Embracing Mani, Zoroaster, Guru Granth Sahib, and even Joseph Smith

I am already syncretic, and embrace myriad religions. However in this year, I have come to appreciate and even accept the validity of the teachings of Mani*, Zoroaster, Guru Granth Sahib**, and even Joseph Smith. Insofar as I accept the validity of any religion (I don’t take any religion at face value of course; for insight is different than doctrine).
I see them as no different than Nagarjuna, Vasabhandu, or Asanga (all great Buddhist philosophers who are largely regarded as saints, and by some as infallible divine authority). I no longer invent, or require “evidence” of some historical divine connection to accept a teaching as valid. I accept the human genius in the process of divine inspiration and free myself from the need to question whether a theologian have to fit into my preconceived views of what a prophet is.
We should simply view prophets and religious innovators as theologians, philosophers, and moral exemplars who have authentic theophanic experiences and commitment. No different than any of us today who experience the same.
In the same faith system, innovations and insight are gained and disseminated as the theologies develop over time. A single religion has never remained the same religion, though they bear the same name. You simply need to understand this when viewing all religions as the same ecosystem of thought (as the same “faith”).
Every religious man today who profess to have experienced spiritual insight is literally no different than any of the esteemed worthies of the past. We have the potential to be no different than any number of theologians who Man have called prophets, sages, or even god-incarnate; some of which we have raised to sainthood on the basis of their work and their influence.
The question is, did God influence them? We can never know for sure…but we will never know anything for sure. Practice what you know and believe, and be open-minded about the ways of others, whom God may have favoured in his own way. Take from them what is right, and transform your understanding in new ways.
And perfect yourself so as to be a vessel to Divine Inspiration.
*Mani is interesting to me especially, because he drew his inspiration from Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Gnosticism and Buddhism; and his religion influenced aspects of my own faith traditions for centuries despite being formally persecuted. And now I formally recognize my precursor in turn.
 
**Guru Granth Sahib is a book of course, a compilation of the words of the previous Sikh Gurus. It is treated as the eternal living Guru of the Sikh Faith. 

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Justin C. Hsu

Designer, Artist, and Consumer of Pop Culture.

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