Monday, March 30, 2009

The Elephant In The Room

Once upon a time, there lived six blind men in a village. One day the villagers told them, "Hey, there is an elephant in the village today."

They had no idea what an elephant is. They decided, "Even though we would not be able to see it, let us go and feel it anyway." All of them went where the elephant was. Everyone of them touched the elephant.

"Hey, the elephant is a pillar," said the first man who touched his leg.

"Oh, no! it is like a rope," said the second man who touched the tail.

"Oh, no! it is like a thick branch of a tree," said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.

"It is like a big hand fan" said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.

"It is like a huge wall," said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.

"It is like a solid pipe," Said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.

They began to argue about the elephant and everyone of them insisted that he was right. It looked like they were getting agitated. A wise man was passing by and he saw this. He stopped and asked them, "What is the matter?" They said, "We cannot agree to what the elephant is like." Each one of them told what he thought the elephant was like. The wise man calmly explained to them, "All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently because each one of you touched the different part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all those features what you all said."

The natural ending to this parable is that everyone walks away happy, having gained a much greater understanding of what, exactly, an elephant is - by looking at it from the viewpoints of other people. They each "saw" it differently, but the whole - in this case - is much greater than the sum of its parts. It's meant to teach us that, in order to better understand a problem, we must and should look at it from different sides. Far too often, there isn't just a single viewpoint; look at a subject in various ways, and you gain a greater understanding, and perhaps connection, with that thing.

The obvious use of this story is as a metaphor for religion. God (or Yahweh, or Allah, or Buddha, or Wakantanka, or Luna) is that elephant in the room; everyone has an opinion on it, and everyone who does have an opinion thinks that the ear, or leg, or trunk that they're holding is the Alpha and the Omega of how that elephant should be defined.

Someone very near and dear to me is going through a personal crisis of faith. She's being pulled between two worlds, each of somewhat differing views of what her faith should be. Or rather, who her faith should be in. It's my happy role to help guide her onto a path that she feels comfortable with, and if the path I help her blaze happens to take from two different trails...does it matter, if in the end she's reaching the right destination?

I ask, because there is someone else - and the whom, of this, isn't important - who has a completely different opinion of this. To him, there is only one yellow brick road to Oz; there is no deviation from it, and any other road - whether or not that road runs parallel or not - only leads to a dark, dark place. Obviously this person plays an influencing role in my friend's life, and is using that influence to denounce any other way of thought.

Why are some people so focused on the light ahead, they're completely blinded to what they're doing to the people around them?

I take personal umbrage with the idea that the afterlife of the enlightened is this...exclusive club, with a velvet rope outside. And if you aren't a member of this ecclesiastical elite, no matter the person you are won't get into the club. Instead you'll be damned, and sent to the furnaces.

Because you didn't kiss someone's ring.

I've been called Anti-Christian by some, and I disagree with that description. I have little or no problem with the Christian faith itself; I do, however, have considerable issues with the institution of Christianity, and the ideologies they invoke among their followers. Some of their followers. I have...concerns, about a faith system that encourages converting other people to their way of thinking, even considering it a virtue if not a requirement - and condemns those who do not focus on the elephants leg.

But I'm not here to complain, or argue, about the Church of the Apostles.

My friend is a Christian, and has no desire to...expel herself from the Christian faith. She does follow Christ as her Lord and Savior, and despite my personal views I have no desire to dissuade her from that.

However. That system is at odds with an ever-growing fire inside of her, that perhaps the way of the church she's followed for so long...isn't enough. That there's a more natural way of the world that she feels, deep inside her heart, isn't being nurtured. She's out of balance because of it, because she's felt an emptiness inside that, despite her best efforts, the ways of her belief system hasn't been able to fill.

A feminine principle. A Yin, to Christianity's Yang.

There are vast similarities of the rites of Christianity, to the old rituals of various pagan belief systems; none of these similiarities were happy coincidences, but were carefully orchestrated by those in power, in order to incorporate EXISTING BELIEF SYSTEMS to more easily help people accept the Christian faith. However, unlike most other belief systems Christianity (and the entire Judeo-Christian ideology) rejects the feminine ideal, relegating the role of the Yin - the Goddess - to an afterthought.

I mention this, because there are many others out there who, like this friend, have felt this emptiness and have discovered their inner balance by co-embracing certain pagan beliefs, intertwining them with their Christian faith.

Christopagans, they're called. Or Christian Wiccans, depending on what you read.
They said to Him: "Shall we then, being children, enter the Kingdom?" Jesus said to them: "When you make the two one, and when you make the inner as the outer and the outer as the inner and the above as the below, and when you make the male and the female into a single one, then you shall enter the kingdom."
- the Gospel of Thomas

Christianity is the New Testament of the Bible, and the New incomplete. The Gnostic Gospels - the Apocrypha - are unknown to most Christians, because they were rejected in most cases by those in power, as being too controversial or obscure to be included within the canonical Bible.

It's fascinating that among these texts are various references to disagreements between the Biblical Peter and Mary Magdalene, conventionally thought to be little more than a holy groupie; some, however, believe she was in fact closer to an apostle in status, and perhaps because of this disagreement by Peter (incidently, the actual "founder" of "Christianity" as we know it) the role of women in the teachings of Christ were purposefully downplayed. The Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, the Pistus Sophia and the Coptic Gospel of the Egyptians all strongly hint at this - and perhaps more importantly, the existance of the Holy Mother as the third figure in the triumvate (replaced in conventional speech as the Holy Spirit).

During Christ's time, there existed in the kabbalastic texts reference to the Holy Spirit as Wisdom; in Greek, Sophos...or Sophia. This Divine Mother was worshipped by the early Christians as the Womb of Life, with the dove as her emissary.

So why, then, is a blending of the feminine principle - now best exemplified by the Wiccan traditions - with the uber-masculine ideologies of Christianity, a BAD thing?

I'll stop now, before I get preachy. This was really intended as a way for me to vent, and a way for a friend to see that perhaps her budding views are not so alien to her traditional beliefs.

And just maybe someone else will see this and begin to question whether his views are maybe - just maybe - more rigid and less accepting/inclusive than he'd like to believe.

Just a thought.

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1 comment:

Cazmia said...

QWERTY trippin' this morning.. =)
I thought I'd drop by and accidentally went to ""

For a horrifying instant, I thought you'd been assimilated.