October 28, 2009

Spiritual Ships 4- Big Ship? Small Ship? Your Ship? My Ship? Which Ship?

Just joining this discussion? Please read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 first.

There was a time when we existed in smaller tribal groups. These groups would have a shaman/medicine man/witch/doctor/priestess/guru/Master... whatever you will. This person was the most proficient at navigating and exploring the ocean (God/Universe) and served as the chief Navigator/Sailor. He/she would lead group expeditions into the ocean. But rather than everyone board his/her ship, each member of the tribe journeyed in his or her own little sailboat. They made up a fleet along an ocean route with the Shaman’s boat at the head. That way, every tribe member, man, woman and child alike, became a proficient sailor and navigator in their own right. The reason this could be done was that the population was smaller and manageable. The priestess, Shaman, witch doctor was truly accessible and had time to spend with every member of the tribe to offer advice, healing and sailing instruction.

There was a time when every tribe member, man, woman and child alike, became a proficient sailor and navigator in their own right.

Even though the tribe had an expert, all were expected to learn mystic arts, communication with animal spirits and ancestors and the secret properties of plants. Little children knew exactly what to do to see visions to guide them home if they were lost in the wild. All were expected to work towards a level of mastery at these things. Should an ocean storm separate them, set their dingy adrift, they were not helpless. They could navigate safely because their “map” was ingrained in their hearts and minds and reading it involved real-time interaction, observation and adaptation to the ever changing ocean.

Super Ships (Great Religious Empires) were built, not necessarily to help ordinary passengers and crew to fully explore the ocean (God/Universe) but to support the interests of civilization’s elite, among them a new class of Navigators/Sailors. Any student of history will clearly see that Super Ships and empires were almost one and the same with interchangeable interests.

This kind of personal and instinctive oceanographic intelligence, sailing skill and navigation was almost lost to the world. We can still see it among some of the First Peoples and among the few of us spiritual adventurers trying to keep it alive by advocating for more personal questing and less religious dependence. But what almost killed it in the first place? What made us so scared of sailing on our own? What caused us to give up the freedom of being Navigators/Sailors and join massive populations of Passengers on board Super Ships (populous empire-based organised religions led by an elite class of priests); trusting our exploration of the ocean to an elite group of crew with one all-powerful Navigator/Sailor at the helm?

The ability to Navigate and Sail used to be imparted into our hearts from infancy. It was an instinctive thing. Even little children knew exactly what to do to see visions, which plants to eat and how to guide themselves home if they were lost in the wild.

The necessity for Super Ships has nothing to do with God. From its inception it was always designed to serve entirely human, economic and political needs. When we began settling into larger civilizations and these started to become empires, our relationship with the ocean changed completely because of competition.

Competition for earth’s resources, land and people required power...every kind of power. It was not long before this mentality started to reflect in how we explored the ocean (God). In a world made smaller by trade and population surge, many Navigators/Sailors, fearing a challenge to their position and status deliberately hid knowledge to secure their power and value to society. Others corrupted by greed and power did more than just conceal oceanographic knowledge, they deliberately misled. Others hid knowledge not for selfish reasons, but to protect it when their people were conquered and enslaved.

When it became necessary to write down secrets to exploring God/Universe in coded language, in order to preserve and protect it it, the average human could not be a Navigator/Sailor and was forced to depend on someone else who could read the secrets for them.

As generations died and ancestral knowledge of the ocean navigation became threatened it became necessary to write it down in order to preserve it. In order to protect it, it was written in secret, coded language. For the first time a special kind of literacy become necessary to understand the maps. Since populations became larger and education was afforded only to a select few, the average human could not be a Navigator/Sailor and was forced to depend on someone else.

Thus began the age of the Super Ships.

These were built, not necessarily to help ordinary passengers and crew to fully explore the ocean but to support the interests of civilization’s elite, among them a new class of Navigators/Sailors. Any student of history will clearly see that empires and Super Ships were almost one and the same with interchangeable interests. The Egyptian Super Ship and Empire were one and the same. The Babylonian Super Ship and Empire were one and the same. The Greek Super Ship and empire were one and the same. The Roman Catholic Super Ship and empire were one and the same.

Priest blessing a tank during war.

Empires grow because the Super Ships require massive crew and massive wealth to control and regulate the vast numbers of passengers on board. Increasing their numbers in turn could justify building bigger and bigger Ships to the fleet and taking the resources needed to do so through even more plunder, genocide and war.

The race to create massive fleets to rule the ocean had begun. New passengers and crew were press ganged on board using varying degrees of coercion from the clever to the charitable to the cruel. In addition, the elite class of Navigators/Sailors discouraged passengers and crew from leaving the ship or becoming empowered enough to navigate and sail away on their own. The Hebrews committed atrocious acts of genocide as part of their empire building because “God” told them to do it. Spain slaughtered the native peoples of the Americas with the full support of the Roman Catholic Super Ship it served.

Super Ships brought with them fundamentalism and persecution of anyone who wanted to empower themselves to sail or navigate independently.

In this new world of conquest, war and empire, many found themselves cast adrift in foreign lands as refugees, slaves or prospectors, without a Navigator/Sailor in their own language and tradition. The sea longing in these refugees, slaves and immigrants was of course as strong as ever and even after assimilating into the traditions of a Super Ship it was hard to give up their traditions and their own instincts. The Semitic peoples constantly battled with their past memories of and longing for the Goddess despite the newer patriarchal Yahweh Super Ship that now dominated them. As the Hebrew monotheistic empire grew stronger, their beloved Goddess was banished as Ashtoreth, a female demon of lust. Navigators/Sailors decided to homogenize and control the growing and diversifying population. They decreed that it was best if everyone was made to submit to one map, one way. Fundamentalism now entered the picture.

