Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Many Different Paths

Which path are you following?

You may well counter this question with "path to what?".  I could, for example, have headed my article as "Spiritual Paths".  But that would make it too narrow.  "Personal Development Paths" is another possibility, but for those who DO want to find out more about spiritual paths that might be too narrow also.

Frequently people ask me "what path should I follow?".  Without wishing to seem evasive, my reply would usually be something along the lines of "what path do you WANT to follow?" or "what path do you FEEL you should follow?".  The reality is there are very many paths, many of which are "right" and "good".  The "right" path for you may well be very different from the "right" path for someone else, even if that person is a close friend and lives right next door.

You should begin your search with that in mind.  There is no "one right path" to follow, no matter what anyone may tell you.  When you find the path you are following feels absolutely right and is giving you great results it is very tempting to become evangelical about it.  You tell everyone around you how great it is and try to convince them they should follow the same path.  Now there is nothing wrong with wanting to share your good fortune and help those around you gain similar benefits.  But it is a very small step from that to starting to tell people that the paths they are following are wrong and that they must stop following them and follow yours.  That is most definitely NOT the right thing to do.

This applies in all walks of life.

Take "spiritual path" for example.  Most people, if they follow a spiritual path at all, choose to follow the one followed by their parents, their friends, and the people around them.  There are many different spiritual paths, and the fact that your parents followed one does not necessarily make it right for you.  The fact that most people in your culture follow a particular spiritual path does not mean that is the path for you.  Do not misunderstand me, though, when I refer to "spiritual path".  I am not necessarily talking here about religion, although changing spiritual paths can sometimes mean changing religion.  But if you have a strong belief and find that belief helpful I would not want you to try changing that belief - just to find the path within that belief which seems to work best for you.  For example, if you are a Christian you may find you wish to use a mystical path.  You may follow the spiritual exercises of Ignatius Loyola.  Maybe you wish to follow a more devotional path, and for example use "The Imitation of Christ" by Thomas à Kempis as your guide.  If you are a Protestant, the fact that both the authors I have mentioned here were Catholic should not deter you, as their exercises are not really exclusive to one denomination.  Alternatively, find authors within your denomination who have outlined appropriate practices you can follow - if you look hard enough you will certainly find them.  Like me, you may find a silent or near silent Quaker meeting works best for you.  Or you may simply find regularly attending the church or chapel in which you were raised, and following the advice given in ministry or sermons is the right approach.  As a Muslim you have similar choices.  Likewise a Buddhist, Hindu, or whatever faith is the faith of your own culture.  There are meditational, mystical, devotional, and practical paths that can be followed in all the main religions.  Or you may wish to belong to no religion at all and follow a spiritual path - there are many such paths you can follow, most of which will work to make you a better and more spiritual person.

With personal development, there are again so many different paths you can follow.  As I have stated in a recent article, very many of them are good and will give you the results you need if you persevere with them.  That is the key, of course.  Persevere.  And know the difference between needing to keep going in order to get the right results and flogging a dead horse that is never going to be right for you.  Ultimately you will probably find you can combine elements from different systems and create your own unique path.  But do not be in too much of a hurry to do this.  Remember, the people who created these systems made lots of mistakes along the way and found the right way to counter those mistakes.  The danger of picking and choosing elements from different systems too early is that you will make the same mistakes yourself and not know the best way to get back on the right path - or maybe even not realize you have made the mistakes at all.

If your search is for the right occult path, there are again many from which to choose.  You may, though, wish to start with the underlying mystery teachings of either the country in which you live or the culture from which you come.  Whilst it is possible to use teachings from a mystery school not connected with either you will find it a much harder, more uphill struggle, and you may find the results are not as clear as they otherwise might be.  For those of us in the West, one of the main mystery schools is hermetic wisdom,  the combination of Tarot and Qabalah instruction which has been used in many secret societies and which is now readily and openly available if you look hard enough.  If you are in the UK, then you may also consider the practices of Wicca.  In the United States you may consider using Native Indian practices.  A little further south and you may wish to explore Toltec sorcery.  For those of you from the East, or who are more comfortable with Eastern philosophy, the Tantric Yoga system from which the chakra theory so common in "New Age" practices arose, may be most appropriate.  Those of you in Australia may consider turning to the Aboriginal culture, which is filled with wisdom which can help.  And those in New Zealand should look carefully at the wisdom teachings of the Maori culture.  Or in both cases, if you are not of Aboriginal or Maori descent yourself, look to the culture from which you are descended - perhaps coming back to the hermetic tradition or Tantric yoga.

Whatever path you are trying to follow, remember that the "truth" itself is something that cannot simply be expressed in words understood by all.  It is much deeper than anything we can express in that way.  The end result is that there are many different systems which all express the truth in different ways using different means.  Pursue your path diligently and you will be rewarded.  But never fall into the trap of believing that because your path is right for you it must be right for everyone.

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