Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Questioning of Tradition and Ralph Waldo Emerson

In light of recent questions on my blog I wanted to say a few words about "spiritual" traditions and the work undertaken by the individual in working for freedom.

To this end, I wanted to start with some quotes by R.W. Emerson in his lecture on nature.

"Our age is retrospective. It builds the supulchres of the fathers.... The forgoing generations beheld God face to face; we, through their eyes. Why should we not also enjoy an original relation to the universe? ..... The sun shines today also.... There are new lands, new men, new thoughts. Let us demand our own works and laws and worship...."

"The best read naturalist who lends an entire and devout attention to truth, will see that there remains much to learn of his (or her) relation to the world, and that it is not to be learned by any addition or subtraction or other comparison of known quantities, but is arrived at by untaught sallies of the spirit, by a continual self-recovery, and by entire humility. He (she) will perceive that there are far more excellent qualities in the student than preciseness and infallibility..."

We can apply all of these thoughts to our modern "spiritual practices". It is like we are building a divine house and we continually get distracted by those who tell us how to build it. We get distracted by the comparison or judgement of the right tools. We get lost in the tools themselves. We are conditioned with ideas of how to build the house. We forget constantly the most powerful possibility that life and God him/herself wants to evolve, wants to express, in the deepest fullest way that only we can bring forth. We distrust our very dharma, replacing it with the "appropriate" or "historical" or "politically (spiritually) correct" dharma of another.

To question. To question everything. To really question the axioms. To really dare to question and examine our conditioned motivations. To dare to discover the depths of ourselves and our movements without fear of consequences, judgment, and falsehood. To really examine deeply what is "right" and what is "wrong". To dare to step outside of tradition. Simultaneously and paradoxically to dare to claim those traditions that we feel connected with as our own. To make them our own. To examine that which brings us true greater freedom and that which leads us only into a shiny golden cage. To dare to be free. To dare to move in space.

These are my own inquiries. I invite all to share in the same inquires. There is not one truth. There are many. No one person or tradition holds the key to your liberation. The cage is created and accepted by yourself.