The defeat of the Spanish Armada by the British heralded the end of the Roman Catholic Empire.

The elite crew and Navigator/Sailor of Super Ships discouraged access to any other maps from other explorers in other parts of the world and denounced modern technology that could aid anyone to become a cartographer independent of the Super Ship’s Navigator/Sailor. Galileo can attest to that. These Super Ships often crashed into reefs and countless passengers would drown when ancient map reading clashed with the realities of science like the superstitious killing of cats which increased the rat population leading to the massive spread of Plague.

Throughout history, when a Super Ship encountered a smaller one, it would mow it down and press gang the new members on board.

If anyone dared to build a boat and try to navigate on their own, the Super Ship would mow them down, sending them into the depths of the ocean for all to see, increasing the fear of individual navigation. Passengers and crew fearing a similar fate submitted blindly without question or at least public question. If one Super Ship should encounter a smaller ship from a different culture, using a different method of navigation, sailing and design, they would pirate it or destroy it, calling the smaller ship’s Navigatiors/Sailors and Passengers/Crew primitive, lost or degenerate as justification. If one Super Ship met another Super Ship from a different culture, they would engage in protracted wars for supremacy, with passengers and crew being forced into battle on the Navigators/Sailors behalf. There would be causalities in the millions.

Violent mutinies happen aboard Super Ships, like the Sunni/Shiite division that leads to devastating sectarian violence.

Sometimes though, the conflict did not come from an outside a Super Ship but from within. Navigators/Sailors would disagree on ancient map interpretation, leading to violent mutinies in the middle of the ocean as a Super Ship broke apart. Suddenly hapless passengers and crew became casualties again. We all know the violent history of schisms in religion that resulted in sectarian violence. Unfortunately, many of the new ships built by mutinous Passengers/Crew and Navigators/Sailors, once they got going, still employed the same approach of their predecessors- acquisition of passengers by any means and then the control of their behaviour on board to prevent them from becoming Navigators/Sailors so that they can become Super Ships too.

Some Super Ships are so huge and have so many passengers on board they might as well be floating countries. When you are on board, you don’t even feel the ocean rocking the ship (those who have been on a cruise ship know what I mean). In fact, you can spend your entire life on that ship and barely even see the ocean because there are so much people, so much on ship activities, so much rules and competition for a window seat or balcony view. In fact, some ships start to require large offerings to get a window seat or balcony view. As for getting the chance to navigate or sail that Super Cruise Ship you can forget it! There is a high level of intricate bureaucracy is involved in becoming a Navigator/Sailor.

It is very easy for a passenger or crew member on a Super Ship to live a life that revolves entirely on the ship and not as an explorer of the ocean. Some eventually get so frustrated they have not seen the ocean and disgusted by the bureaucracy and ills aboard the ship, they become Dry Land Dwellers or simply take a lifeboat and try to explore the ocean on their own. For some on board a Super Ship, their sea longing and their love of the luxuries and activities aboard the Super Ship and respect for its posterity keeps them on board. Every now and then, they get a blast of ocean breeze or glimpse of the sea and that keeps their heart content.

So here you are, standing at the shore. Before you several ships are docked, each inviting you to come aboard.

Super Ships provide lots of comfort. But your chances of Navigating or Sailing are very slim.

Some ships are gargantuan cruise liners with billions of passengers and a long history of exploring the ocean along a certain route, using a certain ancient map. They have weathered many storms, disasters, epidemics, mutinies and wars at sea. They have done many atrocious things but enough good things to maintain large passenger count. They promise you a great ocean (God) expedition in relative comfort and lots of support systems along the way as long as you remain a passenger or at best crew and submit to the ship’s rules, hierarchy and itinerary. Keep in mind you will never be Pope, Ayatollah or Rabbi and navigate or sail that ship. They only want passengers and crew.

Some vessels beckoning you are smaller yachts and require a certain dress code, status and huge financial offerings to even come aboard.

Some claim to have the most accurate ancient map and/or the most accurate interpretation of a particular ancient map.

Some are military styled with a vigilant crew who monitor your every activity on board from what you eat to how you have sex to what music you can listen to.

Some are pirogues with just one motor and a Rastafarian rudder man holding out a pipe packed with ganga as the map. It will offer you considerably less bureaucracy but less safety on the high seas.

Smaller personal vessels will give you freedom to chart your own course, but require a lot of mastery.

What are you to do?

We return to the question that started all of this,
“Which religion is the best one to learn the truth about where we came from, what is our purpose and where we are going and why?”

If your ultimate goal is knowledge and understanding of the ocean (God/Universe) who says the first step in learning about the ocean is getting on board someone’s ship or boat (join a religion?) Is that truly the only opinion available to you? Remember the Dry Land Dwellers. They do make a valid point, if you want to learn about the ocean, you can study “marine science” (comparative theology, mythology, anthropology, history, mysticism as well as astronomy, geology, evolutionary biology and quantum physics). You do not have to obtain a PhD in every subject you just have to be open to learning about everything. You will have to pull from as many sources as possible, from ancient maps to current satellite mapping systems to the tide pools in your backyard.

