Among my closest friends, I have observed a trend. Most of us have taken serious forays into the practices, theories and sacred literature of a variety of spiritual traditions, as well as the theologies of Christian denominations, including phases of attendance among many devout peoples. We have neither strayed nor lost our identities nor misplaced our moral compasses. We have not abandoned the dearness held in our hearts for the religious traditions in which we were reared, but which no longer seem a fully adequate fit. Nonetheless, in listening to the questions raised in and around these forays, I hear my friends looking for the “oldest, closest to the original, best translation or most authentic” sources.
And, I have to ask, “Of what? Sources of what?”
In my own case, my phase of comparative spiritual study involved wanting to discover and build a vocabulary—which I simply did not possess from the context of my childhood tradition—for the states I was experiencing during meditation, receptivity or periods of contemplation. Then, at some point amid my search, I realized that the authenticity I sought—which was the “oldest, closest to the original, best translation and most authentic”—could neither be found nor adequately represented by an external literature or tradition. The road to authenticity, in my experience, is opened only through one’s own ability to connect with that something deep inside, which is radiant and whole in each of us.
Now, I am able to talk with you using three different words, from three different spiritual traditions, about that authentic something—the place of peace. But, in the end, words are completely inadequate.
Search for the oldest known texts, closest translations, most original practices or the best of teachers. The very act of searching, in safe circumstances, aids us in building lines of communication to our place of authenticity. But, what I tell you is that the daily practice of remaining in that precious seat, involves picking up the ringing phone in one’s own heart to listen and know peace.