Chapter Six of WHAT GOD SAID
NOTE: If you have not read previous installments, it will make sense to scroll down to the lower entries and read them from the “bottom up.” In this way, you will be encountering the material as it appears in the book. — NDW
As we look at the Twenty-five Core Messages emerging from Conversations with God, last to first, I’m going to devote one chapter to each, and divide every chapter into two sections: Meaning and Application. Thus, we’ll expand in two ways on the messages themselves, taking many people who have not had a chance to go there before into new territories.
Here, then, is our look at the most daring message of all . . .
CWG Core Message #25
Let there be a New Gospel for all the people of Earth: “We are all one. Ours is not a better way, ours is merely another way.”
This was for me one of the most wonderful messages in the dialogue with Divinity that I had the wonderful fortune to experience. In that sweet exchange, God softly told me that we could bring an end to much of the anger, hatred, division, and violence in our world by simply adopting and spreading a new teaching, a simple fifteen-word new doctrine: We are all One. Ours is not a better way, ours is merely another way.
God called this the New Gospel, and I have to admit that I was at first very reluctant to use those words because, after all, the word “gospel” holds such a special significance for so many people. But I have never edited a single thing that I have been given in these dialogue experiences, and I couldn’t justify suddenly starting . . . so I left the phrase exactly as I received it.
I do believe that what we could all use right now is a new gospel. Not one to replace the old, but to add to it, to enlarge upon it, giving it deeper, richer meaning. So, in my talks and workshops around the world I have invited our economic leaders, our political leaders, and our spiritual leaders to speak this New Gospel to their audiences.
So far, no one has done so. I do understand: I know why not one major world leader, not one global spiritual figure, not one titan of business and industry has dared to utter those words from their podiums and pulpits and boardroom tables. They simply don’t believe it would work, that it would ever be accepted by those who listen to them, who look up to them.
In fact, because of the very positions these leaders hold, they may feel that they have to declare exactly the opposite. Why would anyone follow them if they did not announce that their way was the better way?
Yet nothing blocks the creation and sustaining of peace in our world more than thoughts of superiority—especially if they are accompanied by righteousness.
And this, sadly, is what we are seeing more and more of in our increasingly polarized society. “Not only,” our leaders say, “do we have a good idea . . . it is the only good idea there is. Our way is the right way. Everyone else is not only wrong, but bad for even suggesting something else.”
This is what our exchange of views is sounding like more and more each day—and it is so sad that we don’t even notice that we are creating the polarity ourselves, with our righteousness.
As pointed out here earlier, when humans believe they are “right” about something, some of them—perhaps most—hold on to their views tenaciously, even when facts reveal their viewpoint to be inaccurate or render it obsolete.
It is true that people can change their mind about things. Harvey Milk, Gloria Steinem, Martin Luther King Jr., and others, God bless them, proved that. But it is not an easy task to help them to do so. For it is as we have been told in Communion with God: The idea of superiority is seductive.
It is, that book tells us, one of the Ten Illusions of Humans. It cannot be real . . . and I will explain why in just a moment . . . but it can sure seem real. And it feels so good.
Nowhere is the idea of superiority more pervasive than in religion, another point made earlier. That is what makes the New Gospel so dramatic and so striking—and so challenging for many people to embrace.
Yet precisely because it is challenging, it invites our closer examination. So let’s take a more-than-surface look at it.
Is God Not “Everything”?
The New Gospel begins with the words “we are all One.” Thus, this final revelation in the Twenty-five Core Messages of what God said brings us right back to its first revelation, closing a circle.
That first message is: “We are all One. All things are One Thing. There is only One Thing, and all things are part of the One Thing There Is.”
If that opening statement is true, it carries with it an important implication—a remarkably important implication—that would amount to a major expansion of humanity’s previous understanding of the relationship between God and Man.
The implication, of course, is that if everything is One Thing, and if we are part of everything (which we obviously are), then we are part of God, unless God is not part of “everything,” but stands outside of “everything”—in which case “everything” is not everything at all.
This is, in fact, what many, many people believe. They believe that there are, essentially, two things that exist in ultimate reality: (1) Everything That Is, and (2) that which created Everything That Is.
