So, my dream recall has been improving lately, but I seem to be waking up between dreams for a brief while. It’s interesting; either I really do wake up just enough to be aware that I’m in my bed and just had a dream, or I’m just conscious enough to be half-asleep. Either way, it’s helping my dream recall, and lately I’ve been entering states of semi-lucidity: one dream recently had me intentionally toying around with my apparently-retractable beard, and another where I was trying to figure out the maximum size for a Solomonic circle I could fit into my apartment (I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, so it’s nice I could handle this on my downtime). Hopefully I can keep progressing, because this is getting really exciting. I’ve wanted to be able to lucid dream for years and years now and have never been able to achieve one.
That’s not the point of this post though. A friend from high school and I have recently been chatting on Facebook, and she’s doing (mostly) well. I recall her having a distinct neopagan streak back in those days, but it turns out she was raised in a pretty Christian household and maintains her faith in that. Of course, she’s definitely still got that neopagan streak and a psychic side, and she’s been having issues reconciling her religion and her faith. It’s a shame, really, when this happens to people: they find something that actually works for them and gives them meaning, purpose, joy, etc., but then some outside institution claiming to know what’s best for them says “NO, bad bad bad”. They get chained up in things and eventually lose their mojo and strength, even though they’re told that this other way is the proper and best way, and things just kinda suck for them.
I’ve got two analogies for you, dear reader. The first is lifted from a Buddhist tale. An old, poor widow in Tibet wanted to know how to become more pious, so she asked a local mendicant monk before he left town what to do. He said that she should say a certain mantra 108 times every day. Normally, counting mantras is done on a mala (a string of prayer beads), but being poor, she couldn’t afford one. So she got out two bowls, filled one with 108 beans, and moved a bean from one bowl to the other for every mantra said. She did this for many years, until eventually the beans moved on their own accord; she was able to say the mantras with such devotion that she could focus more on them than the beans. Eventually, a monastery was build near the town where she lived, and the head abbot went around from door to door meeting the townsfolk. He heard about what this woman was doing, and came to see her chant. He immediately stopped her and said that she’s chanting the mantra all wrong and mangling the pronunciation. She tried again using the “proper” pronunciation, but the beans never moved on their own again.
As Crowley said, “let success be they proof”. If something is “wrong” but it works, clearly there’s some truth in it. Why it works is important, sure, just as how it works, but if it works at all, then that’s what really counts. The whys and hows of things can always be investigated, but if you’re investigating something that doesn’t work, there’s not much point in doing it. The old woman for years chanted a potentially-mangled mantra, and sure, it wasn’t how the teachings prescribed it. But it worked. She was able to attain that devotion, that single-mindedness, that clarity using it all the same. Then some dude came along and told her that she was wrong, and she lost it. She wasn’t allowed to do what works for her, and she became bogged down by it.
For my second analogy, imagine, if you will, a medical doctor. They’re extensively trained in how humans work, how diseases work, and how medicine works. They’re, in many senses of the word, experts. When a patient comes up to them asking for help with a particular disease, the doctor will know generally what’s going on and may follow a set regimen for the patient. However, they also know that they can’t apply the same regimen for all patients with the same problem; each patient is an entirely different system, with different environments, diets, activities, temperaments, dispositions, and lifestyles. Saying that there’s only one cure for all patients with any given problem is reckless, because the doctor isn’t taking into account the unique needs of each patient. So the doctor has to work with the patient and figure out the best regimen, even if mostly follows the rule, so that each patient can achieve the best results. You see this especially so when dealing with antidepressants and other mind-altering drugs: what helps one person with no side effects for one thing can have disastrous consequences for another person.
Why should souls and faith be any different? Everybody’s unique, and we’re only the same when we’re at the Source (since we’re also all One). Every body, every mind, every spirit, and every soul is unique and different. Everybody, then, has their best way, their own way, to enlightenment and truth. Sure, we may all be incredibly similar in many aspects, but it’s the tiny differences that can make all the difference. For me, traditional religion won’t cut it; for my missionary aunt, they do. For me, conjurations are a neat way to get truth about matters; for my friend mentioned above, they’re highly discouraged by her spirit guides. For me, philosophy and the occult help define my universe; for some of my other friends, hard cold science does. So long as truth is sought out in the ways best for each person, whatever it entails, you’re on the right path. If it works, keep it up. Let nobody tell you otherwise.