One of the reasons why I’m into theosophy is that it is an attempt at a universal spirituality. That is: it aims at finding the universal core in all religions and spiritual traditions.
Why is this important? Well – in this age of globalization no well informed adult can ignore that there are people outside our neighborhood, outside our country or continent. These people have to be a part of whatever divine plan we think is at work in humanity and the universe. That’s just self-evident, I think. [Though John Hick has made a career out of exploring that fact.]
But a lot of religion has not really caught up with such truths just yet.
Jiddu Krishnamurti approached this subject a bit differently. He focused on the fact that people are conditioned in different ways. This conditioning prevents them from really interacting well with not only people from outside their own community, but even people they know very well.
Which brings me to the second aspect of spiritual maturity: an ability to relate to all kinds of people. This is partly a matter of mood. One of my strengths is to be able to relate to all kinds of people, but I have found that to be very difficult sometimes anyhow. Especially when there was frustration in the relationship. Or when I had some practical point of self-interest. Perhaps it is not too surprising that it is easier to be nice to people when you aren’t dependent on them.
When it is said ‘God Bless America’ I wonder how many people think about the rest of the world that is implicitly excluded in that prayer. Didn’t God create the whole world? It’s an expression of what specialists in religion call ‘civic religion’. That is: religion which is part of public life, which informs a nation to make it one. Unfortunately that implies the implication that other nations aren’t blessed by God makes it easier to go out and wage war on them.
I give this as but one example of a type of religion that is not universal.
Only a universal religion or spiritual tradition can hope to help address the basic issues that face humanity. Those issues include the complications that arise from a global economy, for instance. The present economic crisis illustrates the problem perfectly. The EU came up with a united approach, whereas world leaders were NOT able to do so. That isn’t really a surprise as the USA still refuses to acknowledge the UN as a valid worldwide platform it should respect.
Another worldwide problem is the ecological crisis. I don’t just mean the climate, which is a result of our eating up of fossil fuels. I also mean the energy crisis at the bottom of that: we keep needing more and more energy and the hopes that alternatives can be developed isn’t too much beyond the drawing table yet. Though a start has been made.
What does all of this have to do with religion or spirituality? Well, each individual cannot be expected to solve these issues themselves. We are all dependent on economic forces, government and international corporations. So instead it is up to the group – humanity as a whole – to really start changing things. And that can only happen if individuals unite. Change can only come when a reasonable minority has made a change in consciousness – when it has become self evident that we need to recycle, that we need to have climate neutral ways of getting energy, that health needs to be a priority for companies etc.
Such a change in consciousness needs religion to back it up. Historically there hasn’t been a large movement of people without a religious component. Communism does not have a God, but it did raise its leaders up to mythic proportions – still does in countries like China.
My main point: problems that face humanity as a group can only be solved if humanity starts working together globally. And that cannot happen unless people are willing to look over the borders of states, religions, class, race, education etc.
We are in this together.