zombi: (the hearth)
[personal profile] zombi posting in [community profile] spiritual_woo
I saw this question on a message board, and it caused a lot of debate -- I'd like to ask it here, too, to see what all of you have to say.

In your opinion, is it wrong to stray from specified guidelines within a path? Will doing so tarnish a given practice? Will doing so show disrespect to those that have "done the work"? Should we adhere to the rules?

Conversely, does holding onto the traditions from maybe thousands of years in the past keep us from moving forward? Should we take what we like, what is of use, and discard the rest?


To answer my own question, I think that if you don't follow tenets within a Tradition, then you are not of that Tradition. If you take parts of it and parts of another -- then you are following a completely different path. When you take parts from one and then another and combine them, you have something new, and in my opinion, you should name it something entirely different so as not to be confused with either original. But I don't think it's "wrong".

Date: 2009-06-13 02:14 am (UTC)
etoile: (Default)
From: [personal profile] etoile
I agree with you. While I don't believe you can truly say that you belong to Tradition Y if you pull in things from Traditions X & Z, I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

What would be wrong, to me at least, would be to believe something just because you're "supposed to" and not because you felt it in your heart.

Date: 2009-06-13 02:19 am (UTC)
elf: Smiling South Park-style witch with big blue floppy hat and inverted pentacle (Witchy)
From: [personal profile] elf
It depends on the path.

Most paths, it's not morally wrong to follow parts of, or borrow pieces of and assemble with other pieces, as long as you're honest about what you're doing. (And "being honest" involves a bit more than just the basic declaration; it involves making yourself understood as eclectic if other people are involved or being told about it.)

But for some forms of spirituality, it's near blasphemy to take them piecemeal. Think of it as a form of cultural appropriation--it can be a way of saying "I wanted the shiny parts of these people's culture, but I don't care about them or their way of life, so I'm ignoring those parts." It is implying that the shiny parts (whichever you might think those are) exist separately from the rest of the tradition... that they are unsupported, that the less-than-shiny parts are discardable, and the people who follow paths of privation and restriction are wasting their energy, when they could be just using the pretties.

Details depend on the path, and the person. There aren't any over-arching rules, no neat checklist list of guidelines (even for any one path) that someone can follow to be sure they're being ethical.

Ethics are not a matter of following lists. Ethics involve sound central principles, and deriving one's actions & choices from those.

Date: 2009-06-13 02:37 am (UTC)
twfarlan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] twfarlan
I would say, walk as you will. Listen to the gods, to your conscience, to what calls to you. Call it what you will, call it nothing at all. Walk with those who choose to walk with you, or go it alone as the path rolls along.

Tradition is just a well-beaten path. If it isn't taking you where you need to go, blaze your own.

Whatever works.

Date: 2009-06-13 02:44 am (UTC)
akatonbo: (fig)
From: [personal profile] akatonbo
I think everyone's sense of when you've crossed one of the divisions on the line from 'Path A' to 'Path A influenced by Path B' to 'Path A/Path B hybrid' to 'just totally eclectic' and back to Path B again, or exactly what steps there even ARE on that line, is probably a little different than everyone else's. But while eclecticism can be done BADLY, and even unethically, I generally feel that taking inspiration respectfully can take many forms without being wrong in any of several senses.

On the subject of whether one can consider or call oneself an adherent of a particular tradition, the only one I claim is Unitarian Universalism. (I use Pagan or Neo-Pagan to describe myself sometimes, as either an adjective or a noun, but that's not a tradition; I use Buddhist as an adjective to describe myself sometimes, but it is definitely a modifier, not a claim of identity, and when I'm aiming for greater accuracy instead of greater speed, I usually qualify it.)

Date: 2009-06-13 04:42 pm (UTC)
jenett: Big and Little Dipper constellations on a blue watercolor background (Default)
From: [personal profile] jenett
I think it depends.

If you are trained in a tradition, initiated in it, you continue to have that as part of your experience. (Assuming we're talking an initiatory tradition, or something similar, with clear-cut 'this makes you part of the tradition' shared experiences/practices)

However, if your practice shifts away from that, while the background is still part of you, and may influence you, I think it's important to be honest about what you're doing now.

So, for example, "My past training includes X tradition, but I've moved towards including things Y and Z now." or something similar. It's like saying "My college major was X, but I work doing Y" when they're not the most connected things ever. (One of my undergrad majors was music - still a part of my life, but I'm a librarian by profession, for example.)

Date: 2009-06-13 07:17 pm (UTC)
white_aster: (scenic: candle and sea)
From: [personal profile] white_aster
In your opinion, is it wrong to stray from specified guidelines within a path?
I personally don't think it's wrong to follow wherever your heart tells you to go with respect to spiritual faith. IMO, spirituality isn't dependent upon anyone else's ok but yours and that of whatever being(s) you worship. However, religion, as defined by people in that religion, is a different beast. A religion can say via its holy writings or commonly-understood tenets that it's wrong for you to worship other gods/practice certain rituals, etc. Whether they are right or not is up to anyone to decide for themselves. So, essentially I don't think that it's wrong to step outside one faith and take practices from another, but the participants of the faiths in question might have a different opinion.

