The less spirituality offers, the better

Spirituality offers much: rituals, activism, personality worship, psychic fireworks, social pleasure, defined levels of attainment.

When spirituality offers much, it is like a stamp album. The shape and size of each stamp is outlined. Into each outline you stick the appropriate stamp that you go out and find.

The best of spirituality doesn’t offer a blank sheet of paper, let alone the possibility of finding stamps.

The burden is then placed on you to make offers to spirituality. You offer all your integrity and all your crap. You offer all your own stamps, not ones outlined for you to match up. But there is no album to paste them into.

By offering you nothing at all, spirituality allows you to give up everything. What is left can’t be outlined as a shape or depicted on a stamp.

There are many ways of accessing a spirituality that offers you nothing. However, you must stumble into the realization that it is the next step.

~ ~ ~

Also, read Where You Stumble.

3 thoughts on “The less spirituality offers, the better

  1. Paul Maurice Martin

    I think it’s also true that there are a number of paths to nonduality. And also a number of different ways to experience it. The One comes in more than one shade or flavor, so to speak.

    Love, for example, rightly understood, is a way. People can go that way without ever meditating. (That said, I’ve personally found meditation invaluable – including for understanding what love it.)


  2. Ted Biringer

    Thought provoking post by Jerry Katz—and comment by Paul Maurice Martin.

    This seems to touch on something that has lately been trying to take shape somewhere at the edge of my mind…

    I am not quite sure what it is yet, but it seems to have something to do with choosing a particular path.

    I find great satisfaction in exploring the many ways that various traditions use to express and practice the one truth of reality. I always thank Joseph Campbell in my mind for raising our collective concsiousness in this regard. His work, like Jerry Katz’s book, One:Essential Writings-on-Nonduality

    clearly reveals the common thread running through all the great traditions. Yet, as Campbell himself pointed out, it is difficult to practice “all” the great traditions.

    There is a definite trend (which has been going for some time, but seems to me to be rapidly accelerating) to get to the heart of the truths of all the great traditions, strip them of their “extraneous” by-products, and present the essential naked truth. The motives behind such undertakings include:

    Pre-empting sectarian bickering.

    Speeding the process to enlightenment, salvation, liberation, or any of the other terms for the “goal” of religions/spiritual traditions, by stripping the “non-essentials,” thereby shortining the “practice/study” time required.

    Making truth more accessible to more people by ridding it of any taint of the “supernatural” (and superstition) which might arouse bias.

    Bringing the ancient wisdom “up to date” in both scientific terms and modern language, thereby making the “truth” more logical and rational, and hence understandable.

    I have personally “dabbled” in a variety of ways to make truth “easier” to find or, more often, to point out the foolishness of wasting our precious lives in self-inflicted suffering caused by the delusion of seperation. Yet, as more and more books and “teachers” offer their “new and improved” practices, methods, philosophies, etc., the more I wonder if its really a good thing…

    While I have seen some ideas that seem worth looking at, they are the minority–at least in my view. Some “teachers” offer elaborate “simplifications” that make delving into the voluminous Avatamsaka Sutra seem like a cake-walk. Others have “boiled” the truth down so far that it is about as interesting as a pair of bowling shoes (which can be interesting for little while–but to where them for a lifetime…. I don’t know).

    When I read a great “synthesizer” or study the fascinating works offering “comparitive” studies, like those of Campbell, Zimmer, Jung, and Katz, it is like a slow burning rapture. Seeing how the story of Adam & Eve presents some of the same core truths as the interactions between Buddha & Mahakyashapa offers me perspectives on both “traditions” that I would not otherwise glimpse…

    Yet, to take Adam & Eve completely out of the picture and give a “rational” explication on how human beings experience anguish when they mispercieve themselves and the world as seperate entities, but when they correctly percieve their non-seperation and the unity of opposites… etc. etc… I don’t know…

    What if William Blake had not written:

    When the stars threw down their spears,
    And watered heaven with their tears,
    Did he smile his work to see?
    Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

    Or any of his marvelous, though difficult to “understand”, poems and prophecies?

    What if, instead, old man Blake boiled it down for us, made it simple and clear?

    We will never know, but I doubt we would ever have heard about the crazy, wonderful, compassionate man we know as W. Blake.

    Yet, let me offer my hand in boiling one of Blake’s gems down to the bare essentials. Do you want to know the essential message of this one:

    Tiger! Tiger! burning bright
    In the forests of the night,
    What immortal hand or eye
    Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

    Okay… Here is the same thing with all the non-essentials stripped away:

    Tiger! Tiger! burning bright
    In the forests of the night,
    What immortal hand or eye
    Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

    Yes, much easier to grasp!

    Thank you,

    Ted Biringer


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