On Choosing and following your own path

10 07 2008

Introduction

” What path is right for me?”, is a question that each seeker asks at least once in their lives. As children, most individuals follow the pathways of their parents. Even if a parent has no particular spiritual path, the child is influenced by their parent. This is almost genetic as, regardless of a path, the mother, to the child, is the goddess. As one grows older and begins to think for themselves, they begin to feel a desire to either embrace or reject their parental suggestions. This includes the chosen spiritual path of the individual.

In my own life, I have spent time in many “spiritual” and “religious” pathways. Some of these were even of my own choosing at the time, so I thought. However, as we are social creatures, even the most reclusive of us, we still seem to blunder about until we finally settle on what works well for us.

Over the years as I facilitate myself and others on reaching some kind of accommodation with their desires for spiritual connection, certain indications seem to be prevalent with the majority of individuals.

What is a Spiritual Path?

Dictionary.com defines the word spiritual, (among other things) as:

of or pertaining to the spirit or soul, as distinguished from the physical nature: a spiritual approach to life.

We will not concern ourselves in this article with the definition of the soul, despite differing presuppositional ethics, but accept this as a good working definition to add to our word “path”.

Again, Dictionary.com defines a path as:

a route, course, or track along which something moves, or a course of action, conduct, or procedure.

So, combining both of these we have a spiritual path is one where an individual is taking a route whether physically or metaphysically that pertains to the non-physical being of a person.

This definition allows for many diverse methodologies including those that are primarily of the phsyical realms, and those that are primarily of the non-physical realms.

Pressures that act as filters

As we stated in the introduction, many factors influence our examination and determination of our path. Some of these factors include, environment, social network, (including parents, friends, and co-workers), ethnicity or blood line, and connectedness, or lack of it, to the world around us.

Each of these act as filters through which we see the world around us. Ask any couple in a relationship how many times they “read between the lines” of a statement just to see how effective filters are in our daily lives.

One example of filters in relationships is as follows:

One partner is cooking dinner and asks the other partner: “Would you please take out the overflowing trash please?” The partner who was asks responds: “What, why do you do that, I work all day and of course I will take it out. I simply forgot. What do you think I sit and read all day? I work too! If it is too much trouble for you to cook dinner tonight then we could have gone out!”

The first partner is taken aback by the vehemence of the response as all they really asked was for their partner to take out the trash! Not everything else! The second partner read between the lines, of the other through there own filters.

While this is an extreme example, you can see what filters do in this mundane world, imagine what it does for our persuit of a spiritual path. Each individuals path is unique. One may utilize the same aspects of the divine, yet call them by another name. Take the deific aspect of healing. In some pathways, the deity of healing is Bridghid, (and lets not forget that spellings and language for even the same deity show regional differences), others it is Kwan Yin, and others Quanyin. Whole nations have gone to war over the NAME of a particular deity rather than listening to the aspect and intent of the name.

In our early 21st century world we have many examples of what I call “filter-itis”. Christians fight Muslims, Jews fight Christians, Wiccan’s fight Heathens, on and on and on.

Therefore, the first step in choosing a path is to put away the expectations of the society you are in and focus on the intent of the pathway without these filters.

Society and Acceptance

There is a quote from John Donne (1572-1631), which is in his “Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions”, Meditation XVII: that goes like this:

“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness….No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

While Mr Donne was a christian, the sentiment expressed above is still true, (See, I practice what I preach). We are social creatures that desire the acceptance of those around us. The problem occurs when we desire our existing friends, colleagues,family, etc, to accept our new choice, just because we do!

Our brother or sister, who follows another path, can not always see that our path is equally valid. Sometimes this is because they are not following their true path either, however, it can also be that they truly feel that there path is RIGHT and yours is WRONG. While, based on the concept that all paths are one path, ( my own pre-suppositional ethic), this is not necessarily the filters that others see through.

Therefore, seeking acceptance by others, while part of our social conditioning, does not “play well” with some of those around us that follow a different path.

I have many Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, ( not what they call themselves-a topic for another article) , Jewish, Pagan, Wiccan, eclectic, heathen friends, and family, the only thing that is important to me is that they respect my path as I respect theirs.

What to look for in a path

Since, each of us must live within our own filters, examine the path that calls you in as objective way as possible. If you are called to Quanyin, (the bodhavista form of the deity of Compassion and Love – androgenous) then accept that particular deity as one that speaks to you.

If you feel that the trees speak with you, and you can hear/feel this then follow this where it leads you and don’t automatically say, I am not ____ (insert apppropriate group here) and can not really be associated with trees.

If you feel that a particular set of rules (i.e. The Wiccan Rede) speaks to you and reverberates within, then follow it and find others that can support you.

What is important is that it fills some needs within yourself.

The next step is to investigate the teachings of the path and take on that which speaks to you.

Be true to yourself and don’t belittle, or agonize over the choices you have made.

Be confident in yourself. You are the one who must follow the path, so you are the only one that needs to “understand” the path.

Lastly, do not label yourself if it would put you in a box that you do not wish to be part. Boxes are created by large groups and if you are a “round peg” why fit into a “square hole”?

