What do you do when you, a person who has a very beautiful and pure relationship with God, and who holds the whole world in her heart is called a “false prophet” and a plagiarist of Jesus… by a priest… Yes, what do you do?
This is what happened to me in the summer of 2014.
After giving an interview to a national newspaper here in Romania, and because the whole thing went viral overnight (published both online and offline), the same newspaper decided to publish another article where they would interview all kind of experts who would try to explain why in the world that interview, but also my article 15 Things You Should Give Up to Be Happy went viral and why did it created so much buzz.
The whole thing made me smile because it made me realized that people were trying to understand with their minds something that was created by the heart. And I knew that only those who looked at the whole thing with their heart were going to get it, while the other ones were just going to make a lot of assumptions. In the words of Robert Frost: “We all sit around in a circle and suppose, while the secret sits in the center and knows.”
The secret was sitting in the center smiling and knowing, while the rest of the world was making all kind of assumptions. Anyway, as I was reading the opinions of all those interviewed, which by the way were mostly beautiful and positive, I got to the part where one member of the Church was also sharing his personal opinion about who he thought I was and what he thought I was doing. And while reading his words, I was shocked by what he had to say.
Even though my interview was about life, about my past and about happiness, nothing woo woo, and nothing about me trying to start a sect or a cult (which by the way I am not interested in, never been and never will be), I realized that I was called a “plagiarist of Jesus” and in a way, a “false prophet”. And I remember thinking to myself:
“How can he say such a thing about me when I feel closer to God than ever, and when my favorite place to go to in this whole town is a monastery?”
This is so disturbing.”
If at first I was heartbroken, as time went by, to my surprise, I started feeling this strong urge to go to Church, and read the Bible.
Instead of feeling bitter and resentful, and instead of using the whole incident as a way to distance myself from Church and from God (a lot of people here in Romania do this), the funny thing is that I started studying the Bible with so much love and dedication, and I also started attending the Sunday mass, which was very surprising.
It all happened so naturally and the whole thing made me laugh because to my mind it made no sense to move in that direction when a member of the Church called me a “false prophet” and a “plagiarist of Jesus”.
But my Soul has a funny way of “doing business”, and so I went along. I did what it wanted me to do. And one day, as I was reading the Bible, I remember encountering these words:
“Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 2:4
and these words:
“I’m not interested in crowd approval. And do you know why? Because I know you and your crowds. I know that love, especially God’s love, is not on your working agenda. I came with the authority of my Father, and you either dismiss me or avoid me. If another came, acting self-important, you would welcome him with open arms. How do you expect to get anywhere with God when you spend all your time jockeying for position with each other, ranking your rivals and ignoring God?” ~ John 5:41-44
and these words:
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.…” ~ Matthew 5:44, 45
In those moments I understood everything
. I understood why I had to read the Bible and why my Soul wanted me to move in the direction I was moving.
If at first I felt hurt and wounded because of the words that priest used to describe me, I later on realized that I should be thankful to him because he was the one who “pushed” me to read the Bible; thanks to him I immersed myself into this beautiful, pure and loving word. And thanks to him I was discovering so many new things, learning so many powerful lessons, and strengthening my relationship with God, but also with love. Because for a very long time I knew that, God is LOVE, and LOVE is God. And “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” ~ 1 John 4:8
In the last couple of years, I noticed that a lot of people started thinking that just because I was living in Asia, and just because I would often share so many Buddhist quotes on my blog and facebook page, I converted to Buddhism. I guess if tomorrow I move to Middle East and quote the Quran, they will start thinking I converted to Islam
It’s true that I was born and raised as an Orthodox, and even though I feel so much love in my heart whenever I sit down and talk to a monk, whenever I go to an Orthodox Church, or an Orthodox monastery, I don’t know if I identify myself just with one religion. I have a lot of love, respect, compassion and admiration for the Holy Books of all religious, and for all things and all people but I don’t identify myself with just one religion.
I will continue to go Church, to listen with my heart all that it’s being said, to embrace with an opened heart the teaching of Jesus, and to embody all the qualities that Jesus encourages us to embody, but I won’t label myself as a Christian.
