Golden Thread Magazine Volume 1, No. 2, January 1987
Glimpses of the Golden Thread
By Rev. Robert Sisler
All of mankind's religious philosophies have offered up explanations of the predicament- why are we here? Why are we forced into this human condition of daily existence of learning, growing, gaining and losing love, suffering, and success? Is it so important that somewhere in this infinite universe a race of beings be required to experience reality in this way? Is it so important that in the universe there exists a planet whose inhabitants regularly name avenues of travel "Main St.", watch reruns of "The Beverly Hillbillies", and terrorize each other with car bombs? Surely, there must be a hint of something precious and valuable to justify their existence.
As I pointed out in the last article, the divergent philosophies begin explaining our predicament by declaring certain truths, or SpiritualLaws, to be in operation. These Spiritual Laws form the structure for any formal set of beliefs and practices. This article will explore the Spiritual Laws of certain philosophies and seek to understand the golden thread which must lie at the heart of seeming irreconcilable doctrines.
For a point of departure, we begin by examining the meaning and contextual background of the familiar terms, “sin” and “karma." These two concepts are found in the philosophic
traditions of the West and the East. Western philosophy refers to the systems of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. While, Eastern tradition includes the notions found in
Hinduism,Buddhism, Taoism, and Shinto, generally. The relation between the two springs from the fact that each offers explanations for man’s predicament and provides the remedy to reach the highest goals and aspirations
Western traditions, as they have been handed down, teach that mankind is born sinful. Sin is translated as missing the mark, or missing the fullness of life. We all suffer this condition due to the actions of Adam who disobeyed the order, or will, of God. As those traditions teach, the sin of Adam continues to be passed down to all successive generations. It seems, too, that before Adam's digression death did not exist for mankind. Physical death came only as a result of his disobedience. But is this referring to a physical change or a change within the mind, in attitude or awareness?
Along with this, mankind was cast out of paradise, an existence on the highest order that was carved out by the hand of God to allow Adam and Eve the fullest existence imaginable. The disobedience of Adam or, to say it another way, his failure to live by Spiritual Law, resulted in an imperfect existence not only for himself, but for all who followed.
The Western traditions offer solutions, though, so that each individual might undo the curse
of Adam, over the course of one’s lifetime, and be born into that more perfect state intended for us when this life is finished. Christianity, as interpreted and passed down to us, offers the idea that Jesus served as a sacrificial victim for God, and that if one believes in the validity of that sacrifice then, through belief, Heaven awaits the believer following this life. Failure to believe this Spiritual Law results in an eternity of torture.
The traditions of Judaism and Islam take a different, yet similar, avenue to explain the process of righting oneself before God. Deed, thought, and action, not belief, form the core teaching to atone one’s soul with God, or Allah. By putting into practice, the will of God, or following Spiritual Law, one will receive a just reward when this lifetime is completed. These Spiritual Laws are found in the Ten Commandments, the Talmud, or Qu'ran depending upon your tradition.
These three traditions spring from the same spiritual roots, and although they are in agreement as to how man fell, some real differences exist to explain the operant Spiritual Laws which offer mankind a bridge in order to move into the realm which God has provided. Which tradition is seeing the golden thread? Are any of them seeing the thread, or does each glimpse only a part of it?
Turning to the Eastern philosophies, we discover a different menu of ideas making up the definitions of Spiritual Law. Eastern philosophies teach an eternal existence of the universe, a universe which experiences constant change and transformation. The change which occurs is completely ordered though, following specific and exact patterns, or Spiritual Laws. The term, "Karma", is used to define the cause/effect relations which exist as a result of Spiritual Laws.
Our spiritual and physical existence has been created through the process of karma. Mankind’s spiritual reality is one of possessing a spiritual potential which must be developed to its highest state (i.e., perfection.) Through the medium of karma and reincarnation, each spiritual being will grow into that level of existence, control, and awareness.
For mankind the process of spiritual growth hinges upon becoming aware of Spiritual Laws and putting them into practice in daily life. Each one is trapped, so to say, because each of us will develop that potential to the highest level, but freedom lies in understanding and utilizing the truth for the good of oneself and others.
