Little is known about the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu (also known as Laozi or Lao Tze), who is a guiding figure in Daoism (also translated as Taoism), a still popular spiritual practice. He is said to have been a record keeper in the court of the central Chinese Zhou Dynasty in the 6th century B.C., and an older contemporary of Confucius. This could be true, but he may also have been entirely mythical—much like Homer in Western culture. It is certainly very unlikely that, as some legends say, he was conceived when his mother saw a falling star, or born an old man with very long earlobes – or lived 990 years. (source)
Either way, the message is the same: When you let go of all the things you think make you are what you are and who you are, only then can you be(come) free to BE all the things you might be.
I like that. And here's the reason why.
When I was growing up a PK (preacher's kid), I was told pretty much what to do, how to do it, what to believe and how to believe it. I wasn't asked, as many are not; instead, I was taught (some would say force fed) into believing in a system (education), a method (faith), and ultimately a belief (religion).
Here, I would copy, craft and control a belief system that would guide my life for decades to come. And while many around me shunned that system, I chose to follow--primarily based upon the bedrock of guilt that if I didn't follow these dictates, and to the letter of the law, I would be operating (a) above the will of God, (b) below the law, and ultimately (c) outside the parameters of "all that is good and right and holy."
And while that can be seen as "right" by many, I have come to realize that just because some see it as right, doesn't necessarily make it right.
This is not a message of judgement. This is not a message of disbelief in a particular system. This is not a slam against anyone who chooses to believe in any way, shape, or form.
It does, however, share my particular "flavor of faith," if you will. It's one I have chosen. It suits me. It feels right to me. And it works for me. That faith is LOVE. Above all else, we must LOVE one another. It's a universal truth that yields universal results (hopefully): reciprocal love.
As for organized religion, I have a deep and ever-growing challenge to embrace it. Most of what I see is anger, fighting, rage against the machine of what should be a message of love. All these factions say that "their way is the only way." All the while, "faction number two" is saying "their way is the only way."
As far as I'm concerned, the ONLY way is the LOVE way. Give love, share love, spread love. Most else is noise, rules and frankly, a lot of bullshit.
"Organized Religion" is mostly a belief (system) that has been practiced over and over, by a group of people who got to write the laws and incorporate them. It's based upon ONE belief system, which at its essence, chooses, or rather enforces ONE WAY TO ONE ANSWER.
Isn't this what got us here in the first place? Isn't this what got us fighting, and entering wars, and creating hatred with our fellow man? Isn't this what pushed us apart, rather than pulled us together?
Much like politics, I feel it's divisive, exclusionary, alienating, while simultaneously devoted, evangelical and aligning. But at what cost Freedom? Peace? Harmony? Justice? Community?
WHAT IF . . .
What if we were to leave each other alone to find our own path? What if were to leave each other to find our own way, our own inner voice, our own journey to whatever we feel is right, and harmonious, and peaceful, and good?
What if we simply said, to borrow an old Transactional Analysis term . . .
I'm Okay. You're Okay.
And leave it at that. Is that so hard? Would that not solve a good many problems? Would that not allow one another to go about their business, following the particular God they chose, without any worry of being judged, or maligned, or tortured and even killed?
Wouldn't that be great?
I think so.
In the interest of not being one-sided, here's a verse I learned as a child, but which has given me a new insight, as an adult. And to me, it really boils it down a singular message. I chose the New International Reader's Version because I'm told it's the easiest to understand.
"The whole law is fulfilled by obeying this one command. “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” -Galatians 5:14, (NIRV)
I remember a phrase I used to use in graduate school, while entering debates about particular matters. It went like this:
I didn't come into this world to live up to your expectations, just as you didn't come to live up to mine.
Some will add: So, let's agree to disagree.
Today, why don't we try another idea:
Let Go and Allow One Another To Live Their Own Dreams
It's easy to understand. It's easily digestible by everyone. It claims no particular "flavor of faith" but instead declares One Mission:
LOVE ONE ANOTHER
WHERE THEY ARE
IN WHAT THEY BELIEVE
IN WHOM THEY CHOOSE TO FOLLOW
END OF DISCUSSION.
Oh, there's more of this sermon, but I'll share more another day. For now, that's my two cents.
Like it. Leave it. Love it. Share it.
It's Your Call.