about Male-Female Duality

Male – Female duality, the spiritual principal that there is a male and female energy within us that we need to bring into harmony in order to achieve spiritual growth.
I have always wondered about this concept. In many spiritual courses I attended, I heard people throwing judgements around like ‘you need to get in touch with your female energy’.
What does this even mean? And where does this idea come from?

Looking into ancient religion, in Palaeolithic religion the concept of male and female form was first given meaning. In cave paintings horses and bison are seen together very often, and it is believed that the horse stands for the male and the bison for the female form.
Of course, calling the bison female ad horse male wasn’t a completely random thing to do.

The Egyptians well documented their ideas on male and female deities. Interestingly, the god Hathor, the female principle, was found in the form of a cow. As cows and bison are closely related, there is a good chance that the Egyptian male-female principle was brought down through the ages.
The Egyptian god Thoth is known as a male principle, and married to Ma’ath, the female.
When the boat of Ra rose above the waters of Nu for the first time she had her place in it beside Thoth. Thoth is the god of magic, knowledge and writing, he’s supposed to have written the 42 books of Thoth. Ma’ath is the god of law, order and truth.

Thoth has the same qualities as the Greek god Hermes. In Greek Thoth is referred to as Trismegistos, or Hermes the Thrice Great. The Hermetic writings, which form the base of Hermeticism refer to Thoth and Ma’ath as the male and female principles we all carry within us.
The caduceus, the symbol with the 2 serpents has Egyptian and Greek origins as well, where one snake carries the male and the other the female energy.

From the early teachings of the Egyptians and Greeks, we see the male-female principle evolve.
We see the role of female deities evolve from darkness and war to love and fertility.
Especially monotheistic male-driven religion has transformed the shape of male-female duality. Where male and female were on equal foot in pre-dynastic Egypt and other early religion, an imbalance is created, where male overpowers the female energy.
Cue centuries of men talking and writing about male and female principles, and the original equal footing of the principle gets lost in society and scripture. It seems that men carry an all-male energy and women all-female, with the roles assigned to both. Certain religions even practice segregation of the sexes, which is taking separation of the male and female to another level.

The above is not the end-all and be-all of the male-female principle. Though corrupted by certain religions, there have always been schools of thought that have kept up the original idea of the principle, saying it is a natural energy that flows through us all.

The Bahá’í faith is very clear on male-female duality:
The world of humanity has two wings — one is women and the other men.
Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing
remain weak, flight is impossible. Not until the world of women becomes equal
to the world of men in the acquisition of virtues and perfections, can success
and prosperity be attained as they ought to be.
(“Selections from the Writings of &Abdu’l-Baha”, sec. 227, p. 302)

Back to the beginning of this blog, the throwing around of terms like: ‘getting in touch with your feminine side’. Personally, I have never bought into this. I strongly feel that we all naturally have a spectrum of qualities within us. Our upbringing and social influences teach us to distinguish those qualities and label them.
In my experience ‘getting in touch with your feminine side’ for many women means sprucing up the body with make-up and fine dress, covering everything with a mantel of ‘loving language’, and displaying other behaviour that is seen as feminine.
For me, being in balance means being authentic towards my own being. It means expressing my feelings both when I am angry as well as filled with love and looking the way that feels natural to me.

Then again, I like non-dualism. The Egyptian philosopher Plotinus came up with the idea that there are three principles: the One, the Intellect and the Soul.
The non-dualistic aspect of his philosophy lays in the One.
The One is beyond anything, it is the light, without naming it ‘light’, because naming it that means there is a dark. The one is the omnipotent matter bringing everything in this world into existence.
I compare the One to dark energy, it’s there but there is no experience tied in with it.
(To read about Plotinus, I recommend Standford University encyclopedia of philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/plotinus/)

I definitely have not reached any conclusions when it comes to duality. It is one of the biggest concepts influencing not only spiritual thought, but every aspect of being human.
Please do share your thoughts on this subject, I would love to hear from you.

