I appreciated how Jordan Foltz’s article, “Prodigal Children: Returning to Covenant from the Spiritual Playground” [Dec. 23, Xpress], pointed out some of the less-than-admirable qualities of the New Age movement, especially how the spiritual community can now be as intolerant of the religious community as the latter has been of the former.
Perhaps the most salient distinction to make is not between the religious and spiritual camps, but between groups within them. In the religious community, you have those who prioritize rules over compassion; who would deny the rights of others, or even kill them, in the name of their God or dogma; who are small-minded enough to believe that their view of reality is right, and everyone else got it wrong; who are happy to degrade our planet while expecting their reward in the afterlife; and who blindly follow tenets that are disconnected from their true religion, having been devised solely to consolidate organizational power and control.
You also have those who use their religion as a structure to support a true experience of beauty, peace and divinity; who practice the humility taught by the religion’s founder; whose hearts are open to the suffering of fellow human beings; and who are selfless and kind enough to take action to alleviate that suffering.
In the spiritual community, you have those whose aim is to bypass their own shadow and avoid the hard work of honest introspection; who would rather be fixed by an angel, crystal or sneak-peaks into the future; who uncritically believe the most far-fetched notions; who speak about these notions as if everyone should share them; and who consume spiritual practices with a “the customer is always right” attitude.
You also have those who are courageous enough to seek their own truth rather than accepting what was fed to them; who fearlessly face whatever they turn up in their inner explorations; who endure the terror of ego dissolution to discover their connection to unitive consciousness; who maintain a spiritual practice for decades despite boredom and other discomforts; and who contribute to us all, not from the compulsion of good-deed doing, but rather from a joyful awareness that serving others and serving the self are identical.
— Ted Riskin