Deeper Well

cponte_brick_well1My grandparents on my father’s side were a tag team, tongue-speaking, Pentecostal preaching duo. I went to church and Sunday school and grew up decidedly Christian. As a teenager I was introduced to Buddhism and it took a deep hold on me. Later I began practicing some types of yoga, and fell in love with the mystical poets of Persia. 

The thing is, this sort of pluralistic approach to religion is frowned upon by the traditionalists in every one of these faiths. A debate on the subject will often be brought to a close by someone invoking the old adage, “It’s better to dig one deep well, than ten shallow ones,” or something similar. Seems like an air tight case.

I’ve got no problem with the proverb, but i’d like to suggest that the metaphor has been applied incorrectly. The suggestion is that the “well” is the spiritual tradition itself. I say that the many forms of spiritual practice (sadhana) are not wells themselves, but what we do the digging with — shovels, spades, backhoes, our bare hands. The point of the metaphor is not the well or the digging though, it’s the water! We’re digging a well to get to the water. We’re practicing in these faiths traditions to get to God, truth, inner-peace, or ultimate reality. There are many different ways of digging, but there’s only one type of water. 

You could make the argument that it’s still better to practice with one tool, to hone your abilities rather than trying different implements all the time. I think there’s something to that, but if you keep using that same shovel in the exact some way, you’re liable to give yourself some nasty blisters.

In pieces,
Eliot

 

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7 Responses to Deeper Well

  1. Thanks for sharing! I say, whatever shovel, tool, etc. that works to get to the water. It’s better to try than to not make the attempt. I’m getting ready to check out a Kabbalah center. A little nervous, but if I like it great, and if not, will move on to the next thing that does work for me. 🙂 -Elaine

  2. Anonymous says:

    I don’t trust any church or religious organizations that don’t not only tolerate exploring but encourage it. I believe that anything else is a closed club and not a church. Up here among mainstream churches and synagogues (and other faiths as well, but they are the most populated) we have very strong interfaith councils . But I think the best way to expose people to other faiths has less to do with the religions themselves and more to do with a strong public school system. In a strong public school system, kids and parents will interact all the time and learn each other’s faiths no matter what. That’s what happened to me. If I went to one friend’s house, I had to start naming saints and praying for St. Christopher and Saint Francis to find the lost dog. I went to synagogues all the time with my Jewish friends. My friends slept over on Saturday night and went to the Episcopal church Sunday morning. We made these rounds from elementary school all the way through to everyone’s kids’ Christenings, Bat Mitzvah’s, etc. It’s the best way to learn. I’ll never forget the one weekend when one friend’s father made me say grace Catholic style and said, “In this house, you are a Catholic, Lisa!” and the next night I was praying in Hebrew. “Tonight, you are a Jew!” Alrighty, then!

  3. why is that post calling me anonymous? it’s lisa wiffledust up there. must be some setting i didn’t click

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