TAKE A WALK WITH ME: The Road of Religion and the Path of Spirituality

According to the wise words of Robert Plant, “Yes there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run there’s still time to change the road you’re on.” Far be it from me to offer you an absolute interpretation as to what that lyric from Stairway to Heaven actually means, either to Robert Plant or you the listener. Quite honestly I don’t know if I would even presume to tell you what that lyric means to me in any absolute way and I believe that is because I don’t think in such terms. I do however believe that it probably wouldn’t hurt so much if I placed an option on the table of ideology and allow all of you to make up your own mind. If what I say appeals to your palette then by all means serve thyself; if not pass the pot and I’ll be none too offended.

 

Many great parables use the concept of paths or roads to make a point or bring about a process of thinking. The lyric from Stairway, the road less taken, the straight and narrow versus the broad path to destruction, you get the idea. When I first started with ZENINTHECAR.COM I suppose this concept was probably somewhere in the back of my psyche as well, only rather than focusing on the path, I intended to rather put more emphasis on the vehicle itself that is on the path. One could draw the conclusion that the vehicle on the road of life is the body and I wouldn’t argue with you; however what I would do is also ask that you incorporate the ego as well. Think of the two in a symbiotic relationship, after all if a car represents the body then surely the driver represents the ego, essence, or spirit if you prefer. Neither is going anywhere if both are not in some sort of working relationship.

 

Like anything, a car is neutral. It has no free will of its own but merely goes or does what it is commanded to do by the operator. A car can be used to give the less fortunate a ride to the grocery store or for the simple pleasure of a joy ride from time to time. It can be used to save someone in need with a quick trip to the emergency room or bring the hungry groceries and for those who really lack perspective it can of course be used to commute to and from a place of work. On the other hand a car can be used to escape a bank robbery, a hit and run, the scene of a rape, theft or murder. The vehicle itself is neither evil nor is it good; it simply is. Ultimately the one at the wheel is responsible for the damage or goodwill performed by the car.

 

Now I have often said that it was while whizzing down the interstate at 80 miles per hour with trees and other cars darting past me in the opposite direction when I finally attained enlightenment, I should probably correct that to attained a level of enlightenment because I don’t believe enlightenment is something you fully obtain or a place you ultimately end up. Enlightenment is more like addiction to tell you the truth; that first hit is just the beginning and once you have it you will need more and more to maintain the high. In my case it isn’t practical to get a bigger and bigger car and go faster and faster so other methods for me to get my fix would need to be implemented. For me personally I have found that a great level of enlightenment can be attained in the complete opposite way than from how I first touched nirvana and that would be by taking slow and silent walks. Instead of absorbing massive amounts of visual, audible and physical information at high speeds I have found that there is incredible clarity in the observation of the tiniest details around me at a snail’s pace. In that place the Universe is in the moment and in a single moment one can fully experience the Universe.

Today was the warmest day we have had in my area of the world in a long string of very cold and cutting days. So I thought I would take the opportunity to enjoy a slow stroll to the local park I am known to frequent and do a little mobile meditation. Typically when I do this I will have a subject on my mind that I want to work through, or a revelation on something that has been mystifying me for a time. When I set out on my walk I had made the decision to contemplate the differences in religion and spirituality. Low and behold as soon as my boots hit the road I looked on the ground and in the middle of the street was a spoon. I have always thought it strange to find spoons just sitting in the middle of the road because I have to believe that it got there because someone was driving around with a spoon and suddenly just decided to toss it from the window of their car. Nevertheless I happen to find spoons in the oddest of places. Obviously what these random spoons bring my attention to is the line from the Matrix about there actually being no spoon.

 

nospoon1.2With the concept of there actually being no spoon my mindset is instantly shifted to the personal fact that everything I see that is perceivably around me and outside of me is in all actuality within me and is me. All that I see is merely a reflection of myself; a holographic projection that is manifested and sustained from my own consciousness. Knowing this rather than believing this I take my little walks as if life is in fact a video game not too far off from the scheme of Legend of Zelda where along the journey little bread crumbs will be prepared for me in the “physical” to help me solve the riddle of the spiritual. Taking the spoon and placing it in my back pocket I know that if I remain mindful the answers I am seeking will manifest themselves before I return to my abode.

