Almost every religion in the world says that its teachings are the key to helping humanity. In this episode of The Missing Conversation, Robert explores just how much of our actions match what we have to say about our religious teachings.
Pause for a moment and think about the percentage of our wealth that’s going toward bettering humanity and the planet. Now, what percentage of that wealth is inclusive — how many people are genuinely struggling to get help, to be given work opportunities, housing and a chance to live in a way that can be dignified, no matter their religious and spiritual affiliations?
Our society places a lot of emphasis on taking care of yourself, your family and loved ones, and then taking care of those within your specific community. Almost always in that order. But that means we don’t use the resources we have to better the lives of others outside that group. So little of our time and energy is devoted to volunteering for those outside our communities — creatively giving opportunities to empower , people who need it the most but are different from us in thought, action, race, religion, political party etc.
The dangers of exclusivity in religion can have horrible consequences over time. We’re already seeing how climate change is affecting our planet and how world hunger and poverty continue to rise despite the growing number of millionaires and billionaires.
So when it comes to our religious beliefs, it is crucial to ask — is our belief a separatist one or a source of love towards humanity? How can we orchestrate our life’s desires to align with goodness — good actions toward others.
Other than exploring dialogue with our religious leaders and encouraging them to be more inclusive in their teachings, aid, and understanding, we can also work on our individual beliefs. The key is to try to move beyond our separate sense of self, family, and religion.
Our intentions to help our fellow brothers and sisters in the world without only devoting ourselves to ourselves and our families can be rewarding in a very true sense. Your intention can be seen through your eyes, tone of voice, behavior, and actions — it’s a glimpse into your quality of heart. Finding ways to treat others with caring, integrity, and love showcases your intention to move toward inclusiveness. The payoff is a sense of well-being, because when this comes from a sincere heart it is universally rewarded.
Mentioned in this episode
The Global Bridge Foundation
Note: Below, you’ll find timecodes for specific sections of the podcast. To get the most value out of the podcast, I encourage you to listen to the complete episode. However, there are times when you want to skip ahead or repeat a particular section. By clicking on the timecode, you’ll be able to jump to that specific section of the podcast
The Missing Conversation, episode 42.
Robert Strock: (00:04)
And I know this might make a number of people angry, but it has to be said that in a certain way, our families are like mini cults for most of us.
On this podcast, we will propose critical new strategies to address world issues, including homelessness, immigration, amongst several others, and making a connection to how our individual psychology contributes and can help transform the dangers that we face. We will break from traditional thinking, as we look at our challenges from a freer and more independent point of view. Your host Robert Strock has had 45 years of experience as a psychotherapist, author, and humanitarian, and has developed a unique approach to communication, contemplation and inquiry born from working on his own challenges.
Robert Strock: (00:56)
A very warm welcome again to the missing conversation where we give it our all to try to address the most pressing issues that the world’s facing today and where we look for the most practical, inspiring programs, innovative ideas, and individuals to support a greater chance of survival for our planet. And today we’re gonna continue to penetrate further into the dangers of exclusive teachings and the benefits of inclusiveness and unity. I’d like to start off by introducing Dave, my partner at the Global Bridge Foundation and closest friend for 50 years.
Thank you. And, and hello everyone. Uh, it’s great to be here. And I, uh, as always look right now to continuing the conversations we’ve been having in this area, which is, uh, is one, that’s been a lifelong issue in my experience, uh, sometimes traumatic, sometimes, amazing. So thank you.
Robert Strock: (02:12)
And I think that you, those are probably both understatements, uh, traumatic and amazing. So as you perhaps heard in the last episode, if you listened to it, we really covered the range of the most extreme kind of enlightened claimed teachers and the dangers that, that presents in the omnipotence and the resulting separation, lack of humanness, lack of merging with other teachers, sense of righteousness perversion and moved from there to people that are more moderate and still the dangers of thinking that any teaching is the teaching. And so hopefully as you’re listening to this, you’re looking to your own life and how this has applied to you. And if you’re someone that has never pursued a spiritual teaching or doesn’t have a religion, also being able to see that life of integrity qualifies you, at least in my eyes as being a spiritual or religious person, and that it doesn’t have to do with, uh, the traditions and the practices as much as it has to do with you treating other people with caring integrity, and as you would like to be treated as brothers and sisters.
