Religion as a Ladder

I’m musing on the idea that in principle, religion offers the appropriate instruction, practice, and experience for every level of spiritual development.

The thought is that even at the most basic level of understanding and spiritual development, it offers an appropriate message to meet the person where they are. And at the highest levels of spiritual development, it offers an appropriate experience and understanding.

It’s like a ladder, and whatever level you’re at as an individual, there’s a rung for you to step onto. But whichever rung you’re on ultimately leads, step by step, to the very top. Religion is a ladder.

I was involved with the TM (Transcendental Meditation) movement for many years, and it was a bit like that. You can start very simply with just 20 minutes twice a day, and then advance to longer and more involved programs and deeper knowledge.

But ironically, I’d say one of my criticisms of TM is that they had a very poor “endgame.” Despite their claims and focus on spiritual enlightenment, my impression was that they didn’t really expect people to actually become enlightened. Because in my experience and observation, they didn’t know what to do with it when it did/does happen.

But maybe that’s the same in a religion. How many saints, sages, and enlightened beings were cast out or worse, as heretics because they didn’t fit the orthodoxy of the managerial midwits?

Still, my point remains.

Regarding intra-religious multiplicity, to my mind Hindu Dharma is probably the best example of this principle. The sheer variety of spiritual practice, understanding, and experience contained within its remarkable diversity is incredibly flexible and inclusive. Perhaps the only thing it seems to exclude is exclusivity itself.

Anyway, just thinking aloud.

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