Namaste

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Altars across religions and time

One of the things that is similar across many religions and spiritual movements is the use of altars.
Altars have been used since very early times. Especially in earlier polytheistic societies such as Mesopotamia, over 2000 deities could have an altar dedicated to them in urban areas.
In early Judaism, altars made of carved rock were to be found up mountains in places called sanctuaries or high places. These altars were used for sacrifice and seen as places where direct contact with the divine was possible. As such they became the centre of religious practice.

Early altars were mainly used for sacrifice and to leave gifts to the gods in order to gain their positive judgement, the use of fire was also very common. Symbols reflecting the attributes of specific deities an altar was dedicated to were often carved into altar stones.
An interesting addition to the altar in Mesoamerican times was the creation of sacred paper by a shaman or priest, which was cut in the shape of specific deities and lined up on the altar. Sacred paper was also used by the Chinese, who learned the art of paper making over 2000 years ago.

Soldiers that travelled often brought stones with them which were dedicated to specific deities. They would build shrines with these stones, which sometimes became permanent fixtures and a place of worship for pilgrims.
It wasn’t until monotheism caught ground that places of worship started featuring altars that only could be approached by people with a specific religious role. The consecration of altars became a very specific ritual, as well as dimension, relics, cloth, colour, etc.
To read further on modern day altars in different religions, I refer to this well written Wikipedia article.

Of course, altars have also had a place inside the family homestead for centuries. To commemorate ancestors and worship specific household deities.

I have altars in my home. They represent a sacred space in my home and carry items that express my connection to the divine. What is represented on these altars varies throughout the year.
When I am holding a specific person in my prayers, I often place an item gifted to me from the specific person on my altar, or might use a photograph of them in happy times.

On the picture you can see the altar I created in the past few days to help me hold space for a gathering of fellow ministers. I added:

  • 12 tealights, representing all ministers part of the group
  • Holly, celebrating king Holly who reigns the period between summer and winter solstice
  • A copper gong, copper carries the alchemy of the planet venus (sacred feminine)
  • A selenite wand to sound the gong, carrying the moon energy (acknowledgement of the oak moon and the sacred feminine in the moon)
  • Statues of Mother Mary and Quan Yin, representing the Christmas season and the divine mother energy in east and west.

Once I finish decorating my altar, I always use white sage, incense or sacred wood to clear the space around it. Also, I will ask for a blessing for all the people represented on the altar.
My blessing for this altar:
I ask the all-pervading source energy to bless this altar and all that are represented on it.
May we all walk on a path of light in these dark days.
May we walk our path in good health, may we feel loved.
May we see blessings in our every day, may we be ever grateful for what we receive.
In love and light (3x)

I would love to hear about the altars you connect to, if any! Do you have one in your home? Do you visit a place of worship with an altar? Please let me know in the comments.

About Heaven

“I lifted up my eyes to see the Heaven.
I saw it not.
I closed my eyes to feel the Heaven.
I felt it not.
I thought of God.
To my widest surprise, God said that
I am not only the Heaven but His Heaven.”
~ Sri Chinmoy

Heaven, Nirvana, Walhalla, Utopia, Samsara, Shamayim, Jannah, Tian.
From a young age I was fascinated by the concept of heaven.
I remember as a child, trying to envision what heaven must look like. Let me take you for a spin in my childhood brain: All people that pass over live in the same town, in their best clothing, in lovely homes, everyone being really nice to each other all day every day. Of course, this would be problematic if someone was married to someone, who then passed over and then they married another person, would they all have to live in the same house? And what about all the animals? Do dogs go to heaven, and squirrels? How does God decide which squirrel goes to heaven?
It was no wonder I was often caught out staring out of the window ‘blankly’, as opposed to focusing on how to multiply 3×7.

Heaven, or the afterlife, plays a big part in most religions. And most religions teach us that life and suffering on this planet prepares us for the better place to come after our physical body dies.
Of course, depending on your belief, the afterlife promises you different things.
For Christianity it is clear cut, if you led a good life or before breathing your last breath ask for forgiveness for your sins, you go to heaven. The holy trinity lives in heaven according to all Christians: God, Jesus and the Holy spirit. After that it gets a bit fractured, some Christians belief Mary to be Queen of heaven, some Christians belief in 7 heavens with a strict hierarchy.