Robert Strock: (03:39)
So one of the questions that we didn’t ask in the last episode that I would like to start off by asking is if you are someone that either is now or has been a part of a spiritual religious tradition, are you game, or can you see the benefit of asking the teachers, having a dialogue with them about the importance of being inclusive and how your understanding, if it is, and I, I presume most of you if you’ve listened this long and especially if you’ve listened to this series of podcast on The Missing Conversation with spiritual and religious teachings that you’ll, you’ll see that the stakes are very, very high, that if religions and spiritual teachings are not inclusive of other approaches, then in a certain way, it’s gonna be another source of separation in a world that is inundated with sources of separation. And I’ll regress for a moment by saying that we as individuals when we live our individual life and we care about ourselves, primarily that’s one source.
Robert Strock: (05:02)
Another one is caring so much about our family that we don’t care about those that are in poverty. We don’t care about people that are really struggling in a serious way, in a serious percentage of our life. I don’t mean to imply that we don’t care about them, but the percentage of care is let’s say 2% relative what we would care about with our families or national leaders, caring about our country or political leaders, caring about our party or corporate leaders, caring about our corporations, that we can see that it’s not just in the spiritual world that this exclusivity is the danger we face on the planet today. And most important is if we can use this insight as an inspiration to look at our spiritual teaching, our religious teaching and all these other aspects of our life as wanting to move in a direction and inspiring us to move in a direction of inclusiveness and asking a question like how can I move in a direction of inclusiveness and, and inclusivity?
Robert Strock: (06:18)
So again, along that line, can you see yourself going to your congregation, to your peers and having conversations, being leaders in your own, right? Even as a student, to be able to convey how important it is that no matter what you believe that that is, that is a belief and that it’s not meant from the point of view of compassion for the world to be a separative belief, it’s meant to be a source of love for humanity. And I say that because in words, virtually all the world’s religions say we are the key to helping humanity. So in words, that’s gonna be said, but in actions, what percentage of our wealth is going toward humanity and is inclusive? What percentage of our time and energy and volunteering is outside of our tradition and giving to people that need it the most. And even if we do give a percentage, is it a significant percentage?
Robert Strock: (07:38)
So, these are the questions. And these are the questions that I’m encouraging you to be contemplating and to be sharing with your congregation or your community of friends or your tradition. Now, there are many traditions that identify themselves with just a difference in appearance. You know, some, some traditions, the need are, are more frequently college educated, or if some traditions are relating to emotions like we were talking about earlier where they, they do inner work, but they don’t, they don’t necessarily, or almost always don’t lead with a teacher showing their inner work. There might be a certain form of where people are dressed a certain way or they’re huggers or non-huggers. And so, it’s important to see that no matter what your tradition is like that these practices, these traditions are not the key thing. The key thing is the inclusive benefit to humanity as a whole.
Robert Strock: (08:51)
Now, now I had an experience in college, in my junior year of college, where I had three teachers that I loved dearly. And even in retrospect, I love them dearly. They were three of my best teachers. I struck it rich in college, and these teachers were not actually, one of them was from college and he, he ran a class on love, and he was, he was the teacher of the year at my school over and over and over again because he was really beloved. And then I had another teacher that was teaching me something about really orchestrating my life to see what my desires were and to have my desires line up with goodness. And that’s good nutrition, you know, good attitudes, good actions. And it was a, it was like a second childhood to all be endlessly grateful to Nick for, for that. And then I, and then the third teacher was when I mentioned last in the last episode, which was Steven.
