As I see it, there is no “path” to a “greater reality” or “higher view.” Here are some thoughts:
“The Path as a Web of Paths”
It’s probably no secret that I have an allergic reaction to certain words. When a term I consider essentially nonsense is wrapped in other words to make it more palatable, my palate finds it distasteful. Maybe it won’t surprise anyone if I say that “miracle” is one of those words, and “The Word” is another, though that’s two words.
Here I’m going to use one of those perplexing words as a stepping stone to cross a stream of thought (I’m pausing to enjoy that image).
I’ll begin by telling this quick story.
We noticed a web forming outside a glass door window. The eight-legged artist was enjoying her morning coffee break in the center of her creation. A ray of sun peeking over the Blue Ridge caught her colorful smock—or so it seemed. Green and silver and white reflected as the strands of web reverberated in an early breeze.
I went out for a closer look (this is the first hint of where I’m going with this). I tried using a magnifier app on my phone but it just couldn’t focus, so I went in to find an old-fashioned magnifying glass in a drawer. She came into view, appearing to pose. Amazing, almost iridescent colors. I whispered, “You’re probably the most beautiful spider I’ve ever seen.” Do arachnids have ears? Do they blush?
Before I went inside I noticed a very small green creature scurrying along the deck railing. It acted like a tiny jumping spider but its light green shade and shape suggested a young leafhopper. Each time it stopped it swayed back and forth as if to take in the greater view—and from that size, everything is a greater view.
It got away before I could see it up close. I couldn’t even tell if it hopped, flew or fell to the ground.
When I stepped back inside I told Carol, “Wow, it seems every time I go out the door I see something I’ve never seen!” (there’s the second hint, and hints are now unnecessary).
People across the planet see things every day that are wonderful, peculiar or even frightening in their strangeness. Scientific minds, driven by curiosity, are immediately drawn to investigate. “What IS this?,” they ask, “What’s going on here?”
When the whole world becomes one incomprehensible classroom, jammed full of curiosities, one could spend a lifetime just looking around. And many do.
Every time we step outside our door something new and different presents itself, at least when we’re looking, and we are students in the classroom.
The colorful spider and the “what’chya-ma-call-it” I saw a few steps outside want nothing more, I suppose, than to be unseen, hidden from most eyes.
This makes me think of “lessons” people tell us are concealed all over the place like one of those “hidden puzzle” games. We’re directed to look around, or within, for a “special message” or even a “voice” that “speaks to us.”
Realizing that most religious traditions are based on, centered on and driven by this view, it’s a “cause for pause,” as I like to say. I pause to consider how much we miss by looking for things that are apparently not as apparent as the most minute living things.
“But I SAW it! Don’t you SEE it? It’s right THERE!” God, for instance; a “miracle,” for instance. Those of us who honestly can’t see these things may need a pair of “special glasses” or a “third eye” yet I have a better option: get out more.
In his perceptive book “On Trails: An Exploration,” Robert Moore lays out the map in this way:
“Here is where the notion of the spiritual path, as portrayed in countless holy books, falters: scriptures tend to present the image of an unchanging route to wisdom, handed down from on high. But paths, like religions, are seldom fixed. They continually change … depending on how, or whether, their followers elect to use them. Both the religious path and the hiking path are, as Taoists say, made in the walking.”
As more people “walk the walk,” exercising their ability to be curious, to wonder and ask questions about the cosmos, I have a feeling “other realities” might simply hop, fly or fall away.
Another line from Moore’s book makes a lot of sense to me:
“Lost in the howling landscapes of life, most people will choose the confinement of a path to the dizzying freedom of an unmarked wilderness.”
Thomas Merton said something similar when he described the Desert Mystics as searching for “landmarks in a trackless wilderness.”
In other words—if we need other words—there are no final paths, no maps, and countless whatya-ma-call-its.