I see the world as we are all the same in our differences. Who I am is what makes me who I am. Who you are makes you who you are. A wolf’s difference as a carnivore allows them to hunt dear. The dear’s difference from the wolf as a herbivore allows it to eat grass and flora to keep them from overgrowing or having weeds grow. The grass’s difference from the wolf and dear is it is a source of food that primarily feeds the dear, but then secondarily feeds the wolf. They are the same in that their roles support the ecosystem they live in.
I am the computer “whiz” in the family while my brother knows painting. My sister knows education while my Mother knows how to balance books and cook. My father knows how to make repairs around the house to keep the roof over our heads. We are all vastly different; however, we are all the same as we work together to maintain the house. My brother just repainted a room so my mom can re-purpose the room to be an office.
My father made repairs to the doors and furniture so the room can be used. My computer skills taught my mother and father how to navigate new tools to help my mother balance the books easier and for my father to learn new DIY tricks. My sister’s knowledge in science and education always keeps our minds intrigued and involved when we sit down at the kitchen to enjoy my mother’s cooking.
We are all the same in difference, but are differences allow us to build, maintain, and grow the similarities we have with one another.
Now let’s take the same concept of the similarities in our differences to a nation: we would not have cyber security without those with different minds in coding and spyware, we would not have the quantity and quality of food we have without the different minds in farming and agriculture, we would not have the vast technologies without the joint different minds of engineers, psychologists, and what have you. While we are all different, we are the same in our goals and paths to build, maintain, and grow the world we have.
Different Roads, Same Destination
Let us now take the same concept of similarities in our differences to faith: In an earlier post of mine, Religions of the World: Different Names for God, I shared various examples of the different names many faiths and religions have given God/The Higher Power. In another post of mine, All Faiths and The Power of Prayer, I shared how all faiths and religions of the world have shared the importance of prayer with psychological studies supporting this matter. In both posts, I shared the notion that we are all on the path of peace, but on different roads to the same direction.
The Amazon Rain forest is well known for its vast diversity in life while the Sahara Desert is well known for its vast scarcity of life. In these vast differences, The Sahara Desert’s minerals get blown into the sky and find their way to bring nutritional atoms and particles to the Rain Forest, thus allowing life to grow and prosper there. As different as both of these regions of the world are, with the Sahara feeding the Amazon, their similarity is they are both part of the Earth and making Life possible.
Just because the Amazon and the Sahara are different in many ways, they are not just different parts of the world, just as how many faiths are not just different from one another. Their roles on earth are very similar in how their different roles sustain life. In my view, faith, spirituality, and the religions of the world function the same way.
In our previous discussions on The Balance and The Connection, we shared that we must better our connection with the higher self, the Earth, all life around us, and ourselves to find a true path to peace; however, there are many paths to peace already from various different faiths and religions of the world.
From my perspective, these paths are very similar as they are going to the same destination, but how they get to a destination is the important differentiation. This difference can be stemmed from three very different, and yet function with each other like gears in clockwork, forms of mindsets: Above, Around, and Within.
Many faiths and religions of the world all involve themselves with balancing oneself with what is above them, what is around them, and what is within them; however, the key difference is the focus of primarily above, primarily around, and primarily within – in my view.
Focusing on What is Above
Religions such as Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and Sikhism have a primary focus on God/The Higher Power and draws strength and finds their path to peace from the One above us. For example:
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Christianity and Judaism, Bible, Psalms 27:12
“To Allah (God) is your return, all of you, and He will inform you of what you used to do.” Islam, Quran 5:105
“Those who are loved are those who have found God” Sikhism, Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji
Of course, there are many polytheistic religions that focus on what is above us. Least to say, this does not mean these religions solely focus on the Higher Power. Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Sikhism also all have strong community bonds with one another, teach respect for life, and so on.
