In 1944, Adlous Huxley published “The Perennial Philosophy”. In his work, Huxley sought to examine the world’s religions through the lens of commonality. He guides the reader down a path that ultimately leads one to conclude that at their very foundation, the world’s religions share a common thread; namely that we are all divine beings seeking to love and be loved by the same eternal Spirit of life. He concludes that humanity is bound together by the boundless drive that has no preference for race, religion, sex, or origin. Love is the eternal energy that binds us all together. Can we say we’re any closer to this truth?
Recent world events prompted me to once again reflect on this foundational truth. As violence in the name of religion rages around the world, it seems to me that while we’ve journeyed far, we still have a long way to travel. Violence perpetrated or justified in the name of faith is the antithesis of our divine heritage. Where there is violence, love has been pushed into the shadows. Great atrocities have occurred throughout humanity driven by the misguided belief that one religion or political philosophy is superior to another. When we get down to the foundation of why we’re here, no religion contains the entire truth nor does it possess all the answers. Until we come to embrace that we are all spirit experiencing a human existence and bound to each other in love, these atrocities will continue. There are days I believe we are devolving, not evolving.
Whether its terror perpetrated in the name of God, the coercion, kidnap, and forced conversion of young women, or the destruction of sacred places, those that perpetrate these actions, do so as a direct assault on Spirit. While perhaps well intentioned at times, the zealous actions of one spirit against another, is a direct assault on the collective soul. The good news is that the eternal Spirit of love cannot be defeated. While it may be brushed aside, the divine within each of us cannot be silenced. The resilience of the soul cannot and will not be denied. The visible may be destroyed, but another cannot conquer that which is buried in every heart if we stand against it.
Let me go out on a limb and further suggest that such violence is not limited to obvious acts of destruction and harm we may read about in the news or revisit in humanity’s history. From my perspective, everyday actions of well-meaning parents can have the same effect. When we coerce or force our children into a particular religion, we may be ultimately harming them. Parents should act as shepherds not taskmasters. It’s our responsibility to model love while allowing our children to exercise their free will and find their own path. I’m not suggesting we leave children adrift without spiritual guidance and support – far from it. Instead, we should view our responsibilities to be more like a spiritual coach. By loving versus pushing, we help our children develop their divine gifts. We allow them to grow into their higher purpose and we accept them as fellow spirits rather than property.
I came to this perspective based on experience. My own parents are Christian yet as I was growing up, they frequently drifted from church to church. There were long periods where we didn’t attend a church at all. After getting married and having children, I became a practicing Catholic. We brought our children up in the Catholic faith, but as they grew older, we could clearly see this was not their chosen path. As they became teenagers, we relented and gave them the choice. One of our daughters is deeply spiritual and gifted; I have learned much from her. The other chose not to be confirmed in the Church, but possesses a spirit of compassion that is nothing short of miraculous. They are each able to journey on the path that is right for them and we don’t condemn or criticize them for it.
We may not be able to have a direct impact on events in far away places. Our hearts may ache for the pain inflicted on others but we often lack the means of stopping the violence. By allowing ourselves to be affected by their pain, we can join our spirits with theirs in common cause – the search for love. As parents, we can be loving caretakers guiding our children to the perennial philosophy and helping them find paths of higher purpose. By doing so, perhaps we may be preparing them for something much greater. Who knows – they may become the force of loving change that finally moves humanity toward its eternal purpose and truth. We can always hope.