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Individuality And Spiritual Path


Question

To me, the spiritual journey is individual, highly personal. It can’t be organized or regulated. I don’t think that everyone should follow one path. Each should listen to your own truth. What is your point of view on this?

Answer

H.D. Goswami Profile Picture

This strikes me as one of those many quotes that appeal to modern people, and sound wise, but show logical problems on closer scrutiny. Here are a few points:

1. Undoutedly, the spiritual path is individual and highly personal, but it is also social and based on relations with others. For example, you took ‘wisdom’ from a devotee friend. That is an example of the social nature of knowledge. Further, your friend took wisdom from earlier teachers. If everyone literally had their own truth, the world would be chaotic and mad. People could not even communicate, not even by hand signs, since everyone would take their own meaning for everything. Meanwhile, in the real world, If we study wisdom traditions, we find that they share many points and differ on this or that detail. We live in a narcissistic age, as proved by the recent US election, and the naive idea that we are all absolutely unique strongly appeals to people of this age.

2. Your friend claims that the path cannot be organized or regulated. Without organization, who edited and printed his books? Who distributed them? Without organization and regulation, did anyone ever become a great athlete? A great musician? A great anything? It is the nature of the world itself that practice makes perfect. So to discard organization and regulation is, well, silly.

3. He even gives us a classic example of self-contradiction: “It isn’t true that everyone should follow one path.” If this is true, then everyone should not believe him when he says all people shouldn’t follow the same path. Obviously if everyone follows what he says then he contradicts himself. Never say never.

Personally, I accepted Prabhupada because he cut through all the vanity of modern thought and gave us a non-sectarian, non-fanatical, inclusive yet decisive and specific explanation of reality.

Of course we are all free to choose our path, and I wish you success with your choice.