"Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved." Matthew 9:17
Though the Truth itself never changes, our consciousness of Truth is continually growing. As our consciousness grows, our religion must grow also.
Each time we make a leap forward in consciousness, our vision of Truth becomes more universal. In order for our religion to keep up with our expanded vision, it too must expand to include the wholeness of Truth.
Jesus said, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath." Mark 2:27. If our religion is to serve us, it must grow along with us, supporting us in our higher vision of universal principles.
The stories of New Wine are designed to help us discover the universal principles in sacred scriptures, especially the teachings of Jesus.
There is only one God, one truth, and one reality. The different religions of the world help us to realize this simple fact. In effect, you could say that there is really only one religion with many different expressions. It is logical and predictable that their teachings, in essence, say the same thing. If we can look beyond the differences in terminology and strip away the cultural and traditional interpretations, we will find that only one message is being presented -- "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is One." Put in today's language, this is saying that the universe, both physical and spiritual, is a unified system. The ecological world is one organism. Body, mind, and soul are reflections of one being. As above, so below. Microcosm reflects macrocosm. Action on one level affects all levels. After all, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
Religion is our approach to the indwelling God -- we should not make a god of our religion. Buddhism refers to religion as a ferryboat that, once having reached the far shore (Truth) it is no longer needed. We need to look at our religion, or spiritual path, not as an end in itself, but as a means to an end. This might seem obvious, but it's easy to become attached to the ferryboat and not want to leave it, even when the other shore draws near.
While we shouldn't worship our religion, we shouldn't abandon it either. Whether we simply pray everyday or engage in a rigorous routine of meditation and spiritual exercises, we need to put our strivings into concrete action. Otherwise, we can't expect to grow spiritually. The challenge set before us is to be in action with our religion everyday, while always keeping our eyes on the ultimate destination.
Sometimes, the shore in the distance turns out to be a mirage. Our concepts of God can become an obstacle to the direct experience of God. We must be willing to let go of our concepts when our consciousness outgrows them. This requires a new way of studying the sacred scriptures, holding them like a fine jewel in our hand and slowly rotating them, so that we can admire their beauty from many different angles.
We must remember that no matter how much we think we understand the Truth, there is always more. And, of course, there is the tendency to become attached to our concepts, the way we would a ferryboat, never wanting to leave them, and never setting foot on the solid ground of experience.
Though the other shore in Buddhism symbolizes our ultimate destination, there are many "other shores" that we encounter in our progression towards the direct experience of God. Each time we enter into new territory, the journey we have just completed makes more sense to us, and we can see more clearly the nature of all journeys. Since the sacred scriptures of the world are accounts of these many journeys, our understanding of them is greatly enhanced each time we advance toward our ultimate goal. Eventually, we begin to see the sacred scriptures from the inside out, which is to say, from the spirit in which they were written. All sacred scriptures then, begin to reveal their connections to each other, and we begin to see the one Truth that binds them together.
It is from this vantage point that New Wine seeks to address the teachings of Jesus Christ, Buddha, Moses, and others. None of us possesses the entire Truth, but Truth readily unveils itself to whoever looks in its direction -- the direction of universality. What is true for one must be true for all. All ferryboats aim for the same shore. Whether we call God Jehovah, Allah, Brahma, Shiva, or the Tao -- in the ultimate, beyond our understanding, they are all the same God. Our forms of worship may differ, but our hearts are one in the longing to be reunited with our common source.
Welcome to New Wine!