You shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart, and with all your soul,
and with all your mind,
and love your neighbor as yourself.
—Matthew 22.37, 39
There are really only two religions, two ways of living, and every moment everyone, religious of every flavor and atheist alike, is choosing which way we go. One is the Religion of Being Right. The other is the Religion of Being In Love.
In the way of Being Right we seek to understand the laws by which the universe runs, and follow those rules and behaviors to get desired results. “Work hard and you’ll get ahead. “Be good and you’ll go to heaven.” “Might makes right.” The ultimate laws may be kind or cruel, logical or capricious, given by a personal God or simply existing by random chance; they may involve religious laws, reason, physical power, social status or any system of values— but once you get them right they are consistent: follow them and you’ll get what you want. If there is a god in this religion, he’s an emotionally distant judge who himself has to follow the rules, and has no power to break or ignore them. The main goal of Being Right is having control, and its practice requires consistently dualistic thinking. Extreme examples of the Religion of Being Right are violence, legalism, terrorism, war, fundamentalism and capitalism. This is the way of the world.
In the Way of Being in Love, we experience an overflowing love in all existence that loves us, and in response we fall in love. Love is the greatest law, the greatest value, the greatest practice and the greatest result. The God of this religion is pure love, the energy of love itself, intimately present a well as transcendent, always willing to break rules, to lose, to surrender power and to take a “lower” position in order to love. The goal is to give and receive love, and its practice requires vulnerability, relationship, wonder, self-giving and non-dualistic consciousness. The Way of Being in Love issues in non-violence, art, forgiveness, generosity and striving for justice. This is the way of heaven.
Sooner or later you have to choose one way over another: either to break a rule or to hurt someone, to impress God or to trust God, to be right or to be forgiven, to win an argument or to bless someone, to be in control or to be in love. The way we choose affects our faith, our social relationships, our politics.
“On this truth hangs all the law and the prophets,” Jesus said. Pray that every moment you will be aware of the way you choose. Open your heart to the Love that leads us in its sacred way.