For those of us without solid spiritual beliefs, the nature of life can be mysterious. The modern age has set us free from the forced practice of religion and in doing so engendered large populations of atheists, those who believe in nothing, agnostics, those who are not sure what to believe in, as well as the ecumenical movement, which teaches that all religions stem from the same basic wisdom.
But as there was nothing new under the sun in the time of Solomon, we find that others have dealt with these issues before. There is an ancient Sufi story that strikes at the heart of this wandering mind of the modern agnostic spiritualist.
“One day some travelers came to a holy mountain. At the foot of the mountain there were many camps of men and women selling their trail as the only proper one to the summit. And so the travelers were confused and could decide not.
Then they themselves climbed a small foothill at the base of the mountain, where they were surprised to hear a voice echoing from the peak; and they strained their ears to hear it. The voice said “ALL ROADS LEAD TO THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN!”
The travelers became so overjoyed that they began to hoot and cry and laugh and scream. One began jumping up and down, while another threw himself down the hill for joy. And so the travelers went about and made argument with he trail keepers. Because of their innate talents, they won many of their conflicts, and converted a few. And they were clowns and took delight in their efforts.
Finally, one at a time, they grew old and died, and were each buried at the base of the mountain; and they never got around to returning to that foothill. If they had they might have heard the complete message: which was this…”ALL ROADS LEAD TO THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN, SO CHOOSE ONE OF THEM!”
The story implores us to see religions as tools for advancement, and it asks us to separate the philosophies from their followers. Beneath the differing symbols and rituals of the varying human religions and philosophies, there is a common thread of mental and spiritual advancement.
When the Sufi’s say, “All roads lead to the top of the mountain,” many will argue, as they did in the story. But I challenge any one who doubts this to speak with a true learned master of any spiritual practice, be it Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Taoist or any other. At the height of every practice we find the simplest of human virtues; peace, kindness, and love.
But we cannot miss the second part of the message! While one philosophy might not be better than any other, that does not mean that they are all worthless.
The mountain is real. It is a mountain built into the genetic makeup of every human being. It is our nature to climb it, and climb it we must. If we do not, we will be incomplete, and no amount of worldly experience or pleasure will fill that hole.
There are those who try to climb the mountain without a guide or a trail. This is discouraged by almost all spiritual leaders. The danger is equivalent to climbing a real mountain sans guide. There are deep caves to fall into, and poisonous animals, and horrors unspeakable in the deep wilderness of the mind.
But when the story tells to “Choose one of them,” just remember that you do not have to choose only one. The wisdom of our entire world is locked away amongst the various religions.
Know that the purpose of these practices has always been to give people tools to deal with their lives. And because the human experience is universal, regardless of time period, wealth, or culture, all of them are still useful to you, today.