Monday, October 8, 2007

World Religions on The Stages of Life


When people ask me the question, "Who are you," I am not sure how to answer. I have been many people in my lifetime. I have been a child, a student, a minister, a construction worker, an educator, a husband and a father. I have had been joyful, depressed, happy, angry and have experienced many other emotions and ideas over the years. My political, social and religious views are always shifting, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Life is change, which means that I am not the same person I was a year ago - thankfully.

A primary teaching in Buddhism says that 'life is change.' Every individual, each family, business, village, country and the universe itself is in a constant process of transformation. There are two ways to view this change process: one is to see change as destructively haphazard, and the other is to see it as a perfect, creative progression. When we examine the spiritual teachings of the world, we see that change is a natural, normal and creative progression.

The ancient Greek word for soul (psyche) also meant butterfly. This was intentional since the Greeks viewed life as a series of stages, moving from the larvae, to the caterpillar, to the chrysalis and finally to the soaring butterfly. Every human soul was in a process of spiritual growth.

The Ou'ran teaches that life and psycho-spiritual maturity come to us in stages as we are ready: "Why is not the Qur'an revealed…all at once? Thus (it is sent down in parts), that God may strengthen your heart thereby. And God has revealed it to you gradually, in stages." Qu'ran 25:32

Jesus said, "This is what the kingdom of God (spiritual life) is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, although he does not know how this happens. All by itself the soil produces mature grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head." Mark 4:26-29

The phrase, 'all by itself,' in the original language is the Greek word automatic. This means that Jesus taught our lives are like seeds, having a God-given, inherent order of development. Of course we have choices and free will, but we also have distinct innate stages we each get to experience along the way. The Hindu religion says that every soul moves through four stages in life:

1. Pleasure Stage – Life is all about me.
2. Success Stage – Life is about me and those in my little circle (family, business, nation, religion).
3. Duty Stage – Life is about serving all people on the planet.
4. Liberation Stage – Life comes to an end and I leave the planet.

These various teachings ought to give us courage and hope. They reveal a universal recognition that the same Power that draws the gorgeous rose from the buried seed upward into the light, also draws humanity into our full potential. This is true even when life seems to be dark and cracking apart. But rest assured, after the dark times, there is always light, truth and development ahead.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

such an encouraging thought...we are growing and changing...wonderful