In several religions we see multiple heavens. Christianity has its 7 heavens, the Aztec have a heaven with 13 different spheres, Jainism divides the upper sphere ‘Urdhva Loka’ into 16 devalokas.
Important is to distinguish that the purpose of heaven is different in different religions.

In some religions heaven is a place where souls stay until the apocalypse happens and the whole world is reborn, in others it is a place for deities only, and then there are those religions like Hinduism and Buddhism that have different parts of heaven that prepare the soul for rebirth.
A very interesting idea of heaven comes from Ancient Egypt, where heaven was a place in outer space, far beyond the stars and realms visible from earth. The travel to heaven could be dangerous and many different beings could be encountered on the way. Once a soul had finally reached heaven, the most scary thing of all, your heart would be checked for its goodness. Fail the test and your heart would be eaten and that would be it.

42 years in this lifetime, I still often wonder about the concept of heaven.
For me, it feels that heaven wouldn’t be so much a place, but more a state of being.
I do believe in multiple lifetimes and in karma. I don’t however, belief that this heavenly state of being is sectioned off or has judgement in it. More like a pool of eternal bliss.
I am always curious to hear about what people think about the concept of heaven.
Is heaven a place? A state of being? Maybe earth in itself is a realm of heaven?
Let me know your thoughts.

Namaste

10 of my favourite spiritual poems

I have a great love for poetry. I therefore love the Sufi tradition of using poetry to express our relation to the divine.
In this post I share 10 of my favourity spiritual themed poems. They are from poets of different spiritual and religious backgrounds, but are all expressing something about the poet’s relationship to the divine.
I would love to hear about your favourite poem!

1. God Says Yes To Me by Kaylin Haught:

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I’m telling you is
Yes Yes Yes

2. Requests by Digby Mackworth Dolben

I asked for Peace—
My sins arose,
And bound me close,
I could not find release.
I asked for Truth—
My doubts came in,
And with their din
They wearied all my youth.
I asked for Love—
My lovers failed,
And griefs assailed
Around, beneath, above.
I asked for Thee—
And Thou didst come
To take me home
Within Thy Heart to be.

3. Unlearn and learn by Sri Chinmoy
#1203 from Ten thousand flower-flames

Anything that binds you,
Unlearn it.
Anything that blinds you,
Unlearn it.
Anything that limits you,
Unlearn it.
Anything that awakens you,
Learn it.
Anything that liberates you,
Learn it.
Anything that fulfils you,
Learn it.

4. Do not stand at my grave and weep by Mary Elizabeth Frye

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

5. Turmoil in your hearts by Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi

Were it not for
the excess of your talking
and the turmoil in your hearts,
you would see what I see
and hear what I hear!

6. Guardian Angel by Rolf Jacobson

I am the bird that knocks at your window in the morning
and your companion, whom you cannot know,
the blossoms that light up for the blind.

I am the glacier’s crest above the forests, the dazzling one
and the brass voices from cathedral towers.
The thought that suddenly comes over you at midday
and fills you with a singular happiness.

I am one you have loved long ago.
I walk alongside you by day and look intently at you
and put my mouth on your heart
but you don’t know it.

I am your third arm and your second
shadow, the white one,
whom you don’t have the heart for
and who cannot ever forget you.

7. Pygmy (Zaire) Chant, author unknown

In the beginning was God,
Today is God,
Tomorrow will be God.
Who can make an image of God?
He has no body.
He is the word which comes out of your mouth
That word! It is no more,
It is past, and still it lives!
So is God.

8. The Moon of Your Love by Muhammad Shirin Maghribi

Not a single soul lacks
a pathway to you.

There’s no stone,
no flower —
not a single piece of straw —
lacking your existence.

In every particle of the world,
the moon of your love
causes the heart
of each atom to glow.