Beware of ship passengers who try to scare and hurry you aboard their ship with woeful predictions. Humans and their ships have time-tables and itineraries. The Ocean (God/Universe)is timeless. Remember too that the ocean is unconditional in its offering to you so beware of attempts to guilt you into devotion to a particular ship.

Eventually, you WILL be compelled to jump in and test the waters (begin testing and consciously interacting with the seen and unseen aspects of God/Universe) Start in the shallows, (the basic universal principles) then learn to swim, snorkel and scuba (apply them in order to transform your life). Learn how to be a cartographer (how to read, study and accurately interpret religious books/texts and ask the right philosophical and spiritual questions of them), navigator and sailor (increase your understanding and prowess with the many forces that surround us) and learn the many methods and arts of ship building (the best way to build up a strong mind and body, then extend that to your household and then your community) taking as much time with this as needed.

Take your time! Beware of ship passengers who try to scare and hurry you aboard their ship with woeful predictions. Humans and their ships have time-tables. The ocean does not. Remember too that the ocean is unconditional in its offering to you so beware of attempts to guilt you into devotion to a particular ship. A simple way of diffusing such a tactic is....
Christian: Aren’t you so grateful that God sent his only son to die for your sins?
Me: Well, if indeed that is true, I am certain God will make me undoubtedly certain of this great gesture and why it was done and when THAT happens my gratitude will pour out of me unbidden. Till then, I cannot be grateful for something by taking YOUR word or any man's word for it, especially if they expect my gratitude to manifest as membership in their religion.

When the student is ready, the Master WILL appear!

Really what more can anyone demand? If this is not reasonable and respectful enough, it is obviously a case of a passenger confusing their personal need for validation with genuinely trying to help you with your oceanographic knowledge and skills. Insecure passengers and cannot handle it when people turn down their preferred voyage, their faith in their ship, Navigator/Sailor and their map reading. It causes their faith to waver a little and they might become hostile towards you. Forgive them and move on. Theirs is not a ship you’d be happy on anyway.

When you are ready, choose a ship to test your skills on the open ocean. By this time, you will be more than able to make an informed choice of which ship to venture on board and you will also be extremely careful not to become complacent as a passenger or crew member. Your ultimate goal is that of Navigator/Sailor. Hopefully you will find an experienced, ethical, genuinely ocean-oriented Navigator/Sailor who unconditionally desires your empowerment and will take you on as an apprentice.
“When the student is ready the Master will appear”.

Perhaps, from time to time, you might decide to temporarily switch ships to learn how another Navigator/Sailor does it. Perhaps from time to time, another ship may offer you safe passage or rescue you from a storm and provide a chance for you to relax and regain your strength to continue your exploration. Or perhaps you will explore and navigate totally alone using everything you have and if you die on the ocean, then you are just fine with that. There is nothing better than to be welcomed into the loving arms of the Ultimate Source of life. You have no fear of this. Eventually, one day, you’ll build your own ship and have the acumen to apprentice another who desires to be a Navigator/Sailor.

I’m not here to judge anyone for their ocean expedition approach or lack-thereof. All I can do is urge you to explore the ocean with truth, love, joy and constant vigilance. Don’t get distracted by ship activities and politics. Don’t get beholden to ships and their Navigators/Sailors. Don’t allow your exploration to be limited by one ancient map that only shows one route, part of the globe and currently inaccurate representations. Remember to dive in and see what lies below the surface.

See it, feel it, smell it and watch it change and force you to change in real time, in real life, everyday, giving it the respect it truly deserves. Respect the other ocean inhabitants and explorers you meet along the way. Let the ocean’s vastness humble you and help you realise the more you discover, the more there is yet to learn.

Happy exploring!

October 21, 2009

Spiritual Ships 3- Why You Must Eventually Learn To Navigate/Sail Your Own Ship

It is not wise to get too beholden to a ship. Remember that ships sink all the time.

Just started reading this? Get the background in Part 1 and Part 2 first.

Like Tolkien’s elves, we all have a sea longing deep inside. We may define it as the need to know the unknown Universe or we may define it as the need to know God. If a true understanding of the ocean (God/Universe) is really your goal and not just a comforting life at sea aboard a nice ship (religion), I guarantee that at some point, you will want more than just gazing at the surf from your ship’s balcony. Certainly, it is awe-inspiring and it feels good but you’ll want more. You will want to dive into it. Study it. You will want to learn how to wield more power to experience it fully and then eventually learn how to navigate and sail on your own so you can explore the ocean more widely and intimately.

If a true understanding of the ocean (God/Universe) is your goal, then gazing at it from a ship's (religion's) balcony will soon cease to be adequate to your spiritual needs.

People who resign themselves to be spiritual passengers all their lives are in serious danger of becoming beholden to the ship (religion) instead fully appreciating the value of exploring the ocean (God/Universe). Some get so comfortable in the distractions and luxuries aboard the ship, they stop sightseeing and learning about the ocean (God/Universe) altogether. You see this in people who are merely going through the motions of religiosity in their various faiths or are always embroiled in doctrinal debate but the deeper Divine truths continue to escape them. They never seem to grow in their oceanographic skills. I know for example of a Hindu businessman who holds regular and elaborate prayers at a lavish temple built on his grand property, yet invites bad karma every day with his continued unscrupulous business practices.