 

I continue with my walking and turn my attention back to the differences between religion and spirituality. From my view religion is a path that most will start out on. It is already laid out for you and there is very little effort needed except to walk a path that has already been predetermined by whoever created it. Religion isn’t really open to personal interpretation but demands a strict adherence to what has been established by men and women long since gone. Religion is concrete and tends to speak in absolutes for the most part. It doesn’t allow for the growth of personal and first-hand experience or knowledge rather it demands the conformity and obedience of outside knowledge and second hand experience. Religion is a path designed for the ego, tracks laid out that don’t really provide for the will to express or create but instead carries the ego exactly where it wants the ego to go. What is ego? I can’t pretend to explain it as eloquently as the Buddha but I can describe it from my personal place of understanding. Ego is the you that is not really you. Ego is the identity that was provided for you at the moment of your conception and continuously crafted for you by those around you since that moment on. It is the legal name you were given but did not choose. It is the race you were told that you are but not given the chance to adopt. It is the faith you were raised in but did not seek out for yourself. It is the nationality you were forced into by borders on a map that were not laid out by you. Ego is the job, the net worth, the clothes, the marriage, the disorder, the handicap, the morals, the dogma and all the other things hoisted upon you that you have accepted but did not create. Ego is the car. The neutral and lifeless mass of parts bereft of free will or free expression. Sure, it may have had intelligent design but it truly has no intelligence of its own.

 

When Buddha set out his journey to enlightenment the concept of the ego was one of the primary conundrums he would have to tackle. Being born and raised a prince in the palace of his father, Buddha was given everything a person stuck in ego could want. Fine foods, luxuries, power, as well as a wife and child. Yet Buddha was one of the few that hear the call for something beyond the physical and from birth felt compelled to head the call of the spiritual. In order to do so he had to shed himself of all the physical that had been built around him keeping him trapped within the ego. That included the union of his wife and child. How can one seek that which is without when confined to titles such as father and husband? In a similar fashion I suppose I can identify with the Buddha in that regard. When the yearning inside me for something more than a home in the suburbs, a 401k, a white picket fence and an identity that was more fluid than the mask I had been wearing overwhelmed me, I too had to walk away from all that the physical ego had created. The most difficult of all these to let go of was a marriage that I was quite attached to and had defined me for thirteen years of my life.

 

Anyone who has heard of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey will understand that when the call to adventure is heard, and the Hero chooses to take the quest he must leave the place he has called home and found security his whole life for uncertainty, danger, despair and all that comes with the unknown. This formula is true of any mythological character, super hero, messianic figure and believe it or not you and me as well. For me, when the call to adventure was given it was very much like coming to a fork in the road of life where I knew that in order to fulfill my purpose I had to go one way and while it was my heart’s desire that my wife come along with me, it was simply not written in the stars. I had to walk my path and she had to walk hers. As we ventured onward apart, the distance of forest between us only grew more vast with each step we took and while early on I called through the trees to her with pleas of her changing the path she was on; eventually the only sound that returned to me was the echo of my own voice. I had to walk this path alone, that had become clear. The purpose of the hero’s journey is to seek a golden fleece, a holy grail, an Excalibur or some other magical relic which would vanquish the evil of the day and bring peace to the world. In the case of spirituality the thing that must be found is the true self. The individual identity that the ego had imprisoned behind bars of titles, labels and obligations. When one takes this path they find that there is no road laid out before them and there is no track to follow. If you take the road of spirituality you enter into experience which is more fluid and intangible than the rigid road of religion.

 

As I pondered this on my walk I had found myself at the beginning of a nature trail not too far from my home where a sign stands that many a Christian leave gospel tracts in hopes that some poor, lost soul will read them and eventually come to their church. Now while I am not what most would call an orthodox Christian, I am most certainly not one of those who have animosity towards them, the bible or the message of the man commonly known as the Christ. I am just as content in a Baptist church to learn as I am with a Hindu or Buddhist temple. So with the ability to translate what is said or written by an orthodox Christian church I happily grabbed one of the gospel tracts to see what message the Most High had for me. Here is what it said:

 

972231_286948341442262_1499513182_n“One of the main objects of the Holy Spirit is to get believers really identified with Christ as the risen and exalted Lord, and to make His risen life real in their experience. As the age moves toward its consummation-the manifestation of Christ –two features will become increasing evident. On the one hand things, men, movements, institutions, organizations, etc., will predominate and draw multitudes after them, and will attach the crowds to themselves. On the other hand, with a growing disappointment and disillusionment over these, a minority will turn to the Lord Himself to find Him alone as their life.

