Form and Essence


One of the most important lessons I learned in spirituality was around the concept of Form.
Form, the outward expression of the philosophy behind any religion.

Form can mean wearing orange robes, black robes, white robes.
It can also mean honouring your ancestors through various ways such as visiting their grave, having a home altar or dancing together with them.
Form is what makes any religion or spiritual conviction recognisable.
As an interfaith minister, I study form in different religions and see how it unites and divides.

Form can unite. It can unite through prayer, song, any ritual that is shared between different religions. As form is the outward expression of the love for one’s god of understanding, it is a most beautiful thing. As the motto of the UN interfaith week says: ‘Love of God & Love of the neighbour, or Love of the Good & Love of the neighbour’.

Form can also divide. Form divides when it’s no longer the outward expression of love for one’s god of understanding. Form divides when it loses its essence and becomes a vehicle for fear based decisions. I do feel for people that live with a ‘do this, or else’ kind of god in their life.
I wish for everyone to have a loving relationship with the god of their understanding.

Form can easily bring people in a space of ‘wrong and right’. Many religions teach that the form they have for worshipping god is the right one. But what if we bring worship back to simply loving god and loving the neighbour? What if everyone would choose love over being right?

It is exactly this idea that the interfaith dialogue is promoting. In my work as a minister, this is the subject I feel most passionate about. I would never try and convince someone that they are wrong. I will ask people how their expression of their spirituality meets loving God and loving your neighbour.

Thinking about your own spirituality, what form does it have? Do you consider this the right form to express spirituality? Would you try and convince others that your way is the right way?
These questions can bring us in an uncomfortable space. It’s hard to meet ourselves in that space of wanting to be right and have all the answers. Go gently, we all have this being within. In trying to find answers to unanswerable questions, we tend to hold on to our own form, because that is what we know. The most important thing to remember is the divine essence in whatever form your spirituality takes. Remembering the essence will allow us to stay open minded to change and towards others that might prefer to do things differently.

May peace be with you and within you.

Namaste

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