Frequently adherents to "One True Way" types of theologies begin their discussions with phrases like, “I was taught that such and such is the way it is” or “I read that such and such is how things are…” and that is all fine and good. In point of fact, it is good to gain perspective in the teachings of others. To read the books, watch the video clips attend the meetings or churches and study to your heart’s content. All too often however, people get these theories in their heads, these details, and they take them as fact, as truth, and they believe it as the way it is. This simply isn’t the case. Logic dictates that with so many people out there each having so many different theories they simply cannot all be right. It isn't as much an improbability as an impossibility, Occam’s razor to a “T.”
I'm all about the obtaining of information, I myself prefer to be well informed. However, I would feel it detrimental to only examine a one sided viewpoint or perspective. While the gathering of information is a valuable tool for learning it can become ones greatest limitation if they look no further than the dogmatic information they've accepted as the "one true way." They are able to go on and on and give examples, drop names, provide you with dates and ignore the fact that there is no actual evidence proving or disproving their accepted gnosis. They may be very eloquent in their presentation, logical and very intelligent but they are missing one thing, proof. Of course there is experience that many people go on. Perhaps they had an epiphany at some point in their lives. For example, many claim to have seen a spirit or a ghost with their own eyes, who am I to dispute that? Truth be told, I never would, I have had my own experiences that I cannot prove, the likes of which were unbound by the limitations imposed by labels, numbers, books and whatever else I was told to believe.
I respect the beliefs of others, I really do, and I admire how much study and research detail seekers do, the problem for me personally would be that the details would only limit me. If you go by some doctrine, for example, if you are raised Christian and you see a “light being” you will immediately assume it is an angel. Meanwhile, a Wiccan might believe it is the Goddess, perhaps even a specific Goddess they may have been studying or thinking about at the time. In my opinion, that discourages the continuation of seeking, of continuing to ask questions. One can become limited by their own philosophy. The clearest example I see of this, especially in chat rooms and forums where many people with different theologies come together, is the great debate between Christians and Pagans. Too many Pagans say that Christians are limiting themselves and that their beliefs are based on a book that is just an interpretation of someone else’s interpretation of someone else’s interpretation. All the while, they fail to realize that their own theology is exactly the same thing.
If you accept one theology, you must accept the possibility at least, of all of them. Accept them, read about them, learn about them but making them a limitation rather than a learning tool is futile. With these subjects, no one can truly know and anyone who says they do is selling something and that is the real one true thing. All the other truths within the categories of spirituality and religion, even philosophy are entirely subjective and totally personal. One person’s theology is not better or worse than another’s, though it may be more limiting. If a person buys into the “one true way” interpretation of a thing that is what they will get, one true way, for some that is enough, for others it is not. I don’t want a “one true way” sign limiting the directions I might feel compelled to go in, do you?
If you box your interpretation and label it and come to believe it is the only way to experience a thing then you will have only that one way of experiencing it, effectively cutting yourself off from all the other rich experiences you could have had. In the context of this content it is the epitome of the expression, "the Devil is in the Details." I don’t believe in the Devil per se, but I do believe that the overall saying applies. For me the saying means that the details are the elaboration of the mind or of one's thoughts, perhaps based on study and research or something they were brought up being spoon-fed to the point of total unquestioning faith. Details could be based on a person's own personal experience as well. Some sort of epiphany that led them to believe the way they do. In that case the question becomes are they taking into account all the variables? Are they simply moving forward with respect, gratitude and humility? Are they allowing the one experience to cut them off from all others?
Either way, folks spend time and energy on their conclusions, they are making an investment in them as surely as if they were dropping ducats in the plate at church. Since the mind and the thoughts it generates are derived of Ego what comes out of the mind often suits its interests and the details make it possible to do that. The process of pinning on the details only serves to separate theologies so people can do what people do which is to stand there and say, "Mine is better than yours." Of course that further perpetuates the "mine and yours" attitude. Once, long ago, I wondered at this self perpetuated disconnection. Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” That sentiment seems at the very core of what compels me to write this piece.
At the end of the day your ideas about religion or spirituality are just that, yours. As much as we live in a world where it's all for sale and folks feel compelled to show off their shiny bobbles and keep their bought and paid for certificates of achievement and title well dusted and well lit, that's just the physical. The physical world and physical experience are only a portion of what make up a balanced perspective. The more ideas one entertains, as suggested by Aristotle, the more potential there is to expand knowledge and knowledge becomes wisdom when experience comes into play and that comes from living whatever your truth is, not labeling it properly or backing it up with historical evidence.
No one can tell you how to live your life in a spiritual or religious way. Sure they can try but ultimately since you are only accountable for your own actions those are what you would answer for, so ask yourself, are they the type of actions you find acceptable to be accountable for? Your actions shape who you are, who you are with and much of your experience or lack of it. Whether a person is handed a religion at youth to adhere to until death or one has forged their own spiritual path to walk, changing the terrain as they go along, it is still more about how they live their life, the example they set.
We all know right from wrong, that is innate, so at the end of our lives or even now as you walk your path it isn't about who you're walking it for, it's about how you are walking it. Walk it for Jesus, Buddha, God, Muhammad or any of a myriad of others and it still isn't about walking it for them or what someone told you their message is, it's about walking it so well that you become it. Ultimately, it's really about connection, whether it's through prayer or meditation or for a Christian or a Taoist, where the details disappear so too does the path itself as you become it. Whether you did it through prayer or meditation or spinning around and around it isn't about the connector, it's about the connection. Connection to a thing that is always in flux is not always totally physical in nature and is never the same for two different people. Define it or do it, the choice is yours.
Those devoted to doing are as easy to spot as those who are devoted to detailing it and I'm for both takes on it when there is balance. In fact, it may be that a well-rounded experience comes in doing both, in balance. At the end of the day it will show. It will show in how you communicate, how you treat others and how you treat yourself. It will have to do with how you conduct yourself not only when things are going well but also when things aren't going well. It will show in what you're priorities are, what your attachments are, what your habits are, it will show. The way it manifests might be physical, mental or spiritual in nature and yes, it will show. It shows in the eyes, it is demonstrated by ones manner and it is effortless, you've seen these people before, they are hard to miss.