Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Natural Spirituality

"S co-aoise mise do'n daraig,
Bha nafhallain ann sa choinnicli,
S ioma linn a chuir ini romham,
'S gur mi comhachag bhochd na sroine."

("I am old as the oak . . .
whose mossy roots spread wide:
many a race have I seen come and go:
and still I am the lonely owl of Srona.")

"If you take the Christian Bible and put it out in the wind and the rain, soon the paper on which the words are printed will disintegrate and the words will be gone. Our bible is the wind and the rain."

* * *

Religion, for a lot of people today, is largely a matter of which building you go to. Sometimes you'll go on Sunday mornings; sometimes you'll go several times a week, but your church or mosque or synagogue has a fixed address; so does your temple, your meditation hall, or your spiritual "center".

When people ask- which people rudely do, in my parts- "where do you go to church?" They are asking many things, but the answer, if it is given, often comes in the form of a location. That answer tells the asker what "religion" you are, because in most areas, they know the names and addresses- if you go to "First West", you're Baptist; if you go to "Our Lady of Mercy", you're Catholic. If you say "White's Ferry Road", you're a member of the Church of Christ; if you say "I don't go to church", then you're nothing.

This came up in a conversation I was having with a friend the other day. People who belong to organized, revealed religions need to know your address line and affiliation, or you're "nothing". What? You mean you're not Catholic or Baptist? You don't go to the Assembly of God? You're just... nothing, then.

I've already pointed out that it's the nosy and narrow people in my neck of the woods that love to ask total strangers where they go to church; but the deeper issue I'm sensing is this idea that if you can't affiliate with a well-known (Christian) denomination, you're "nothing". To "be" a religion in the modern West implies association with a structure. "Unstructured" religious people- if they are at least Christian- are passed off as "non-denominational" in the US, and if they are not? Then, in the words of a lady I met in the park near my home:

"Well, I don't know where you belong, or what place you'll have one day, after the Lord has come in glory. But when your knee is made to bend on that day, I hope He's merciful."

I'll pass over the totality of the foolishness in this remark to focus on the first part- "I don't know where you belong." How could I tell that woman that I belonged right where I was, standing on the green earth, seeing the wind in the trees, and hearing birdsong? Her confusion stemmed from the fact that she had no conception of what natural spirituality is- for her, spirituality is not natural. It is taught; revelations and laws are shared from the source of revelations and laws (churches, books, and clergy) and people born naturally ignorant of them are made enlightened.

The Natural Way

My "religion"- my spiritual life-way- is natural. It is with you from the womb; it is also the womb; it was with you before the womb. You can't join it, because it has always had all of us. A person can be ignorant of it, or become aware of it, and choose to ignore it or defame it, but no one leaves it, because no one "came into" it. Because the world exists, and because we exist, it exists. It wasn't created, just as this world was not and we were not.

It's such a terrible thing to say that someone is "nothing" if they don't conform to the institutional definitions that this person or that person accepts as authoritative; it is a veiled attack, in many ways, on the basic sanity and natural confidence people have, buried deep inside them, which can yield lasting harmony in their lives. We have become so used to feeling like there is no guidance outside of the walls of revealed religious institutions that we have no trust in something deeper and more essential.

The voice of Sovereignty inside us is silenced. It was silenced for a reason- a calculated reason on the parts of some, and an ignorant obedience on the parts of others. The hearts of most of the "obedient" are good- but they are imprisoned by the machinations of others without realizing it. Some of the worst features of human nature have found a home in a righteous-seeming house. And they will try to get your address, every opportunity they can. If they can't find your address- if you happen to consider the world your home- they will try to reduce you to nothing.

Where is your liturgy? Your sacred book? Your church? Your congregation? Where is your allegiance? Without them, you cannot compare to us, the bearers of legitimate tradition- without them, we do not recognize you. You will wait in heathen ignorance until the last day, and may God have mercy on your soul...

...And this sad state of affairs is maintained by churches and other revealed religious organizations teaching children every day that "outside of these walls... there is no salvation" or the many variations on that theme that are intended to command people out of fear. There is a fear that keeps people in, and a fear that is projected at outsiders to draw them in; but more than the fear, is an ignorance that renders people helpless feeling. Without those walls around them, they cannot feel holy, forgiven, hopeful, or "on the path."

The apologists love to tell me how "fear" is not at all an issue, but sober people observing the situation can see full well that it is. Fear of being rejected, by man and by God on the last day; fear of being separated; fear of being condemned; fear of being removed from the eternal company- fear of being wrong. The Bible says it best:

"Work out your salvation with fear and trembling."

Love and fear cannot live in the same house, I say. I know the truth of this; I have seen it, lived it. I will teach my children this; I will share this with all who ask, and I will die believing it. I will not go to the ancestors and the powers of the Otherworld having disgraced my duty to love by mingling it with fear, and using fear as a tool against others.

Our Little Group Has Always Been...

Anyone who wants to belong to my spiritual path need only realize that they've always been a part of it. There are no initiations and terrible vows on the pain of hell or death. There is no fear of rejection by the natural way; there is no fear that it will not accept a man or woman. The natural way is not just a human way; the birds and beasts of the field belong to it, as well. They are part of my "gathering of the faithful."

The Spirit of all of us has belonged to the natural way for all time. It never entered that way; that way and it are together timeless. For many ages we have seen so much come and go- each of us who still follows the Old Way is like the lonely and wailing Owl of Srona, watching from the trees of time- and the collected essence of that wisdom we have accrued lives now forever in the poetry and lore of the past, and in the flame of poetry that smolders in seed-form inside us.

When we feel natural revulsion at people defining their religion by the address of a building or some institutional grouping, it is because the wisdom that runs deepest is speaking to us. It is moving us away from such dangerous powers of limitation, and re-asserting its belonging in the wide earth and sky- the only two altars that are suitable for the most sublime sacredness.

No building can contain the sacredness of things. No building can contain a God or a Goddess. No single human heart or soul can contain it; only all things together can express it; their wondrous inter-relationships are the constant speech of the sacred. No book can contain the most sacred poetry of the natural way; I will never give power away to books and congregations and "spiritual authorities". To do so would be to betray the most powerful and precious forces that my ancestors held in awe and veneration. To do so would spell the life-long death of spirit and poetry.

Placing the Omnipresent

The lady in the park couldn't "place" me, because she has strapped herself down to a place. My spirit (like hers and everyone else's- no matter how much they remain unaware of this) is not held down to a place or a name. The great arch and spiral of my spirit passes through everything, all times and places. The more I realize it, the more I surrender to it, the more I become a conscious participant in the sacred.

The more I realize it, the more painful the narrowness of others becomes, and the more I realize how important it is to live by the natural way and pass its peace onto others who are ready to accept their true place in things- that place that can't be given or taken away; the place that can't be accepted or declined.

Where is my "spiritual center"? It has no address... my center is everywhere. My church's walls are made of wind. The stained-glass windows I gaze at are made when sunlight passes through clouds and water droplets. The meditation gardens I wander through are forests; my congregation of spiritual partners walks, runs, flies, hops, crawls, slithers, gallops, prances, bounds, swims, leaps and grows.

1 comment:

  1. When I read this the first time this woman's comment just irritated me, on second take I think I am more saddened by it. It is painful to see people doing this sort of thing to themselves, whatever made people get the idea in the first place that we are not okay? Not pure? Not 'saved'? Not as we should be? Every other animal, every one of our spiritual partners in life, seems to know it's fine and be at home in it's skin and in it's world. How sad that some of this otherwise majestic species we belong to have forgotten such a feeling.