The backbone of our community is our recognition of a set of simple, powerful principles at the heart of many different spiritual and religious traditions. As an interfaith Universalist congregation, we draw upon many different philosophies, religions, and traditions to bring people together and foster a sense of connectedness and continuity with one another and the world. The following are the core principles of SOUL Community Church:
The Great Mystery
Existence is a great, mysterious paradox. We believe our lives are a gift, and we celebrate the exploration of the Great Mystery with the curiosity, awe, and wonder of a child. Formless and in form, beyond knowledge in whole but knowable in part, simultaneously infinite and finite, constantly changing but never ending, we revel at the beauty, complexity, and unpredictability of the Great Mystery on this adventure that is our lives.
(Mark 4:11, Ephesians 3:9, 1 Corinthians 2:7, 1 Timothy 3:16, Tao Te Ching, 1.1, B. Gita 9:4-6)
All is One
There is a single, non-dualistic, unifying truth underlying everything, both formless and in form – that All is One. Everything in the Universe came from it, we came from it, we are a part of it, we are it, and it is us. We may call it by many names – God, Allah, Brahman, The Self, Great Spirit, The Universe, Nature, Presence, The Tao, Energy, Oneness, or any other name – but we are always speaking of the same One. It is the animating presence of all, the nameless, inexhaustible, infinite unity that connects us to one another, the world around us, and the whole of existence.
(Colossians 1:16-17, Shvetashvatara Up. 4.9-10, Kena Up. 1.2-9, Rig Veda 1.164.46)
We promote Peace in all our relations – peace within ourselves, our families, our relationships, our Church, our communities, and in the world. We celebrate and support the unity of all mankind as one family, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, regardless of gender, race, orientation, nationality, or tradition. All of the work we do, within ourselves and in the world, is done in service to the unity of all mankind. We believe that every human is a unique, individual expression of God manifest. We believe that we all belong and that we are all in this together, so we follow the “Golden Rule” which pervades all peaceful cultures, faiths, and traditions: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
(Matthew 5:9, Matthew 10:20, Romans 12:14-18, Hebrews 12:14, Dhammapada 19:256-257)
Love and Compassion
Love – for ourselves, for God, for one another, and for the Earth – lights our path through this journey. Love has, and is, a divine intelligence, and the highest form of gratitude we can offer for the gift that is our lives is to act with love and compassion in all we do. Because we are all one family, we recognize the inherent worth, value, and dignity of all people, including ourselves, and open our hearts to express and accept love and compassion in our thoughts, words, and deeds. We trust in love as our guiding principle and, when presented with difficult choices on life’s journey, follow its wisdom by consciously choosing love over fear.
(Romans 12:4-8, Galatians 5:13-14, Colossians 3:12-15, Mundaka Up. 3.1.1-4)
The goal of our work, and all religious and spiritual work, is self-realization – the direct, personal experience of union with God. Every person has within them the seed of awakening to their true nature, and that self-realization can come at any moment through many paths and many life experiences. We support and encourage all people on their path to personal awakening and spiritual rebirth through internal processes such as: prayer, meditation, and study, and physical processes such as: devotional singing, ecstatic dance, yoga, sweat lodges, and any other peaceful actions taken in earnest for the purpose of self-realization.
(Psalm 46:10, John 3:3-8, Katha Up. 2.7-8, 12-13, 18-20, Kena Up. 1.2-9, 2.2-5, Dhammapada 8:103-105, B. Gita 4:9-11)
While we may not always be directly responsible for the circumstances we encounter in our lives, we accept full responsibility for our reaction to those circumstances and the choices we make. We take personal responsibility for our internal landscape, and choose to respond consciously rather than react to unconscious patterns or conditioning. When our buttons are pushed and emotional discomfort arises, rather than running from it, denying it, or pushing it away, we welcome it as an opportunity for healing and personal growth. We support and encourage one another in this work as an essential part of the path to self-realization, an acknowledgement and receipt of the messages that are meant to call us home to unity with God.
(2 Peter 1:3-11, 1 Corinthians 3:16, Mundaka Up. 2.3, Tejobindu Up. 2.2-13, Dhammapada 12:160, 165; 20:276, B. Gita 3:4)
The Eternal Present
Whatever we do, whatever we need, whatever it is that is essential to our healing and growth is only available now, in the present moment. Unnecessary suffering occurs when we excessively dwell on the past, worry about the future, or resist what is. We commit to living our lives in the present moment, with the awareness, clarity, and openness necessary to handle whatever comes. We unconditionally accept things as they are, right now, as a required step on the path of self-realization and celebrate the joy and wonder of living in the eternal now.
(Isaiah 43:18-19, Matthew 6:25-27, Bhaddekaratta Sutta)
Impermanence and Evolution
Nothing lasts forever, and everything is in a constant state of change – these are fundamental qualities of existence and powerful reminders in our religious practice. Through the recognition and acceptance of the impermanence and unpredictability of life, we feel a stronger connection to the present moment and a greater sense of gratitude, immediacy, and sincerity in our spiritual work. By fully embracing the truth of the constant change, growth, and evolution in the world around us, in ourselves, and in one another, we are able to find a deeper level of acceptance, flexibility, and comfort in uncertainty. When it comes to encountering the unexpected on the path of self-realization, we’re “always amazed, but never surprised.”
(James 4:14, 2 Corinthians 4:18, Shvetashvatara Upanishad 1.10, Dhammapada 1:6, 20:277, Mundaka Upanishad 1.8-9)
We accept a powerful opportunity when we take personal responsibility for our lives – the opportunity to consciously care for ourselves, our relationships, and our environment. We work to heal ourselves and the world in order to bring a deep and lasting peace to this place and to our lives. Stewardship begins within us, in the form of self-care, self-reliance, and personal responsibility for our choices. Stewardship extends to our relationships with one another and with nature, where we find peace, wisdom, and spiritual communion with plants and animals and a sacred connection to the Earth. In recognition of the fleeting impermanence of this experience, we commit to causing as little harm as possible, and leaving this place better than we found it for those who will come after us.
(Genesis 1:26, Taittiriya Upanishad, 8.1, B. Gita 3:15-19, 13:27, Dhammapada 22:313)
Gratitude and Thanksgiving
In all we do, we give thanks for this beautiful gift of life and all of the experiences it provides. In times of joy and sorrow, we are thankful for the opportunity to have this experience, to heal and to grow, and to share it with one another. We join together as a community in a spirit of high thanksgiving and deep gratitude, to lift our joyful voices in praise and song, to pound the beating drum of our tribe, and fan the flame of love in our hearts.
(Psalm 118:23-24, Colossians 3:17)