Wednesday, May 9, 2012
NO TWO WAYS ABOUT IT
I saw just now on facebook that the gay marriage amendment didn't pass. I forgot to vote today. Meant to on the way into town. Meant to on the way home. Felt no urgency about it, never imagining the voters in NC would go for it. The thing about it that makes me totally uninterested is that it's not about people or morality. It's about money; spouse benefits with Social Security and Insurance Corporations. I couldn't see insurance corporations allowing a new rush of outward money flow for a new kind of spouse that hadn't been considered. It saves insurance corporations billions. They did the math a long time ago. NC is a Baptist state and Baptists don't allow no deviation from what you're told. They're kind of like Nazis and Communists in that way. It's my way or the highway is the Baptist creed. My mother uses it to alienate people before they get too close. To keep anyone from taking an interest in her, she has to bring up the question of whether you know the Lord. If you do, then she's on to the next one. If you don't, look out. Here comes the Bible---this verse, that verse, you gotta, you needta, you oughta, you should, you better or else. I don't know if she's consciously aware she uses it for a stiff-arm. She uses it for control, too.
This Baptist state of mind I'm bringing up, that Jesus is the one and only way to the pearly gates, you gotta get saved or you're in for an eternity of hell fire among the devil, the demons and all the mean people that went to hell. Jesus offers eternal life. Of course, it's all true. The problem is the absolute. When religion becomes absolute, the spirit is gone. Check it out: Tea Party = Baptist minus the spirit. The problem I have with the absolutes of the Baptist religion is that nothing in this world is absolute, and God certainly doesn't hate, as Baptist preachers freely declare. God hates this and that non-conformity. I'm inclined to suppose that God likes non-conformity in his lovers. How else can one be in the world, not of it? My entire religious education is Baptist. I got the theology down pretty good. It's why I left the church at the same time I left parents. It took a long time to get my mind to stop looking at everything in absolute terms. A very long time. Once I was able to think about God in a bit freer terms, like living instead of in a tiny box. There is just one way to the pearly gates, to the tree of life.... It's true, there is just one way. The Way.
When Jesus said he is the Way, he meant it literally. He is so in tune with the Way that he is the Way. It doesn't mean Krishna cannot be the Way, too. Ramakrishna is the Way, too. Every individual who comes in tune with the Way becomes the Way. Jesus was saying I and the Way are one. I take the Way to be the spiritual path, which is different for each individual concerned. The Tao in the East translates literally the Way. The Tao te Ching doesn't tell what the Way is, because it can't be told. It illustrates the nature of the Way. Baptists take hold of this and say Jesus is the one and only Way, no man comes to the Father but by Him (Jesus, the Way), and you gotta get saved or you're going to hell in a rocket. I don't believe God is that much an absolutist. Thinking in absolutes comes from the human mind, "the world." If I'm going to be in the world, not of it, I have to let go of thinking in absolutes. It's not just black and white. It's all the colors in between. Given that in terms of light, black is absence of light and white is full light. Everything between 100% black and 100% white is not necessarily gray. Between is the spectrum, the colors.
I believe the core of what Baptists believe, the need for the Master to guide one through this world of illusion. The need for a spiritual Master, in this case Jesus. What I can allow that the Baptist mind cannot allow is that someone can have Ramakrishna for his Master, or Zarzarizar Baksh, or Shirdi Sai Baba, or Sri Upasni Maharaj, or Meher Baba. I can allow a Hindu to practice his religion's guidelines with the same belief of his validity as a Baptist, my mother. But she can't allow it that a Hindu that worships idols can go to heaven. She's a great believer in punishment, another Baptist issue, and control. Some years ago watching the evening news with Regular Baptist preacher, Millard Pruitt, in the time of the Ayatollah and burning American flags for the television cameras. He said, "There's no religion over there. There's no religion outside these United States. There's no religion outside the state of North Carolina. I'd go so far as to say there's no religion outside Alleghany County." I said, "And there's no religion outside that chair you're sitting in." "No," he said, "I wouldn't go that far." I said, "That's the direction you're headed." He said, "I wouldn't go that far." I can't hold with the virgin birth, either.
I have found the Way of Jesus to be the same as the Way of the Tao, as the way of Rama, the way of Krishna, the way of Zoroaster. It's all the same Way. It is the Way that "no man can come to the Father but by me (the Way)." Every individual (soul) has his/her own mountain to climb. A Master who has been up the mountain and knows the way is the only one who can guide us on our climb. I'm not saying all this to try to convince you of something you don't believe. That's not my concern. I'm articulating for myself just what I mean by the Way and why a Master is necessary as a guide. I've never been able to talk to a Baptist about this, because once I step outside the bounds of what you're supposed to believe according to some preacher, you're the same as lost, heading down the road to hell. My favorite word for what I am is bold. I will talk back to a preacher. That's bold. It's bold in that it does not conform to party line. It sets me out on my own, where one must be bold to make it.