Waves of Seawater

Every wave is unique, but all belong to the ocean.

From The Essential Rumi, by Coleman Barks:

The religions of the world are luminous in their individuality, and they have valuable social and soulmaking functions. Surely someday we will quit killing each other over their different strategies. But let us be honest. I have no hope, nor do you, that the Middle East warring (or anywhere else) will stop in this lifetime or in our grandchildren’s. No hope. But perhaps hope is overrated. Who needs it. Let us continue on with our battered guidon, which has no recognizable insignia. As Whitman advises us in the 1855 preface to Leaves of Grass:

Argue not concerning God,… re-examine all you have been told at church or school or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your soul.

I say that the exclusivity of most of the organized religions does insult the soul. We must be open enough to assimilate the insights of indigenous cultures as well as those of the Abrahamic religions, to glory in the clarity of Rinzai and Bodhidharma as well as that of the dreamtime drawings. Joseph Campbell teaches us this. It feels mean-spirited and academic to dismiss as “syncretic” Rumi’s healing universal tolerance. His place among world religions is as a dissolver of boundaries. He is the ocean that acknowledges oneness (the seawater) over the multiplicity of waves (our individual circumstances).

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