OUROBOROS: THE END IS THE BEGINNING Not too long ago, a Catholic Pope lamented the fact that, in his words, "the great churches appear to be dying." I also feel that we are witnessing the death of modern religion but I am not discouraged by that because I see the aforementioned demise as part of an evolutionary cycle that occurs not only in the natural world but in every area of human endeavor. In my mind the cycle includes birth or creation followed by growth and development, followed by a period of gradual entrenchment, followed ultimately by the decay and "death" which come before a new beginning. I believe that the next stage in the cycle of religion will consist of a rebirth in the form of pan-religious unity, not because unity is always better or always morally superior to diversity, but because as mentioned earlier, in the cycle of change and resistance to change which go hand in hand, unity and diversity follow each other in alternating fashion. In fact it seems to me that the final, receding stage of religion today, at least with regard to the healthier remnants of the dying institution, constitutes a precursor if you will of the stage to come. It is, like the old man, a merging of winter and spring, half in this world and half in the next. For example, in both Judaism and Christianity the avant-garde, known as the Jewish and Christian Renewal movements are so open to other religious traditions they are actually incorporating elements of these other religions into themselves. So many Jewish people also practice Buddhism today, that there is now a commonly used term for them: "Jubus." Similarly, new, hybrid forms of spiritual practice which blend aspects of yoga and Kabbalah have been in existence for some time, and the Jewish and Native American communities are also collaborating. Where I live there is a group led by a Christian minister and a Jewish rabbi of approximately 300 adults and children called "The Interfaith Families Project." As a community, they celebrate, explore, question and enjoy both religious traditions equally. And while they disavow any desire to create a new religion that is a mixture of Christian and Jewish belief, by simply worshiping together, I believe they are taking a significant step in that direction or at least tacitly acknowledging the need, at least for some, for a new form of worship which incorporates both. As old bonds weaken new bonds begin to form. I believe that these bonds, be they those which exist between married individuals of different religions or between the communities in which these interfaith couples and families are beginning to gather, are the tentative, informal basis of a new and more encompassing religious identity. I believe that this new identity, this new religious self will ultimately include aspects of all the great mainstream traditions as well as aspects of traditions such as paganism which the mainstream religions have rejected but which nevertheless have something of value perhaps to contribute. For those of us in the West however, the most important and immediate task is the repair or “Tikkun” of the Abrahamic Tree. I believe a worldwide grass roots movement calling for religious unity, directed at and originating with the children of the tree is the best way to counteract the perpetual violence between the branches. When you consider that, in terms of the Abrahamic faiths it is not so much a unification as a reunification, the cyclical nature of this journey becomes apparent. Jesus was a Jew. The first Christians were also Jews and Christianity includes within its core scripture the core scripture of the Jewish faith. Islam originated in Mecca, the religious capital of Saudi Arabia and the heart of the Middle East which, as everyone knows is the cultural and ethnic birthplace both of Judaism and Christianity. The three rivers which flow from the loins of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar are on the path to becoming one. This is good because each has something to offer the whole. Each is in need of revitalization, reinterpretation and enhancement. Each is a part already of the other. Each is a part already of the Tree. Word of the Dream: "There is a point where all the rivers are the same." END