Today, the world’s spiritual congregations are being challenged by so-called religious groups that promote non-loving, non-respectful and downright violent views in the name of a respected religion. One only has to call mind the disrespect and violence done to women in the name of religion which can range from not allowing women a voice in congregations or spiritual assemblies, ordination of women, or squashing attempts to let women get an education to the all-out violence of killing, kidnapping, raping and injuring of young women in Africa and the Middle East for a host of reasons that boggle the imagination. Then there are similar practices that have occurred against gays and people of another color or religion—again all in the name of one religion or another.
Underlying this disrespectful and violent extremism—and it really doesn’t matter which religion you are talking about—is a narrow minded, dualistic, bigoted, myopic, us-against-them fearful attitude which cannot see the beauty, or the need of diversity. It can only see in black and white. It cannot see the grays. It is often sexist. It quite often too literal, wanting the pat and ready answer, the non-poetic response. It follows the rules to an insane degree that harms others.
Religious extremism cannot see the big picture or the underlying unity which recognizes that no matter what you do to someone else, you do it to yourself. If you kill another person, you are killing a part of yourself. If you injure a woman, you are injuring the woman within you.
Intuition, the capacity to see with the open, empathetic heart, is the capacity to feel what another person is feeling because one can put oneself in that person’s shoes. What that person is feeling is something you are also capable of feeling. As a result, intuition lets you know that what you do to another person is what you are doing to yourself. You need an intuitive awareness to understand and practice the Golden Rule, which is a cornerstone in all the world’s main religions. Most little children have this but lose it because it is rarely taught or practiced.
Perhaps the world’s great religions should teach more about intuition and learning to see what it feels like in another’s shoes, rather than preaching phobic attitudes, demeaning persons who are different, or imposing rigid rules and regulations. Maybe then, we might go back to the wisdom of the founders of those religions and regain some of their inspiring and life-giving energy.