A syncretic approach to esoteric teachings - the golden threads that connect Pagans, Yogis, Rosicrucians and Masons.
Annika Mongan makes a wonderful point in her blog post of March 28, 2014 - namely, that public scandals in Christian communities have a particularly demoralizing impact on their members, because Conversion promised them that Faith and the Holy Spirit would make them spiritually healthier than the rest of the world. I agree, but I don't think that Christians have a corner on those feelings. The same expectations, just expressed in different words, have applied to every spiritual community I have ever joined.
In high school, I was an acolyte and president of my church's Methodist Youth Fellowship. It was hard for me to understand why my father, who was active on the Board of Trustees, suddenly decided after 8 loyal years to take our family out of the church due to social friction with other Board members and political disagreements with the new Ministerial staff. I had been taught that we were all members of the Body of Christ, and that we prized agape - divine brotherly love - above all else. Why was my Dad so out of touch with what our Youth Ministers had been teaching me every week? Could there be other realities, separate from the rosy picture that had been painted for me in Sunday School?
It was 20 years before my wife and I were ready to join another spiritual community, and this time we chose a New Thought Church - one of those Course in Miracles, Science of Mind-ey sorts of places. Far less hierarchical and more New Agey than traditional Christianity, everyone there was kookie and sweet and accepting of differences. Surely, this time we had found the community that would live up to its stated Spiritual principles.
Six years later, my deceased Dad must have laughed his ass off from the Summerland, when as president of the Board of Trustees I found that I could no longer support our Center because of revealed sexual deviancies and suppressed arrest records among the people leading it! A year after we left, the organization imploded and ceased to be.
At that time I was getting into Yoga Teaching in a big way, and I became impressed with the spiritually-minded Hindu Gurus who had come to America in the 1960's and 70's. Surely these guys would be the real thing; they certainly seemed authentic in their books, lectures and video tapes! Thoroughly disgusted with the hypocrisy of Western religious institutions, I fled into the arms of the Yoga community and Hinduism - still looking for that environment where people would be open-minded and non judgmental.
I was disappointed again. For every true foreign saint, there were 4 others who took sexual advantage of their Western followers. American and British women who had whole-heartedly converted to Hinduism, and were taken home to India to meet their husbands' families, were refused entry into old family temples by closed-minded priests who refused to accept that anybody could be a Hindu who was not born one. And when their husbands got back into the bosoms of their families, they began treating their Western wives like the same sort of third-class citizens their mothers and sisters had always been - a restricted status quo which the Indians were used to, but was insulting and frustrating for women who had been raised with the freedoms of the West.
My most recent Odyssey has brought me here, into the land of Paganism - where once again I expected to finally find the Promised Land of tolerance, love and acceptance; I mean, surely such a SMALL splinter-group of society, which had been put down, discriminated against and superstitiously feared for so many generations, would have created a haven for themselves where all would be welcomed - and judgments of prejudice and criticism would never be allowed!
Once again, as we all know, my expectations were proven naïve and unrealistic. Because, as it turns out, the problem with human communities is not their avowed principles - the problem with human communities is human beings!
But this time, thank Goddess, I'm experienced enough in the miscommunications and misinterpretations of the Internet to stop running and stay where I am. There are plenty of gentle, eclectic souls here who feel the same way I do - and for the rest, I am content with my personal beliefs and feel no need to justify myself to anyone who disagrees with me. I'm old, already; am I supposed to care about such disagreements, at this stage in my life?
It seems that some people are never happy unless they are putting down somebody else; so, let them interpret my writings in whatever way their particular minds work. It has nothing to do with the real me - or the real them, since none of them has ever invited me to meet and have a nice long chat in person (except for Terence Ward, but we live too far away from each other) - so I don't need to let it affect me. I send them Bright Blessings and let them go on their way.
I have enough REAL problems in my life. I don’t need to obsess over getting the approval of people I've never even met. And I certainly don't need to pull up stakes again, to pursue a mirage on the desert's horizon.
If human beings are the problem, then it stands to reason that human beings like me have to be the solution. As a real Hindu saint, Gandhi, reminds me, I have to be the change I want to see in the world.