Robert Strock: (09:58)
And he was somebody that was actually a gifted communicator and encouraged everyone that had close friends to sit around in a circle of close friends and just share everything that was real inside, inside yourself and asking and taking great interest in how are you really doing and having that be the source of friendship. And then having that lead to a source of compassion. Now, these three teachers, I was ecstatic, cuz I couldn’t wait to introduce them. You know, it’s like, oh my God, I, I, I, I just know they’re gonna love each other. And this was my first big tip off to exclusivity because when I approached each of them, not one of them had the slightest bit of interest in meeting the other and they were, they were all gifted. They were not fanatics. They were all loving. They were all a positive influence and they, but they didn’t see the benefit of joining each other even for an hour.
Robert Strock: (11:07)
And so that was, those were the good guys. So, you can imagine how exclusive it gets when you have people that really are much more on the overly self-trusting or overly trusting their own visions of, of awakeness or compassion. So, there’s something wrong with the picture. It seemed to me that if I had a best friend and wanted to introduce them to another best friend, they’re probably pretty likely to wanna do that. They may not have exactly the same characteristics, but at least they meet each other. So, there’s something about the world of spirituality and religion that presents the greatest opportunities in life and the greatest dangers in life. So, that’s really what we’re trying to convey. And in these, this particular episode and this particular series of episodes, these last few, we’re really talking about it from the point of view of exclusivity and the importance of being inclusive.
Robert Strock: (12:18)
So, this next area I’m gonna talk about is actually quite subtle. So, it will take a real careful listening to understand and track what I’m saying and I’ll do my very best to be articulate, but it’s not an easy area to be articulate. So if we were to take away language, so you couldn’t say, I believe in Jesus, I believe in Buddha, I believe in mindfulness, I believe in compassion and you were really to just have it be shown through your eyes, shown through your tone of voice, shown through your actions and you didn’t have the ability to have words. Maybe it would be shown through a hum that wouldn’t even be an OM, because that might be too compartmentalized in a certain religious direction, but it would be something that would be a tone. And if you see that there is a common thread in humanity that could be shown in a nonverbal way that would include actions, it would include attitudes that would include eye contact.
Robert Strock: (13:38)
It would, it would, it, it may include hugging. You know, perhaps that would be something that, that some people would be okay, would include a, probably a telepathy where you’d hug those that wanted to hug and you wouldn’t hug those that didn’t wanna hug. This, this kind of theme is meant to show how divisive language can be, how exclusive language can be. So, if we get a clearer glimpse of what might be called intention, cuz all of these aspects, whether it be a quality of the heart showing through the eyes, through the tone of voice, through the actions, the root of all of that would be rooted in our intentions. And if our intentions were to be united we’d, we’d just be walking by each other, and it would be like what [unintelligible] day, which is putting the palms together. It would be the God and me sees the God and you, the love in me sees the love in you.
Robert Strock: (14:44)
It actually makes me free associate to the place in the world where I felt most at home, which was in Nepal, and as I walked down the streets and people looked at me frequently in the eyes, not always in the eyes, but frequently in the eyes, but even if they didn’t, they walked in a way that was relaxed and was fluid. And they had eye contact that conveyed that feeling of the love in me says hello to love in you. There wasn’t a sense of having a persona. So, getting a feel for what that is, where there is a tone of voice, there is a look in the eyes, there is a series of actions that includes other people. There is a sense, if you walk into the supermarket, how you would be with people as you’re walking by them. Now this is much more common in the area of the people that have the integrity heart that we’ve been having as a thread through this series, because that’s kind of where they’re at, if they’re really true to where they are and if they aren’t prejudice against people of religion, which in the supermarket, they wouldn’t be because people probably won’t have a, a t-shirt that’s gonna say I’m a Christian or I’m a, I’m a Buddhist or I’m a Jew or I’m, I’m, I’m a, I’m a Muslim.
Robert Strock: (16:11)
And so probably would naturally carry that kind of simple caring as a way of being. Now, there are some spiritual groups or religious communities that have a fairly good percentage of people that are following the root tradition of the original teacher. But I certainly would not say most, you know, I would say that the majority somewhere between the majority and the vast majority of traditions, feel a much greater affinity to those within their tradition. And they feel there’s kind of a one down if you’re not in their tradition. And this whole episode, this whole segment is really to really challenge that premise and to see that the hypnosis of religion or the hypnosis of spirituality really can seduce us into acting a bit like a religious cult. Now making it a little bit more personal for us, it’s also important to see, and this is where maybe the persons of integrity and caring would fall more into this category.
