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?

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