Three elements will inhere in all this. One is the unmistakable development of the principle of Antichrist; that which will definitely supplant Christ, or intend to do so. The second is the alternative to the whole Christ in man-mad Christianity, and imitation life born and carried on by its own momentum. The third, a deep and genuine quest for reality, truth, and inward knowledge of the Lord Himself. In the first case it will be the naked worship of man in human power: a tremendous overflow of humanism, the wonder and glory of man. The third will be Christ altogether as the life.

 

If the Christian is attached to some thing, such as a teaching, a tradition, an institution, a movement, or a person, the end will certainly be a limitation of life and eventually confusion and disappointment, perhaps worse. The New Testament makes it unmistakably clear and emphatic that the destiny of all is to be “Christ all and in all.” We must learn that a true work of the Spirit of God is to attach everything to Christ Himself. He, Christ, must be the life of our spirit, the “inner man,” so that we are strong in the Lord: not in ourselves, nor in others, nor in things. We shall have to survive adversity by his strength within alone.

 

Christ will have to be the life of our mind. Perplexity will find us without the power to explain and understand, but the spirit will teach and lead. Christ will need to be life for our bodies. There is such a thing as Divine life for the physical body. Not always does the Lord choose to heal the body, but he does always want to be its life, even in suffering, to fulfill his purpose.

It is the lord himself, and for this to be so, it often has to be against a background of natural inability. The power of his resurrection is the law of union with Christ from the beginning to the end. Days of terrific pressure are upon the lord’s people. Their enemy is taking very little off-time. The only sufficiency is in the Lord himself as our life. Barnabas exhorted the believers at the beginning that “with purpose of heart they should cleave unto the lord”. There is an utterness about this that will be pressed upon us until the time “when Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested.”  

 

After reading this I had to admit that I couldn’t agree more with the words on the tract though I am sure I translated it differently than the author intended, which is where you get into the land of heresy but as Jesse Herriott would say; “Heresy is good for breakfast.”

 

Those still on the road of religion would take all of that and interpret it to mean that a person must conform to something outside of themselves, a young Jewish figure that lived two centuries ago in a culture that is alien to us now in the 21st century. They would believe that the only hope of any type of redemption is to call upon and pray to someone or something far, far away that will only be manifested high in the sky some day when you die. I think that is a bunch of nonsense. I believe that the entire message of the Christ is that we…gasp…are indeed Christ ourselves. We, once shed of ego, are the very second coming millions are still waiting for. It was the message of the man commonly known as Jesus that there was and is no difference between him and ourselves. He tried so desperately to relay to us that once we are willing to shed ourselves of an ego which has been indoctrinated with the notion that we are worthless sinners deserving of eternity in the flames of hell and at best we should close our eyes and bow our heads when addressing the Most High; that we would come to the realization of the truth. That truth is that without the ego, we are the sinless and perfected Sons and Daughters of God and we ought never hide our faces from It, but boldly enter into the throne room. Obviously if you come to this realization and intend to express to friends and family that have not, that you are in fact a Messiah, fully expect to be thrown in the loony bin by those addicted to ego and its limited capacity for understanding anything ever written in the bible or any other holy scripture. My advice is to keep the fact that you are God in the flesh a silent secret between you and the other winking spirits you meet that know it to be true as well.

 

Again, I think one of the most profound things I have ever heard Jesse Herriott say is “Don’t pray to God, rather pray from God.” Which brings me to the concept of Satan or the devil. Like Buddha before him, the Christ performed the ritual of wandering in the wilderness for a time to confront the ego and finally claim dominion over it. The Satan that appeared before him those 40 days and 40 nights was simply the manifestation of himself that we would call ego; the identity one has which is apart from the infinity of what we call God. The devil that tempted him to rely on an outside force was nothing more than his own doubts, fears, worries and disbelief that he indeed was God in the flesh. Like Krishna, Buddha and Christ; we all must face this adversary if we are to continue on the path of spirituality. Of course as the New Testament has stated, this adversary will continue to pop its ugly head up for some time along the journey to tempt us away from the journey we first set out and gave up all in order to travel. After we have come to purge Satan from ourselves it becomes very sly and appears to us as others.

 

I continued my walk through the woods to the park down from my house pondering this and an analogy from my personal path came to mind. When I had resolved within my soul that my journey would be done alone and without a partner beside me, I eventually came to the place where I understood that regardless of people in my life or things at my disposal, the most fulfilling treasure had indeed been attained. Individuality. God expressing itself through me, with me and from me. I had come to know and appreciate the uniqueness of God within my members and found as all mystics before me that the very knowledge of this was self-sufficient despite all I had left behind. Of course after nearly three years of flying solo, the temptation of ego played on one of my many vices and that was to have my arms wrapped around a woman. I rationalized that I had been single long enough and perhaps I had healed my wounds to a degree that I could give relationships another shot. It didn’t occur to me at the time that when one opens themselves up to include another in their journey compromises in one’s identity must be made. This is not always a bad thing if the two of you are on the same path but as the bible says “Can two walk together except they be agreed?”