Robert Strock: (17:39)
That even the preference that we all have for our own family and our own friends and how much more important they are than the rest of the world, than the people that are struggling in poverty for the planet’s survival, even when global warming is this obvious, it’s not a far stretch. And I know this might make a number of people angry, but it has to be said that in a certain way, our families are like mini cults for most of us. And I’m gonna say that again for emphasis, cuz I don’t, I think this really needs to be pointed out and the whole point is not to judge. The whole point is to expand. The whole point is to see, in 2021 in particular, given that we can’t last out our life and our kids life and our grandkids life and reliably still be here.
Robert Strock: (18:41)
Doesn’t make sense to be so loyal to the family. Is that not really a danger to the planet, if all that wealth that’s held in the family, if all that generous energy is held in the family, is that not like the religious communities that we’re talking about, maybe is that not even what makes us more susceptible to look for another family, a bigger family that makes us prone to favor a larger group, a spiritual community, a religious community. Now we are not only a family, but we have God on our side or we have Buddha on our side or we have Muhammad on our side or we have Moses on our side or we have our whole history that we can look at where even in that history, we saw it from our frame of reference. So, I think it’s very helpful to see that the roots of this favoritism is not only in spiritual and religious traditions, but it’s actual even more obvious.
Robert Strock: (19:57)
If we look at it closely that we favor our families to such a high degree. Now this has been an enormous sense of suffering for me because from a very early age, I loved, I have one child, Justin, who I loved more than anyone in the world and at the time I was divorced and, and he wanted to really spend more time with me. And I said to him at eight years old, you know that I love you more than anything in the world, but I also love the world too. And that’s why I can’t spend more time. And that was a source of suffering because it wasn’t like that was the norm even then. And so it created a level of a wound, a wound that we have spent our life, uh, thankfully having healed, uh, because he is the easiest, closest relationship I have in the world.
Robert Strock: (21:03)
But it was something that really highlights the way in which, without our awareness and with no malevolence or no mal intent, we all are living in many cults to some extent. And so, the key is not to judge that. The key is to say, ah, maybe I can add something like tithing 10% of my time, my energy, if I have any money, my money, or maybe if I have a lot of money, maybe it’s a lot more than 10%, but maybe I can see that in year 2021, it calls for something to have a bigger family, a family of humanity. 21 years ago, Dave and I and the Global Bridge Foundation did a conference called “Being the Difference That Makes a Difference.” And what we emphasized in this conference that was held at University of California, Los Angeles, UCLA, and there were 250 kids from 50 high schools.
Robert Strock: (22:15)
And we were, we were asking the people to come if they felt like the world was a strange place, and that somehow they felt like there was more to life and that life had greater meaning to want to serve others. And not only to serve others through actions, but also through attitudes, thus the title “Being the Difference That Makes a Difference.” So, it was the, our being and our doing the, our actions and our attitudes that were important. And my son, Justin ran a group, and I was trying to prepare him cuz he had no particular psychological background other than the fact that, that I was a therapist. Um, his mother was actually running a group, uh, called Council, um, and we, we remained very close friends and still do. And so, Council was where you had a circle and speak from your heart.
Robert Strock: (23:20)
So, he had a background in a certain way, intuitively, but no formal training at all. And I said, well, what are you gonna do? Because half of the, of the 250 people were coming from gangs or poverty or communities of disadvantage, what are you gonna do when, when a gang member says to you, what the fuck do you know whitey, you know, from Malibu, you don’t have any idea what the fucks going on. And Justin said to me, much to my joy that he, his response would be you’re right, I know nothing about it, please tell me about it. That’s the kind of attitude that we all need to have. And we, we might be judging another religion, but instead of judging it, we need to say, tell me what’s good about it. Tell me what you love the most. Tell me what’s most inspiring.
