I am very grateful for the Center for Sacred Sciences here in Oregon, and have gotten much out of the retreats and individual conversations with a couple of teachers. At the same time, I notice something I have heard from others as well. They talk about the journey to God, and not within God. At least in public, they talk about only a part of the process.
I can imagine a couple of reasons for that strategy: It’s simpler, at least on the surface. And they leave out a few things, including dark nights, that may scare people off from getting involved.
At the same time, I see several possible drawbacks:
(a) It’s a misrepresentation of the process. And since many students are familiar with other teachers/teachings, they know it’s a misrepresentation of the process. This invites a lack of trust. What else do they hide? Do they know about the rest, or not?
(b) They leave out several phases which could give a better understanding of the process as a whole, including the one they do talk about in public – the initial phase.
(c) Talking about the journey to God only may set up awakening as (i) a goal, (ii) either/or (binary), (iii) only sudden, and (iv) better than unawakened.
(d) They may lose folks who have been through the gate – either stably or temporarily – and look for guidance of what’s after.
(e) They implicitly treat the students as children, unable to discern, unable to deal with complexity, unable to take care of themselves, someone that needs to be protected against themselves.
And I see several benefits from talking openly about the whole process, as many do these days:
(a) It’s a fuller and more honest representation of the whole process. It invites trust.
(b) Talking about the whole process gives a fuller understanding of what it’s about, including what the initial phase – the journey to God – is about.
(c) It shows that it’s an ongoing process, and ongoing unfolding. An opening or awakening is one of many milestones, and not a goal and not necessarily “better” than what’s before or after in time.
(d) Their approach is more attractive to people who have been through the first gate.
(e) Students are treated as responsible, and able to discern and take care of themselves.
What about their two possible reasons for choosing their strategy? For me, it’s simpler to include it all, also because the whole sheds lights on each phase. Also, I prefer transparency and knowing what I am getting into. (And in my case, there wasn’t any choice.)
Some thoughts for me to look at:
Their approach belongs to a different culture / time.
They are dishonest. Misguided.
They treat students as children. They do people a disservice.
They only talk about the journey to God and not within God.