 

One of the problems with being a Messiah is the compulsion to want to save others. Now this isn’t a problem if you do as you should and swoop in, save the ones that want to be saved and then fly off into the sunset. However if you aren’t mindful you might find yourself in the predicament of trying to pull someone out of quicksand that they don’t really want to be saved from. In a brief relationship I entered into this was the fix I found myself in. Some would call this a toxic relationship or a codependent relationship. This is when you empathize with the pain and heartache of someone else so much, when you are holding onto them so much desperately trying your best to pull them out of the muck and the mire that before too long you find that you are being pulled in with them. Though all of your energy and strength had been dedicated to saving them from demise it became apparent that they were fighting against you to sink deeper and deeper into the abyss. Your energy being drained, your true identity overshadowed by a new and subtle ego that is coupled with the other person, you must come to understand that you are again being tested by the adversary to abandon the hero’s journey. When I came to understand this revelation, and that the other person I was trying to save was merely me looking through a mirror darkly, the choice was clear. Let go.

 

You can’t save everyone. You especially can’t save those that have no desire to be saved but relish in the cloak of victimhood. My advice to anyone on the path of spirituality that are not content to do as Paul and remain single; don’t yoke up with someone that needs to be saved. If you are to have a partner in your journey then make sure it is with someone who has already saved themselves. Don’t be pulled down when you intend to pull someone up; instead find someone on level ground that sees you eye to eye. Anything else and you are stepping onto the playground of the Devil where the ego will be tempted to rise again and again.

 

As I considered this I found myself sitting on my regular bench at the park. I took the spoon from my pocket, bent it slightly and sat it down beside me. I looked around for more breadcrumbs of the Universe and low and behold not too far from me was a nerf dart. It was bright blue with an orange tip. Not one to second guess myself I walked over and picked it up, took a pause and looked around only to see another a few feet from where I stood. Like the good little avatar that I am I retrieved it as well, repeating the process until before long I had 12 nerf darts in my hand. This message from the Universe brought a smile to my face as the story of the Buddha having darts from his dark half shot at him in order to frighten him away from the Bodhi Tree and of course the biblical passage of the wicked one sending fiery darts to those on the path of enlightenment. My own Satan or ego had indeed sent a barrage of 12 darts my way, but the Universe was telling me to remember that they are only made of foam and plastic and that I was never to forget that this Hero’s Journey is just a game after all. Though we sometimes get immersed in the game and for a brief time believe it is real; we must constantly remind ourselves that the point of any game is to just have fun. So in anything be it love, life or spirituality, remember that if you aren’t at the least having fun, you aren’t doing it right. At the end of the day I think that is how one can tell if they are on the road of religion, or creating the path of spirituality.

About D.L. Crumpton

Daniel Louis Crumpton is a philosopher, political activist, and researcher of spirituality and comparative religions. He has compiled his research into the novel “Then Came the Flood” (on sale now at, AMAZON.COM, BARNESANDNOBLE.COM , WESTBOWPRESS.COM, BOOKSAMILLION.COM and ZENINTHECAR.COM), which offers an alternate and daring perspective to the events transcribed in the book of Genesis. Daniel is also an editor and frequent contributor to the political/spiritual/news website ZENINTHECAR.COM as well as the producer of ZEN IN THE CAR T.V. which covers topics ranging from political activism to enlightenment.
Daniel does not identify with any particular faith, however describes himself as a Sophian-Helio-Gnostic. He uses his experience and knowledge of the metaphysical as well as the occult to guide others to their individual understanding of enlightenment so they might be free from the bondage of Plato's cave. His message of wisdom, compassion and balance is heard by many who wish to see free and tolerant societies where all are allowed to walk their unique path without fear of condemnation.

Comments

  1. http://bob%20hershmeyer says

    …and what if the person simply did not need saving rather understanding and acceptance that simply sometimes is not attainable because of limited scope of the one observing. would that not be another trick of that dear ego? why should one ever need to feel as though another first needed saving (other than life threatening emergencies…go superman!) and second that they themselves are of any position to administer such help rather than that friendship and add the minister?

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