Robert Strock: (24:14)
Let me tell you what’s most inspiring to mine and, and, and hopefully be able to have our friendships mirror, the same thing. You know, one of the groups that we had, we had 15 groups and one of the groups that we had was on friendship and Justin led the group on friendship with his three closest friends. And part of that group was, is part of our friendships being open to caring for those that don’t have friendships or are we just cool? And is it, is it being cool to just, just be handsome and desirable by the girls and being popular by the community or actually, is it a value to be making a difference? Is that part of your friendships? Is that part of your dialogue with any friend? So that’s another reflection that’s important to ask. And I know early, early in my life, it was considered to be a little bit odd to be asking the question what’s most difficult for you and what’s most inspiring, but that’s been a trademark.
Robert Strock: (25:27)
So, since being 18 years old, it just seems like it’s an intuitive question, and would encourage everyone with all your friends that you most trust, at least to experiment. Maybe you don’t say the most difficult or most the most inspiring, but maybe you, maybe you ask, you know what, what’s been a little bit challenging and what been a little bit exciting and you gradually sense out where, where it might be in your friendship. But the key is trying to move beyond our separate sense of self, our separate sense of, of friendship, our separate sense of family, our separate sense of religion, our separate sense of spirituality, our separate sense of nonspirituality. I ask you a question to really contemplate. Doesn’t it seem clear to you that God, if that’s the way you conceive of, of the highest source of the universe or universal intelligence, or as AA would say, whatever you deem to be the, the highest power, does it seem to you that that highest power that most omnipotent source, if there is one, of this universe that it would be naturally inclusive, does that seem like a radical question to you?
Robert Strock: (26:52)
And if it doesn’t, does it not seem inspiring and provocative to wanna keep asking it on a daily basis to inspire yourself to be more inclusive? Do you think God or universal intelligence plays favorites? Does that not seem oxymoronic to you? It does to me, you know, when I was 13, I asked my mother, if we were born next door, we would’ve been Christian, we’re Jewish. What makes us more chosen better than our next door neighbors? And thankfully she said to me, you know, in reality it doesn’t, it’s really more of a social thing. So, I was fortunate that my parents were not ones that were very identified with the religion that we were in. Even though socially we were, do you think God cares about names? Do you think God really is gonna say, if you don’t remember the name Jesus, or you were born in Africa and you never were exposed to the name Jesus, you’re going to hell.
Robert Strock: (27:59)
If you don’t recognize Jesus as the only son of God, do you think, do you think this universal intelligence isn’t going to love every part of life, not only human beings, but animals, do you think God is really going to bless America and not bless the world? Do you think it wouldn’t make more sense for us as a country? This is something that’s driven me crazy at one level. And I’m speaking at figuratively, a hope that when we say God bless America, I’m always hoping that our leader is gonna say, as we bless the world or God Bless America for that part of us, that’s blessing the world. And so leaving you with this question, does it inspire you? Does it interest you to want to be more inclusive? Do you see the dangers of exclusivity? And in this episode we’ve emphasized not only spiritual and religious exclusivity or, or non-religious exclusivity, but also the other little forms, does it inspire or interest you to want to expand?
Robert Strock: (29:18)
And don’t take what I’m saying to an extreme. I’m not talking about arriving at some supreme state talking about expanding some percentages, some degrees, some series of small action, perhaps daily, perhaps just start off weekly, but just wanting to expand because we realize we’re in the year 2021, and we need to take care of our planet or else we’re facing an immense danger. So my prayer, my hope as you listen to this emphasis on the dangers of exclusivity of spiritual teacher and religious teachings that you really find that to be one that allows you to focus on the importance of unification, inclusiveness, and how you yourself and your own life, not just in your intellect, but you and your own life can see and ask yourself the question, how can I practice this in the smallest of ways? Or if you have more opportunities in bigger ways and find that to be an enjoyable question, not a homework assignment, not something you should do, but something that you get to do because it’s utterly self-serving in the sense that it will lead you to feel better. If it’s a natural question for you. And my hope is that it is a natural question for you. Thank you for your attention and retention.
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