It is very easy for passengers to become distracted by the attractions and activities on board a ship (religion/belief system) and forget the true goal of exploration and understanding of the ocean(God/Universe).

Crewmembers can also fall into a similar rut. Their life becomes cleaning the ship’s deck in order pass inspection. Eventually keeping a deck floor clean becomes more important than observing and enjoying the ocean’s fjords and coral reefs. They forget the reason they clean the deck floor is to help the ship run smoothly to aid the ULTIMATE goal of exploration of the ocean (God/Universe). You see this in religious bureaucrats who are so legalistically bogged down by running every aspect of their ship’s organisation. When I was 15, a married male leader in my church pulled me aside and tried to give me a lecture about the length of my skirt. My response was,
“You fass and outta place! If my skirt is a personal problem for you that is just too bad! My parents fully approved of this outfit before I left home. Deal with it!”

Crewmembers on board the ship can become bogged down by legalistic wrangling and controlling every single activity on board instead of focussing on exploration of the ocean.

Some crew members spend their time monitoring the passengers’ every move from the time they wake to the time they sleep, how and when they have sex, what they read, what they can watch, what they can wear they have forgotten the REAL purpose of everyone being on that ship, especially when all that authority goes to their head. Their legalism becomes a weapon through which they express their ego or personal insecurity-driven agendas.

The Navigator/Sailor on the other hand, cannot afford to ever get complacent, his life and the life of any passengers on board are at stake. As the guru, high priest, pundit, shaman, imam, Master, he/she is constantly tested by the ocean, constantly required to learn, adapt and grow and is constantly reaffirmed of its power. However, he or she can also get self-righteous or worse, reckless and power-hungry.

Navigators and Sailors must always have their focus on the ocean. Even more so if they have passengers on board their ship.

Many Navigators/Sailors become indolent and sail along the same route all the time leaving the rest of the ocean unexplored. Some even get distracted by the pleasurable activities aboard the ship. Some become preoccupied with fighting to maintain their position as Navigator/Sailor, suppressing ambitious passengers and crew from spiritually advancing in oceanographic knowledge and skill least they challenge them. This is the greatest betrayal ever! Why?

Navigators and sailors are supposed to encourage their passengers to learn how to navigate and sail on their own in order to foster their personal exploration and understanding of the ocean. They should never try to keep passengers dependent on them and their ship for life.

Everyone must become gurus, Masters, priests, imams, rabbis capable of solitary spiritual exploration. You cannot live your entire life as a passenger beholden to a ship! You must learn how to navigate, sail and survive on the ocean. Sooner or later you will be reminded that a ship (religion) is just a man made construct and the ocean (God/Universe) is the true power and the only conveyance upon which your existence rests.

Unfortunately, some only realize this when they get a taste of just how unpredictable the ocean can be. A hurricane! A tidal wave! An iceberg! Now the real danger of being too comfortable and too dependent on a ship and its Navigator/Sailor is revealed. There is nothing scarier than to find oneself trapped on board a ship that is the religious equivalent of the Titanic.

Do not be fooled! Even the biggest, most powerful ship in the world with billions of passengers is still no match for the ocean. The ocean (God/Universe)has no respect or deference for any ship (religion/belief system). Religious empires lasting thousands of years have been vanquished by the ocean.

Apart from ocean related wreckage, there are many other reasons you may need to evacuate your ship. A Navigator/Sailor might make a crucial navigational error and then stubbornly refuse to change course. A plague or mutiny can break out on board. Sometimes the crew or Navigators/Sailors fleece you and other passengers of their hard earned money or sexually abuse your children and cover it up.

Sometimes Navigators/Sailors support terrorism, racism, slavery or allow certain you or passengers on board be discriminated against or ill treated because of gender, nationality or sexual orientation. Sometimes you may discover your ship docks at various ports of call and make their crew and passengers go out and recruit new passengers using less than ethical or honest methods. Sometimes your growing oceanographic education begins to clash with the Navigator/Sailor’s ship’s rules and sailing method. You may even discover to your horror that you came on board a crazy cult ship led by Navigator/Sailors like Jim Jones or David Koresh. Sometimes the Navigator/Sailor of the ship demands you refuse your child life saving blood transfusion or medical treatment or forbids you from marrying your true love.

David Koresh

Silent Lambs is a child advocacy group formed in response to the rampant cover-up of child abuse in the Jehovah's Witness religion.

Imagine if your ship became so toxic and staying on board made you sick or was even fatal and you needed to get off in the middle of the ocean right away! There is only one problem...you have no navigational and sailing skills, you cannot even swim. Left alone or with others in a lifeboat, you have no idea how to function without pre-set crew orders from a Ship’s Navigator/Sailor or a passenger itinerary. You cannot read and interpret a map on your own. You cannot even use GPS tracking because you either never learned to or such devices were banned aboard your ship because ship policy was legalistic in its adherence to ancient maps only. Like an Amish teen during Rumspringa, you are overwhelmed with freedom, surrounded by all the wonders and dangers of the open ocean and have zero survival skills.

If you had to jump your ship, how are you going to endure the vast ocean?

Many have no choice but to stay on the ship (religion) they are in even as it sinks. Some wait to be rescued by another passing ship, any ship. However, there is no guarantee it will be any better than the one they just escaped from. Some ships make it their mission to rescue floundering castaways on the ocean knowing their desperation will make them more likely to obey and serve without question. Before they allow the scared and stranded to come on board, they demand money, allegiance and/or some kind of sacrifice. Most are emotionally obligated to comply because they are grateful for the rescue and are unable to survive on the open ocean.

