The word ‘religion” comes from the Latin and means-essentially-“reconnecting.” The idea is that , on one level, we are already fully connected to God. How can we not be? However, our consciousness of that connection is inevitably obscured, to one degree or the other.
Our spiritual journey is all about reestablishing our conscious contact with God. This journey happens in the following order, if it happens at all. The one caveat is that each of these seven steps is like being on the rung of a ladder (Wilber). Clearly, not everyone climbs to the top of the ladder. Frustratingly, we humans can only see reality from the rung of the ladder upon which we are standing. We are convinced that only we see the ultimate truth of things. With that realization in mind, let us today take a brief look at each of these steps.
1. Gross– The word “gross” does not imply anything evil. Some folks are, however, caught, trapped, in the world of money, sex and power. “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die.” That is the first rung of the ladder.
2. Literal, Archetypal– Since we are clearly wired for something more than our “gross” level, (again, the “gross” is not evil), we are “easy pickings” for the stories that form the basis of our religions of origin. This is so because all of the stories of the great religions of the world are ultimately true, but not necessarily literally true. On this second rung of the ladder, however, we embrace it all on a literal basis, lock, stock and barrel.
3. Rational– As we become educated and as we learn to question things, many people “write off” all that they have been taught. Angels? Virgin births? A parting of the seas? Miracles? Walking on water? Being raised from the dead? Please. Such beliefs, we here conclude, only make sense to children.
4. Allegorical– Having rejected the above “nonsense”, we are still feeling “off-center.” Then, perhaps an awakening! We re-visit the stories from our youth and discover that all that we have been taught is true, just not literally true. This is akin to discovering the wisdom of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, even though we never for a moment think that the tales are meant to be taken literally. Rather, they are metaphors that speak to our own inner growth.
5. Universal- Freed up from the prison of the literal, we can now see universal truth all around us. We appreciate each religion as carrying a piece of the puzzle. We are at home in the rituals of our own and all religions.
6. Integral- Here we may find ourselves going beyond any and all religions. We ask ourselves, what are the universal principles, psychological truths and metaphysical realities behind each religion? We begin to intuit and to integrate what each religion is trying to say. Surprisingly to ourselves, we may feel that, having rediscovered the purpose and value and truth of religion (often at great personal cost to ourselves), we no longer feel the need to practice or even belong to any religion anymore. Once we have crossed the river in a boat, why put the boat upon our shoulders as we continue our journey?
7. Unitive– Like Saint Thomas Aquinas, who wrote volumes of theology, and then, having had a first hand experience of God, and thereafter put down his pen and never wrote another word, we feel that we have been “saved” and “delivered” from blindness.
We, like Saint Thomas, are humbly aware of God as “Beauty, Truth and Goodness.” We have become reconnected with God.
Next posting: The Tin Man
To sign up to be notified each time there is a new posting (every two weeks), click onto the Follow icon at the bottom of any page on your desktop and enter your e-mail address. If, for some reason, you do not get a posting, please check your Spam folder