Friday, June 6, 2008

Levels of Spirituality - Part II

The evolution of the participants in a spiritual tradition goes from Adherent to Prophet to Divinity (though recall that among Abrahamic believers the idea of ascending to Divinity through one’s own efforts is generally considered heresy). The most common path for Adherents to take towards becoming Prophets is through immersion in the logos of their tradition. It is this study that most often leads to the mystical experience that transforms them into Prophets. The path from Prophet to Divinity is much more subjective and thus less well understood. But all such transitions involve the subject relinquishing the perception of uniqueness and ultimately abandoning the subject-object duality. How this is accomplished in the spiritual dynamic varies with the individual Prophet.

These levels of spirituality manifest concentrically with Divinity at the core, surrounded by Prophets who are in turn surrounded by Adherents. Where there are multiple Divinities in a given tradition, each distinguishable instance is simply a different face of the same underlying Transcendence.

Adherents often mistakenly believe that Prophets are responsible for leading them to the Divinity. But Prophets are typically still blazing their own trail to Divinity. And even as a given Prophet’s effort nears completion, the resultant path is only appropriate for that specific individual. In general, the Prophet is merely nurturing Adherents to become Prophets in their own right so that they can find their own paths to Divinity. The Prophets do this by providing the Adherents with the logos and an example to contemplate.

Adherents are bound to their spiritual tradition by the strength of their faith since they have no tangible proof of its validity. Once this proof arrives in the form of a life-changing mystical experience, the Adherent becomes a Prophet who is bound to the tradition by the power of that experience. Divinities cannot leave their spiritual traditions because they are what define the traditions. For a Divinity to abandon its spiritual tradition would be like water abandoning an ocean (where there is no water there can be no ocean).

Though the Divinity cannot leave the spiritual tradition based on it, sometimes the tradition is seen as abandoning the Divinity. It is typically revealed to a Prophet that the tradition has moved away from its source. Sometimes this movement is based on the logos moving away from its foundation to keep up with societal fads and at other times it is the result of provincial aspects of the logos not changing in the face of divinely inspired cultural advancements (distinguishing fads from legitimate advancements is the relevancy challenge of all traditions). In response to this divergence, the Prophet presents a new revelation that represents the spiritual tradition’s path back to the Divinity. Generally only a portion of the original Adherents will choose to follow this new path. This dynamic was the basis of the various spiritual reformations that have occurred through the ages.

Despite what the administrators in the typical spiritual bureaucracy (i.e., religion) would have you believe, every cleric is not a Prophet and every member of the laity is not an Adherent. While some Prophets are clerics, others are members of the laity and still others are heretics residing out beyond the periphery of the spiritual orthodoxy. Many clerics are Adherents who were certified by other Adherents in Prophet’s vestments. More than a few clerics are complete charlatans preying on the faith and gullibility of hopeful Adherents.

Most spiritual interpretations indicate that there are occasional eruptions of true Divinity scattered about our world. These Avatars (Descenders), Buddhas (Enlightened Ones), Tirthankars (Ford Makers), Gamur Tzaddiqim (Completely Righteous Ones), Christs (Anointed Ones), Mahdis (Guided Ones), Gurus (Teachers) and Saints (Holy Ones) are believed by some to walk embodied among us and by others to manifest spiritually in a form of the Transcendence to which Prophets and Adherents can relate.

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