9. I have no name by Jiddu Krishnamurti

I have no name,
I am as the fresh breeze of the mountains.
I have no shelter;
I am as the wandering waters.
I have no sanctuary, like the dark gods;
Nor am I in the shadow of deep temples.
I have no sacred books;
Nor am I well-seasoned in tradition.
I am not in the incense
Mounting on the high altars,
Nor in the pomp of ceremonies.
I am neither in the graven image,
Nor in the rich chant of a melodious voice.
I am not bound by theories,
Nor corrupted by beliefs.
I am not held in the bondage of religions,
Nor in the pious agony of their priests.
I am not entrapped by philosophies,
Nor held in the power of their sects.
I am neither low nor high,
I am the worshipper and the worshipped.
I am free.
My song is the song of the river
Calling for the open seas,
Wandering, wandering,
I am Life.
I have no name,
I am as the fresh breeze of the mountains.

10. Secretly we Spoke by Rumi

Secretly we spoke,
that wise one and me.
I said, Tell me the secrets of the world.
He said, Sh… Let silence
Tell you the secrets of the world.

Mother Teresa (26 aug 2010 – 5 sep 1997)

“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.”

Dudeism, Jediism and Flying Spaghetti

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was “Arrrgh!”
—PIRATICUS 13:7

Around the time that One Spirit Interfaith ministers received the right to perform legal weddings in Ireland, a journalist cleverly drew a similarity between the interfaith movement and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster…proving that she really understood neither.

Dudeism, Jediism, The Flying Spaghetti Monster. For me, they all have a good right to exist. In fact, having a reasonable sense of humour and being easily entertained, I love looking into them all.
These anti-dogma movements all very much say the same thing, which is that we do not need dogmatic religions in order to be good human beings.

Dudeism was founded in 2005 by the dude Oliver Benjamin. It takes the character Jeffrey ‘The Dude’ Lebowski from the 1998 cult classic ‘The Big Lebowski’, and teaches how to live life in a more relaxed way. It actually has influences from Taoism and the philosopher Epicurus, these two combine for a relaxed but happy way of living.
Anyone can be ordained for free and instantly into the church of Latter-Day Dude. In fact, as per their website there are currently over 450,000 people worldwide who have chosen to be ordained. This makes this movement almost as big as Rastafari.

Jediism was founded in 2007 by Daniel Jones. As per their website ‘Jediism is the religion of those who regard their Jedi practice as a religious vocation’. It has gotten quite a bit of press, following a vast amount of people putting ‘Jedi’ down as their religion on their national census. The biggest of this group was in the UK, where after the 2001 census, Jediism was reported as the 4th largest religion, currently it is the 7th largest.
The Temple of the Jedi order has an official doctrine, which includes three tenets, a creed, 16 teachings and 21 Maxims. There is also an extensive membership, which includes different ranks of Jedi. It all starts with a belief in the Force. The fact that the Force resides within you, surrounds you and flows through you.

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Pastafarianism was founded after Bobby Henderson wrote a satirical open letter to the Kansas Board of Education in 2005, questioning the decision to teach creationism as part of a science program, saying that the intelligent design could as well have been created by the Flying Spaghetti Monster. In 2006 Bobby published The Gospel of The Flying Spaghetti Monster, explaining that the religion stands for ‘All that is good’ and is against ‘All that isn’t good’. You can find and read the gospel on archive.org.
Currently the church has official religious status in New Zealand and The Netherlands. You can get ordained into the church for 25 USD.

The above 3 movements are just a few of a growing number of religions that are a contra-movement against traditional religions. Others include Invisible Pink Unicorn and Dinkoism.
I believe the people following these movements are giving a very important message to the world, which is that we are ready to move forward. In these times, you shouldn’t fear for your personal safety if you are not part of the going religion of your country. Many people want more out of life, and want to experience the freedom to express their own religious ideas.
As an interfaith minister, I more than welcome those that are part of these parody religions just as much as those that are part of traditional religions.

Namaste, See ya later on down the trail.