Some people are completely helpless on the open sea and keep needing rescuing from one ship after the next.

I’m sure you know of a few seasoned ship jumpers. Every three or four years, they are in a new religion, as a passenger or crew member and they swear they have found the ship of their dreams, only to jump off again in no time at all and have to be rescued by yet another ship. For some, their ocean exploration experience has proven so traumatic when they finally get the feeling of firm, dry land beneath their feet, it is so reassuring they resolve never to explore the earth’s oceans (God/Universe) again! They become Dry Land Dwellers.

Introducing a new analogy character: The Dry Land Dwellers

Dry Land Dwellers are varied in their view of the ocean (God/Universe). Some Dry Land Dwellers still recognise it is worth exploring. They just believe it should be explored with rational distance and the intellect, technology available to mankind instead of reading ancient maps. They have a good measure of hesitation to try to claim any kind of stewardship or absolute expertise over the ocean. They believe in gaining oceanographic knowledge on dry land first rather than setting sail willy nilly. Other Dry Land Dwellers do not wish to see the ocean at all. They move deep inland in land-locked territories where its effects can hardly be felt in order to convince themselves the ocean does not exist. Others are more honest and would admit it possibly exists, but they see no reason why it they should explore it as mankind can live happily without doing so, we have planes after all. Really, is there any dire need to explore the ocean?

All Dry Land Dwellers point to the inconsistencies and inaccuracies of the ancient maps (religious books) to fully capture the ocean and deem any attempt to sail using these maps, folly and worse yet take passengers aboard, reckless. They point at ships that sunk and disastrous mutinies that resulted in causalities in the billions.

Dry Landers point to the inaccuracies and irrelevance of ancient maps.

They agree that it is unethical to put untrained, uneducated people aboard a ship at the mercy of some Navigator/Sailor’s so-called expertise in order to explore the ocean. They agree it is unethical to gang press people aboard ships. They call for rationality and an end to ships (religions) putting people in danger on the high seas. Most of all, they demand that societies be built on firm dry land and not on floating ships on an unpredictable ocean. They want these dry land ports of call to be places where everyone is treated equally, free from the hierarchy and authority of Navigators/Sailors and their maps. They want religion and state separate.

For those who have experienced joy, adventure and deeply healing effects from being out on the ocean aboard a ship that has delivered for them, a fantastic, safe ocean exploration, it is hard to understand where these Dry Land Dwellers are coming from. They also cannot understand the Dry Land Dwellers seeming lack of sea-longing which all humans are supposed to have. For this reason they denounce them instead of listening to their side of the story with an open mind. A more objective approach reveals that Dry Land Dwellers do raise valid concerns and offer valid suggestions.

Many of the rules on board the various ships that sail the ocean should not and do not apply to Dry Land society. Additionally, if exploration of the great unknown ocean is so important, then having a fair, rational and dispassionate approach to studying it is probably best. It is indeed unwise to hastily jump aboard someone’s ship even if its Navigator/Sailor and Passengers/Crew promise to comfort and satisfy the sea-longing inside. It is risky being on the open ocean when you cannot swim or survive if it sinks. Ideally, everyone should be educated in marine biology and oceanography and get practice in swimming, navigating their own little sailboat, reading many maps and GPS systems accurately and be proficient and fully capable of circumventing the globe, through every passage, weather pattern, natural or man-made circumstances.

Some Dry Landers do make a valid point. If exploration of the Unknown is the objective, a rational and intellectual approach is important. Ideally, everyone should be educated in marine biology and oceanography and get practice in swimming, navigating their own little sailboat, reading many maps and GPS systems accurately and be proficient and fully capable of circumventing the globe, through every passage, weather pattern, natural or man-made circumstances.

Most importantly, nobody should EVER contemplate building a ship (religion) and inviting passengers on board until they themselves have perfected their navigational/sailing skills. Ideally, if they had to accept a passenger, it should be done with the goal of teaching that person how to eventually become an independent Navigator/Sailor of his/her own ship one day. It is unethical and unloving to ever try to keep passengers helpless and dependent on your ship and Navigation/sailing skills for life, thus crippling their ability to survive if your ship sinks.

Why do some ships seek only to get larger and larger and bring the most passengers on board instead of teaching people how to be knowledgeable and empowered enough to Navigate and explore on their own?

Now since teaching someone how to swim, sail a ship and study the ocean requires intensive, hands-on, apprenticeship, what would be the point and purpose of ships with billions of passengers and crew and just a mere handful of Navigators/Sailors? Why do some ships pay more attention to gaining and retaining the most passengers and crew and building bigger and bigger ocean liners instead of empowering the Passengers/Crew to be Navigators/Sailors in their own right?

That’s next...

October 16, 2009

Spiritual Ships 2- Which Role Is Best For Ocean Exploration?

Please start with the first essay.

Analogy Key

God/The Divine/The Creator/The Universe = The Ocean
Spiritual Leaders = Navigators/Sailors.
Religious/Holy books = Maps
Religion = Ships
Religious Followers = Passengers/Crew.

Every now and then I am either asked directly or I overhear this question being asked, “Which religion is the best one to learn the truth about where we came from, what is our purpose and where we are going and why?”

