New and Old

The heart of many spiritual traditions has yet to be entered. There’s a lot of talk today about moving beyond religion and traditional spirituality, and I can definitely relate to that. But I think we don’t really understand, when we say things like that, the heart of any religion has a mystery at its center that is not “old” or “new.”

For the majority of us, it remains unexplored. Save the priests and the monastic life style they kept, this contemplative mystery is only really beginning to be “democratized” in the modern world. With book shops teaching us how to meditate and yoga classes on every city block, we think we’ve “modernized” the traditions, taken what was good about them and shared them with the masses. This is true, I’m sure to a point, but the heart of any “old” tradition is not old. The eternal spring at the center of every faith is an open invitation for all. So I don’t feel so strongly about “tossing out” this or that. Just clearing the clutter. Leaving the mind and heart open for the divine. This is as primordial and perennial a tradition as can possibly be, yet it is ever new and never turning us away from the path.

So is it really about integrating modern skepticism and other cultural baggage – or is it about leaving our baggage at the door of the temple and stepping in without any preconceptions? That’s what healthy spiritual traditions did. They may have been situated in a particular culture, but the wisdom was not of any one culture or tradition. That is why so many “realized masters” can sit in silent and resounding acknowledgement of each other. This Way is no Way in particular.

At the heart of the tradition was a mystery that belonged to no one, not even the temple itself. Can we be like our ancestors and revisit this place of mystery, and make room for the divine? The inner chambers of the temple are now open for us to visit, if we would just leave our shoes and suitcases at the door.

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