Truth is…

I have always been out there searching for the truth.
More recently I have been pondering about what ‘truth’ means.
There are a lot of people, preaching that they know ‘the truth’.
But what is that, what is ‘truth’?

There are a few things I know about truth. First, each of us knows their own truth.
You are the only person that in day to day life doesn’t see themselves in 3D. Therefore, what your perspective, is always going to be from a different perspective than that of anyone else in this world. This alone dictates that there cannot be just the one truth.

Most often, when we are arguing, we do nothing more than saying to the other: ‘I need you to accept my truth as the truth’. So, those times that you have won an argument, you have heard the other say: ‘I accept your truth as the truth’. That is not to say the other always accepts your truth as the truth, more often than not, they are just tired of trying to make you see their truth.
There is nothing more beautiful than that moment, when you get to know someone and through conversation you really get to see them. You truly see their truth.

‘The truth’ is a very dangerous thing. ‘The truth’ means that you have accepted 1 thing to be the truth and now you do not have to ever think about that thing again, unless something forces you to.
Truth is, people have taken many falsities as truth in the past. The earth is flat, Napoleon was a very short man in his age, Cleopatra was Egyptian, the world will end in 2012, need I go on?
There is much scientific knowledge that we have based modern life on, which might in 50 or 100 years’ time turn out to be completely inaccurate. That is absolutely fine, we can only live with the truth we know in the here and now. The thing is never to stop asking questions about what people consider to be the truth.

I am a sucker for asking questions. I want to understand things.

Part of me becoming an Interfaith Minister is closely tied to wanting to question the truth.
Before being accepted onto the Interfaith seminar, I visited many religions.
My main problem: accepting something as truth.

As I have talked about before in the blog about the God of my understanding, I cannot see God as a being, a man that lives in the sky and intervenes in people’s lives. The same way that I cannot believe that if I clean the house at Passover but leave but 1 breadcrumb, that breadcrumb will allow evil into the house. I can imagine that there are 2 forces in the world, one that is good and one that is evil, but currently I am not accepting it as my truth.
Note that all the above are I-statements. I cannot take these things as my truth, that doesn’t mean that I would ever tell anyone that they cannot take those things as their truth.

Truth is a big thing in Interfaith. As an Interfaith Minister I accept that everyone has their own truth and is entitled to their own truth. This acceptance is a big thing. This acceptance allows me to hear others with an open heart and create an understanding of what is their truth.
I find hearing other speaking about their truth one of the most fascinating things in life.

How are you in your truths? Are you aware of the truths that you live with? Do you challenge your own truth?

One reason to never stop seeking the truth is because we can live with an inner truth that does not help us in any way. If someone tells you a ‘truth’ about yourself enough times, it will likely become an absolute truth for you.

Having been bullied as a teenager, I can tell you a few things about this type of ‘inner truth’.
For years, I was told daily that I smell, I am ugly and I have no reason to exist on this planet.
To this day, I have behaviours that proof that this ‘truth’ forced upon me over 3 decades ago, is still living inside me to date. This doesn’t mean that it goes unchallenged.
Whenever I have a day where I look in the mirror and hear a voice saying I am ugly, I make it a point to look in that mirror for as long as it takes to see the beauty in me.
My truth about me is that I am worthy of this life, I am a beautiful person and I only smell after not showering for 3 days.

Most important thing to realize the difference between your own truth, and truth that was forced upon you. Are your truths things that you have figured out for yourself? Or are they things that others have said to you and you have accepted them as truth because they sounded alright to you?

How many times I have fallen into the trap where someone told me a ‘truth’ about another person, and without questioning it, I believed them. Me, with all my knowledge, being a human as can be.
There is always more than 1 side to a story. Even if all the facts line up against someone, still, there is another side to the story.
We have all been at the wrong side of a story. All of us have been measured by someone else’s made up truth. All of us have measured people by our own made up truth. Simply because we aren’t always in the space where we can meet the other and truly hear them.
The best we can endeavour to be is to have awareness of this. It would take a superhuman to never be in this space of making up truths. In the end, it doesn’t matter.