Enjoy the Journey! After all – ALL life is a Journey.. We don’t REALLY know what is TRUTH – (OOPS, another topic for another day)

Bright Blessings,

Alfred

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Community, Fellowship or Tyranny

26 02 2008

Fighting on a global scale that is an imposition of one groups ideals. National groups that fight for their RIGHTS  over another. Non smokers outlawing hooka’s and taxing cigarrettes to “discourage” people from harming themselves and “saving” money for insurance companies.  The indication is that groups of individuals seem to band together to create an adversarial relationship with others – Is that all there is to a community? Webster’s dictionary defines community as   a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society.  There is no part of this definition that states that one must or is entitled to impose their interests on another group or individuals. A cursory examination of the world news shows Serbs preventing citizens of Kosovo from declaring their own identity, the “War on Terrorism”  that the United States is fighting in Iraq, Kurdish separatists and Turkish troops vying for their rights, and on and on.  Domestically in the USA one group decides what is best for everyone  and seeks to impose that on everyone else. 

Lately I have seen small groups of people begin to band together in a grassroots way around a common purpose to SHARE ideas and talents with each other for mutual support and encouragement. A small group of people form a truly open Art Guild in one city that has been dominated by a RECOGNIZED art guild for many years that has become an exclusive club for the few, in this same community a group of wordsmiths are gathering momentum to share  with everyone and gather in a local  park.  A Fellowship is defined by Websters as a community of interest, activity, feeling, or experience.  There is that word again COMMUNITY. So,  lets put both of these definitions together and we come up with a new definition for Fellowship. A group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society who come together to share  that common interest, activity, feeling, or experience. This begins to sound a little like the definition of a society, which according to Webster again is defined as as an enduring and cooperating social group whose members have developed organized patterns of relationships through interaction with one another. 

Here then is my proposition, there is no difference between community, fellowship and society as long as the society does not impose its will upon another – Tyranny.  A society or fellowship that honors this definition would be one that honors, respects and lives diversity. It would not matter what color, gender, sexual orientation, age, or physical ability one demonstrates as a restirction of their opportunity within the group. The Great Spirit, God, Goddess, Chaos, Nature, would be equally honored and respected by all members of the fellowship as this is what breathes life into any group. No one view, religion, spirituality or  language is inherrently better or more right than any other. In fact it is in our diversity as individuals that we grow stronger, more tolerant and more healthy.

As I am observing these things and participating in them here in the Mid West of the United States I am sure, intuitively, that there are other areas of the world that are experiencing a similar phenomenom. We will not be squashed, silenced or forced to surrender to the forces Tyranny.

Personkind (so as to not be gender specific), will survive, adapt, and continue to integrate in peaceful and joyful communion with each other one fellowship at a time. It is slow and unstoppable. One group can never impose their will for long on another. Only in fellowship and respect can we all abide well on the Mother’s Earth. Yes, I am a Pagan, so what, we all wish to live. I do not presume to know anything for another person, I am an observer, and a participant in the world. I choose FELLOWSHIP – what do you choose?





Male Female Relations and US society

30 11 2007

While I was sitting in my favorite coffee shop the owner stopped by to ask a question. Why is it that all your clients seem to be young females?

Firstly, the first statement is patently untrue. The only reason he only sees the young female clients is that as a single guy it is always better to have coaching sessions with females in an open place. As I gave this answer to the individual in question he looked at me askance and I could see several thoughts going through his mind all at once. Frankly, I am grieved that we live in a society that has so trivialized relationships between men and women. I see this as a function of US society making any contact between men and women to be sexual. Honest caring has been replaced by sociopathic “little head” thinking.

This thought pattern goes with the patrilineal structure that we struggle against as humans living in an inhuman world. Where is it written that a male who cares, is sensitive and truly listens is a non-entity.

As a person who honors the sacred feminine, (yes I am pagan) I am constantly speaking out about the polarization (male/female) of our society. Gender is NOT the issue. If I was a female sitting with “young” females no one would even look at us twice. Yet, as a male I am suspect. How sad.

Each individual needs to find the balance of the male and female in themselves. I don’t care what you philosophical or religious paradigm is, if you believe there is a creator(ix) then there is a male and female part of the divine that we strive to integrate.

There are two genders, both created equally, so if the creator(ix) is both male and female, then it behoves us to find the balance within ourselves. Man can not survive without woman.

Less you are thinking that I am advocating a matrilineal society; the only society that truly reflects the divine, is one of equal partnership. Neither gender is subsumed by the other. In my research into “ancient” pre-Christian society I see that in many cultures men and women were equal partners. As I trace the changes in societies I find that it is only after the advent of Roman society that we have the polarization of gender roles.

A case in point, in Celtic tribes before the Roman Invasions, both men and women could be tribal leaders, healers, and priests. Only after the Pax Romanus did these roles become exclusively male. In fact, the struggles of the un conquered tribes was partially over the imposition of Roman Law in tribal lands.

In Native American tribes the medicine clans have always had both male and female members. Even trangendered individuals are accepted within the clan. In the time since the subjugation of many of these tribes we now see the polarization of the societies. True, many tribes had specific roles that were traditionally done by particular gender, yet if an individual wished to cross over to a non-traditional role it was allowed.

Our 21 century modern world is still struggling with the same questions. Women are still not respected in the marketplace, they are treated as commodities to be traded. Rest assured that the trading is more subtle, but it is still there. Try being a woman in a bar one night.