STAGE 6: Universalising Faith


God is Just a Word

It is a rare person who reaches this stage of faith. Those who do live their lives to the full in service of others without any real worries about themselves. They are the real saints.

Universalising faith is what some might call “enlightenment”, i.e. transcending belief systems to achieve a sense of oneness with all being; hence, my heading, “God is just a word.” Belief systems have become quite unnecessary in this stage; they disappear in the passion of doing, of living without self-concern.  It is a ‘disinterested’ life, that is, a life without self-interest; a life that Jesus defined in the so-called ‘Great Paradox’: He who would save his life will lose it, but he who loses his life will gain it.

Conflictual events are no longer viewed as paradoxes, for beyond paradox and polarities, persons in this stage are grounded in a oneness with the power of being. Their visions and commitments free them for a passionate, yet detached, spending of the self in love, devoted to overcoming division, oppression and violence, and in effective anticipatory response to an in-breaking commonwealth of love and justice. Fowler’s list of examples includes Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr. (and, I assume, Jesus of Nazareth and Gautama Buddha),  but he warns that people at this stage are not always perfect, for “greatness of commitment and vision often coexists with great blind spots and limitations.”

People at this stage are described as having “a special grace that makes them seem more lucid, more simple, and yet somehow more fully human than the rest of us.” They can become important religious teachers, because they have the ability to relate to anyone at any stage and from any faith. They are able to relate without condescension, but at the same time, are able to challenge the assumptions that those of other stages might have.

It is important not to assume all people who act for the good of others are at stage 6.  There are many people who devote their lives to others, but for reasons that meet their own needs, e.g. to build self-esteem, to assuage guilt, to please others, because they think they should, etc.  Stage 6 people act out of who they have become: people who have discovered the secret of life, and are living it, with no thought of what may come to them or what it may cost. 

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