In the end, truth is…there is no truth.
As long as we will always remember that there is no one absolute truth, we’ll be fine.
I know that I will never stop challenging my truth, I hope you won’t either.

Namaste.

Celebrant or Minister what’s the difference?

Nowadays there are many courses in Ireland that will teach you how to become a celebrant.
Some of them even give you the right to perform legal ceremonies.
So, what is the difference between becoming a celebrant and becoming an interfaith minister?
In this blog, I will try and explain the main differences from my perspective.

First, a celebrant signed up to perform ceremonies. A minister signed up to do ceremonies, provide spiritual support where needed, be a social activist and spiritual leader. As you see, the ceremony is just a part of all the work that a minister does. As opposed to our job being solely to create and perform ceremony, we promised to take on ministerial work. This work might well look different for every single interfaith minister out there (as do our ceremonies, that is the beauty of our community).

As per the code of ethics of the One Spirit interfaith foundation all ministers also agree to continue their spiritual development and have supervision.
There is a lot more to a minister than meets the eye!

What I described above is just the ‘visible’ part of being a minister. A lot of our work goes unnoticed, as not all ministers feel the need to shout of a mountaintop every time we give some love to our planet or our fellow human.

There is a big ‘invisible’ part of being an interfaith minister, and that is our vow.
My vow is my sacred promise, between myself and the divine.
Every interfaith minister lives with their own, unique, personal vow. This sacred promise is the foundation of all work that we do and the life that we live. Just like any vow, some days it is easier to fulfil than others, but it is always there.

So really, what I am saying is that being an interfaith minister is so much more than performing ceremony. Even though this is likely how you might encounter us first, know that there is a lot more to us than meets the eye.

If you would like to learn more about One Spirit interfaith, visit our website: https://www.interfaithfoundation.org/
Or, of course, you can ask me 😊

Namaste

Cogito Ergo Sum

Cogito Ergo Sum, Descartes said it, I can only be sure that I exists within my own thinking reality.
There is no proof anything else exists. From that perspective, atheists definitely have a point.
Being an avid philosopher and having a keen interest in psychology, my starting point towards my own spirituality will always be atheism.
I know how our brain likes to make faces out of things to make them recognisable, and how we like to think there must be a higher purpose to life. From that sobering perspective, it is hard to accept that part of me that feels there is a divine force that binds us all together. Believe me, the struggle is real! I am happy that within Interfaith we do not tell people what they should believe or that they should believe, we just allow the process to happen.

So yeah, I have a thing for atheists. At the same time though, I do feel that a lot of atheists call themselves just that because they have never thought past the existence of an Abrahamic interventional god. It seems some people call themselves ‘atheist’ because they feel they do not fit in to any of the major religions. Yet, often they do feel there is ‘something’, but, having rejected religion, it can be scary to think about what that ‘something’ is.
The world is not black and white, and I believe that neither is our spirituality.

I have been in many situations where people found out I am a reverend, and they throw at me ‘well, I don’t believe in anything.’ I would simply ask them if they are an atheist or would they consider being a humanist.
Humanists don’t believe in the existence of a divine force, but they do have a very powerful ethos.
I love the 2002 Amsterdam declaration, as it comes very close to my own beliefs.

The declaration talks about using science for the advancement of humanity, the importance of human rights, personal liberty, how the world would be better off without dogmatic religion, using ones creative thinking ability and truly addressing todays social challenges.
As a One Spirit Interfaith minister, I feel all these ethics are hugely beneficial to me own ministry.

So, why am I not a humanist? Good question!
Though part of me is the ever-questioning atheist, the other part of me really wants to believe there is a divine force. I have seen and felt things that have shown me that there is more to human life than us being a highly evolved species thinking we have it all figured out.

To quote another great philosopher, Spinoza: “By God, I mean a being absolutely infinite—that is, a substance consisting in infinite attributes, of which each expresses eternal and infinite essentiality.”
Though I can be critical of Spinoza’s thought process, proving the existence of God. I feel there is a force of absolute infinite holding all of us together, a force that holds us and binds us, making us one with everything in existence.

