While I am on eternal hold with HP Support, I thought I would post a little something more. Lent is a journey with a clear goal – Easter. But is our spiritual life always oriented toward one, clear, defined goal? I know I often think that way, but here are some words of challenge from two of our gnostic brethren. I don’t necessarily agree, but their positions are well worth pondering. Stephen Hoeller is the bishop of Ecclesia Gnostica. John Michael Greer is a bishop in the Universal Gnostic Church (and is not a Christian – the UGC encompasses both Christians and non-Christians). First, Stephan takes on the notion that there is a unified goal to the spiritual journey, rather than continued, varied growth.
The experience of living teaches us that life has no static objective. Humanity and nature are forever becoming, but never fully become. We grow, not in order to arrive at a fixed level of growth, but because growth is essential to our own well-being. When we move from one area of experience to another, we remain as we always have been – a center of consciousness moving through an ever-changing panorama of activity and environment. To accept that life is purposeful and meaningful does not inevitably lead to the conclusion that its objective is any particular condition or place. Indeed, the true reason for the journey may be the journey itself. (Stephan Hoeller, The Fool’s Journey, p.118)
And then John Michael challenges the easy pluralism of “all paths lead to the same destination.” Rather, he sees us beginning from our common humanity and journeying forth in a number of genuinely different directions.
If different people have different spiritual needs, which are best met by different religions, this suggests that there may be no common ground to the spiritual quest whatsoever, and that people may be justified in pursuing radically different means, goals, and ends in the spiritual dimensions of their lives.
A common pluralist metaphor pictures the goal of spiritual endeavor as the peak of a mountain, and the various religions as ways up the mountain from different directions. The point of view argued in this chapter stands this metaphor on its head. Imagine a green and fertile valley surrounded by peaks of various heights and shapes. From the central valley, different paths lead outwards to the different peaks, and those who wish to do so may attempt to climb one, or more than one. Each trail and each peak offers a unique view of the valley below; no one view is better or more complete than any other, though each has its special advantages. (John Michael Greer, A World Full of Gods, pp.138-139)
What do y’all think? Feel free to throw down in the comments! (I believe I am finally getting through to a tech, so will sign off for now.)