Focusing on What is Around
Just as how there are faiths and religions of the world that focus on what is above, so to are their faiths an religions that have a stronger focus on what is around them. These faiths and religions may have the names of Animism, Paganism, Hinduism, many Native American belief systems, and so on. For example:
“All plants are our brothers and sisters. They talk to us and if we listen, we can hear them.” Arapaho Proverb
“We must protect the forests for our children, grandchildren and children yet to be born. We must protect the forests for those who can’t speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish and trees.” Qwatsinas (Hereditary Chief Edward Moody), Nuxalk Nation
“Ether, air, fire, water, earth, planets, all creatures, directions, trees and plants, rivers and seas, they are all organs of God’s body. Remembering this a devotee respects all species.” Hinduism, Srimad Bhagavatam (2.2.41)
Of course, many of these faiths and religions of the world also have focus on what is above and what is within them. These religions and faiths may also draw strength from the spirits of the Earth such as a river, tree, and animal spirits.
Focusing on What is Within
There are spiritual practices that also have a primary focus on what is within us. The most notable of these is Buddhism, which teaches that the self/soul cannot be identified with any one of the parts, nor is it the total of the parts. In the Buddhism doctrine of Skandha, Buddhism teaches there are 5 elements to an individual and they are as followed:
- Matter, or body (rūpa), the manifest form of the four elements—earth, air, fire, and water;
- Sensations, or feelings (vedanā);
- Perceptions of sense objects (Sanskrit: saṃjñā; Pāli: saññā);
- Mental formations (saṃskāras/sankhāras); and
- Awareness, or consciousness, of the other three mental aggregates (vijñāna/viññāṇa).
With this focus, Buddhism also has teachings on respecting what is around us in nature and there are teachings on what is above them.
Above, Around, and Within
There are countless scholars, monks, priests, nuns, priestesses, tribal leaders of all their respective faiths and religions and it will take more than under 2000 words in this article and more than this lifetime to share everything that these great people have learned and studied in their faiths and religions. With respect to these scholars, monks, priests, nuns, priestesses, tribal leaders and so on, their teachings have helped many cultures and ways of peace possible through their dedication to their respective faiths.
Just as how I learned much in computers, business and banking, my brother has learned a great many things in painting as did my sister in education, my father in DIY, and my mother in cooking. It would take my father years to teach me all that he has learned and vice versa. My brother can attempt to teach me how to paint a wall or a building, but it will take him years to teach me the skills he has and vice versa.
I even joke with my sister that, when she talks about different theories in education, that it’s just all Greek! However this may be, we are all learning different skills and mindsets from what another. We may not be able to learn all of what the other has learned, we learn what can be used to help each other.
My brother may need help setting up painting the room, which my father and I know how to do. My sister may need help in analyzing numbers, which is what I know how to do. My mother may need help with carving a chicken, which is what I know how to do.
I may need help in painting my wall, which my brother and father know how to do. I may need help in understanding different rocks for a home project, which is something my sister knows. I may need help in balancing the taste in my tomato sauce, which is something my mother knows.
The Amazon may need help in keeping the rich jungle fed with nutrients, which is something the Sahara knows how to do. Similarly, the faiths and the religions of the world can work in similar fashions.
With the keen focus on what is above us, Christianity and the Abrahamic religions can provide teaches and ways to heighten our focus to God/The Higher Power above us. With a keen focus on what is around us, the Native American faiths and paganism can teach us how to heighten our focus and connection to all Life and the Earth. With a keen focus on the self, Buddhism may be able to teach us more on bettering ourselves.
What is above, around, and within us are very real and very much a part of our lives. In this mindset, we can learn from faiths focused on what is above us to better our connection to God/the Higher Power. In this mindset, what we learn from faiths focused on what is around us can help us build a better mutually symbiotic relationship with the earth. In this mindset, we can learn how to better ourselves for the greater whole.
The religions of the world may have the appearance of being vastly different from one another, such as the Sahara and the Amazon; however, they are more interconnected than we have realized in decades past. I find this to be true for all faiths. We may not have time in our lives to learn every aspect of every religion; however, I believe we can all work together to balance ourselves with what is above, around, and within us. Perhaps, we can use the sharpest points of our focuses of light in different faiths to brighten this interconnected world we all share.
Be safe and be healthy.