I don’t think it’s what we call ourselves that matters, but rather what we do and how we behave. The water doesn’t care if you call it gasoline or butter, it will still be water. And the same with me. I know that it’s not the labels I carry that make me who I am, so I choose to give up on them.
“The answer is, who you are cannot be defined through thinking or mental labels or definitions, because it’s beyond that. It is the very sense of being, or presence, that is there when you become conscious of the present moment. In essence, you and what we call the present moment are, at the deepest level, one.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
If I read and quote The Dhammapada, that doesn’t mean I am thinking about becoming a Buddhist. If I read the Quran, it doesn’t mean I am thinking about converting to Islam.
It’s true that I was born and raised as a Christian, and it’s also true that I love the Bible and all the wonderful and powerful lessons it has to teach us, but that doesn’t mean I won’t read other Holy books and that I won’t try to understand as much as possible about other religions.
The things I read, the things I share and everything that I do, I do it because it feels natural for me to do so. I do it because I see the love, the power and the light in them.
I go to churches, to monasteries, to temples and mosques, but not because my mind asks me to do so. Not because I was programmed by parents, friends, family, society, etc. to do so. I go to these places because that’s what my heart and Soul ask me to do. That’s where my heart and Soul feel at home.
I go where there is life, where there is beauty, light and love. And love is what I seek in these places; love is what interests me.
I love LOVE and I seek LOVE, and LOVE is what I find in all these temples, churches, mosques, monasteries. Love is what I find in all these Holy places and Holy Books that I read, books that belong to different religions.
I am a lot like Rumi, “I belong to no religion. My religion is Love. Every heart is my temple.”
If I have learned something from life is to never label myself. To never place myself into a box and then live my whole life from that narrow and limited place. Soren Kierkegaard said it so beautifully with these words: “Once you label me you negate me.”
Who I truly am can’t be placed in a box, nor can it be labeled as a Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, etc.
I just am!
I am everything and nothing at the same time. And I am not interested in living life in a very limited and ignorant way where I identify myself with a label and then reject everything and everyone who doesn’t wear the same label that I do.
Labels separate people.
Labels create imaginary walls and barriers. They turn people against one other and they cause us to hate, reject and fight with one and other, and I don’t want to live my life that way.
Love is the glue that holds us and this whole world together, and since from my own experience I can say that God is LOVE, and LOVE is God, then LOVE is what interests me. Love is what I want to become, and love is what I want to give and share with this world.
I am not interested in being trapped by dogma – which in fact is all about living with the results of other people’s thinking. I want to experience the world through my own senses. I want to KNOW things, not to believe things. I want to KNOW things because I myself experienced and lived them, and not because somebody told me I should believe them.
If you spend your life arguing about who is right and who is wrong, what religion is good and what religion is wrong, you will have no time left to know and experience God. And you will have no time left to experience the power and the greatness that comes from practicing the things that all these holy books teach us.
If you say that you are a Christian, then do what Jesus did, live like Jesus lived. Love with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind. Love those who love you, but also those who hate and persecute you, but truly love them! Because that’s what Jesus did, and Christianity was founded based on the teachings and based on how Jesus Christ lived his life. That’s what Christianity is all about.
“All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree.” ~ Albert Einstein
Love is the message of all religions. Love, kindness, peace, forgiveness, compassion and unity. And if you can welcome all of these in your heart, chances are that you will no longer care that much whether the world sees you as a Christian, a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Hinduist or a Jew; You will no longer care about arguing who is right and who is wrong, what religion is good, and what religion is right. You will be so busy LOVING and BEing, that you will have no time left to argue, nor will you be interested in doing so.
It is said that “The kingdom of God is within you.” ~ Luke 17: 21, and that if you “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness”~ Matthew 6:33, everything else will be added onto you.
The love of God is already within us, but also in all the temples, churches, mosques and all the places of worship. And for those who have found the love of God in their hearts, they will also recognize the love of God in all these places but also in everything and everyone. Because God is everything and everyone. And if you have love in your heart for your God, you will have love in your heart for the whole world.
With all my love,
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