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The Relgion that is to Come

The Religion that is to Come

Bruce Schuman, bruceschuman@cox.net, Santa Barbara CA USA, http://origin.org
Inspired by Deborah Moldow and Robert Atkinson, September 23, 2020

The foundations of the religious systems are one because they proceed from the indivisible reality. ~Abdu’l-Baha
Following that guidance, let us together help guide civilization back to the indivisible reality.


This article embodies a review of the last fifty years of social evolution and cultural shift. It includes everything we have learned about intercultural encounter in the context of globalization and is based on the tremendous “integral” organizing power that has emerged into the world through the internet. It outlines the emergence of critical elements and capacities that have appeared in the world and proposes a design for collective activism that builds on them all as a response to social and global crisis.

Today in the early Autumn of 2020 in the United States, we are in a unique moment. Our nation is critically divided, and the very foundations of reality that preserve our identity and safety as a people are under intense dangerous stress. This article is part of an unfolding proposal, intended to develop and launch a new kind of network-based collective activism, grounded in the emerging “interspiritual” paradigm developing around us, and based on a new vision of enlightened collaboration across all sectors of society.

This article proposes a design grounded in these new ideas and new capacities. This design is consistent with and informed by the basic guiding principles of religion and the interfaith movement, but it is shaped by a compelling convergence towards unity. This emerging movement transcends traditional “church/state separation” issues and proposes governance models and collective activism guided by and held together through the emerging new global paradigm of “oneness”.


We are unfolding a new understanding of the principle of One or oneness

. • Oneness is a workable and ideal foundation for collaboration and partnership among religious and spiritual groups. We can develop a very simple theology of “The One” as a universal meeting ground and invite all participating groups and individuals into a shared communion of spirit and peace within that very broad and adaptive framework.

• Oneness is proposed as an exploratory foundation for science, defined in terms that are consistent with the fundamentals of mathematics and the theory of conceptual structure and sets/categories. We are held in a universe that is One.

• Oneness is proposed as a general guiding principle for collective decision making and governance. Oneness and “The Whole” become a kind of moral and ethical compass for all collective decision making. All collective decisions should emerge in that context and be based on “the good of the whole.”


Combining science and spirituality in the context of governance can create an authentic new foundation for principles of justice and law. Justice should be defined and practiced within the context of One. Laws should be defined in terms that honor justice in the context of the whole and defined in ways that express “whole systems”. The possible confusion and explosive consequences of that confusion can be addressed and overcome through the new scientific foundations which we propose are emerging.

This is a massive high-bandwidth “everything at once” revolution at the foundation of our collective life. It is at once a response to dangerous crisis, and a pathway forward into unfolding the highest and most beautiful elements of human potential. We are responding to crisis, but we are giving birth to renaissance.


In 1997, the United Religions Initiative convened its second global conference at Stanford University. In the closing ceremony, representatives of all the world’s major faith traditions came on stage, each carrying a banner representing their tradition, speaking briefly about that tradition and offering a prayer or benediction. Sitting in the audience I was thrilled when interfaith minister Deborah Moldow came on stage at the end, carrying a banner for “The Religion That is to Come”.

That phrase burned into my soul. “That’s the religion I am working for,” I thought to myself. It was true then, and it’s no less true today.

In his journal article on the conference, Duke University professor and conference participant Roger Corless wrote “The Second Global Summit of the URI was without a doubt one of the most exciting conferences in which I was privileged to participate. May it live long and prosper.”

Corless briefly describes the experience of being at the conference:

“The 1997 Summit was held on the campus of Stanford University between June 23 and 27. There were 200 invited participants of various religious traditions, housed in dormitories adjoining the Stanford Conference Center. The physical layout, with an inner courtyard and nearby lake, encouraged informal interaction while sitting at the tables in the courtyard or strolling by the lake, and a sense of community.”
I mention this because I met Roger Corless at those tables and had a memorable conversation with him. He was a distinguished scholar of Buddhism, and when I brought up the subject of a “common core for all religions”, he laughed and pointed to his name, denying my claim. “Corless – get it?” I never forgot that comment, particularly because my life has been a wrestling match between the reasons his idea is valid and the reasons we can indeed define a highest common ground and “common core” to the world’s faith traditions.