My work as a minister involves facilitating people’s thought process about God and the meaning of life, without providing the answers, and without judging the answers anyone can come up with.
In the end, no one knows what the absolute truth is, and that is what makes life so interesting.

If you have been teased into your own thinking about the question ‘does god exist?’, be blessed.
It can be a confronting journey, and I am here for you if you need to talk about it with someone.

The Perennial Philosophy

The Perennial Philosophy is a book written by Aldous Huxley, author of ‘Brave new World’, amongst other works. It was published shortly after WWII in 1946.
It’s one of the first modern ‘interfaith’ books. Aldous Huxley brings forward the point that all religions share the same metaphysical truth. This truth is more important to each of the individual religions than the form the religion takes. This idea takes root in Neoplatonism (of the Greek philosopher Plato), which is saying that the concept of God is beyond human rational, and is carried in the human soul or essence (this sentence really isn’t doing Neoplatonism enough favour, but it’s the best I can describe it).
In the Perennial Philosophy, Huxley takes excerpts from spiritual teachers such as Eckhart, William Law, Bhagavad-Gita, Jalal-uddin Rumi and many others, and shows that, in essence, they are saying the same thing. It is an excellent book to read, and surely stands the test of time.

One of my favourite stories in it is from the Chandogya Upanishad:

When Svetaketu was twelve years old he was sent to a teacher, with whom he studied until he was twenty-four. After learning all the Vedas, he returned home full of conceit in the belief that he was consummately well educated, and very censorious.
His father said to him, ‘Svetaketu, my child, you who are so full of your learning and so censorious, have you asked for that knowledge by which we hear the unhearable, by which we perceive what cannot be perceived and know what cannot be known?’
‘What is that knowledge, sir?’ asked Svetaketu.
His father replied, ‘As by knowing one lump of clay all that is made of clay is known, the difference being only in name, but the truth being that all is clay – so my child, is that knowledge, knowing which we know all.’
‘But surely these venerable teachers of mine are ignorant of this knowledge; for if they possessed it they would have imparted it to me. Do you, sir, therefore give me that knowledge.’
‘So be it,’ said the father. …And he said, ‘Bring me a fruit of the nyagrodha tree.’
‘Here is one, sir.’
‘Break it.’
‘It is broken, sir.’
‘What do you see there?’
‘Some seeds, sir, exceedingly small.’
‘Break one of these.’
‘It is broken, sir.’
‘What do you see there?’
‘Nothing at all.’
The father said, ‘My son, that subtle essence which you do not perceive there – in that very essence stand the being of the huge nyagrodha tree. In that which is the subtle essence all that exists has its self. That is the True, that is the Self, and thou, Svetaketu, art That.
‘Pray, sir,’ said the son, ‘tell me more.’
‘Be it so, my child, ‘the father replied; and he said, ‘Place this salt in water, and come to me tomorrow morning.’
The son did as he was told.
Next morning the father said, ‘Bring me the salt which you put in the water.’
The son looked for it, but could not find it; for the salt, of course, had dissolved.
The father said, ‘Taste some of the water from the surface of the vessel, how is it?’
‘Salty.’
‘Taste some from the middle. How is it?’
‘Salty.’
‘Taste some from the bottom. How is it?’
‘Salty.’
The father said, ‘Throw the water away and then come back to me again.’
The son did so; but the salt was not lost, for salt exists for ever.
Then the father said, ‘Here likewise in this body of yours, my son, you do not perceive the True; but there in fact it is. In that which is the subtle essence, all that exists has its self. That is the True, that is the Self, and thou, Svetaketu, art That.’

The essence in all of us is that which we cannot see, which words cannot express, and which few of us have ever truly felt. We can go into physics and say that it is the dark matter inside us.
We all know it’s there, but to make it tangible is a whole different story.
Yet our essence is what makes us all the same, regardless of what we do or don’t believe. It is not something we can change, it’s there. In all of us.

Namaste