“God is always simple, but we think of Him as complex. The entire cosmic Game, is extremely simple, but we look at it from a different angle in an obscure way. For us, everything is complex because we always use the mind. We do not want to walk along a straight line. If a path is simple and straight, we feel that it has no value. Unless we zigzag in a serpentine way, we get no joy. Just because we value complexity, we do not take the sunlit path – the simple, straight path.” (Sri Chinmoy, pg. 25).
I am partial to the argument that the myriad of religions on our planet are varied, cultural expressions of divine belief and human’s interaction with that divine source. This quote by Sri Chinmoy connects these various cultures with a ‘base’ human characteristic. A building block that transgresses cultural variances: our love of complication. Even things that are simple are made complex in our societies as we discuss, debate, build social structures and ritual customs. Social scientists are thrilled to study and understand these complexities. But from a spiritual standpoint Sri Chinmoy encourages us to seek out simplicity.
The challenge becomes, discerning the simple path. To some this means finding ‘the path’. In our society the simple approach often becomes the exclusive approach. Simple becomes black and white. People hold one belief system over all others. But the way this quote talks about simplicity entails removing emphasis from belief systems and placing it on direct relationship and personal experience with the divine. In some circles following New Age ideals, this may mean following ‘spirituality’ rather than ‘religion’. It is this notion, thinning out man’s clutter to uncover the spiritual core, rather than one religion claiming superiority above all others that bring us closer to the simplicity Sri Chinmoy speaks of.
While social science can lend itself to the existence of base-level human characteristics common among all people. Those spiritually inclined like Sri Chinmoy often argue that there are base-level similarities among all religions. New Agers and those partial to interfaith dialogue often share this notion, and illuminate this shared spirituality to create cooperation and goodwill across divides. This simplicity brings people together rather than choosing one tradition over all others, at the expense of believers (or non-believers). In light of election season, secular society seems more complicated than ever. It may take some extra effort to find the sunlit path. But the effort will be better than getting dragged through the brambles.
Sri Chinmoy. The Divine Hero: Winning in the Battlefield of Life. 2002. London: Watkins Publishing.