"We are all on the same journey," remarked a spiritual teacher. The paths may be different, the journey is the same.
"How so?" you ask.
For one thing, we all want happiness. I once heard Deepak Chopra tell of research his colleagues conducted at The Chopra Center. They asked a group of patients all the same question: "Why do you want to get well?" The responses were all different. Some felt the need to return to work, others to their families, and so forth. But, with each response, the researchers would keep pressing.
For example, if the response was, "I want to get well so I can go back to work," the researchers would ask, "And, why do you want to go back to work?"
Whatever the response, the researcher would keep pressing for additional explanation. As you might imagine, this became frustrating for virtually every patient. But, through the process, the researchers learned something very interesting. All of the patients eventually said virtually the same thing, "I will be happy." In other words, "the goal of all goals," observed Chopra, "is spiritual in nature. That is to say, what motivates us to do what we do is our desire for happiness."
The paths to happiness may be dissimilar; the desire for happiness is the same.
There is in all of us an innate desire to be connected to Transcendence. Even for those persons who have no belief in God per se, there is a desire (perhaps written into genetic code itself) to be aware of and connected to that which is grander than the self, its-self.
One of my favorite writers is Andre' Comte-Sponville, a contemporary French atheist. He once wrote a wonderful book entitled, "The Little Book of Atheistic Spirituality." In it, he writes, "Spirituality is far too important a matter to be left to fundamentalists...Atheists have as much spirit as everyone else; why would they be less interested in a spiritual life?"
But of course they are. Why? It is because there is this quality written into the very fabric of the human psyche. Call it the evolutionary gene, if you'd like. Whatever it is, it is shared by all because, while the pathways to Transcendence may be different, the journey is the same.
I love the Talmudic story shared by Mark Nebo in The Book of Awakening. A Rabbi asks his students "How do you know when the first moment of dawn has arrived?"
After a moment of silence, one student suggests, "When you can tell the difference between a sheep and a dog!"
Again, the Rabbi shakes his head no. No one else suggests anything. So, the Rabbi circles around the classroom and then walks between them, "You will know the first moment of dawn has arrived when you look into the eyes of another human being and see yourself."
The Rabbi shakes his head no. Another suggests, "When you can tell the difference between a fig tree and an olive tree!"
The paths may be different but the journey into ourselves is the same. So today, with every person I meet, I will remind myself that I'm really looking at another version of me--Just as I wish to be happy, so do they. Just as I wish to feel deeply connected to Source itself, so do they. The paths we take may be dis-similar; the desires are just the same.
I see you seeing me; I see the me you see; I see me in you; and, I see you in me.