Many of us have found our way to the inner journey of spirit after either rejecting conventional religious structures and practice, finding them self contradictory and unsatisfying, or seeing that the scientific materialism we grew up with failed to explain our personal experiences with the mystical and mysterious situations that repeatedly irritated our culture’s assumptions and norms.  The brain, the ego, and the five senses all seemed to fall short in the face of the enigmatic universe we paddled about in.

     So we find our way to the esoteric and metaphysical, plugging into one or other of the cultural manifestations now permitted in our seemingly free and easy modern world.  Of course there are still locations where practicing yoga or meditation, having and discussing obes and nde’s, swallowing our psychedelic sacrament of choice are frowned upon or forbidden, but not where we live.   Despite the continuing appearance of charismatic gurus, armed with devoted staff and public relations personnel, convinced that adding to the tribe of devotees is the only way to go, the power of the more traditional self-appointed guardians and gatekeepers proffering piety mediated by ancient sacred books seems to have almost completely withered.  In the last few decades we are all free to think heretical thoughts, and we do so with great abandon.

     After centuries of mental bondage and fear of some divine retribution we are free to be free, and lets face it, it’s big fun.  We are all learning the ropes of spiritual exploration, seeing, bit by bit, that our limitations are self-imposed, and can be with focus and practice, carefully removed, revealing even greater abilities than we had dared to suspect.  We are not wage slaves encased in flesh, we are free spirits who can and go where they wish during meditation or sleep.  We can observe ourselves completely outside the definitions imposed by family, society, religion or science and see the psyche operating in the body, acting and reacting to the many stimuli.

     We remain, of course, surrounded by millions of believers in the prophets and their visions, devoted to their rituals and expectations of heavenly rewards, eternal life, inevitable rebirth and purgatorial penances.  We cope with them as they cope with us, mainly by not paying much attention.  Daily schedules and family life keep us busy.  We are glad to have escaped the blinkers of tradition and they are happy to be on the right team.  Their race, their tribe, their culture, their religion: it’s the right one,  don’t ya know?   Atheists and humanists seem equally comfortable in their choices.  One life and the brick wall of death, the dissolution of everything is just fine with them.  Until they get there, of course, and find themselves shockingly sentient.

     In those realms of spirit we call the afterlife/heaven/paradise, the millions of the dead find their cultural comfort zone and settle in to extended families and communities, sharing their assumptions and new found joys.  In those spheres of spirit so vast that many never realize their astral paradise is but one of many set up centuries before for souls such as them by highly advanced spirits who discovered their creative abilities were virtually unbounded, joining with the devas in landscape/seascape/ mountainscape creation and maintenance, training up for their perceived minor deity status ahead.

     Those of us on the inner journey of discovery, having thrown off the training wheels of externally imposed belief systems, are freer to explore the spheres, becoming spiritual travelers rather than comfortable inhabitants, discovering for ourselves the various limitations that belief systems inevitably create as they spread their message to the devoted and about-to-be devoted.  Those limitations often involve the aspiration to god-consciousness, angelic status and the bliss of being beyond human, heresies that outstrip the reins of piety and humility, not to mention the risk of excommunication.  Perhaps not so much of a risk as most of us have turfed ourselves out of the tribe before passing.

      What we, as spiritual mavericks, can learn from this is that paths are indeed pre-carved by older and wiser beings to suit the needs of souls in various stages of spiritual evolution and that we are traversing our stage as they are theirs, whether it takes one life or several.  We know that every landscape, no matter how sublime in its beauty, exists as a springboard to a featureless bliss beyond, where the oneness of creation is even easier to see and join.  We already understand that attachments to cultures and religions can take centuries to work through and when they are, how shall I say, finalized, often in the spirit world, we see those seemingly endless centuries crumble into seconds and laugh at the enormous illusion of it all.  How time and space trick us into serving their parameters!  How planets are the perfect playgrounds for our ambitions and fears!  How prophets and their visions serve us when we need them and desert us when anarchic independence becomes impossible to live without !