Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel
It was quite a challenge to participate in this seminar. Tutor Alex Wildwood had much to offer but was equally a ‘listening’ leader.
We shared concepts of the Way as we saw it. A wiggly pyramid to climb (or if inverted to widen out to), or a river into which many wells flow . . . It is good to be tolerant remembering that we are a society of ‘seekers towards the Permanent’ rather than a ‘Found it lobby’. Among its members Quakers contain many spiritual paths and it may not be appropriate to challenge them. Instead, incorporating our diversity provides us with freedom to choose.
Most religions (and most of us) hope that the way forward will lead to peace and contentment. On the way we may experience (a unity with) the Supreme Spirit.
Life on this seemingly broken and chaotic planet can seem a mystery. We try to attain our deepest longings and sort out that which we consider ‘meaningful’. Most religions advocate a ‘letting go’ of self to discover the spiritual, eternal reality, the seed of Life. Just believing in what suits you is not really a solution; understanding the nature of Reality emanates from wisdom.
Religion has often been the basis of conflict, so Quakerism hopefully goes beyond this to present a Way without the usual structures and doctrines etc. Unlike ages past we now have access to knowledge about all sorts of religions; we live in a pluralistic world so should beware of imposing beliefs.
Alex gave us time for both group and individual introspection. We considered what it might mean to attain the ‘mountain top’ destination. We begin from a state of confusion and conflict and move toward ‘liberation’. People need diversity, a variety of views and ways in order to realise true self. It involves love and understanding, a liberalisation from past limitations. Each of us considered the influences of our individual journey and was challenged to consider if our ‘Goal’ had changed over the years.
Thinking of the ‘Way’ for the Society of Friends we wondered if beliefs were necessary. Could we merely depend on the guidance of some Inner Light? Traditionally this concept was of an Inward Light – God within through Christ. We remembered Quaker F & P No 1.04 – the challenge of Christianity and the roots of Quakerism: How do we interpret our faith in the light of the life and teachings of Jesus? Do we follow his example of love and action? How does his relationship with God challenge and inspire us? We were given some options / suggestions to consider how we might convey our faith in the Spirit-led life:
* The risen Christ who transforms and guides
* Using Quaker Testimonies as patterns of living (non-violence, acceptance etc.) towards a spirit-led community
* Openness to a science-based understanding and listening to the wider community of life
While we live we may learn and we’re free to find our spiritual dimension of life. With personal honesty and some faith we seek a strength that is beyond ourselves. But that which is greater usually inspires a surrendered life.
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