When I was an evangelical Christian, the answer was simple....mine! Now that I have learned the true origins of the bible and the history of Christianity and discovered the lost and/or previously unconsidered weighty perspectives against one religion having all the answers, my response to that question is no longer so simple-minded. The universal truth however is.

The Universe and its Originator exists and they can be explored!

Problem is, passengers (religious followers) are far too presumptuous and prejudiced and premature in their attempt to claim their definition of God/Universe.

Some think they know exactly what this Universal Alpha and Omega thinks of everything and everyone. They even claim to have the inside scoop on God’s future plans and how God will be judging each individual’s heart and how God will decide that person’s destiny not just now but in the future. They have a rule book and a game plan. They actually begin sentences with, “God said this…” or “God thinks that…”

Understanding the infinite vastness of God means owning up to our diminutiveness. It starts by admitting that in the grand scheme of things, we are truly ignorant. It means humbly admitting we just may not be the centre of attraction in the Universe and likewise our conceived earthly saga as presented in its many religious versions could very well be our own notions. It means opening up to the possibility that we are but one, single cell plankton floating in a vast ocean that is God.

That scares many people.

It is the curious, imaginative scientist who learns new things and invents new things, not the apathetic, know-it-all bureaucrat. Religious fundamentalists are the least curious, creative and joyous people on the planet.

Fear is the reason a more honest and humble answer to the question of, “Do you know the truth about Who or What is God/Universe is and what our purpose in it is?” eludes people. Even when the answer should be a resounding, “No, I don’t know!” or a conservative, “You know what, I am still exploring that,” we are so scared of living in a state of constant wonderment and infinite possibilities that we cling to something ready-made and comforting even if it may not be entirely true and/or detrimental to ever learning the truth.

Guess what? That state of uncertainty, overwhelming wonder at our ignorance, awe of the vastness of the Universe and its infinite possibilities is precisely the truest state of being. We actually fear what is the most effectual jumping off point to discern the answers to our most pressing questions about God/Universe and our purpose. It is the curious, imaginative scientist who learns new things and invents new things, not the apathetic, know-it-all bureaucrat. Over-confidence in ones religion is the short cut to stagnation. Religious fundamentalists are the least curious, creative and joyous people on the planet.

I know there are people who think they know exactly what this Universal Alpha and Omega thinks of everything and everyone. They even claim to have the inside scoop on God’s future plans and how God will be judging each individual’s heart and how God will decide that person’s destiny not just now but in the future. They have a rule book and a game plan. They actually begin sentences with, “God said this…” or “God thinks that…” They claim to “represent” God. They hold grudges and pick fatal fights in God’s name (which they also speculate on), with those who choose to walk a different spiritual path than they’ve chosen because they believe God designed the path they are on to be the only true one. There are some waiting impatiently for God to make some dramatic gesture of confirmation by rewarding them exclusively for choosing a particular path while punishing others for not choosing it.

If a Supreme Being that exceeds the magnitude of my loftiest imaginings exists, we can no more know its mind than the nucleoli in plankton can predict the volume of water in the entire ocean. Yet some claim to have God figured out? What nonsense! Unless it is a God of their making, I do not see how that is possible.

Like a speck of plankton in the murky depths, we can only feel just a little of what the actual GARGANTUAN Alpha and Omega of this Universe might be. Even what I am writing now is barely adequate and I humbly admit that I am totally open to revising it depending on what I continue to feel and see on my spiritual journey. At the same time, I advise you to make your own explorations and not depend on my accounts. I am just a fellow journey-maker like you. Read this like you do a travel guide book written by a solitary adventurer, keeping in mind that you need to make your own journey and write your own guide book. In addition, forget believing on faith. Instead, embrace knowing based on personal experience.

Like a speck of plankton in the murky depths, we can only feel just a little of what the actual GARGANTUAN Alpha and Omega of this Universe might be. We can no more know its mind than the nucleoli in plankton can predict the volume of water in the entire ocean.

Try not to be too overeager for definite answers, instant euphoria and grandiose demonstrations. If you read my Forgiveness 101 series, it illustrates so well how great spiritual strides, like the ability to forgive, do not come from some kind of miraculous endowment. It comes from your exploration and hands-on learning as you strive to be more masterful in the Universe. Mere faith/belief cannot compare to knowing something for sure. Religion is about belief in a particular ocean explorer’s accounts, map and ship.

When it comes to exploring the ocean (God/Universe) and learning its truths, we can choose to be a:

Navigator/Sailor – And take charge of our own expedition of the ocean, chart our course, gain mastery of a vessel and the high seas and go it alone or with passengers and crew.


Passenger/Crew- Trust someone else to do the map reading and sailing while we ride aboard their ship and/or work aboard their ship and enjoy the sights and sounds on their expedition, allowing them to share their lessons along the way.

I am not here to advise you for or against affiliation with a particular ship (religion) or your reverence and submission to a particular Navigator/Sailor (prophet, Messiah, guru, Pope, Mullah etc.). You should know your own mind and your capabilities. I can only tell you the pros and cons of each method of exploring the ocean having experienced both.

The Navigator/Sailor has a great responsibility on their shoulders, whether they have passengers aboard their vessel or not. If their ship runs aground or gets lost, they are accountable. However, they gain great mastery, power and direct real interaction with the ocean. They do not have to put faith in someone else’s navigational skills. They are seeing things first hand unlike the passengers and crew.
A Navigator/sailor can say,
“I have SEEN it, FELT it and NAVIGATED through counter currents. I KNOW it.”
Passengers and crew just have to take his/her word for it.