These Spiritual Laws are not the product of a divine creator/being, but instead they are the heart of a divine universe. It is the responsibility of the individual to develop that spiritual potential in order to advance along a spiritual path. Is it possible to find any golden thread running through these seemingly contrary Eastern and Western traditions? Let me begin with the notion that the idea found in Western traditions, of obeying or disobeying the will of God, is another way of describing the Eastern concept that the key to consistent spiritual progression is to understand and apply Spiritual Laws. Application of Spiritual Laws allows one to grow quickly, developing the potential within. Disregarding the Spiritual Laws, to which we are subject, will slow one's development and produce cause/effect results, which are not necessarily for the highest good of the individual. Time, which cannot be retrieved, is wasted.
The Western traditions and its authors have interpreted the existence of Spiritual Laws to mean that an individual, divine being brought them into existence. This would follow along with the historical roots from Egyptian, Babylonian, and Greek sources, of crediting a god or gods with the creation and control of our world and universe.
The Eastern point of view, as stated before, sees an infinitely old universe, which is divine of itself. That universe is perfectly ordered, because that is its nature, and each being
is subject to that order which we know as Spiritual Laws. Though each of us is a slave to Spiritual Law, our spirit springs from that divine nature, or infinite intelligence that is the universe in the truest sense.
From our Spiritualist point of view, one of the most important spiritual truths to understand and put into practice is the realization that we are more than just a physical human being. We are spirit, in the fullest sense. We have an infinite nature for we are the children of the universe.It created us, spiritually and physically. The problem for most of us is that we do not see the spiritual nature residing at the very center of our being. By learning to see the infinite within yourself, you begin to see it abiding in all other people and things.
Opening the mind to knowing the spiritual nature of oneself also opens the mind to an awareness of the golden thread which runs deeply through life’s seeming mystery.The Spiritual Laws which guide our lives become more obvious, simple, and clear. It becomes ridiculous to attempt to fight the Spiritual Laws, so one befriends them and learns the enjoyment of living by these truths. Lao Tzu, author of the Tao Te Ching, describes it in this way, "Without going outside,
you may know the whole world. Without looking through the window, you may see the ways of heaven. The farther you go (from inner-knowing), the less you know.Thus, the sage knows without traveling; he sees without looking; he works without doing." When we begin to know the spiritual nature of our lives and accept Spiritual Law, we can stop fighting its truth. By doing so we move quickly along our path of spiritual development, leaving behind the frustration of battling reality.
Jesus taught the simple truth that each of us, like himself, is a child of the Father, or the Universe. He attempted to reach that spark within people by using direct teaching, parables, and actions that we consider to be miracles. Jesus knew that many would not believe him because their minds were closed to seeing the spiritual nature wit in themselves. As he explained, those who do not recognize the spirit within are, in a sense, dead to the truth and fullness of life. Jesus stated, in John 10:30, "I and my Father are of one accord." If we recognize the universe as our father, or creator, and accept our spiritual nature, the statement is true for all of us.
To further illustrate Jesus’ teaching that we are all Spirit, we look to Luke 17:20-21, "The Kingdom of God does not come by observation. Neither will they say, Behold, it is here! or, Behold, it is there! for, Behold, the kingdom of God is within you." In saying this, Jesus draws the line of personal responsibility for spiritual development. The golden thread which he perceived and taught to his followers, not his sacrifice, and when put into practice, offers development of our highest potential. It is up to the individual to put those spiritual truths into practice. Jesus served as a door because of his teachings and deeds, but passage through the door requires the steps to be taken by the individual.
There is something more important about the human race than the fact that we watch "Beverly Hillbillies" reruns. Our world serves as a school for spiritual beings to develop their divine potential. The traditional concepts of sin and karma point to the golden thread of truth that responsibility for understanding and following the Spiritual Laws resides within each of us. No other being can, or will, experience what you need to experience, or take away the lessons that you must learn. By accepting the infinite nature of yourself and the Spiritual Laws which shape your existence, you can begin to live each day with the peace, awareness, and knowing which Jesus, Buddha, and others have attempted to teach us to see!
Copyright 1987 by Awareness Press (a wholly owned subsidiary of the Chapel of Awareness Spiritual Church Corporation -a California non-profit religious and educational corporation.) The right to copy portions is granted to individuals who purchase and use a copy for personal use but not for sale or distribution. Chapel of Awareness, 560 Third Street, Encinitas, CA 92024. www.chapelofawareness.org.