Thursday, July 7, 2016

There is only one religion

Sparkill, NY

The other day — well, from the perspective of today's publication date, well over a month ago— members of Parabola staff were discussing the nature of our spiritual path relative to the Virgin Mary, and the following quote from J.G. Bennett's Witness were exchanged:

During my stay in the monastery, I received several illuminating experiences in the latihan. Once I heard a voice within me saying: "Surrender to the Will of God is the foundation of all religion." Then I became aware of the Presence of Jesus, and saw that He is the manifestation of the Love of God. The thought entered my mind: "Then Christianity is the one true religion." 

At the same moment, I found myself intoning the opening chapter of the Qu'ran: "El hamd ul Illah Rabb-el-alemeen er Rahman er Rahim: Glory to God the Lord of the Worlds, the Compassionate, the Merciful." Then the same voice said: "It is my Will that my Church and Islam should be united." I said in astonishment: "Who can accomplish  such a task?" and the reply came: "Mary." (Witness, page 221, hardcover edition)

 There is another reference to Mary and her intercession in the affairs of mankind on page 213 of the paperback edition, but I don't have it with me here in China, so I can't give you the exact quote.

Bennett's remarks on this matter are precisely correct: Mary has been directly influencing mankind since the Middle Ages, as he indicates in the quote from page 213.  And he gets, in the above quote, some of the essence of the matter exactly right, but in a way that I fear might be too easily misunderstood.

It's absolutely true that surrender to the will of God is the foundation of all religion. If one properly understands Gurdjieff's enneagram, this fundamental principle is in some ways the whole point of the diagram, since all of the notes inexorably lead to this point of work. 

And his point about Jesus is also equally true.

 Yet there is only one religion; and although Jesus has an extraordinary authority, He exists in his manifestation through every manifested aspect of authority throughout all religion, including Buddha, Mohammed, Krishna, Avalokiteshvara, and every other cosmological manifestation of compassionate and ever-loving action. 

So while we rightly ought to invoke Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit as those Great Forces of Being who, according to the tripartite law of Glory, Grace, and Mercy manifest throughout the cosmos as the great authority of The Lord made manifest, we ought to understand that all other great religious practice must be folded into this tent, so that every religion is brought together under an understanding of  submission, compassion, and worship that opens to a compassionate place for all of mankind within all of mankind's practice.

 This may seem like a rather big idea, but we absolutely can't try to make everyone Christians in outward practice. Every human society needs its own understanding of this matter. To come together in the worship of the Buddha is to come together in the worship of Christ; and to come together in the worship of Islam's Allah is equally to come together in the worship of Christ. The task of mankind that is before us now is indeed to bring all religion together as one religion; and one of the functions of Parabola Magazine is to help provide a platform from which we can begin to examine this vast and apparently impossible task. 

It's the task of spiritual people working all over the world to call for an energy to be sent that can unite us in our love and compassion, which will require sacrifices of all of us that cannot be properly measured. 

The need for this call is more urgent and greater than it has ever been.

May the Lord hear our prayers.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.


  1. it certainly is a noble cause...but folk who do not believe in any thing at all (such as god, or any entity) are not really following a religion. Buddhism is not a religion. I am sure you have read Tomberg's 'Mediations on the Tarot. The Buddha and Christ both see the world as sick - but two v. different cures... :)

  2. Concerning the meeting about spiritual paths in relation to the Virgin Mary, I found this in Tomberg's Meditations:
    'One meets the Blessed Virgin inevitably when one attains a certain intensity of spiritual aspiration, when this aspiration is authentic and pure. The very fact of having attained a spiritual sphere which comprises a certain degree of intensity and purity of intention puts you in the presence of the Blessed Virgin. This meeting belongs to a certain “sphere”—i.e. to a certain degree of intensity and purity of spiritual aspiration—of spiritual experience, just as the experience of having a mother belongs naturally to human family life on earth. It is therefore as “natural” for the spiritual domain as the fact of having a mother is natural in the domain of one’s terrestrial family. The difference is that on earth one can certainly be motherless, whilst in the realm of the spiritual this can never happen.
    Therefore, the thesis that I am advancing with one hundred per cent conviction is that every Hermeticist who truly seeks authentic spiritual reality will sooner or later meet the Blessed Virgin. This meeting signifies, apart from the illumination and consolation that it comprises, protection against a very serious spiritual danger. For he who advances in the sense of depth and height in the “domain of the invisible” one day arrives at the sphere known by esotericists as the “sphere of mirages” or the “zone of illusion”. This zone surrounds the earth as a belt of illusory mirages. It is this zone which the prophets and the Apocalypse designate “Babylon”. The soul and the queen of this zone is in fact Babylon, the great prostitute, who is the adversary of the Virgin.
    Now, one cannot pass by this zone without being enveloped by perfect purity. One cannot traverse it without the protection of the “mantle of the Blessed Virgin”—the mantle which was an object of worship and of a special cult in Russia (Pokrov Presvyatyya Bogoroditsy—“Mantle of the Very Holy Mother of God”). It is therefore the protection of this “mantle” which is absolutely necessary in order to be able to traverse the “sphere of mirages” without falling prey to the influence of its illusions.' (p.298)


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