The Vitruvian Man seeks the confluence of faith, not its divergence. This confluence is not difficult to find, and all religions teach it. If we open our eyes, our ears and our hearts, we will see it there. Our objective is to fuel the universe with God, and to do that, we must understand that the fundamental basis of faith is the same for a Hindu as it is for a Christian.
In today’s global environment thrust continuously at us by 24-hour news, we are forever reminded of the conflicts we are told that exist between the Judeo-Christian world and the Muslim world. Because of the attention that this global conflict garners by a media that does NOT understand what fuels the universe, I choose to examine a cornerstone which these two diverse worlds share.
The first words of several sections of the Torah — Deuteronomy, Chapter 6, Verse 4, for example — are often referred to as the “Shema.” The words are as powerful as they are simple:
שְׁמַע, יִשְׂרָאֵל: יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ, יְהוָה אֶחָד
Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Eḥad
Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is One
The first fundamental of Islam is the Testification, the Muslim declaration of belief in the oneness of God and the proclamation of faith referred to as شهادة, shahādah. The words are equally powerful and as simple as the Shema:
أشهد ان لا إله إلا الله
lā ilāha illa-llāh
There is no God but God
Two statements at the heart of two, influential religions, and both proclaim the same thing…
Perhaps best known for his 1932 novel Brave New World, English writer Aldous Huxley penned the introduction to Christopher Isherwood’s 1944 translation of The Song of God: Bhagavad-Gita. In it, Huxley discussed the “Perennial Philosophy,” which he contends is the “highest common denominator” to all higher religions. Huxley writes, “… all higher religions are in complete agreement. The purpose of human life is the discovery of Truth,” and truth is the knowledge that makes a human being one with the Godhead, his Creator.
Huxley contends that peace on this earth will not occur by chance, nor will it occur until humankind understands that there is a greater, common truth — a truth not tainted by illusion — that supersedes “the insane idolatries of nationalism and the advertising man’s apocalyptic faith in progress toward a mechanized New Jerusalem.”
Grounded in Judeo-Christian philosophy, I try to hold true to the words in the Book of Ruth as they appear in the Tanakh and in the Old Testament. After fleeing the famine in Israel with her family, Naomi’s sons marry Moabite women, Ruth and Oprah. Years later, Naomi’s husband dies as well as her two sons. Naomi decides to return to Bethlehem and tells her daughters-in-law that they may remain in Moab with their own people and remarry if they choose. In response, Ruth tells Naomi, “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.”
Through her words and actions, Ruth exemplifies perfect belief in the God who excludes no one. Ruth chose unification over separation; confluence over divergence. Ruth stands as an example each of us should strive to emulate. Like Ruth, we must work every day to unify our world under the one God who created each of us and excludes none of us. Ruth’s way is the way to peace on earth. Rise and pray each morning with that thought in your mind, and close your eyes and let sleep take you each night committed to making Ruth’s example an example you will project to your family and friends, and to all men, women and children whose paths you might chance to cross tomorrow. Ruth IS a Vitruvian Man who DID achieve Kalos Kagathos.
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