Yesterday I was riding on the Storm Peak Express Ski Lift at Steamboat Springs, Colorado, USA, sharing that ride with a very felicitous beared fellow. He reminded me very much of the character “Chicken Joe” from that wonderfully light movie Surf’s Up (by Sony Pictures Animation, 2006). My ski lift riding companion was a boarder like his name sake (albeit on snow), and I suspect he may even have been from Wisconsin. ;o)
The conversation began with him asking me “do I know how to relax?” I replied that yes I did, and coming to Steamboat from Kuwait was part of that. We talked some more, about my experience in the Middle East, and then he asked me about my understanding at an intrinsic level of Islam and how it was different to Christianity.
After a few moments thought, I answered that intrinsically the religions are same [and reflecting now, they are similar to each other perhaps like no other religions]. I said that at the core each religion promotes ways in which to behave; towards others, towards ones self. They both promote how to act, how to eat, how to live, how to be. They were both life systems designed to manage the ones ego. They were both life systems spelt out many hundreds (thousands) of years ago by people who practiced what they spoke.
It was a very enlightening conversation for me.
Upon further reflection of the conversation it made me realise just how similar the two religions are. It helped put into perspective for me that the reasons the two religions appear so different is not because of their roots, but because of the layers of interpretation the various tribes and groups have placed upon them over the many years the practices have been in use. This has been influenced by many things: by the need for power, for control over others, by intermingling of local traditions and beliefs, and ultimately by the ego. Ironic because the systems are practices whose ultimate intention is to manage the ego. [I deliberately don’t use the phrase “control” the ego, for the ego cannot be controlled, much like a wave, representing the ego, cannot be controlled, it can only be surfed, or a slope, can only be skied, not changed].
So, in essence, Islam and Christianity are identical life practices. Both promote simple practical means to achieve peace and harmony in ones life, with others and espcially with ones’ self.
This quote summarises the practice very well.
Spread love everywhere you go, but first and foremost in your home. Love your children, your spouse, your neighbour… Let no one who comes to you, leave without being better and happier. Be the living expression of goodness, be it the goodness of your face, goodness of your eyes, goodness of your smile or the goodness of your warm welcome.
Helping me to remember: Become conscious. Meditate. Be with God.