Some individuals consider their path superior.
They treat weakness with condescension.
Compassion and cooperation are co-opted
by a callous disregard of consequences.
Competition is paramount;
Success by any means necessary.
Striving to subvert the self,
the voice of reason falls silent.
Arrogance speaks of victory,
totality of conquest,
a conquered self-
Many winding paths lead to heaven,
but it takes a complete individual to reach the summit.
~Inspired by Deng Ming-Dao
(pic taken from http://bipblog.com/archives/3808294.html)
On my journey thus far, I have met pious believers of many faiths. Some keep their faith hidden from prying eyes, while others clothe themselves in piety. Neither option is inherently better or worse; the difference depends on the individual's growth pattern. So long as one's own spiritual path does not cross the boundaries of another's, co-existence and shared values are possible. If one feels, however, that all individuals should follow their designated path, ignorance and arrogance are the only lessons one can impart. Do not promise salvation to another, or seek to deny them such a possibility through your own machinations. No one can claim oversight in the afterlife.
None of us have a right to condemn another's spiritual beliefs. No one spiritual system is superior to all others. We all need a philosophy and a practice that works for us. We should be content once it is found, and we should continue to help others find their own spirituality, but we can never know every path to heaven. As such, we should never behave condescendingly towards others in matters of spirituality.
We are all seeking the summit. There are many winding paths to reach heaven. We cannot claim to know the only true path, when we have never set eyes on the other side of the mountain. It may differ in topography, but the summit reached is identical no matter from which direction you approach.
Whatever path you choose, all that is important is that you commit completely to following it. Others may do the same, but not be distracted by their movements. As long as we all continue to climb, each from our own direction and at our own pace, we will reach the summit of spirituality in due time. True believers, each of whom have achieved totality in their lives, may differ on the particular details of their journey, but the ultimate reward for all is the same. They no longer feel a need to defend their faith; they are certain without the need of outward confirmation. Differences in sect, religion, and ethos vanish; unity is achieved through compassion, not conflict.