Consecutive Days Riding: 123 Days Blogged: 105
New Mileage: 5 Total Trip Mileage: 880
As I rode the bike this morning I thought about a question raised by one of my blog’s followers a devout Christian from West Africa who now lives in Canada. She frequently comments on my posts and asks clarifying questions. On several occasions her questions have led to blog topics.
I enjoy her visits and comments. She represents one of those people who holds strongly to their spiritual and religious beliefs and asked questions to clarify and better understand where others are coming from. I never tire of such genuine questions as they often help me to delve deeper into and explore my own beliefs. I’ve learned that in order to explain something adequately you’ve got to have a clear idea of how you feel. Vague and unclear answers are often indicative of shallow beliefs, uncertain foundations or a general level of defensiveness.
I strive to explore my beliefs, to clarify them, to deepen their roots and broadened their branches, so that I might multiply their fruit. I mention her now because she is scheduled to travel out of country for a time. I wish her a safe journey; I will hold her in my thoughts and prayers and look forward to her return.
I want to take time today to answer one of her questions. In the posting entitled “Ain’t No Catholics in Blunt County” I noted the importance of my two week stay in a monastery of Benedictine Monks. I noted:” I would come to recognize the deep well of creativity and wisdom residing at the core of my being. Only now do I realize that this chance meeting with a monastery full of monks presented me with a glimpse of tranquil solitary path to a deeper level of understanding. It would be in the Hindu and Buddhist temples of the East that this seed would take root and I would find my spiritual teachers and ultimately my inner guide.”
My friend expressed an interest in how I conceptualize my inner guide. She asked: does this guide represent a moral plumb line or a set of standards? Does this guide possess an ability to communicate with me? Is this inner guide personalized or is it general availability to everyone? These are all good questions. My guide represents more of a plumb line than a set of standards. My guide is not a deity or spirit so you cannot converse with it; however, it is available to everyone who is open and receptive to it.
I know some people’s guide is a sacred text, like the Bible, for others it may be an experience of the divine. When I analyze and judge my behavior or the behavior of others (questions of morality) I take a functional approach. I have a set of basic beliefs: such as the dignity and worth of all people; the interconnectedness of all facets of our environment; the goal of finding balance within ourselves, our relationships and community. These basic beliefs form the background, the canvas for my decisional process. With these beliefs in place I then look at the specific facts of each situation. I ask whether the behavior is warranted for this situation, will it help the individual and/or the community advance in a positive way. I do not carry a “one size fits all” approach to the situations in my life. My “guide” is in fact a dynamic process, a way of approaching problems and situations, a process of discovery and adjustment.
I do not believe the ends justify the means, for we might arrive at a desirable outcome but leave a trail of destruction in our path (the destruction of native cultures and tribes to get their resources and land). I do not believe that one size fits all. I do not believe in moralistic approaches that uses dichotomous black-and-white thinking. I may consult sacred scriptures for ideas and insights, but there is no one book that is my specific guide. Some would say I follow the dreaded situational approach. I heard talk show hosts saying that you are immoral if you don’t follow a specific sacred scripture. I see my functional process as a more realistic and humanistic undertaking that is tolerant of differing beliefs and experiences.
I don’t deny the validity and the value of any sacred scripture, sacred story or sacred ritual, they work for some people, just as my approach works for me! I hope this answers my friend’s questions! I suspect it will raise more questions and that’s okay. I hope she’ll share them with me for her questions are gifts, for that I am thankful and I will pray for her safe and speedy return.
If you have enjoyed the blog please sign up for stationarypilgrim’s e-mail subscription by going to the upper right corner of this page.