One of the core tenets across most religions and spiritual practices around the globe is being a more generous person. We unlock our greatest potential when our attitudes, thoughts, actions, and beliefs contribute positively to society. To do that, we also need to work through personal challenges, which requires awareness, humility and faith. That way, we can share what we’ve learned and help others in their difficulties.
In difficult moments, faith is what keeps traditionally religious and spiritual folks going. Whether it’s faith in God or the Universe, the belief that something or someone is out there looking out for us is good enough for most to try and tackle the problem. In this episode, as they explore the necessity of holding on to your inner truths, Robert and Dave expand upon Christianity, the Western World’s dominant religion and its emphasis on complete and utter faith.
But what happens if your faith is not the same as the one you’re expected to have? To put it simply, what if you don’t agree with some aspects of your religion or don’t see eye to eye with certain practices? Suppressing your authentic beliefs might leave you feeling isolated, and unwittingly cut off from your community.
What then is the value of remaining true to your authentic beliefs? Why develop a more inclusive faith, understanding, and honest communication with yourself and others? When you take the best, most helpful parts of most religions and take responsibility to apply those to the world, you will be motivated to use those learnings to help others. In this way, you will gain clarity about your faith, potentially inspire teachers and leaders to be more curious and receptive, and set a better example by weaving your religious beliefs into doing good for the world.
Mentioned in this episode
The Global Bridge Foundation
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The Missing Conversation, Episode 30.
Robert Strock: (00:08)
And so. Recognizing these challenges in ourselves brings us to a state of greater humility.
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: (00:58)
Very warm welcome again, to The Missing Conversation where we address the most pressing issues that the world is facing today. And we’re looking for the most practical, inspiring programs and innovative ideas to support a greater chance of survival for everyone on our planet and the planet itself. Today, we’re going to continue to go more deeply into how we can add benefits to religion and spirituality, as students, teachers, and ministers of all kinds. The greatest potential lies for us focusing as human beings, especially in our values, thoughts, actions, and attitudes. As we have begun to touch on this in the last couple of episodes, we see that so often our beliefs, traditions, rituals have led to becoming more important than the pure motivations and the love for humanity, the earth and all those that need it the most, and many faiths that are throughout history, including now. We’ll also penetrate more deeply into how it’s almost universal and commonplace that this is deeply compounded by leaders who have not revealed their own shadow sides of their personal challenges as part of their teachings or religion.
Robert Strock: (02:44)
Therefore, it is often come out sideways with war alienation, superiority, competition, sexual perversions, and many, many other ways. We’re going to explore how we can, as students and teachers alike, realize it is our honesty, our values, actions, and attitudes that need to be made the core of what we deem as truly the spirit that matters. This is true with facing our challenges and looking for the qualities and actions, when we are most challenged. For many of us, it’s very difficult to identify specific challenges, which is very important and it’s maybe even more difficult once we identify the specific challenge. How we can to the qualities, the attitudes, the actions, the thoughts that are most healing. I would highly encourage you to download the Introspective Guides at awarenessthatheals.org, which has a list of 75 challenging feelings and 75 ways to move toward healing and well-being that you can download for free. So, continuing from the last episode where we were asking you where you could have been most helped by a teacher, if they were to reveal their own challenges in mirroring yours, I’m now going to ask you Dave, where you believe in your life, and maybe you can choose any time that you want to, where, if a teacher would have really supported you in the area you were most struggling, what would they have revealed? And maybe give a little bit of amplifying what they might’ve said.
For better or for worse. Uh, I’m historically, uh, been, been with teachers uh, that don’t support asking that of me. Uh, they, they don’t support it. Uh, so what it reminds me of is, is, uh, towards the beginning of what I would call my spiritual search, um, and, and you and I, uh, separately, and then together, we’ll remember the, the movie about Saint Francis, “Brother Son Sister Moon.” And after I’m done here, I’d like to have you talk about how you feel and your inspiration that came from that. But that may be one of the few, and I’ve not dug deep, but one of the few sources, uh, being Saint Francis, where I know Franciscans today that pretty much still are on track with what he was trying to do. Uh, I, as many ended up being in a situation where I noticed large amounts of money, large amounts of material, accumulation of wealth and, and things, uh, in, in the hands of the folks that were running the religion, uh, and, and this money was coming from the students, the people that were, that were supporting it and that ran counter.
So, if I answer your question directly, it would have been, uh, I didn’t see, I saw it as a, oh, okay that’s, that’s a device, or they’ve earned it, or it was invisible to me largely, or it didn’t matter because I felt, uh, either unaware of it or, uh that I was getting other things that mattered more. Uh, but it was such a contradiction. And unfortunately, to answer your question more specifically, they were not in a position to really give me what I needed, because they were acting totally in the opposite way that I feel my original values would have gone in the direction I wanted to go in my life, which would have more lined up with Saint Francis or brothers Son Sister Moon, or whatever values you would want to call it.
