Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Spiritual Path is a Slippery Slope.

In any place that you may be standing there is a circle surrounding you. The circle has a deep and profound meaning in relation to life but we won’t be going into that within the (pun intended) parameters of this post. Suffice it to say that a circle is more than a circle even though a circle is a symbol of the whole. It also restricts what is within it and is a barrier for what is outside of it; if not a barrier then certainly a demarcation line.

I don’t like to get into negative associations at this blog. The link I offer here is by way of exampling a particular area of endeavor that is referred to as ‘spiritual’. It’s a typical proponent of the New Age. You will note the obligatory list of radio and television appearances which are meant to confer legitimacy; the writing endeavors which also confer legitimacy and last but certainly not least, ‘The Angel Blessing Candle Kit’. This last does not appear to be an expression of legitimacy but it certainly indicates market sense.

You can follow to the main site from this page and scan the author’s stable, which also contains some amount of the fodder drawn for conventions around the U.S. and I suppose... foreign venues too. This is one circle of representatives of new age thought. There are others. If you’ve ever walked into a large spiritual new age book store you’ve seen the hundreds and thousands of books that deal with emerging modalities that treat all mainstream and arcane conditions with some ritual or routine. For all I know there’s some good to be found in some of them. I’m not here today to address the efficacy of any of them. I learn enough from the presentation to make an informed judgment for myself.

Much of these therapies and practices have spilled over into the mainstream. You’ll find the books at Borders and any other chain. There are conventions and seminars and retreats. There are lectures and tapes and DVD’s. It’s an entire department store of information and items that may or may not do what they claim. They’re not unlike religious bookstores and religious stores that sell pictures and icons, statues and jewelry and assorted relics that may or may not possess some mysterious power or impact upon the mind toward the stimulation of faith.

Attendant with any movement that presents itself as new age or spiritual there follows the business end of the operation. In this sense there is no difference between them and ordinary business. They offer something for sale and you purchase it. Whether it is long established, organized religions; new age systems, flying saucer associated operations like The Raelians or Scientology, there’s a company store that takes you a step at a time toward something... somewhere.

There are organizations that present themselves as agents of light and there are darker venues that make no bones about their affiliations. There’s a question of legitimacy with most of them and all of them make a circle that keeps something in and something out. Some of these groups like the Elizabeth Claire Prophet group are said to have an affinity for machine guns. Rajneesh who became Osho had quite the security setup and that group’s story is well known. The Hari Krishna meltdown is nicely exposited in the book, “Monkey on a Stick”.

I think highly of Paramahansa Yogananda but if you look at his organization and the splinter groups with their war of words on the legitimacy of this or that group claiming to be the true vessel... it’s a discouraging thing.

It always seems to come down to money and power. It’s about the inside and not the outside. Since the ancients tell us that the kingdom is within and that it is realized by shucking off the things of the world, or learning to live in the world but not be of the world, it’s a strange contradiction what happens a lot of the time.

I don’t see anything wrong with selling books or DVD’s. It’s a matter of balance really. It’s a matter of where the priority lies. My concern here is whether you get what you are going after, not any particular peculiarities of any particular organization.

Personally, I think you need a teacher. I’m convinced that you won’t get far without one. I’m also convinced that at any point where the impetus strikes you to seek for the answer that you have a teacher already; whether known to you or not. I think the onus on the seeker is to have good intentions and to be consistent in efforts and practices. I think the seeker also has to be willing to let go of anything at any time in order to evolve in understanding.

If you have a teacher then there isn’t much need for books except to give the mind an opportunity for inquiry. For some people this succeeds, for a time, where simple self-inquiry might prove too arduous or amorphous. Is ‘the self’ contained in a circle with everything else beyond the perimeter? What is the self and which self are we talking about? We look outside and we see a multitude of selves. We look inside and often see a multitude of selves. The inside of the mind can be as much of a funhouse hall of mirrors as the outside.

You hear about the voice within. If there is only a single self within then to whom is that voice within speaking? Maybe it is speaking to the soul, which is a vehicle for the self. Maybe it is something similar to how the reins in the hands of the wagon driver inform the horse. That’s how it seems to me and I have to admit to being affected by the Hindu posters and art of various sorts. Maybe the soul is a more permanent self than the mind’s identity of the holder in a particular incarnation. Maybe the soul at some point then merges into the supreme self and becomes God. This would account for those who are great souls and those who embody the self. By example I give you Gandhi as opposed to Ramana Maharshi or he whom Meher Baba claimed to be. I don’t dispute Meher Baba’s claim. I like Meher Baba. The truth is that I just don’t know.

It’s a slippery slope. Even when you are on the right track there are wrong tracks presenting themselves on all sides all along the way. How do we gain the focus and determination not to falter? We are all at different levels of understanding. Let’s imagine for a moment that we are not neophytes. I would imagine that for those who are not neophytes, the presentations of religion and new age thought as well as so many philosophies and various available clothing and outfits are veils before an aperture. Sooner or later you find yourself where neither books not organizations can take you any further. It is natural that we should discard outworn devices. For most of us, this is not possible or desirable. It can be downright frightening. This is why I always come back to Love. There may be something greater than Love but I doubt it can be discovered without it.

My point is, in the confusion of all that is offered, I suggest you fall back on Love. Somehow, to me; Love, Wisdom and Realization are deeply connected at the source and the pursuit of any leads to each and all. It’s a simple thing. Of course, the mind and transient identity insist that comprehension is within their grasp. I suggest that it is not and never will be and that is frightening too. So Love seems to presume trust and faith as well.

As much as a circle may demarcate what is inside and outside of it, it also leads back to its own beginning in the linear sense; ergo, the serpent with its tail in its mouth. Basically, I don’t think you can go wrong with Love even it you don’t know where you are going. For me it is the safer course and since it has been said that Love makes everything like itself, it might be that that is the answer to the question of the self. I don’t know but it is what I think about.

Visible sings: Color Ball by Les Visible♫ It Must Be Love ♫
'It Must Be Love' is track no. 8 of 12 on Visible's 2007 album 'Color Ball'

Color Ball by Les Visible



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The3rdElf
The 3rd Elf