It might not be apparent from my wordiness, but I really do like to keep things simple. And the basics of spirituality, philosophy, religion, the meaning of life – whatever you want to call it – can be as simple as 1, 2, 3.
There's no magic in a trinity, of course. Plus, there's any number of different 1, 2, 3's. That's one of the principles of my 1, 2, 3, which yesterday I described in a comment addressed to Brad.
My questions, of course, could be directed to anybody. Including myself. Here they are.
(1) Brad, do you believe that you know the truth about the cosmos? Or at least, that you are on a path leading to knowledge of this truth? (yes, no, don't know)
(2) Brad, if you answered "yes" to 1, do you believe that other people could find this truth in different ways? (yes, no, don't know)
(3) Brad, do you believe that a cosmos-truth seeker would make an unbroken progression toward knowing this truth, or would the path to truth take unexpected twists and turns, impossible to predict in advance? (unbroken, unexpected, or don't know)
My answers are (1) Don't know, (2) Yes (even though I didn't answer "yes" to #1), (3) Unexpected.
This says a lot about myself. I'm looking forward to getting Brad's answers, because I think they will similarly reveal some basics about where he's coming from philosophically.
These questions popped into my head, and I didn't give much thought to them before including them in my comment. Still, I think they're a good way of sorting out fundamentalists from open-minded people.
I like Question #1 because most religions and spiritual paths presume a "yes" answer from adherents. Yet I consider myself to be a serious spiritual seeker, and I find it easy to answer "don't know." In fact, given my Taoist (and Unitarian) leanings I can't imagine offering up any other response.
In my true believing days, though, I would have said "yes." No problem. A Yes to #1 does not a fundamentalist make, unless it's accompanied by a No to #2.
(Upon further consideration, as above, I now see that #2 can be answered regardless of the answer to #1 – if #2 is rephrased to say "Assuming that it's possible to know the ultimate truth about the cosmos, do you believe that people could find this truth in different ways?")
I asked this of Brad, because from his previous comments he strikes me as a No-man on this question. I could be wrong, of course. But I get the impression that he thinks that because I no longer follow the strict Sant Mat/RSSB party line, I've meandered off of the only path to divine truth.
This presumes, of course, that there's only one way to knowing the Big Truth Upstairs (or Inside). Recently someone emailed me about my seeming flight from orthodoxy, after writing a book – "Life is Fair"— that was published by RSSB.
I told the person:
I haven't "left the path," as you put it. I'm still very much on the path. Only difference is, I no longer believe that there's only one way along the path, or that there's only one path. This is, by the way, just what Gurinder Singh [current RSSB guru] says, from what I hear. So all I've left is the religious or fundamentalist aspect of Sant Mat, which I consider to be progress rather than backsliding.
Then there's question #3, about a path to truth being predictably straight, or marked by unexpected twists and turns. From my reading of the most respected mystical and spiritual literature, there's virtually universal agreement that twists and turns is how the road to truth is laid out.
Why, the very word "conversion" implies an abrupt about turn. Fundamentalists simply consider that there's only one abrupt turn allowed on a spiritual, mystical, philosophical, or religious path – the one that brings a person to a particular set of dogmas.
Any further changes of direction are a no-no, which is why Brad (and others) take me to task for not sticking with a certain way for my entire life. This is precisely how a religious fundamentalist would think, but it's not how genuine mystics look upon the "wayless way."
If your perspective on life, consciousness, and the cosmos isn't changing, you're stuck in a dead zone. Or, I suppose, you could be at such an exalted spiritual level that you've reached the peak of Mount Truth and have nowhere else to go.
Unlikely. Very unlikely. Which is why my three questions are a good guide to sorting out the open-minded seekers from the closed-minded fundamentalists.
By their answers, you shall know them.