What/where is our "true" homeland?


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"Passing over is a shifting of standpoint, a going over to the standpoint of another culture, another way of life, another religion. It is followed by an equal and opposite process we might call 'coming back', coming back with new insight to one's own culture, one's own way of life, one's own religion...........The course such an adventure follows is that of an odyssey. It starts from the homeland of a our own religion, goes through the wonderland of other religions, and ends in the homeland of our own. Much depends, if this is true, on the religion where it starts and ends. Gandhi began and ended with Hinduism; he passed over to Christianity particularly, and Islam too, but he always came back again to Hinduism. A Christian, in accordance with this, would begin and end with Christianity, a Jew with Judaism, a Muslim with Islam, a Buddhist with Buddhism. If we examine the matter more deeply, though, we find that there is a more ultimate starting and ending point, and that is the person's own life. One has to pass over, to shift standpoints, in order to enter into the life of Jesus, even if one is a Christian, and then one has to come back, to shift standpoints again, to return to one's own life. From this point of view all the religions, even one's own, become part of the wonderland of this odyssey. One's own life is finally the homeland"

The above is a short excerpt from a book "The Way of All The Earth" by John S Dunne. The viewpoint expressed seems to point to the words of T S Eliot from "Little Gidding".....

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time

Pondering and reflecting upon these things, I do feel that often in all faiths/religions there is an understanding and practice of them - at least how the practice is understood and appropriated by the "devotee"- that could be called "linear". Moving from "A" to "B", a trajectory that begins with ourselves, perhaps as we do not wish to be, and then moves forward towards "the new creation" or "enlightenment" in which "all things are made new"! "Effort", "attainment" and "progress" in the path seem the catch words! Sometimes I feel that there is often a violence towards ourselves associated with this outlook

The second trajectory is the one of exploration/return. This seems to me more associated with the word "redemption", and with grace.....even mercy (though not necessarily so, and I would not exclude such things entirely from the linear approach and understanding)

For me, this is to do with a theme that has seemed to run through all my own "explorations" (which seems a finer word than what perhaps should be given to some of the mess/confusion and ambiguities that have been my own "path"!!), that of "betrayal". Betrayal of ourselves and THIS world for the sake of some imagined "other".............turning our backs on "what is" with dissatisfaction and judgement, always looking for something finer and better.

Perhaps it does point to "pure acceptance" as being, paradoxically, the way of deepest transformation?

I see that I haven't really asked a question. Yet have others anything to say from their own experience? Perhaps from "passing over" to another faith and coming back to their own?
I think we tend not to swim too far from our own shorelines. If raised in a certain religion, our familiarity with it is integrated into our culture, our thinking, our families. It is interesting how geographical these religions originated and how fairly stable they have remained in those areas. Increasingly, religions have spread out and have had influence in other cultures, but the dominating religions in each have remained prevalent.

I had been rather reluctant to think outside my box, in my familiarity with the Christian faith. But only recently have I been trying to come to terms with the exclusivity that my faith teaches in regard to Jesus Christ. Inevidably, we have to deal with passages of the Bible such as Jesus proclaiming "...I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no man comes to the Father but by Me." (John 14:6) For me, that put a vast majority of people in the world at odds with that statement. Yet, I can't help feeling that the traditional view of salvation that I have grown up with doesn't quite square right. Can literally billions of people in other religions other than my own be that lost? Is it their fault that they just didn't happen to be born into a Christian home or environment? How can God fault them is they merely lack the information necessary for salvation?

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I would either have to re-examine my own faith and try and find a reconciliation with the problem within the Christian faith, or abandon Christianity altogether in favor of a reasonable alternative. And the latter I nearly did.

After considering the matter, I decided that the best approach would be to step back one religion, namely to Judaism. I figured that I needed to explore the roots of the Christian faith and see if there was anything I could hold on to without veering off on too much of a tangent. Judaism seemed reasonable as I was still familiar with the Old Testament or Hebrew scripture. And I told myself that if I couldn't find anything there, I would digress even father, perhaps even to Hinduism, since that seems to be oldest organized religion.

To make a long story short, taking such a step opened my eyes to a much wider perspective that I thought, not only in Judaism and Christianity, but in all the major religions I found a common bound. One of the quotes I found while studying Judaism is Rabbi Hillel's famous line, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; the rest (is commentary, the explanation); go and study it."

And I found that in that most religions of the world have some kind of variation of "The Golden Rule" about how to treat others. And I thought, that's it, that's what God wants us to do. And then I went back and approached Christianity in the same manner and found that this was the most important teaching that Jesus taught:

And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live." - Luke 10:25-28

How much clearer can that be? Jesus stressed the importance of these two commandments in Matthew 22:37-40:

"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

I realized that love is the key to all religions. If we can learn to love one another and love the Divine, that is all God wants. And I realized that God is the Ultimate, Supreme Love and if we can tap into His source, that is obey the first commandment, then we will have the power and love to fulfill the second commandment. It's so simple in concept, but takes a lifetime to learn.

So what do I do with Jesus being the Way, the Truth, and the Life? I follow His example of perfect Love that He demonstrated in a relationship with the Father, for that is the Way, the Truth and the Life. And I believe that people in most religions will find this principle of loving one's neighbor with a Source outside oneself to be true also.

Thanks for the time you have spent in answering and giving your own testimony. Stepping BACK to Judaism seems a novel choice these days! Most move - as you say, at a tangent - towards "the East". At one time I looked at Judaism, and especially loved the writings of the rabbi Lionel Blue, such works as "To Heaven with the Scribes and Pharisees"..................which obviously saw such in a light different than that displayed in the Gospels!

I think the "Golden Rule" is virtually ubiquitous throughout the various Faiths, yet this is part of what it is to look through the eyes of another, to see such a rule in its new context..............In Christianity, as part of the ethics of gratitude...............To love others as we have been loved to begin, while yet sinners. In the Buddhist faith the rule becomes entwined with "inter-being", part of the twin pillars of wisdom and compassion, and at best issues in a "naturalness" such as indicated in the poem by Basho......

"Neither speak ill of others, nor well of yourself.
The moment you open
Your mouth to speak,
The autumn wind stirs
And chills your lips"

Anyway, thanks again. Just a quick recommendation, the book by Diana Eck called "Encountering God". Diana Eck was a reasonably conservative Christian who travelled to Benares and lived among the Hindus there, and therefore was compelled to confront serious questions about those who lived a faith other than her own. Her book is truly insightful.

hmmmm did Buddha return to Hinduism, was Mohamed born a Muslim? Or did either leave their prospective faiths or simply expand them. Seems Jesus was expanding Judaism, in his view, not in others.

In this line of thinking we are blessed/condemned by the thinking of our parents when we were growing up?

hmmmm....so if my parent's were born and raised Protestant, but were on a Gaia, mother earth, wiccan combination adventure during my formative years...but in my 40's they followed your odessy back to Christianity...and I dabbled there with them...would I then yet again return to my earthly roots?

The above was an example, my parents would cringe.

But they were raised church going Protestants...didn't really care which they attended, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbytarian, bounced around...but my dad left when he got fed up with getting spoonfed and wanted to go someplace where open discussion and learning was the norm...instead of someone spouting from the pulpit without counter or question.

Seems to me our homeland is where we are now. And we are always returning to it. Not stepping in the same river twice, I really don't see us going back to that same religion, tis new when and if we return.

I love the exploration of learning and admiring the thought of others. But I am comfortable in my oft perceived alternative, heretical, blasphemous Christianity...