The old adage “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will do” applies to religion as well as to any other human endeavor. In fact, in the case of religion, the implications are particularly acute.
The process of religion has a character much like that of the scientific method, with the exception that the demonstrations of its principles – avatars such as Jesus of Nazareth, Clara Barton, Lao-Tzu and Buddha – are exceptional manifestations that cannot be produced by rote method. There are no factories for people of grace. They are called into existence through channels in time opened by exceptional human need.
Lacking any understanding of mechanisms, theosophists (those that speculate on the soul and its relationship with the divine) have typically resorted to monotheistic escalation. Their reasoning is roughly as follows: exceptional experiences that overwhelm the material status quo must have their origination in superior principles. That those principles hold sway indicates that they must be free of corrupting influences, and so superior in their own realm. If they are superior, their influence must be inescapable and complete. Ultimately, Dao, Brahman, God, Allah and all others are ceded control over all aspects of reality.
There are three strategies of religious practice allowed in the psychology of this relationship between infinitesimal humanity and infinite deity. The first is paralysis – trust in the Divine, and await its deliverance. The second is passivity – study the Divine, with the hope of emulating it, but assert no independent will. The third, most dangerous path, is to follow someone that asserts superior understanding, with the hope of achieving enlightenment.
The third path is dangerous because, when coupled with wealth, the assertion of spiritual authority is backed by means for suppressing cautionary voices.
I have been negotiating with a subset of self-proclaimed religious “authorities” over the last decade. The process has developed as a series of manifestations of the power of unconditional love, and attempts to communicate principles and mechanisms that would, as Jesus promised, enable a disciplined practitioner do “greater works than these”. The disciplines are those described most directly in Daoism, but mirrored also in Buddhism: surrender of self-concern and commitment to the manifestation of harmony in the realm of our influence.
What has become clear through those experiences is that the process will proceed only through dis-intermediation. Purveyors of mystery will not exchange their mysteries for understanding.
So what I have to offer here is an antidote to religious speculation. I am going to attack confusion by offering a model of religious experience, and use it to elucidate the recorded history of the lives of our spiritual avatars. I am going to attempt to place their lives in the context of the evolution of Human Nature, and offer my sense as to how that process is going to unfold over the next 40 years.
Involvement in the process is inescapable. Paralysis and passivity are not viable options. The only way out of the bind Humanity faces is for some number of us to learn to recognize the “still, small voice” inside of us, and let it guide us as we re-organize the broken reality that will come to surround us.
In the service of that process, I am going to clear the air. I am going to winnow from religious teaching expedience in the service of priestly and political authority. Names will not be named. Social policies will not be promulgated. The only thing on offer here will be the antidote to hypocrisy: truth in the service of spiritual liberation.