She had been told that everything she believed was wrong. The person who told her that had meant no harm. From his perspective, I’m sure he felt that his statement was true. His intent, one would hope, was perhaps to challenge her to explore other possibilities and consider alternative paths of thought and spirituality.
The result, however, was discord.
No one likes to be told they’re wrong. Even if they suspect they need a new approach or are looking to grow. We build upon what came before and make adjustments as we move along. It’s rare for any of us to feel comfortable with the idea that the slate needs to be wiped clean. We may modify our worldview and supplant previous conclusions with new ideas, but nobody starts from scratch. That’s like leaping out of an airplane with no parachute and trying to stitch together a new parachute on the way down.
My point is, it’s misguided to dismiss the religious and spiritual beliefs of any person, but especially that of a student. It’s easy for those of us who have been doing the same thing the same way for a very long time to presume that anyone who is curious about our path is capable of embracing the reality that however learned or educated our Way may be, us high muckity-mucks who are wrapped in those melodramatic robes and brandish our sacred wands made of ancient oak are really just fellow lunatics groping along in the darkness.
I’m one of those lunatics. If you ask, I’m quick to tell you exactly what I believe and why I believe it, and I’m just as quick to tell you where I think you’ve gone awry. But I never lose sight of the fact that I’m just as full of it as anyone else. None of us can prove a damned thing. So none of us have a right to lay particular claim to insight or divine providence. Anyone who lays claim to such metaphysical mumbo-jumbo is a charlatan to be avoided.
But wait… what’s this? Is a teacher saying that teachers shouldn’t be trusted?
Yeah. Pretty much. But perhaps not for the reasons you think.
You see, in my tradition, there is no one, true Way. There is no ancient Book of Shadows that’s been handed down through the generations from some remote and mysterious corner of the Old World. To suggest that such things should be revered as sacred is contradictory to everything that I believe, and my family lineage has believed. The spiritual path each of us must journey is unique to each of us. As such, there is no one-size-fits-all theology. If you find sacred texts that ring true to you, take from them what feels right and discard the rest. It’s fine to revere those texts as historical precedent or to consider them as historical artifacts of What Came Before, but don’t get carried away and start thinking that you can only find your Center by studying what a bunch of people believed Way Back When.
You are born knowing everything you need to know, spiritually speaking. It’s intuitive. But when we’re still kids they start telling us that we don’t know anything. They don’t ask us, “who are you?”. They ask us, “who are you going to be?” It’s not “what are you?”, but rather “what are you going to be?” When you grow up, what do you want to be? As if it’s wrong to be a kid somehow. As if its wrong to be a recent arrival on this planet. Sure, there are certain things we need to learn. No one arrives with a complete skill-set. But the inference is that we just don’t know anything and won’t have any real worth until some future date when we’ve gathered enough information to be trusted with the mantle of “Adult” or “Grown-Up”.
So we doubt ourselves.
Children walk in a world of wonder that can sometimes be hard for adults to relate to or remember. They are closer to the experience of being pulled from that wonderful fabric of the universe that we are all made from. They’re closer to the source. To them the Universe has not yet stopped being a source of wonder, because they still remember on some level being a part of that wonder. Sure, we all remain a part of the Universe however old we get, but it’s easy to forget or marginalize that experience as we get caught up in the day to day struggle for adult survival, progress and the accumulation of money and material goods.
What we forget is that, for all of our adult prejudices and preconceptions, a child’s honesty can be refreshing (if brutal at times). Children see the world as it is, not through the lens of what they want it to be or suspect it is not. It is the same with their spirituality. They feel the energy all around them. Why is it we all have an instinctual distrust of that area beneath the stairs? Why is it that, however we may abstract the experience, we can still become unsettled when we’re alone in the woods and the winds shift a certain way? We never lose that inerrant perception that we have as children. We just pile tons of our own detritus on top of it, and dismiss the reality of what our senses are telling us. Ever so often, the Universe reaches out and touches us, to perhaps remind us “you are not forgotten”. Those tend to be the moments when, in full daylight, we find ourselves scurrying into the house because we feel like we’re not alone. Usually, we’re not.
What is the point I’m trying to make here?
“She had been told that everything she believed was wrong”. That’s where we started, right?
In truth, she was the one who was right. They told a little girl that her grandmother could not have visited her in the night to say goodbye and tell her that she was loved. They told her that Grandma had died yesterday afternoon and was in Heaven now. They told her that it was okay to love Grandma and to miss her, but that she should accept that she was gone. It would be easier, and better for her in the long run.
But they were wrong. That’s why this is being written.
Grandma is with me now as I write this. I feel her presence. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t. However much they tried to tell me otherwise, I never doubted that Grandma visited me after she died. You know what you know. At the end of the day, it really is that simple. You know what you know. You always have. Trust yourself. Trust your own perceptions. Trust your own reality. This is your path. This is your journey, unique to you, and you are a single marvel in all the Universe. What is important is for you to make this journey and discover its wonders on your own, not obsess with finding spiritual knowledge in dusty old pages. You may find the marvels of mathematics in the pages of books, but you will never find the gods there. You are the gods. You are the breath of the gods. You are their life energy. You are a wonder. And a miracle.
You know what feels right to you. You should go with that. Always.