Will doing so tarnish a given practice?
I don't really believe that any practice can be 'tarnished'. I mean, perhaps from other peoples' points of view it can be done inauthentically or in a way that misses the deeper meaning, or it can be done disrespectfully and without gravity, but.... None of those things damage the practice's inherent worth. Now, if we're talking something where it's a group worship, then of course someone being a disrespectful butthead can ruin the ritual for you (that person who talks all through church, or that person who never remembers their lines for rituals), but it doesn't inherently weaken the practice itself, only your perception of it, and only because that person is distracting you.

Will doing so show disrespect to those that have "done the work"?
...how? And "done the work" for WHAT? How to bring you closer to the divine? How to gain some supernatural benefits (energy work, prayer, rituals)? No amount of other folks 'doing the work' will bring you closer to the divine without you putting in effort yourself. Likewise, if you change how you DO your prayer/ritual, then if you're actually doing it wrong, won't it NOT work? If it still does, then how can the changes be wrong? I don't see that as disrespectful except in the sense that you aren't taking what those elders have done and said as gospel.

I can see how someone might feel slighted, might feel like someone is saying that their religion isn't good enough and thus this this and this needs to be added to it, but to be honest, I find that a little childish. I'm of the opinion that if you think that your religion/practice is the One True Way, that it is perfect and can't be improved upon by adding anything or thinking differently about something...then if someone wants to switch things up, you've got nothing to worry about, right? Obviously, if your way is so much better than their way, they'll figure that out, right?

Also, the idea that changing something is disrespectful to those that have gone before irks me because it assumes that the elders' reputations/experiences/teachings are more important than the actual purpose/utility of the practice/faith (ie, "yes, yes, maybe that worked for you/you talked to Athena/you met your spirit animal, but YOU DIDN'T DO IT THE WAY I TOLD YOU TO, YOU UNGRATEFUL CUR, I DON'T CARE IF IT WORKED, IT'S STILL WRONG".) Personally, I'd PREFER to "do the work" myself than have something handed to me, pre-packaged, one-size-fits-all, "no, don't worry about anything, just do things the way we all do them!" and all. I'd feel a bit better if more people actually experimented with their religious faith, rather than taking other folks' word for it.

Should we adhere to the rules?
In a global spiritual sense, I say there are no rules but 'follow your heart'. In a religious sense, yeah, most of them want you to adhere to their rules.

Conversely, does holding onto the traditions from maybe thousands of years in the past keep us from moving forward? Should we take what we like, what is of use, and discard the rest?
Yes and no. I think the answer has to depend on what part of tradition we're talking about. I think we have to hold onto traditions that help more people than they hurt. On the one hand, many ancient faiths had no problem with slavery, or with women being worth less than men, or many other examples, and I'm glad to see those 'traditions' gone: they hurt more people than they helped. Every tradition that I see, I always want to ask, "but WHY is that wrong?" If someone can't give me a good reason other than "because our holy book/priests/leaders say so", then it's a dispensible tradition, imo. If I ask, "but why shouldn't I steal?", then "because I say so" is a bad reason, while "because it is unfair to the person your stealing from and it will make them sad" are good reasons.

"Because I/he/she says so" is ALWAYS a bad reason. For everything. ;P

On the other hand, I think that spirituality draws from that feeling of safety and stability that tradition brings, and we could cut off our nose to spite our face if we throw ALL of tradition out on its ear. And sometimes religious tradition has some good, but unpopular ideas. For instance, I think that lives devoted to divinity (full-time priests/priestesses/hermits) can be wonderful things, but they're not really popular career choices. But tossing out the possibility would cut people off from a viable road to become closer to divinity, and that would be a loss, imo.

Date: 2009-06-14 12:19 am (UTC)
rainbow: drawing of a pink furred cat person with purple eyes and heart shaped glasses. their name is catastrfy. (Default)
From: [personal profile] rainbow
...is it wrong to stray from specified guidelines within a path

Not to me. To me it's wrong to stay on a path someone else has laid out when it goes against what's in your heart and spirit.

Will doing so tarnish a given practice?

No.

Will doing so show disrespect to those that have "done the work"?

I'm not clear what you mean; it sounds as though you're asking if my following the path that's right for me is disrespectful to those on another path. And to that I'd say "no"; just as their following their own path is not disrespectful to me.

Should we take what we like, what is of use, and discard the rest?

"Like" isn't meaningful to me within the question, but absolutely yes, we should take what resonates with our highest truth and leave the rest to those with whom it resonates.

Date: 2009-06-18 06:39 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] drwho
Where would "because /this and such/ didn't work for me but /this stuff over here/ did" fit in?

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