Religions are not paths to God or Salvation or Liberation. Even if they helped one reach there, they are not “paths”. They are, apart from Hinduism (because its not personality centered), case studies of one person who found his way. A case study is not a path.
Lets understand it from the management perspective. There could be several methodologies to undertake a process or a project. These are high level methodologies which provide tools, framework, and practices that a person can use. Using them doesn’t always ensure that you will have a successful project completed. Its quite simply that we have the tools and the success depends on how we use them.
Now, many teams may use these methodologies and some of them may be a success. Both, the successful and the unsuccessful projects done using those methodologies are case studies. One learns from both. In case of religions though, one finds only “a” successful case study being showcased as the “only solution”. That is a dangerous thing. Its not a bad thing necessarily, but it is dangerous. Because, it will lead to a few issues down the road:
The people who buy-in to the “one case study being the only solution” credo usually leave the seeking for themselves. They don’t look for anything else that works for them in their peculiar situation. The founder guy’s case study – highly successful for him – was for him. It worked fine in his case. It may not work for you. But you will never know. Because you are simply using a strait-jacketed practices coming out of one experiment.
Loss of Innovation and Seeking is the first casualty. But even more important is creating rigidity in structure and interpretation. This latter part quickly takes away all that was really the crux of the “case study” in the first place!
It is imperative that one find his/her own way. The success of the past Masters is a great plus and a tool / example that one can learn from, but it cannot be followed “as is”. Everyone and everything is unique in this creation. The path of the evolutionary spiritual work will also be different for all in some ways. The broader practices may be same for two people, but the path will not be.
By saying “Religions are paths”, we somehow give blanket justification to every cult/sect/dictator who can garner enough followers to be considered a “Religion” and thus admit that as a “legitimate” path to God. The number of people following some idiotic or demented ideology doesn’t make it any better. Its just that people start inventing new ways to justify its “greatness”. And that is the main aim of most religionists who are hell-bent on Evangelism. If something is indeed the Truth, then you can’t convert anyone to it. You just need to help them see and experience that Truth.
Paths (or Methodologies) can only be discerned by understanding the experiences of various successes and failures. So, religions which ostensibly (even if one is charitable) share only “successful” case studies, cannot provide a balanced view, forget a complete view.
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