In this cosmology, God stands outside of Everything That Is. In order to conceive of this, many people define “everything” as only that which is physical, and define God as that which is spiritual. Yet this is an unfair delineation, because it gives an altered meaning to the word “everything.”
It also forces us to assume that we are not spiritual . . . or that if we are spiritual and physical, the part of us that is spiritual is not part of “everything.” Because, by simple logic, if the part of us that is spiritual is included in what we call “everything,” then a God who is spiritual must be part of “everything” as well.
This leads some of us to take all sorts of twisted pathways and to use every kind of tortured logic to explain how a God who is spiritual is not part of “everything,” even though the part of us that is spiritual is.
Presumably, God’s spirit is a different kind of spirit, a different type. Not simply grander or bigger or more powerful, but a different type altogether—a type that does not fall within the category of “everything that is.”
It is the first big challenge of the New Spirituality to coax us away from this fractured reasoning and gently guide us into considering that there may be a pattern to life’s Essential Energy (that some people, including myself, call “God”) that allows it to express as both physical and spiritual at the same time, even as we clearly observe that we, as humans, are doing.
In other words, we may wish to consider the possibility that what we can do, God can do, and that even as we are both spiritual and physical, so, too, is That Which Is Divine.
This would make Humanity and Divinity one and the same, except as to proportion. God is All Of It, whereas we are part of what comprises All Of It.
Does this not make much more sense?
And have not major religions declared that we are “made in the image and likeness of God”?
Our Stories Tell Us Otherwise
Previously, we have been told by most of humanity’s cultures, through myths and tales, that God separated us from the Godhead. Not that God divided us (in which case we would all be simply divisions of the Same Thing), but that He separated us. Consider the difference.
A company that has divisions in several cities is still one and the same company. Yet a company that has split off and sold one or two of those divisions has created separate entities that are no longer a part of the original firm.
Is this what God has done? Yes, say most religions. Thus, they tell us that God is one thing and we are another. This separation occurred, so the teaching goes, because God was displeased with us. His displeasure, we have been further informed, is the result of our having disobeyed Him. (Or, at least, of our earliest ancestors having done so.)
And so, the Story of Separation was seeded in the human psyche. This story is foundational and crucial to the world’s religions, for if we believe in God at all, and if we hunger in any way for God’s safety, for God’s love, for God’s magnificence, then getting back to God becomes our number one priority—and that is where religions come in. They promise us the way to do that.
To make sure that we understand the urgency of this undertaking, religions have added a caveat: If we don’t get back to God, we’ll wind up going to that other place . . .
The Unhappy Alternative
If we have not found the way to return to God, who will forgive us for every unkindness and misbehavior during our life on Earth, we will not be absolved of our sins, and, as punishment for our misdeeds, we will be sent to a place of interminable and indescribable suffering, called, variously, Hell, Hades, Ǧahannam, Nār, Perdition, Infernum, the Netherworld, Sheol, Acheron, Gehenna, Tophet, the Abyss, or the Pit (among other things).
Complicating this process is the fact that, according to at least one religion, there is only one way to get back to God and be forgiven, and that is through Jesus Christ. No one else has the power to forgive us, including, presumably, God Himself, and so we need to take this one path to salvation.
Indeed, according to this doctrine, one can live a virtually perfect life, demonstrating kindness, caring, compassion, generosity, and every other divine virtue in every moment of one’s life, and still not “get to heaven” (as the return journey is called). In other words, one cannot “earn” one’s way to heaven, but can only get there if one “accepts Christ” as one’s Lord and Savior. And the reason that it is only Christ who can offer salvation, and not God Himself, is that it was Christ who “paid for our sins” through his willingly accepted torture and death, thus appeasing a “just” God (who others may see as a wrathful, vengeful God) who otherwise would have made us pay for them ourselves.
Even if one were to die moments after birth, an utterly innocent baby having been unable to commit a single offense against God, there is Original Sin to deal with, this particular religion asserts. That is the sin committed by the first souls—the ones who got thrown out of heaven to begin with—the burden of which has been passed down to us to carry, by virtue of our heritage.
This is the Doctrine of Inherited Imperfection. Unless a soul is spotless, this doctrine declares, it may not return to God. And no soul—not even that of a baby—is spotless.
