CommonPlaces Breaking60 TravelingNotes UU Exploration Belief and Practice



A credo is a statement both of how we understand our existence in the world and how we wish ourselves and the world to be. However, it is possible to move beyond belief (credo, after all, is Latin for "I believe") to knowledge (ksero, Greek, "I know"): to what we have learned during our life journey so far, that a still small voice tells us is so.

In this I stand with Theodore Parker who wrote: "I found certain great primal intuitions of human nature, which depend upon no logical processes of demonstration, but are rather facts of consciousness given by the most instinctive action of human nature itself." Parker then proceeded to list the three most important intuitions which "pertain to religion:" that there is a God, that there is moral law independent of human will and that we are immortal.

Recently a very dear friend sent me a copy of a sermon which contained her deeply moving credo statement. It reminded me of and recalled me to my long term project of developing a "theory of everything," a personal resolution of the great questions of existence. On 8/19/99, this project reached a milestone, such that I felt, for the first time, I could write down, not a credo, an account of what I believe, but a ksero, an account of what I know:


I am unique. There was, is and will be none other like me.

This I know.

I am

Within my skin, that boundary which demarks my being, I am aware, therefore I exist. I am not the ship but the captain, not the thoughts but the thinker, not the body but the spirit; I am the irreducible self. I am not matter but energy embodied, for the universe contains only matter and energy which are one. And, I am different but yet not different from any other. Thus, if I exist, which I do, and others exist, which they do, we are all separate, different but the same, as sunrises or waves on the ocean, each with inherent worth and dignity.

This I know.

I am human

In living things, from the green algae to the great blue whale, there are examples of all human strengths and weaknesses: selfishness and selflessness, fidelity and infidelity, love and hate, among them. But in only one flavor of the infinite variety of life, in humans, do I see all of these together with the greatest attribute of all: self-awareness. It is self-awareness which leads us to the questions of why and how: why are we here and how are we to live. It is self-awareness which makes us fall silent to hear from within the answers to these questions. This common possibility defines us and unites us; simply, makes us human.

This I know.


I am human and one with the universe.


There is an interdependent web of existence, of energy and matter, which binds all to all. I breathe and the air sustains me, I drink and the waters of the world flow through me, my basis is earth and fire, born of stars and destined to return. I do not, I cannot, stand apart and, greater than any imaginable miracle, there is here all that is necessary to nourish, sustain, inspire and, in the end, accept me. This I know.




The careful reader will notice that I address only the second of Parker's religious intuitions, that independent, universal moral law exists (it speaks in the inner voice of moral sentiment, as Emerson declared), and that there is nothing here implicitly concerning the first great question: why, from whence did I come and whither do we go? I have found this latter to be an interesting question, one which gains importance when the nights draw in, the wind howls, and the body betrays by its frailty. However, we devote far too much time and effort to its consideration and, in the resulting hubbub, we have difficulty finding the answers we need to the second great question: how can we lead a good enough life, one which can end without remorse? I prefer to teach and preach the message that we are here, now, and that it is within our grasp to do good, not evil; to become complete, and by doing so, fulfill the dreams of the universe.


This I know, for I am human and one with the universe.