There is great freedom in being able to chart a course and let ones exploration of the ocean be dictated solely by the currents and your skills. However more self-discipline, self-confidence and self-awareness are required as well as a lot of trust in the ocean’s patterns and respect for its unpredictable power. If the sight of an endless, open ocean from a crow’s nest, uncertain weather patterns, approaching swells and unexpected shores thrills instead of terrifies you, then being a Navigator/sailor is for you. If you are a strong swimmer and trust your instincts when strange waters appear, this is the role for you. If you can conquer your fear of the unknown even holding on to your wheel as your ship descends into the depths of the murky water while your passengers and crew bail in fear, then you are a Navigator/Sailor at heart.

For you the exploration of God/Universe is an adventure, quest and a test of your soul’s abilities, it is likely you cannot think of any other way to go through this existence than being an independent ocean explorer. The tell tale signs were that when you were a Passenger/Crew member you were unbelievably restless and not content with “being told”. You made your Sunday School Teacher pull out her hair! You barraged everyone with questions,
“Did that really happen? What does that mean? What does this do? What is that for? Why do we have this rule? Why do you do that task?”You always found a way to sneak inside the crow’s nest and get an audience with the Navigator/Sailor in charge of the ship and ask,
“How do you read that map? Why did you choose that map and not others? Why do you prefer not to use GPS instead? Why does the map say there is an island here but I cannot see it in real life?”

When you looked at the ocean, it was not enough to just be amazed and comforted by it. You wanted to know the very substance of it. The security of a ship will never compete with your desire for personal discovery even if it means leaping headfirst off the deck into the vast depths of the ocean.

The Passenger/Crew are totally in the hands of the Navigator/Sailor and have to summon up amazing faith in that person/s ability to man the ship. They have to believe in the Navigator/Sailor sometimes even to the point of assigning them powers of divinity. Hopefully, the Navigator/Sailor has earned that trust because the Passengers/Crew have to submit to the Navigator/Sailor’s authority and instruction and obey orders, trusting that it is the best thing for everyone aboard the ship.

Not everyone has this kind of faith. Not everyone can unquestioningly submit to authority. Sometimes being a passenger or crew can be frustrating when you do not agree with a decision the Navigator/Sailor of your ship makes. Passengers/Crew often do not realize a Navigator/Sailor has no time to entertain everyone’s concerns and suggestions, especially during a challenging navigation through a dangerous ocean passage. Sometimes doing what is best for the ship (religion) means disappointing some people and requires passengers/crew to make huge sacrifices with regards to their freedom and personal happiness.

However, Passengers/Crew are free of having to steer, read maps and make crucial decisions. In many ways, they can just sit back and enjoy the cruise once it is going smoothly of course. Often, the Navigator/Sailor is so pre-occupied with the grand picture, he/she misses out on simpler pleasant aspects of the journey which the passengers or crew member have more time to appreciate. While the Navigator/Sailor is pre-occupied with map-reading and scanning the horizon, the Passengers/Crew can look over the balcony and watch the dolphins swimming by and feel the healing spray on their faces.
For them, the exploration is a trip, journey and a vacation from their troubles on dry land.

If you have tremendous faith but very little map literacy or intellectual interest in cartography and oceanography skills, this might be the best way for you to start your exploration of the ocean. If you just want comfort and healing, this is the perfect way to get it. Even tired Navigators/Sailors take a temporary vacation as Passengers from time to time. If simply feeling that ocean breeze, waking up to it every day and watch the waves roll by is enough for your soul’s enhancement, then you can benefit from allowing the priest, pundit, imam, guru, rabbi or shaman to steer the ship and trust his/her exploration path of the ocean. If you are more than happy to unwaveringly believe in their map reading is by Divine direction leading to the best ship policies and itinerary and you are willing to working hard aboard the ship without question, then you are a Passenger/Crew for sure.

There is nothing wrong, per say with being a Passenger/Crew member. It is a very good place to start. For some people, like addicts or the severely emotionally damaged, fearful or disempowered, the structure of an itinerary and ship rules and the security of the vessel is a tremendous help in being law abiding, productive citizens. Not everyone has the courage, intellect, self-discipline, motivation or skills to be a Navigator/Sailor right away. However, at some point, you must take a more active interest in the history, inner workings, higher responsibilities and navigational decisions of the ship (religion) you have chosen to come aboard. You must always continue to test whether it truly helping you to explore the ocean in the best way possible. You must also learn how to swim, read maps, sail a boat and survive on the ocean alone.

In the next instalment, I will tell you why.

October 14, 2009

Spiritual Ships 1- Ancient Maps


This will not be the first time I have used the analogy of the ocean for God/The Universe. Indeed, many ancient spiritual writings use this analogy. There is no other element on our planet that is so universally understood to be as complex and undefinable as a Supreme Being must be.

Like God/Universe, the ocean can be both beautiful, healing and nourishing...

it can also be horrific, fearsome and destructive.

However, this is the first in another of my original spiritual-based four part series that takes the ocean analogy to new lengths and depths. I did it for all my fellow genuine spiritual seekers and lovers of the planet and her people, unfettered by religious fanaticism out there.