Robert Strock: (07:48)
What you’re really talking about is you would have liked support to express your contrarian views and had that be a real thing.
It’s not there it, yeah, the, the answer is of course, but that is just an invisibility for the most part. When I look around on the horizon, as you’ve been talking about in the prior episodes about this subject, uh, people in the position of being ministers, priest, teacher, mentor, what have you, just simply don’t do it in a, my situation that was in spades. I ended up with somebody who believed, uh, and professed to be enlightened, basically, nothing more to do. They had arrived. Uh, so it was even more extreme than just following and claiming to be following perfectly or even closely prior people’s views prior teachers and originators of religions.
Robert Strock: (08:55)
Yeah. And I think your example is a really important one, and it’s also important to emphasize that the greater the claim, the greater the danger, and you, you were with one of the quote enlightened ones that poses an enormous danger when they’ve claimed to transcend this life completely. So, The likelihood of them saying, oh, what are your different views, uh, would be, would be seen as your ego would be seen as your defenses would be seen as, uh, grounds for demotion, maybe excommunication and really sacrilegious and ye of little faith. And when you mentioned the issues around money, it reminds me of a different movie, uh, which also, which is “Shoes of the Fishermen.” And choosing the fishermen really talks about the Catholic church and how the Pope had a realization that it was all too materialistic and went through a radical transformation was one of the more moving movies that I’ve seen.
Robert Strock: (10:20)
Uh, I am going to comment about “Brother Son Sister Moon” later in the episodes, I have that kind of as a separate thing, but, and a very sacred thing as that I’ve watched that movie more than any other, uh, because the sense of brotherhood and humility and asking other individuals, including the Pope where Saint Francis was asking how he may have been wrong, perhaps he hasn’t understood the teachings was literally so moving to see an example in such a potent example, the humble, uh, really one of the, one of the best examples throughout history. So, you, as you’re listening are going to continue to get the experience of thinking firsthand as I’m going to be exposing probably 20 or more direct conversations, probably closer to 50 that were serious conversations over lunch or dinner about all of these issues. So we’re not talking about this abstractly. This is over 50 years, 53 years, to be exact from the original teaching and going through numbers of traditions and numbers of sensitive conversations that rarely got very far, but occasionally did.
Robert Strock: (11:59)
And these suggestions that are being made are not only from my experiences, but they are also experiences of close friends like Dave and clients with some of the most prominent teachers in the world over the last 50 plus years and sensing, and seeing the missing elements in the various teaching. In most cases, especially if my clients and some of my friends, there was much too much fear of rejection, banishment, self-consciousness, self-doubt to really directly have this conversation, but I’m hoping that this will become a new evolutionary stage. That to be a spiritual teacher is also to be a human being. That’s going to expose the human elements, the human challenges, and the process by which each teacher wrestles with, engages, co-exists with the challenges that they’re facing.
Robert Strock: (13:12)
This allowed me through the years, because I was always someone that was not a blind believer and identified with Moses and the 10 Commandments. My first religious movie I saw when I was eight years old, and my grandmother where Charlton Heston says, I got to see it for myself. You know, I don’t believe in beliefs. I got to see it with my own eyes. And he had to wait to see the Burning Bush to really be able to have the conviction. And that’s my tendency and probably a lot of your tendency. And so, the key is to honor that and to be courageous enough, and if you’re sensitive enough in how you express it slightly, the damage will only be minor at worst. So, there’s not that much to lose if you do it arrogantly or callously. Yeah. Then you’re probably in real danger.
So let me ask you, because so much, uh, take, take for example, uh, the dominant religion in the United States Christianity and take, for example, how much they are asked. We as Judeo-Christians are asked to rely on faith, to rely on belief, to rely on a view of what happens when we die, heaven and hell, and how that relates to your, what you just said, and you’re passion about seeing the Burning Bush.
Having some kind of evidence, faith, and an evidence side-by-side.
Robert Strock: (14:55)
But one of, one of the nine areas that we’re going to be going over after this extended introduction is going to highlight that specifically, but to address what you’re saying right now, and I would add to your list that Jesus is the only son of God, as part of the core tenants is to work with my own resistance, my own arrogance, my own wanting to shut down, wanting to scream and realize that’s my ego. That’s where I’m going to do nothing but create harm. And my, my way of responding to that as you’ll see over and over again, through the presentation is to ask the question, do you really believe that Jesus would have wanted you to more, recognized that he was the only son of God, that you must pray to the father, that you must follow the traditions, go to church on Sunday, if you’re Catholic, go to confession or would he have rather, he, they, you live more like him in the totality and follow his biggest, for lack of better words, showing my Judeo background, my Jewish background, follow this commandment that love your brothers and sisters as I have, which one do you think he would have chosen?
Robert Strock: (16:50)
That is what I have generally asked. And that has led to, with inner work on myself, a friendly dialogue of starting off with significant disagreement. It reminds me of a movie I just saw that was a documentary. And one of the people in the movie was asked, would you rather go to heaven with Jesus not there or go to hell and Jesus be there. And the person said without hesitation, this was a real expose, was not acting, I’d rather go to hell with Jesus there.
