There is a line of logic that goes something like this:
Fundamentalist: “The creation story in Genesis has to be true, it’s in the Bible.”
Syndic: “And what makes the Bible true?”
F: “It says it is.”
S: “Okay, doesn’t the Koran say it is the true book of faith?”
F: “Yes, I guess so, but it isn’t!”
F: “Because it wasn’t written by ‘God’.”
S: “And the Bible was written by ‘God’?”
F: “…well, written by, inspired by, same thing.”
S: “And how can an objective person tell what is right?”
F: “Why that’s easy, the message.”
The circular logic of something being true because it says it is can be easily dismissed by the thoughtful, however for good or ill the truth of a message is clear for all to see.
There are two primary types of spiritual paths. The first is honest seekers of the truth. Individuals who are unafraid of questioning, work, study, travel, looking or feeling foolish at times and to whom concepts like ridged adherence to archaic dogma, heresy and heathen are humorous. The other is orthodox religion whose perspective is diametrically opposed to that of the seeker and is generally about power, prestige and often money.
Being an established religion does not make a path false; that is dependent on its message. Religions based on fear, shame, jealousy, vengeance and hatred are not true paths. For example, the god of Genesis creates man in his own image then takes a rib from man and creates his helper (and seemingly inferior) woman. He then puts these two innocents in the wonderful Garden of Eden. There, god bids them enjoy everything except for the fruit of one particularly attractive tree. Of course he designed humans to respond to positive statements and not to negative ones, telling someone to not look down is a sure way to make them look down. As the story goes the serpent tempts the woman (presumably weaker and more given to curiosity) who eats of the fruit and gives some to the man to eat as well. Afterward, their eyes are opened and they see they are skyclad. Instead of appreciating the beauty of their bodies, they are overcome with shame. Filled with embarrassment and fear they hide from god. When this presumably omniscient god finally finds out they have disobeyed him, does he react as a loving forgiving parent? No, he throws a tantrum, curses them and their descendents for all time before throwing them out of Eden.
The message? Shame, discouragement of the search for truth, the fear of knowledge, the anger and wrath of a god; in short not a true spiritual path. Indeed no true path tolerates the demeaning of people based on gender, race, sexual orientation, appearance or esoteric reasons.
A true path must begin with some variation of the medical admonition, “first, harm none.” To me this is best stated by the Wicca Rede, “As it harms none, do what thou wilt.”
There is a Source of all Being or Great Spirit, as the Native Americans named it. The Source is of everything and has many different aspects. Primarily the God and the Goddess. Represented by the Sun, the God is father to the Earth and everything of the Earth. Likewise, the Goddess is represented by the Moon and is mother to the Earth and everything of the Earth.
Each of us also has special aspects of the Source that touch us strongly.
For me that is trees and forests. In the 1990 television movie, The Green Man, terrible ‘Devil-worshipping’ things happen in a wild forest. Dark and full of tall trees, the forest is supposed to be scary as ‘hell’. Not to me, when I meditate and wander into the Otherworld I visualize those scenes and am physically touching the trees, feeling their great life and sharing their wondrous positive energy. Hum, maybe that’s why I like a film which literally took its tempo of Julius Caesar’s anti-Druid propaganda.
Each of us must seek her or his own path. Yes, it is wise and good to share with our brothers and sisters what we have found to work. In that way knowledge is advanced and the seeking the path made easier. But, trying to force anyone onto a particular path is self-serving and foolish.
Meeting with others, study, meditation, communing with nature and seeking aspects that speak to us can be part of the path and blessed. But that is for each of us to decide for ourselves.
To all those who seek the truth while harming none, blessed be.
Lúcás mac Roibeárd