Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Devotional Futility: By What Measure Are We Judged?

Devotion is not something that can be measured and compared; spirituality is not a contest. I like to consider myself to be a pretty spiritual person, but by what measure, that is an important question. After all, I do lots of religious things… and I have lots of religious beliefs.  How am I to determine the worth of the compilation of all of that if not by measuring it against some arbitrary scale of religiosity for which I have some experience? In short, if an individual cannot compare themselves to others to determine their spiritual worth then what do they compare themselves against?

Before I get into the answer that the Craft provides to the above question, let me briefly ullustrate why trying to compare various people’s level of devotion is a pointless act of futility. Let’s take two completely fictitious people whom I have just temporarily spun into existence upon the mental plane and will use Mercurian powers to spread their existence abroad; a.k.a. I will communicate their quality whereby others will know of them as the limited beings of this thought experiment for which they be and I have thought of them as. Hope that all makes complete sense.

Now Susie is a guy, let’s just say he is one that is a bit too fond of rhetorical argument and the color blue, but I digress. He was not raised in any particular tradition or faith, but has always held a belief in Deity. He does not attend any form of church or social group. He, however, has found a love for scripture. It doesn’t really matter what kind. He has shelves and shelves of various versions of the Bible as well as copies of the Talmud, Quran, the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, the Sutras, the Bodhisattvas, the Book of Mormon, and many others, far too many to list in a reasonable amount of time for the likes of this blog post. Every night after his evening meal, of chicken, rice, asparagus, iced tea, and two scoops of ice cream, he always has the same thing for dinner and never gets bored of it, anyway; after eating he sits down in his favorite chair with a cup of rooibos tea and picks a canon from his massive collection. He then reads a passage or two and feels the presence of what only he can call “God” as the intent of the words fills his thoughts, then a few more passages, a few more, and before he knows it his coo-coo clock is telling him midnight has arrived and he really should be in bed, he does have a long day monitoring the security cameras at the mall the next day.

Miss Britt, short for Mrs. Brittany, as she is quick to point out, and named after Britain, so she claims, attends the local Lutheran Church a couple of times a week. She doesn’t particularly subscribe to the Church’s teaching about life after death, and so with it a lot of the official teachings are not important to her. Who needs to bother with salvation if there is nothing beyond life? Anyway, she grew up attending this very church with her paternal grandmother and has continued to do so into old age. In fact, she plans to have her funeral here and to be buried in the small cemetery out back. Her only regret is she won’t be around to watch it; she does love a good funeral. In fact, any church ritual or ceremony is a delight to her, even the annual children’s Christmas play, though they butcher the acting and story a bit, it is a ritual to her, it is like clockwork, wonderful mesmerizing clockwork. It is in these moments of mesmerization that she prays, not to anyone in particular, just the words “Blessed are you..” In fact, if it weren’t for the feeling she got during watching a service, Miss Britt doesn’t think she’d ever pray, because it is only in those moments that she can escape her doubt and feel something more just might be, probably not she tells herself, but in the mists of ritual—maybe.

Alright, so there you have it. Who is more spiritual? Susie or Miss Britt? Truth be told, I couldn’t say. It is futile to try and compare the two. Likewise it is futile to compare oneself to another.

According to Craft teaching the measure by which we are to compare ourselves is quite simply and none other than ourselves. It is the individual that Crafts an understanding of their own morality and the measure of ethical success comes from their own ability to adhere to this position. Positions change of course, and that is all part of the point. If your Craft is composed of meditation and the giving of offerings and not ritual and social communion then it is there that you have found your personal yardstick. All of this, I know, is a gross oversimplification, but it should get the idea that we are our own standard and measure of individual spirituality across. Spend a few moments reflecting upon your own spirituality and know the lay of the land you have built for yourself.

Boidh Se!

-Spanish Moss

“Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path.”

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