We are born imperfect. We can find forgiveness, however, and return to spotlessness, by claiming Christ as our Savior. In the case of an infant, this is done through the sacrament of Baptism, in which Christ is accepted on behalf of the baby, by an adult.
(The child can accept Christ again later, through the sacrament of Confirmation, in which she or he, having reached the age of reason, confirms and renews the baptismal promise, and is thus said to be able to receive the Holy Spirit. This occurs usually between the age of seven and fourteen, depending upon local custom.)
None of this is a small matter, we are told, because if we don’t accept Christ’s gift of redemption, our own payment for our sins will go on forever. That is, for Eternity. So great has been our offense against God . . . including the greatest offense, which would be to not accept God’s gift of the tortured and sacrificed Christ.
By this measure Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and members of every other faith (as well as those of no faith at all) are going to hell.
Expanding Our Concept of Deity and Reality
Is this how it really is?
The New Spirituality invites us to look closely at this teaching and decide for ourselves if it matches our concept of an all-loving God who is the source of everything and therefore needs nothing.
The first and last of the twenty-five most important messages in Conversations with God expands our entire concept of Deity—and of Ultimate Reality itself. It describes a reality in which nothing is separated from anything else, and a God who is expressed in, as, and through all things that exist.
I will explore the inferences of this in greater detail when Core Message #1 is addressed separately, toward the end of this book. For now, let’s stay with Core Message #25, and take a look at the second half of this fifteen-word statement. It says: Ours is not a better way, ours is merely another way.
As with the first half of the New Gospel, this sentence carries larger theological implications than might at first be apparent. More than a simple magnanimous or humble declaration, it expands our current thought that one way to God, and only one way, is the “better” way, and that one and only one religious doctrine forms the basis of the One True Faith.
What God seeks to tell all of us is that every faith is the One True Faith to those who hold it as True. This is because “as you believe, so will it be done unto you.” That is, pure faith empowers itself, producing the results that it calls for. And this is because of the nature of who you are and how life works (which, again, we will explore in later portions of this book).
So if you believe that your following the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, bless His holy name, will lead the way to Paradise, it will. If you believe that accepting Christ as your Savior will guarantee you a place in heaven, it will. If you believe that modeling the behavior of Buddha will bring you peace, it will. Whatsoever you believe, so shall your experience be.
What this means is that there is more than one way to the mountaintop. It also means that no one way is “better” than another. All roads lead to the same destination. Indeed, says Conversations with God, there is no way not to get what we call the Kingdom of God, because there is nowhere else to go. (This idea will be explored in chapter 23.)
This place, too, has many names. Some call it paradise, Jannah, nirvana, Zion, the hereafter, the next world, the next life, the Kingdom of God, Elysium, the Elysian Fields, Valhalla, the empyrean, or, simply, heaven.
Spiritual Surgery Removing a Fatal Flaw
What the second sentence in the New Gospel does is extract righteousness from religion, thus removing something that is not very good from something that is otherwise very good in many ways.
The idea that there is only One Right Way to return to God has caused more death and destruction, and therefore caused more people to run from God, than any other single notion.
The New Gospel is like spiritual surgery, reaching in and cutting out the poison from the otherwise glorious and healthy thoughts that most humans hold about their religion and their Deity.
I believe that somewhere deep inside, most people know that if there is a God at all, it cannot be a Lord Of The Brand Name, who thinks that all facial tissue must be Kleenex, all transparent adhesive strips must be Scotch Tape, and all people going to heaven must be Christian (or Muslim, or Hindu, or Mormon, or whatever logo your God has on His name tag).
What the New Gospel from Friendship with God offers is a chance to allow our theology to catch up with our twenty-first century awareness. It is an opportunity to discuss a central question: “Is it possible that our previous information about the Kingdom of God, and who is ‘eligible’ to be there, was incomplete?”
For the billions of people who hold that souls can return to God only along a particular pathway, the belief that all roads lead to heaven is an invitation to expand their concept of God, making the Divine Being large enough to reach by any route. Or, as I heard someone put it delightfully a few years ago: “If God is your target, you can’t miss!”
