above earth's lamentations.
I hear the real bur far-off hymn
that hails a new creation?
-- How Can I Keep From Singing? (19th Century American hymn}
Analyses of "stages of faith" (Robert Fowler) have said that the "highest" form of expression of any relious belief is s attained by only a very small proportion of those who claim to believe in and practice it. Even in pre 1950s Tibet, the percentace of "enlightened" people never rose above 10 percent. The vast majority of people who come together to worship on a holy day have a very poor and mostly false idea about th religion they claim as
as their own. When the members of different religious groups meet, each with their mistken ideas about what their own or anybody elses religion is, it is easy to see how conflict might erupt.
There was once a common, "universal" religion. Anthropologists call it animism. Traces of it remain in akk existing religions, but especially in the smaller, "ethnic" religions of tribal or isolated groups. The importance of these groups tend to be disparaged by modern people, whether they or mateialistically or spirituallt oriensted. The minds of "primitive," we are told, had not developed to the point where they could move frove frombeing unsociak to social to "post-social" (spiritual) creatures. But i have found in American Indian cultures
all of the features that are supposed to be characteristic of a mature spirituality: acceptance, simplicity, tolerance, compassion, selflessness, detachment, and a central focus on the non-material world.
Returning to my 12-stp program after a 25 year hiatus, i should not have been surprised to find a depth of spirituality that i might expect in a monastery. We are a pretty middle class bunch, but next time i want to
a similar program that is not so middle class.
"May i smoke while i meditate?" a young monk asked his abbot. "Certainly not," advises the abbsost "May I meditate while i smoke?" asks an older monk. "Yes, of course," answers the abbot.
Can I curse while i f****n pray, the young drunk asks his sponsor. " Why don't you work of your vocabularly?" suggests the sponsor. Can i pray while i'm cursing," The older drunk asks. "Why not". says his sponsor. What better time would there be?"