Robert Strock: (17:38)
And it’s important that we recognize that yes, many Christians are very, very devoted to their beliefs. And it’s not likely that we’re going to get many anti-Christian semi conversions. However, I still think it’s worth having a conversation for all of us, no matter whether it’s Christians or any other faith done with respect, done with sincerity, preferably with eye contact and not falling prey to our own arrogance and superiority, even though we feel and believe our views are superior now. From my vantage point, the thing that helps me not be too superior, I say that with a smile, although I probably don’t deserve the smile, is recognizing how many challenges I have and how many challenges we all have as human beings, no matter what we believe or don’t believe. And that’s the great humbler it’s like maybe the second greatest humbler is being in a long-term love relationship or marriage, where you find out most of us that you’re humbled, that you’ve, you have challenges you can’t resolve because you have differences that you can’t bridge the gap.
Robert Strock: (19:17)
And so, recognizing these challenges in ourselves brings us to a state of greater humility. And especially if we’re working on them and we’re sincerely someone that is devoted to want to care more and more until we die, then that allows us to possibly have the courage and the humility and sensitivity to have these conversations. It’s all too easy to just isolate in our own views. I want you to know that no matter what your view is, if you’re dedicated to care for humanity in some way, or you’re really dedicated to your view, you’re very likely if you reach out to me to be invited on the show, and I’d most like to have people as guests who are influencing other people, so that can have the biggest effect possible.
Robert Strock: (20:36)
So, I’d like to return to what I might, in one way, identify this group as the heart integrity non-traditional group, which I’ll probably use many ways to describe these people, uh, of which, as I’ve mentioned, a part of me is included as being one of these people. And a part of me is also included as being dedicated to religious and spiritual traditions as well. I’d like to ask you if you’re in this non-group/group, if you believe in actions and attitudes, ask yourself, what is the number one action or attitude that you need to develop.
Robert Strock: (21:33)
And start with that question, start with something that will lead you to be humble. It may be your lack of generosity with money. It may be complaining about the rich. It may be not volunteering. It may be not even noticing people when you go into a store and just being oblivious and not spreading any Goodwill to anybody. It may not, maybe not meditating enough, or it maybe not praying enough. It could be any number of things, but what is yours? That’s something to jot down, at least in your brain, if not in your paper, are you prejudiced against other traditions and the individuals that practice it? And can you identify the feelings and the thoughts of how your prejudice exists? Now I can share some of how mine exists from that part of me, I think to myself, oh my God, how can these people believe in a God sitting on a cloud?
Robert Strock: (22:46)
And I ridicule them at one level. I don’t do it very much these days, but I still, from time to time, think that way, or how can they really believe that one person throughout history could be the only way you can be saved? If you’re born in Africa or various parts of the globe, who’ve never even heard of him. You’re just banned, Jesus doesn’t care about you if you never heard of him. So, I start to get angry. I start to feel arrogant. And then I realize here’s my ego again, how do I work with them to try to optimize this common denominator that exists, both of us having human challenges, emotional challenges, and the need to look for healing actions and attitudes, and also having our particular set of beliefs that isolate us from other people. Returning to the theme of trying to give inner strength to you who find yourself in a congregation or teaching or a ministry and support for your independent thinking and believing and finding your inner trust and wisdom that isn’t in accordance with the beliefs. It overlaps very much with what Dave was talking about earlier.
Robert Strock: (24:33)
This podcast is very much an ongoing attempt to support all of us that are possible to take responsibility, not just wait for our teachers, but to take responsibility to communicate with them. And when necessary, when that’s impossible to pursue other resources and paths to inspire you and to fulfill your intuition, this doesn’t have to make you leave your faith or your tradition or religion. It’s an add on, and there isn’t any need to have to broadcast it. If it’s truly hopeless, have the courage to be able to stay true to what you truly believe in, and also be independent enough to fulfill all the crucial aspects of yourself.
Robert Strock: (25:45)
So, it’s important as we wind this episode down that you take a look at where do you fall in this situation? Are you passive? Are you likely just to space out after you listened to this? Are you likely to be able to take parts of this and say, you know what, I really want to care for my attitudes and actions. And I really want to stay true to my authentic beliefs. And I want to be making my life have a sense of purpose of which this is definitely intertwined. And if we suppress any of these inner truths, that’s a challenge. That’s going to leave us feeling isolated. Irreverent in a negative way, disloyal. And if we don’t deal with those feelings, we’re going to be suffering and lose a great potential of our energy. So again, my greatest wish is for you to stay in that question of what do I need to do specifically to be true to myself, true to what I have faith in. Even if they’re not a complete picture for me and sustain the inner strength to go in the directions, I need to go to fulfill the greatest parts of my life and to lead myself, to be able to help the world in the maximum way possible.
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