The Bewilderness Adventure: Where Do I Begin?
I occasionally get emails from people asking for specific spiritual advice or direction, but it's generally difficult to know what to say except that you have to proceed as if your hair is on fire. Normally, this kind of enthusiasm cannot be manufactured, which means that the Raccoon approach pre-selects for a certain kind of person whose hair is already on fire. My job is just to pour on more gasoline.
So it's a bit like asking how to be a professional basketball player. Easy. First, grow to 6' 6". Next....
One of the inevitable problems is that religion (at least in its presentation, not in its essence) is geared for the average mentality, not the exceptional. It's very much like the educational system, which, in order to reach as many people as possible, surrenders depth for breadth. Of course, it didn't used to be that way. Until relatively recently, education was restricted to a class of intellectual elites. Now we have the idea that everyone should go to college, which is one reason why a college education is so meaningless now.
The left was at least clever enough to realize a generation ago that college serves mainly the social function of prodding this herd of intellectual mediocrities to think the same way. This is the reason why your average professor has the identical thoughts as your average MSM journalist. They are the modern day equivalent of medieval peasants who all believed the same thing about religion. Thus, the more "educated" you are, the more likely you are to believe in all sorts of nonsense, from global warming to the redefinition of marriage. Is anyone thinking of global warming today, when we have an actual crisis on our hands?
But the comparison between college and religion only goes so far, as it excludes the element of grace, which is a necessary condition for any spiritual growth. While I am happy to report that grace is everywhere, nevertheless, it is highly focussed in some areas, which is one of the primary purposes of a traditional religion: to serve as a "channel" or focus for grace to operate.
I was just reading about this yesterday in a book about Guenon, who wrote that there is a "spiritual presence" that is activated through the collective work of an initiatory group. You know, "whenever two or more gather in my name," etc. This is obviously a real phenomenon, and is one of the exciting possibilities of the internet. We don't want to trivialize it, but the point is, there really is a Coonosphere, a sort of morphic space that opens up as a result of all these individuals around the world vibrating at the same spiritual frequency.
Rooth speculates that perhaps this presence "manifests in some way at the point where the 'lines of force' between the participants intersect, as if its 'descent' had been summoned directly by by the combined effect of these 'forces' at this particular point providing it with an appropriate support."
So in a way, it is analogous to building a radio tower to pick up the radio waves. We aren't creating them, merely receiving and amplifying them. Obviously, all rituals are intended to accomplish this, as are meditation and prayer.
Well, out of time. I'll just reproduce some of the letter, and toss it out to the community, as I am sure there are many of you in the same boat. It's no one you know, but I think I'll omit some of the identifying details anyway:
"I find myself at a crossroads in my life... I’ve been reading your blog now (as I did your book!) for some time, and I’ve even started reading more Schuon (among others) in an attempt to make sense of what I 'feel,' at least in comparison to what (intellectually) I know to be true… But I must say, it’s not always a pretty picture, and I’m hopeful that with your kind indulgence, I can posit a question or two as to where a lost raccoon might find a warm spot in which to rest his weary bones….
"I’m *** years old, and am in the process of getting divorced after a rather difficult marriage of nearly *** years… In that time, my growing interest in spiritual matters has actually contributed to the schism that exists between me and my (soon to be) ex… And although I’m certainly sad and somewhat depressed at the breakup of the marriage, it is an opportunity for me to more freely explore that 'itch' that has been growing within me for many years now…
"I consider myself an intellectual, but that only means it’s probably harder for me to understand and accept the role that (a lack of) faith and belief have in my (lack of) personal spiritual experiences… In reading your blog and the writings of Schuon (et al), I’ve come to realize that I need more specific tutelage in the esoteric traditions that I’ve come to 'feel' are true in my heart… My question for you then, is how does one go about finding a 'master' willing to take me on as a student???
"There are several Eastern Orthodox churches in the area -- do they offer the best path towards my salvation??? Or is the road I’m on now, one of more individual learning through my readings and subsequent ponderings a more fruitful approach??? I was raised as a Catholic, and have some inner distrust of the main organized religions for some reason -- I’m worried that any organized church will welcome me as a 'paying customer,' but not really welcome a 'raccoon,' who is after personal enlightenment/transcendence, rather that joining the congregation in solving world peace (maybe I’m being selfish here, but I’m trying to save myself first, then I’ll worry about the rest of the world!)…"
"Anyway, I’m hoping that the experiences in your own life may help me answer some of the questions that I have in mine…
"Thanks for your time, and keep up the good work on the blog -- it truly has been an inspiration to me in terms of helping me more clearly understand what I’m looking for in life…"