EmPulse for Week of December 27, 2010
you can’t get there from here
Road maps. Signs. MapQuest. Garmin. TomTom. Google Maps. Travel guides. Why is it that, no matter how strictly we follow them, we still get lost? The first time we visited a friend in New England he sent me a map with the “most-direct-route.” MOST DIRECT ROUTE?!? “…take a sharp right onto the dirt road that goes around the cow pasture toward Rupert Dump Road. Turn left past the dump.” I thought he was kidding. He wasn’t. Now that we live in New England we understand the phrase— you can’t get there from here, and its corollary—you don’t want to go there.
There are many road signs whose intent is to guide us to our destination, sometimes, even efficiently (baring traffic and the occasional herd of cows). Road maps are printed in most locations to reflect accurately what actually lies out there, on the real-road. The same is true for spiritual guides— the Christian Bible, Islam’s Quran, the Hindu Vedas (vaidika dharma) and their Bhagavad Gita, even the Analects, a collection of Confucius’ teachings compiled by his students. In more recent times there seems no end to self-help guides, seminars on success, personal awareness, cleansing the soul, overcoming just-about-anything, executive management, home management, dealing with teenagers, etc. All these— road maps & signs to help us along the way.
But how do we decide which guidebook or self-help course will work best for us? How do we decide which ones are genuine, which ones are fads, fakes, or just plain exploitive scams? History doesn’t offer much clarification; every world religion, every self-help course, has, at one time or another, gone very astray. So where can we verify that one course or guidebook is better or more true than any of the others? Might I suggest an examination of their polar representations. First, look at the origin, their founding documents— what was the character of the person who founded the religion, pioneered the movement, or laid down the “primary principles” to which its later adherents would dedicate their lives. Secondly, examine the contributions the followers of these creeds or philosophies have made to our world. How have they contributed to the good of mankind? What have they done to alleviate our world’s pain, feed its hungry, or to bring about peace? In what ways have they made a difference? These religions, or movements, or courses, will most likely have more to offer as you dig deeper into their inner workings. AND, you will, somewhere along the line, start to light up about their life-principles. If you don’t, well, you’re probably on the wrong road. Time to back-track, get a better map, follow a different route.
And try not to get m-o-r-e lost. Maybe you just need to bring a Navigator alongside. You can get there from here. But it is going to take some exertion on your part.
Have a nice week,