Comments on “On the path”

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Bushwack or Persevere

Most religious groups will tell you that it is wrong to leave when things get tough or if you think you have stagnated. This is common advise. And they all give similar rationale (albeit in different theological/ideological clothes). But there should be clear measures to understand when enough is enough.

I tell patients of mine who I start on medications, when to expect results and what the results should look like BEFORE starting. When the go to Chiropractors for some pain, I tell them that if they don't see improvement after three treatments, they should stop no matter what rationale the Chiropractor gives. But in medicine, we have more concrete ways of measuring. Since the religious person is using internal subjective measures, it can be difficult.

And if that person has a history of allow abuse on themselves, they are very vulnerable. Perhaps this is an unavoidable ugly truth.

You analogies are useful and interesting, but having been exposed to many different groups, I can hear the same voices using the same analogies. Argument from analogy is one of the lowest forms of evidence, though a great tool for persuasion. Jesus spoke by analogy and 1000s of years of preaching have benefited from the flexibility of analogy to be used anyway the preacher so desires.

When to leave?

I think we agree about this... I mentioned that I think many-to-most spiritual paths are mislabeled and/or dead ends. When they peter out, or start heading in a direction you don't want to go, it's time to backtrack or bushwhack.

Unfortunately, I don't think there are any clear rules you can use to make a definite determination about whether a path is going where you want to—especially not when you are just at the trailhead. I do think there are some rules of thumb, and questions you can ask periodically along the way that can help. I alluded to those in "An advice vacuum"; I hope to write about them sometime in the next few months.