Mohandas Gandhi said, "I consider myself a Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, and Confucian."

I grew up in a very conservative Christian environment. But, if you regularly read my articles, you know I have moved beyond many of those early beliefs, most of which can work as long as you live in a very small, narrow, exclusive, and illusory world. Which, of course, I did. But, no longer. Given my exposure to other cultures and religious traditions, and at a very young age, I can remember wondering how Christians alone could be right and everyone else wrong. But, I tried for some decades to ignore those inner questions. And, so, I went the way of most Christians. I tried to conform to everyone's way of thinking and believing, graduated college, went off to seminary, earned a doctorate in theology and pastored for nearly twenty years among Baptist people. All the while, wondering in my heart, do I really believe all this narrow-minded nonsense I'm expected to preach every Sunday?

You don't ignore such questions or live an inauthentic life for long. Life will give you whatever you need, or so Eckhart Tolle reminds us, to bring you to a place of awakening. And, of course, that's exactly what happened to me. It took the unexpected death of my father and my world crumbled beneath me. I left the ministry and divorced. And...well...the rest is history, as they say. I wandered and wondered for many years.

Then, one day, I quit struggling, looking, searching and then it happened. I woke up. Might be why I like the Buddha so much. His name means, as you perhaps know, "the awakened one." In a little way, I think I know what his name means.

Today, I am a devoted follower of Christ. His way of knowing God is the path I follow. However, I also know that Jesus said, "I have other sheep that are not of this fold..."(John 10:16) meaning, as the Sufi poet said, "There are many gates into the garden; and you need pass through only one."

So, I prefer to refer to my beliefs today as "perspectives," as that leaves room for growth and change. That openness has enabled me to embrace what's wholesome and good about the diversity one finds even within the Christian community. In fact, I can say today, "I am Christian, first, as well as a Baptist, a Roman Catholic, a Methodist, a Lutheran, a Presbyterian, an Independent, and so forth. It also enables me to affirm and embrace the spiritual truth I find in other traditions. This is what Gandhi meant when he said, "I consider myself a Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Jew...and, so forth."

If this resonates with your spirit, permit me to make a few recommendations that might help you continue growing in the same direction.

1. Stay open to everything and attached to nothing. It's our attachments, in this case to a particular belief system or way of thinking, that creates much of our mental suffering. You can have firm convictions, provided the platform upon which you build your life is made of wood, not cement.

2. In the Christian tradition, St. Paul said, "Work out your own salvation." Most Christians misread his meaning. What he's not saying is that one's experience of transcendence is manufactured by you or me. Grace is grace because it's surprising. It shows up the moment you stop struggling to know God, as I try to make clear in my book, The Enoch Factor: The Sacred Art of Knowing God

What Paul does mean is that your spiritual growth, in whatever tradition seems right for you, does depend on the attention you give it. This is the real meaning of the Law of Attraction. There's so much nonsense written about this fundamental spiritual law. Most of it from very greedy little egos looking for some magical way to make their dreams come true. The real meaning is that the universe will work with you--it can't do otherwise--in helping you advance in self-realization and God-realization but...and this is a big but (pardon the pun), when you make it your intention to awaken and so give your ATTENTION to your spiritual maturation.

3. The, I would suggest you meditate this day, and a little every day, on the rich diversity of spiritual truth experienced and expressed through countless spiritual traditions--not just your own. Sure, affirm your own perspectives and spiritual convictions. But, ask God, or, if you prefer, the universe, to give you an open heart, an open mind, and open hands to embrace all whose perspectives and experiences might be different.

Just a little wisdom today from the myriad of rich and wonderful spiritual traditions - and this from a former Baptist minister. How's that for openness?

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Steve McSwain is an author, speaker, thinker, interfaith activist, and spiritual teacher. He encourages a new kind of spirituality, one that connects people to God and to other human beings, regardless of race, ethnicity, or religious persuasion. “The survival of humanity,” says Dr. McSwain, “requires an end to the insanity of assuming, ‘We’re in; You’re out!’ ‘We’re Right, You’re Wrong!’" He speaks in a variety of venues.