In early November 2018, I attended the Parliament of World Religions in Toronto, Canada, an incredible experience! What a joy to connect with all the Unity folks in attendance. It was especially gratifying for New Thought to be a singular category of religion. There was a booth for AGNT folks with lots of Unity people there, too. So many of us have said that when we found Unity, it was like “coming home!”
Well friends, I had that “Homecoming” experience during the 6 days I was in Toronto at the Parliament. There were 8,700 of us there, holding space together for “The Promise of Inclusion; the Power of Love.” I repeatedly heard the affirmation of our interconnectedness no matter which religious or spiritual path we followed. One speaker, a rabbi who was on a panel with our own Rev. Donna Johnson, said it this way: “The One looking at me through your eyes is the One looking at you through my eyes is the same One.”
It was a global community with people from every part of the planet holding a consciousness together of the absolute interconnectedness of all beings. A big highlight was the night that Daniel Nahmod sang his signature song, “One Power.” He was finally in a hall big enough for his voice and heart! And every religion he named in that song was present in the hall at that Plenary session. We stood as one body and applauded when he finished, many of us with tears. In that moment we all stood for what we are: one humanity with this earth as our home.
It was shared during a session that Carl Jung wondered as we moved into the 21st century, “What myth or sacred story do we live in today?” And Joseph Campbell, the great mythologist opined, “The only myth worth thinking about is the One Planet and everyone on it.” The experience of the 2018 Parliament was an awakening to that reality…there is only one humanity, one planet, and One God. It reminded me of our own beloved Unity Minister, Rev. Jim Rosemergy, who said, “Our race is human, our God is Love and our Religion is Oneness.”
In the midst of the loving embrace of our shared humanity created by the Parliament, there was an honest acknowledgement of the harm and suffering caused by institutional religions of every kind, on every continent. There was an acknowledgement of the suffering being caused by religion around the world even today. It impacted me most deeply to hear acknowledgement of the pain that was caused, and the deep desire to make amends and repair the damage to the human family. It felt to me like Butterworth’s “Cosmic Love” in action.
Specifically, in Canada, there was tremendous harm done by religion to the First Nations. At the start of every Plenary Session, and the Keynote Sessions, the moderator began by stating which tribe or nation’s land we were standing on and then giving thanks for that tribe and for the use of the land for the meeting. This was not a perfunctory statement; it was consistently said with humility and deep gratitude. It is an intentional, continuing process dedicated to healing within the community of Canada. It was a powerful model for healing all that which has divided us as people. It was refreshing to be present, to witness and participate in that healing, Although I did not know the history and the depths of pain, I could feel the healing.
The Parliament has developed a Global Ethic, stated on their website, which you can sign if you so desire. The statement can only be realized through a consciousness of Oneness as a lived reality in each one of us. It was stated almost as a refrain that each one of us present mattered, each one was essential to the unfolding, the realization of the Whole. No one person or religion is superior, because when you go there, you create division and separation, conflict and pain. It was a humbling experience to be with 8,700 people of all religions who could hold that belief as a lived reality, together. It was a lived experience of the Cosmic Love of which Butterworth speaks in Practical Metaphysics.
One of the speakers, another Rabbi started with a joke, that God came down and shared certain Truths with certain enlightened people and then the devil showed up and said, “Let me organize that for you!” He then stated that his intention was “To awaken our spiritual nature to such a degree that we are no longer in need of an institution.” He referenced Teilhard de Chardin’s work that creation is the One or God expressing as the many and the many seeking to remember and realize they are part of the One. All of humanity is seeking this expression of love, of Being a part of the One, or what Teilhard calls the Omega point. We are all a work in process.
One last comment is with regard to all the young people there. Young is a relative term for a minister in her 60’s, but these were truly young people in their late 20’s and 30’s. They were presenters, and they led sessions with great skill and mindfulness. One of the sessions was regarding barriers to Interfaith activities in your home community. We were in small groups to respond to the questions that they posed around the three themes of Diversity, Pluralism and Intersectionality. The challenge to us was to open to the reality that nobody is just “one” thing in all the ways we identify ourselves. What also struck me was their request that as we shared in our small groups, we pay attention to “air quality and air time.” It was a gentle but powerful way to call us into a higher consciousness as we self-monitored what and how much we put into the air around us with our speech and interactions. What a great takeaway as we prepare to spend time with friends and family in the upcoming holidays!
It was a powerful realization, as I read the chapter on Love Butterworth’s Practical Metaphysics, that I was able to have it as a lived experience in Toronto. I want to share from Butterworth, that the experience of Cosmic Love is about you, wherever you are. Here is what he says on page 139 of Practical Metaphysics:
THE EMPHASIS OF LOVE IS ON YOU
Loving is keeping in the flow of the cosmic process. It’s letting your light shine, keeping the lights turned on, not because the world needs the light- and it probably does- not because your family needs the light—they probably do—but because you need to keep your light turned on. Otherwise, you and your own consciousness are going to suffer. This is the key.
Go forth and love wastefully to give your energy to the healing of humanity. May we all realize the “Promise of Inclusion and the Power of Love.”
Rev. Deb Hill-Davis