Is there a path?
do you believe that an authentic spiritual path exists?
From ‘You cannot get esoteric truth from esoteric lies’, 2008/09/05 at 7:32 PM
Good question, one that lurks in the background here. But we should approach it slowly, almost indirectly. I won’t answer it this time, except to say…
We are speaking to several audiences here, and as we peruse the rickross.com documents, and those from various sources, we realize that we are talking different languages.
In some the issue is cults and deprogramming, in others something else, then again something else in a third case. Finally we confront the issue of religion and secularism, often cast in a not always profitable debate.
Most of all we impinge on the questions of occultism, and there we find a parting of ways between the views.
Update: I should add that we chose to do that on this blog, not directly, but because we had no choice. We didn’t set out to explicate spiritual paths. The question of occultism has wrecked more so-called spiritual paths than anything else in existence, so we should remain wary of verbiage on the subject.
We can call Gurdjieff a fraud, but we can’t call him a fraud, as an occultist. We are protesting, not just some falseness in a fourth way cult, but the exploitations of occultists.
And that tends to isolate us from the secularist discourse. I can easily navigate those extremes, for I am certainly a secularist, but what is a secularist?
In any case, all are welcome here, and we look at the issues from several perspectives.
But you and I share a sense, in dealing with a figure such as E.J.Gold, that there is more to cult exposes than the airing of scandals. We can see that some are able to outsmart all the critics, and never get caught, or so it seems. You know, Idries Shah was a critic of cults, these people are too clever to get caught in run of the mill cult games.
But to answer your question, there are many answers.
In plain terms, of course there is an authentic spiritual path… (I dislike the terminology, spiritual path)
History shows the legacy of Buddhism (I am not a Buddhist) in its canonical form generated from the Axial Age.
We cannot just dismiss that in the name of cult exposes.
More generally the problem is simply the chaotification of the means for man to come to the realization of his potential, and that chaotification has made the obvious obscure.
The ‘path’ of last resort is that human potential, man’s self-consciousness. It should be a plain matter, but it has become surrounded with an extravaganza of sophistries and exploitations.
The irony is that the ‘fourth way’, an idea stolen by Gurdjieff, expresses this ’embedded path’ as no more than the living of ordinary life, in ordinary life, lived with consciousness. Gurdjieff got the question upside down. The way of modernity, in principle, by demanding human freedom and autonomy, generates the real ‘fourth way’.
More generally your question is ambiguous, and frustrating, because how we answer will alienate one audience as against another.
So the answer to your question is to point to the species character of man, his distinctive potential for self-consciousness.
But your question betrays an ambiguity. We can’t answer to a Buddhist and satisfy a Christian, and vice versa. So the question fails, and waits upon its possible clarification.
I dealt with this in the first post on this blog (and before that at Darwiniana): there are only two ways, the movement in time, and the movement beyond or out of time. Sometimes we find the first by pursuing the second, but, as with the fourth way, we rarely find the first by itself, because the ‘path’ and the ‘passage of time’ are not distinct, hence there is, is not, a ‘path’ that is other than the passage of time, which may lead somewhere, or nowhere.
The path through time requires ‘will’, and we must find that, or be objects in time, a not very promising possibility.
As to paths, the Buddhists answered, of course, with a non-answer: meditation, which was simply a form of waiting on a new question, through the attempt to rescue the key to the whole issue, the power of attention.
We have cited Christopher Calder, with his essays on Rajneesh. He also had a page about meditation, to be taken with some circumspection, and yet he survived Rajneesh with a discipline of meditation, somehow. Good for him. It’s incredible, but Rajneesh nearly destroyed meditation, for his students, and the rest.
But meditation, what is that? Let’s say it is just sitting for a period of time. Note the cleverness of it: it is the path in time, perhaps the path beyond time will appear, else…
So note the point. Meditation isn’t the answer, it is just the path in time…