“The greatest problems are problems of the heart.” Anonymous
The Third Way, which has been the subject of these posts over the last several months, is the way of return to the Creator. It is the way of rediscovering who we humans really are and were made to be. It is a way which resigns hubris and every way of coercion of one over another. It is a way of accepting that we humans are not the real lords and masters of our domain on Planet Earth. We are caretakers and stewards who must give an account to the Creator who placed us here and who is the real Lord.
It is a way of mutuality and true equality, without racial or other distinctions, classifications, or gradations attributing superiority or inferiority to categories of people. There is no acceptance of racism, no relegation of any group or individual to sub-human status based on origins, cultural traditions, or discrimination based on the usual categories. The only ‘discrimination’ is in showing sure discernment of what is good, wholesome, and beneficial for bringing health, hope, and healing.
In short, The Third Way is our turning towards and moving into the Creator’s Way with our whole hearts, minds, souls, and strength, as the Bible puts it. It means an end to arrogant, proud and coercive ways, methods, and means of doing business and ruling and controlling one’s fellow humans. It is the way of life versus the way of death. It is the way of service versus domination and power based on fear, intimidation, and coercive manipulation. But it is not the way of naiveté about the nature of the human heart or the contrary propensities of the human mind and imagination.
The Third Way means that a “Quiet Revolution” (to borrow a phrase from Quebec history) must take hold at the grass roots level, because, in ‘the way of the world as it is,’ those who hold the reins of power never (or as rarely as hen’s teeth) give it up willingly.
Turning (back) to the Creator risks fear of disappointment, of knocking at the door and finding the house empty. We fear looking the fool and what others will say or think. And there is the fear of losing one’s identity, one’s sense of self, of having to ‘give up’ “x”—fill in the blank. And, unless you are already what some call a ‘saint’, the truth is that, yes, by and large you will have to give up stuff—the type of stuff mentioned above: manipulation, coercion, abusing oneself and others, playing the victim so we can use the means just mentioned to get our own way, etc.
Turning one’s life over to the Creator is risky. There are quite a few who talk about the Creator in some form, who pray, meditate, and even attend religious or ‘spiritual’ group meetings, whom one otherwise would never know that honouring the Creator was really part of their lives. Knowing and honouring God is not about intellectual assent to a set of propositions. It is about relationship and trust. Propositions can sometimes be helpful for clarification of one’s belief, but on their own they cannot change our minds or fill our souls.
At this point, it is not about advocating the superior merits of one spiritual or religious tradition or set of principles over another. It is about seeking restoration and renewal of our relationship with the One who made us to be like Him-Her/self and to be his/her living, breathing icons in the creation. If we begin to seek with a sincere heart and mind, we will find. Many traditions make this claim, and the Bible, as the basis of the West’s major spiritual tradition, says “Seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.” We must approach the Creator with trust that He/She will meet the seeker. We were made for this relationship.
But we must also understand that it is not a relationship of equals, despite our modern-postmodern arrogance that says we can choose our own version of God or truth. Our conceit and self-deceit claims that there is no absolute, so no one approach to truth can be superior to or more valid than another. That is our quintessential modern-postmodern hubris, born of the arrogance of elevating human reason, logic, and science to the supreme throne that used to be occupied by the Creator. Reason, logic, and science are necessary tools and valid means of discerning some sorts of truth about reality. But these tools are subordinate to the One who made them primarily in order that we might know Him/Her and discover how the creation the One made works and how we relate to it. But because our nature as humans is to find a central dominant modus and ethos for ordering life, when we deny our original purpose we automatically move to something that will take that ruling position once we dethrone its proper occupant. As Bob Dylan wrote and sang, “You’re gonna serve somebody.”
Personalizing the central perspective we hold on life is not accidental, because, as persons who perceive reality from a personal perspective, whatever is not a person sitting at the center will soon begin taking on quasi-personal characteristics. Which is why we talk about ‘Nature’ as a quasi-personal entity with defining characteristics and personality. It is why the ancients always had personalized pantheons of the major powers and forces at work in the creation. And why indigenous cultures (and others) continue to characterize the cosmos in this way to this day. It is only the West with its determination to despiritualize the Cosmos which has denied the essential nature of all our traditions, and the testimony they give to what the creation really is and where it comes from.
But the Third Way does not hark back to restoring superstitions and taboos and magical thinking. It places science in its proper place and revitalizes it with a more holistic, integrated understanding. The scientific method was first proposed and developed by pioneers who still strongly held to the Creator and his/her ordering of the creation so that it would make sense and enable us to understand its workings. We have turned science on its head. The term ‘Science’ etymologically denotes ‘knowing in depth’, ‘seeing inside’. The Enlightenment sought to gut and successfully expelled the inside so that all we can now see, like a person blind in one eye, is the exterior with no depth-perception. The Third Way declares that our blindness has taken us down a dead-end detour which cannot issue in anything deeper than, “We must survive by developing science and technology alone and survival alone is the only ultimate goal.” Survival for survival’s sake with no deeper purpose is what it boils down to.
These jewels of scientism are dry bones for the hungry heart and spirit which innately know that there is much more at stake than mere species survival for its own sake. The Third Way points us toward the exit. But first we must turn around and look up to see the “EXIT” sign screaming at us.
TO BE CONTINUED