This is a sophisticated subject, that can become quite technical, and gets into advanced and controversial details in philosophy, but I have carried his challenge with me all these years. I have been a student of what Fritjhof Schuon in his book describes as “The Transcendent Unity of Religions”, which is introduced by Huston Smith in the 1984 edition, where Smith brings in his simple and Ken-Wilber-like diagram, to which I have returned again and again. The central image below shows the historically “separate” religions each on their own track but converging towards all the others as lesser differences drop out and significant general principles create commonality. The image on the left is like a mandala, a wheel, in the same form as the Ashoka Chakra on the national flag of India. All the rays (“spokes”) radiate from a single central point or hub. In the computer world, similar diagrams are called sunburst charts. The center image is Smith’s model, which shows various diverse traditions organized like rays fanning in to a single common central point. The horizontal dividing line is like the blue circle in the left-hand mandala, creating a dividing line or boundary between levels. The yellow arrow on the right is my addition and illustrates what I consider to be the central axis of levels for this framework, illustrating the relationship between “the many” and “the one”, extending from absolute diversity at the empirical or concrete level, up to higher and higher levels as diversity and differences merge into unity at the highest level. I discuss this issue in more detail in my article on Spectrum of Consciousness at http://origin.org/one/spectrum.cfm The critical point in Smith’s argument is this dividing line between “exoteric” (outer-plane, institutional, worldly) and “esoteric” (inner-plane, individualized, mystical) religions. The answer to Corless’s objection is based the relationship between empirical multiplicity and abstract universalism. Corless’s point, common in the academic world at the time, is that there is tremendous diversity among religions – just kindly look at the (empirical) facts. They obviously do not do the same things or believe the same things. But the mystic draws generalizations from each of these religions, and goes to their “essence”, a simple common wholeness or oneness guided by virtue and devotion which they see in each particular religion, and this becomes the common ground of all spiritual and mystical experience. So, it comes to a simple point. Yes, there is vast diversity in the world – and as the academics in the 1990’s were strongly proclaiming, we must see and honor that diversity, without, as they liked to argue then, imposing some kind of “imperialism” over their uniqueness. This is indeed an important concern, and one that must be respected. But to argue on that basis that there is no common ground to religion is short-sighted and destructive. Huston Smith and Fritjhof Schuon were guided by the instinct for highly significant unity, and so am I. And Robert Atkinson in his book The Story of Our Time – From Duality to Interconnectedness to Oneness makes closely-related arguments. THE PROJECT The objective of this brief note is to help introduce the emergence of a broadly inclusive vision for holistic spiritual activism that has been maturing for many years. We have a tremendous array of resources and understood in the right way, our current capacity is very high. I believe we need to develop a coordinated framework for integrated activism that incorporates the full spectrum of ideal human capacity in three primary areas: science, spirituality/religion, and governance. I want to initially present this idea as visionary theory informed by a wide range of essential sources, then propose a way to interpret this theory in an activist organizing framework, then explore the development of an actual pilot project capable of developing this activism through a process of network organizing. I am convinced this is feasible and should proceed immediately. • We need to create an initial development structure capable of unfolding and activating this design and refining its particulars. • We need to explore the real-world implications of collaboration in the context of diversity; who will participate, why do they want to participate, how are we serving them? • We need to discuss and develop a model of collective problem-solving where the issues are far too complex for any one group or cultural sector to address. We have begun developing a model built around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and we should be exploring relationships with agencies and experts working in any of those areas where leaders recognize the need for well-organized global cooperation. A NEW RELIGION? Are we forming a new religion? This is tough and demanding question. What is a religion? In its early days, the United Religion Initiative went out of its way to emphasize that it was most certainly NOT creating a new religion – since it was often accused of doing exactly that that. I have found myself denounced on the internet for being a supporter of that nefarious ambition. But in answer to the question, I would take a deep breath and say the answer is yes. And my reasoning is simple. I define a religion as a bond and agreement among a group of people who want to form a community grounded in spirituality. Their “religion” is the guidelines they choose to follow, however administered, and from whatever source derived. We in the Oneness movement are a growing community of independent individuals from all over the world, with endlessly diverse backgrounds, who are discovering each in our own way what seems not only to be a natural healing source of joy and life, but also a profoundly potent and extremely simple solution to the vast problem of intercultural contention. The message for us becomes simple. Don’t fight it. Get with the program. We are one. So, if there are 1000 of us, or 100,000, or 1,000,000 – are we a community? Can we stand together in advocacy and defense of our convictions and valued friendships? It is all too clear that the world is facing critical problems right now. Are we going to build alliances within our community to help deal with these problems? Does our point of view bring something special and liberating to the search for “solutions that work for everybody?” Almost certainly, we want to say yes. Within our “resonant bond of oneness”, we are indeed highly diverse. We have widely varied skills. We are widely distributed geographically. And we are a community. This proposal and associated ideas from ORIGIN do amount to an argument for structure and substantiation. We need to build. We need to create broad alliances and relationships. We need to convene expertise from everywhere and call these voices into our common “resonant field”. We are just like everybody else – but we have learned to honor diversity and we are not threatened by it. We value life everywhere. We are thrilled by kindness and virtue. We want to see the children of the world safe. We want the workers of the world adequately paid. We want the air and water of the world clean and safe. We want the violence to stop. We want to help. And something like this ”declaration of our beliefs” is probably at the foundation of whatever might emerge for us. We agree. We want to move ahead. And yes – in some way that is feasible and graceful and makes sense – we want to “get organized”. We want to “do stuff” and “get stuff done.” In a simple way, let us begin to network this process with explicit conscious intention as that intention makes itself clear. Today, we have many tools to work with, and many interconnected groups. Let’s catch our breath and decide unto ourselves that we are moving ahead as a coalescing force of light in service to love and divine beauty. Peace. This project is about the integration of the world. It is about healing and wholeness, stability, truth and love. It is about meeting on common ground – indeed on inspired common ground.