“In every generation, the truth must be encountered directly by prophets, mystics and visionaries. Becoming one with that truth, they can express it in the language of their times.
When prophets, mystics and visionaries express the truth, they often challenge the institutions, dominant beliefs, and the authority figures of their society. Like Jesus, these inspired teachers claim an inner authority, not an outer one. They oppose and expose all forms of hypocrisy and injustice, even when it is institutionalized. As such, they are not very popular with the powers that be.
Because they seek to empower people to think for themselves and take responsibility for their lives, the teachings of the prophets, mystics and visionaries often ignite the hearts of people. They encourage people to ask questions, to challenge old customs and laws that no longer serve the greater good. Through the authentic life and teaching of such individuals, truth remains a living force.
In contrast to the prophets, the mystics and the visionaries, there are the fundamentalists, who live their lives based on a past authority. They look at holy books as literally true. They are concerned about the letter of the law, not the spirit of the law. Fundamentalists can be found within every religious tradition, in every time and place.
Fundamentalists believe that there is only one truth and they alone have it. They are often intolerant of other paths and work hard to convert others to their way of thinking. They often profess their beliefs with great zeal, but this zeal in itself seems to hide and inner insecurity. Fundamentalists are easily threatened by people who hold different values and beliefs, and they are quick to condemn others.
Fundamentalism emphasizes an outer authority, rather than an inner one. It establishes spiritual hierarchies and creates new idols. It substitutes elaborate rules and rituals for the authentic practice of God-communion and sacrifices the freedom of the individual to the tyranny of the group mind.
While fundamentalism is strong in your time, so is its opposite: experimentalism.Today, there are hundreds of thousands of books, tapes, lectures, and workshops claiming to point the way toward truth. Every path you can imagine is being offered, from angel guidance to satanic rituals, from the sublime to the ridiculous. It is hard for some people to discriminate.
In some respects, this is a confusing time to be on the planet. The old, hierarchical religion is in its death throes. You can no longer take your directions from churches, gurus or other authority figures. You must find direction in your own heart. You must try new ideas and practices, learning what works and what does not. You must learn to discriminate and become responsible for the ideas you accept as truth. You must walk your path with honesty and humility, learning to honor the path of others.
This puts the responsibility square on your shoulders. Will you make mistakes? Absolutely. Will you try some ideas that won’t work perhaps hurting yourself or others in the process? Very likely. But you will learn from all this. You will find your way through the forest and come into the clearing where the sun streams through.
You will learn to meet your unique needs in the context of the eternal human need for both freedom and belonging. You will find the universal truth, which has lived in all times and all places, and learn to hold it and share it authentically.
As you take the spiritual journey honestly and courageously, you will make a new covenant with your Creator, so that His truth may continue to live and to shine in your time.”