassion, the understanding, the personal &spiritual growth &expansion, the emptiness/connectedness/& fullness that comes with practiced stillness &inner silence... That's the common spiritual ground he was mainly all about, as I understand him. From his personal, understanding example in blending some of those practices &truths of Christianity and Buddhism, many others then picked up on the movement to connect, understand and spiritually grow from &with the similarities between all other religious traditions. A trailblazer in this area, at least for the modern Western world, in my opinion. Joseph Campbell, 1904-1987 Though not a 'World Religious Quote' in the sense of the others I've posted, ie. not being from any one of those religious traditions directly, Joseph Campbell continually referred to *all* religious traditions, to the truths within each tradition's myths, symbols and stories. He came from the perspective that it ultimately probably doesn't matter much whether we accept any one religious tradition's belief system or not, or whether we accept the details of any religious stories to be factually true or not-- that's not what makes religions 'true' or spiritually meaningful ultimately. Religions and their myths, and all stories of the human spirit, are so important and real to us as a human species, so valuable and worthwhile to be looked at world-wide, simply because they reflect our deepest common individual, cultural and species-wide inner desires &fears, longings &goals, potentials and true selves. The more we allow ourselves to get to know and see the common themes within all the ways we as humans have expressed our 'God-nature' or truth-longing processes throughout time, he believed, the more possibly we'll each be able to find and become our own unique expression of that inner, all-connected freedom and bliss that we all, inherently somehow, know we have the potential and destiny for....And, so he hoped, the more likely we as a species might be, before too much longer, to find a needed new common myth, one to take us safely through our already begun 'next' stage of civilization development, as a guide for us through the incredible but overall somewhat crazy maze of modern life we've created for ourselves, with so far no unifying or spiritually satisfying theme. Probably one of the most influential teachers of our times --in my opinion at least-- Campbell edited and wrote numerous books, including _The Portable Jung_ and a multi-volume _Masks of God_ series correlating stories and themes of all our religions through time. His most known works are _The Hero with a Thousand Faces_, _Myths to Live By_, and _The Power of Myth_ (the last of which is also a set of video interviews with Bill Moyers, that I highly recommend for anyone interested in world religions and their common themes). Less known perhaps is that possibly the most world-wide popular &influential movie of all times --"Star Wars", &those following it-- was written by George Lucas after studying Joseph Campbell's works, purposely trying to write --in consultation with Campbell at times-- a modern myth that would present anew for people, regardless of culture, the themes of the human spirit that Campbell had identified as being common to all religions and cultures throughout history. --Roberto Assagioli, Italian psychologist, 1888-1975. Assagioli was one of the masters of modern psychology who, along with Jung and Maslow but going further than either, clearly pointed out that Freud had wrongly neglected or rejected the higher reaches of human nature in his studies, theories and methods of therapy. Assagioli proposed an understanding of the human psyche which not only included the basics of the conscious personal 'I' or ego and the unconscious of Freud, and the collective unconscious of Jung, but also, just as basic, the superconscious realm and the higher Self. The higher Self, as teacher for every one of us in everyday dialogue relationship with the personal 'I' or ego self, is our true self, our spiritual self, our future whole ideal and realizable self, which descends to us as we also ascend to 'it' as ourselves. This higher Self of each of us is also connected with the higher Selves of all other individuals, just as we all also share commonly the superconscious and collective unconscious realms. The goal of psychosynthesis, the form of personal therapy Assagioli devised, is to contact and merge with our higher Self in full day-to-day living Self-realization, a process which reorganizes and transforms, inside and out, the personal ego self's world so that, ideally, the whole personality becomes in balance with all its many facets, in harmony with the outer, social human world as well as with the inner &higher spiritual world, of the superconscious and our higher Selves all working together and connected. Quotes here are from translated writings by Assagioli first published in English in 1934, some in 1937, some later in '63. --It's certainly too bad most of the modern psychology movement didn't listen more to him than to old grinch Sigmund, eh?! But then later is always better than not at all... Rabindranath Tagore A Bengali Indian, 1861-1941, Rabindranath Tagore was a leader in the early Indian independence movement in addition to being a fine poet and Hindu religious thinker. His _Gitanjali_, or "Song Offerings", is generally considered his finest work. Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, 1897-1957 "The Guardian" of the Baha'i faith, Shoghi Effendi encouraged the works of Baha'ism to be translated not only into English but into as many languages as possible, so everyone world-wide could read them in their own language. This has helped make Baha'ism the most widely distributed religion on the planet next to Christianity, regardless of its relatively small numbers of followers.