Had this idea of an “Only For Us” paradise been eliminated from the spiritual constructions of our species centuries ago, thousands upon thousands of lives would have been saved, as countless people have been martyred for not accepting and practicing the “right faith.”
Even today, people around the world are shamed and marginalized, rebuked and admonished, and in some cases still persecuted, for not embracing the “one true religion.”
Applying This Message to Everyday Life
This remarkable message offers all of us an opportunity to join in the healing of humanity.
Fear of damnation is no longer considered a loving way to gain converts to any religion, even if people say that they are doing it out of “concern” for someone they love. And being made “bad” or “wrong” is no longer a healing way to get anyone to agree with your point of view on any subject.
The New Gospel has applications far beyond the sphere of religion. Practiced in the political arena, it could return civility to civil discourse. Embraced in the economic arena, it could replace ruthless competition with collaboration and cooperation. Accepted in the educational arena, it could bring an end to the teaching of only those things with which we agree.
The idea that ours is not a better way, ours is merely another way, applied across the board in our lives, would alter the entire social landscape in ways that we can only begin to imagine, and that would only improve human life for all.
Here are some suggestions for application of this insight into your daily experience:
- If you are a religious person, determine as of this day (if you have not already done so) to never again suggest to another person that your religion is the only way to get to heaven, or that every single person on the face of the Earth who does not practice your religion is going to hell. Use love of God, not fear of God, as your motivator to encourage others to take a closer look at your faith as their possible spiritual home.
- If you are deeply involved in politics, resolve to honor the political point of view and the ideas of others. Welcome them into your discussions. Do not confuse emotion for passion. It is one thing to be passionate about your point of view, it is another to become all emotional (as in “angry”) about it. If you feel anger rising within you, if you find yourself starting to use abusive or disparaging language in advancing your point of view, take a step back from the discourse and turn down the temperature of the exchange. Own responsibility for allowing the conversation to get out of hand, apologize for ratcheting up the negative energy, and simply start to speak slower and a bit more quietly. It can do wonders.
- When you start to feel that your way is not only a “better” way but the “only” way to see things or to do things, think of a time in your life when you have felt that you had the only good answer to something and life proved that you were not entirely accurate in that assessment. Ask yourself if this could be the case now.
- Look at the other person’s point of view and intentionally search for something—anything—of worth or value in what they believe. See if you can find common ground, even a postage-stamp size of common ground, with that other, and restart the discussion there.
- Think of the desired outcomes you and others have in common. Focus on these outcomes that you both seek, rather than pathways or methods to achieve certain results. Often when we see the commonality of outcomes, we find a mutual respect that allows us to begin sharing and creating collaborative approaches to resolving disagreements and solving problems.
- Here is a miracle statement that I have found to be marvelously helpful in moving what could have been a discordant conversation forward: “I can understand how you could feel that way.” This does not say that I agree with how you feel, but it does say that I do not think you are totally absurd or crazy for thinking the way you do. It honors your background, or life experience, and the path that brought you here today. Sometimes all that people need to break the ice is to feel that they have been heard. Not even agreed with, just fairly heard.
- Regarding the first part of the New Gospel, begin practicing the movement into unity with another by remembering a time when you felt the same way as the person before you right now. See things not just from their point of view, but from a time when you may have had the same or nearly the same feelings. Remember, feelings are not a point of view. They are what sponsor a point of view. Feelings of betrayal, for instance, or of anger. Feelings of loneliness, or of being misunderstood. These are all feelings that we have all had at one time or another. Seek to relate to another person’s feelings, not their viewpoint or their specific words, and you will begin the practice of “oneness” as a lifetime experience.
- Allow yourself to feel your own natural feelings of oneness with others—and, for that matter, with other forms of life—and practice doing this every day. Choose two other people with whom you interact daily or frequently, and see if you can identify any feelings you have observed them to have, that you have also experienced in your own life at one time or another.
These simple steps can work magic in your relationships—and in the way that you relate to the entire world around you. The New Gospel, these 15 words, are all that you will ever need to change your life for the better. And, excitingly, that are 985 more words for us to explore.
— from the book What God Said by Neale Donald Walsch. (Berkley Books-Oct 2013- orders may be placed at Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com and other online bookstores. The book is also being placed here, in previews, chapter by chapter.)