I know how hard it is to explain our position to the religious stalwarts who see ONE WAY and ONE WAY only. Feel free to use and spread this analogy around as much as you want. I have posted it on other discussion boards and Forums before because I want as many people as possible to use it to spread love, tolerance and understanding but most of all, re-discover humility and a sense of wonder when it comes to the Divine instead of this "Know-It-All" religious attitude some who feel they have God and God's plan for everyone on earth all figured out.


Analogy Key

God/The Divine/The Creator/The Universe = The Ocean

Spiritual Leaders = Navigators/Sailors.

Religious/Holy books = Maps

Religion = Ships

Religious Followers = Passengers/Crew.

Let's begin!

Earth’s oceans, like God/Universe must be explored fully. We are compelled to ponder and explore because we depend on it for life, yet is remains a mystery in many ways. Knowing its inner workings helps us better live in harmony with it while benefiting from its gifts. The ocean is vast and ever-changing. It’s features can be both beautiful and awe-inspiring or horrific and fatal. But everything from underwater volcanoes to sandy beaches, maelstroms and tsunamis, friendly dolphins to deadly jellyfish serve a purpose. Depending on the exploration path or season, it can be extremely dangerous to explore certain parts of the ocean. That is where the findings of Navigators/Sailors (spiritual leaders) who have gone before come in handy, especially when they have created Maps of their journey. Let’s talk about those maps a second.

Ancient Maps reflect the beliefs and perspectives of the early sailors/navigators and are limited by their subjectivity, fears and lack of scientific knowledge about many things about the earth's oceans.

ALL religious books are like maps of our earth’s oceans drawn thousands of years ago, long before satellites and echo-location technology. Some have mythological images of sea monsters and mermaids. Some represent a flat earth. Most have rudimentary, often inaccurate land mass depictions. While not satellite accurate, they can help one gain an appreciation of where early Navigators/Sailors started and are also of great historical and cultural value. Where their representations are indeed true, these ancient maps are useful. We can choose to rely on one ancient map from one part of the world or consult many ancient maps from Navigators/Sailors all around the world. By comparing and noting similarities and differences and then checking against current scientific findings, we often see universal truths emerge about earth’s geography. We can also choose not to depend on ancient maps at all for our personal exploration of earth.

Just as an ancient Viking Map will not give a complete picture of the earth's oceans, nor an ancient Mesapotamian Map or Chinese Map, no single religious text tells the entire story about God/Universe.

Just as the first explorers braved it, we can with enough courage, explore by trial and error or use the current cartographic technology and GPS capabilities available to us in order to design an original map like the first Navigators/Sailors did using the science of their time. This can be scary and it is not a path for everyone which is why using a pre-existing map can be reassuring. An ocean route is already worked out for you. However, you often run into the trap of not seeing the WHOLE ocean, as objectively as possible. If you only used an ancient Viking map, it will only take you along certain routes and no more. The same goes for if you only used Christopher Columbus’ map. There are many maps of the earth drawn up by many explorers from many different cultures from Chinese Navigators/Sailors to Mesopotamian to Greek and each were partial to a particular route and particular representation of geography.

We know more about the ocean now than our ancestors did and new insight into God/Universe must be allowed to re-shape our beliefs or else we will become ignorant and lost, slavishly following old maps and inaccurate beliefs that no longer apply.

You are also limited by the science and beliefs of the ancient Navigators/Sailors. Since their antiquated maps were drawn up, we have not only discovered new places on earth but gained new insights into earth’s dynamic changes that altered and continue to alter the geographic features and boundaries of the countries on earth. We discovered mermaids were in fact dolphins and manatees. Volcanoes have created new islands since those maps were drawn up. Man has made changes to the continents by land reclamation and flooding.

Those who legalistically hold on to one ancient map, drawn from the perspective of just one civilisation’s Navigators/Sailors and try assert it not only relevant in every sense but the only TRUE map of the world find themselves in an awkward position. When some maps are held up against clear, accurate, real-time cartographic standards which have revealed more truthful geographic features of our earth, they fall short. Sometimes a map from another civilisation reveals better or more useful representations of earth than a map some claim to be the only TRUE map. When this happens they have to find a way to denounce those “false maps” and many Navigators/Sailors become overly preoccupied with trying to defend their map instead of actually using it to explore the oceans and learn its secrets and better appreciate its role in their lives.

Those who legalistically hold on to one ancient map, drawn from the perspective of just one civilisation’s Navigators/Sailors and try assert it not only relevant in every sense but the only TRUE map of the world find themselves spiritually and creatively stagnant and increasingly detached from feeling or expressing truly enlightened and loving sentiments.

The thing all explorers have to remember about maps that they show a representation only. The “ocean” is alive and dynamic and a law unto itself. No single, static map can ever fully capture it, nor predict its next wondrous change. In order to truly fully explore the ocean, you have to be living IN IT all the time and observing it in REAL TIME. Those with their heads buried in a map instead of fixed on vista in front of them are missing the ever changing beautiful horizon, shoals of whales, dramatic coastlines, sea colours that change from aqua to inky black and are unprepared for sudden squalls that throw them off course and test their Navigational/Sailing skills.

The ocean, like God/Universe is a living, dynamic, unfathomable entity and maps, especially ancient maps show a rough, surface representation only. They do not show below the surface. It is up to you to dive deeper and experience the ocean tangibly in REAL TIME.

Next installment, we shall discuss what is the best way to explore the ocean (God. Should you be a Navigator/Sailor or jump on board a ship as a Passenger/Crew?