When John Lennon wrote his iconic “Imagine” about an imaginary future where tolerance, empathy, and universal respect for human rights would trump our fear-based insistence that only people like ourselves should be treated well, it shook up lots of people’s faith. After all he asked us to imagine a world without religion. If you got past that, you heard him ask us to imagine believing in something even deeper, more fundamental, more spiritual.
Today there is a messy tension between spirituality and religion. Spirituality is rooted in a quest to understand and somehow experience the non-material world. Interest in spirituality is being propelled by a wave of new books from credible people such as a brain doctor (Proof of Heaven) and skeptical scientists who have had near death episodes which enabled them to directly experience a spiritual world that Einstein described as “beyond time and space.” These spiritual experiences defy serious counter explanations of biochemical hallucinations or other attempts to dismiss them as nonsense.
The common conclusion of people, including myself, who have experienced intense moments of transcendence is… that love is it. Love is everything. It is the realization that not only God is love, but also that in some deep way love is God…meaning love is the essence of everything that ultimately matters. I am not suggesting that God is simply a vibe; rather that God is both a loving identity and the force of pure love.
The tension between spiritual experience and religion is that religion is organized. It has dogma and doctrine largely shaped by individuals who claim to know something the rest of us don’t. In order for religious organizations to gain allegiance there is a strong impulse to create a chosen people story that makes us good and everyone unlike us bad. Instead of letting God do the judging, we do it. Often violently. So when John Lennon sings about a world without religion he is talking about a world without hatred, war, and intolerance…which is in fact the spiritual world people actually experience when they “die” and live to tell about it.
Please understand I am not anti-religion. In fact I go to church regularly. Yet I have my own private beliefs and experiences that cause me to reject some doctrines of the church I attend. It is vital to my personal integrity and honors my personal experiences.
I do believe that spiritual maturity leads us all to the same place…LOVE.
Which brings me to this video. If you’ve seen this, watch it again, and if you haven’t seen it, drop whatever you are doing and put 100% of your loving attention on it. I can’t say more except that love is it.
(I want to offer a special thanks to Steve Clayback who sent this video to me.)
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