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...

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