Torture, Karma, and Compassion

(This was first posted on Sunday, May 10th, 2009 at 3:19 AM)

Someone brought this CNN Wire post to my attention:

Churchgoers more likely to back torture, survey finds

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new analysis.

More than half of people who attend services at least once a week — 54 percent — said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is “often” or “sometimes” justified. Only 42 percent of people who “seldom or never” go to services agreed, according the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified — more than 6 in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only 4 in 10 of them did

I really don’t know what to say. That is one of the most atrocious illustrations  I’ve seen of how those who worship rules and authoritywarp religion. It saddens me.

It’s not time, though, for the spiritual not religious to congratulate ourselves on our superiority. There is an equally pernicious idea popular among our spiritual cowboys.It’s usually presented as  “karma”.

I’m of course not referring to the near-universal idea that whatever one sets in m comes back to oneself. I’m referring to its twisted counterfeit, that anyone who is suffering is suffering because they deserve it. Think about it for a moment: it does not follow that if anything I set in motion will come back to me, then whatever I experience is the result of what I set in motion. It could, after all, be the consequence of what someone else set in motion (which, someday, will be theirs to deal with).

In fact, if it were not possible for me to act to affect others, the first statement, that what I set in motion will come to affect me, would be so trivial as to be meaningless. We’d all live in our own isolated bubbles, unable to connect to each other, unable even to detect each other (because, after all, even knowledge of each other has an effect). Karma would be less a statement about justice and more a peculiar state of masturbation.<

This inverted “karma” has a name: the Just World fallacy. It’s a common bias not unique to cowboys, but cowboys are peculiarly attracted to it and fond of promoting it as if it were a spiritual truth.

Why? That should be obvious. While the properly stated version of karma (that my acts will come to affect me) promotes responsibility, the bassackwards version promotes irresponsibility.  If the bassackwards karma believer should  see the poor, the ill, the oppressed, the suffering,  it’s not something they should involve themselves with, because the victims brought it upon themselves. Voila! Irresponsibility affirmed.

To the extent cowboys wish to involve themselves with the world’s suffering, it is to “help” by explaining to the victim how it is they brought it upon themselves. They should have known X would lead to Y, where X is usually some mundane act,  an act forced upon them by circumstances,  a common human failing, or an act any compassionate person would take.  This is another common  error,hindsight bias. It penalizes the lecturee for being baryonic matter, condemned along with everything else made of atoms to move blindly forward in time, and thus certain to have experiences which precede other experiences.  It is not at all “helpful” , let alone compassionate, to self-righteously express this bias against someone in need.

In fact, by embracing the Just World fallacy,one negates justice itself. It’s hard to distinguish the implications of a blind belief that those who suffer have deserved it from sociopathy.

I’ve been trying, for a few days, to describe that viable alternative to the above silliness, compassion. I can’t do it adequately. Instead, I want to take my readers on an Internet field trip where they can try out compassion for themselves.

Our destination is the Beliefnet prayer circle directory at

It should quickly become clear that many of the individuals who are requesting prayer have, indeed, set in motion the predicaments they find themselves in.  See where the individual may be causing or exacerbating their own suffering. Make sure it’s actual knowledge,  not believing or expecting (bias). Treat what you see as possibly useful information,and nothing more.

Others you may find are asking for specific results that may not be compatible with one’s own values, or whichmay not be the best results.Other prayer requests may seem, for lack of a better word, ignorant. Instead of seeing what’s wrong with any particular request, hold in your heart the desire that whatever is best, right, and true happen for all involved.

Find a few of the most off-putting, least “deserving” prayer requests (this is obviously subjective). Recognize the pain in the requests (yes, even in the requests that seem to be coming from a self-righteous point of view, there is pain. Look for it.).  Lead with your heart. Don’t think of how at fault someone may be. Don’t think of how much better or wiser you may be. And certainly do not think of how compassionate you are for doing this. Every time these thoughts, and other irrelevant thoughts, pop into your head, throw them out. Think only of the very best possible outcome for all involved, and pray.

It’s not “compassion enough” if all one ever does is pray over web pages. Putting compassion into action in the real world with real-world people gets a lot more complex and messy.  But, the principles remain the same.

Apologies: I’ve been doing a lot of work

(First posted on the old blog on Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 at 3:25 AM)

I’ve been busy, too busy, in fact (between the work and the tired) to post recently. I’ve not abandoned this blog. In fact I have a post partially written, waiting for me to find the time and energy to finish it. I don’t think I’ll be able to do so later today or tomorrow (I need to build a new system, and I’m adopting a new pet), but I should be able to get to it within the next three or four days.

effing it up

(Posted on the old blog on Sunday, April 19th, 2009 at 1:41 AM)

There is a conflict between the subjects of this blog and the act of writing about them. Nearly every post touches at some point on the ineffable. Bloggers, however, must “eff”.

Just as Kabuki theatre uses the convention of stagehands dressed in black to designate invisibility, I use some conventions, when I must use words, to designate the ineffable. One of those conventions is to constantly change what I call… well, that which can’t really be named at all.

I do feel very strongly that one cannot name the Divine. To say anything is to say something far too complicated and cluttered and  distorted to apply to that which it is intended to designate. By never settling on one name for the Ultimate, but instead switching terms constantly, I am using a convention to indicate that these words are not names, but ordinary words, and that the subject of the words forever remains unnamed.

On a related note, whatever you do don’t take a word I write too seriously. I’m not a theologian, I’m a spiritual-not-religious mystic. Theology is to mysticism what a description of a holiday meal is to Thanksgiving dinner. The theologian describes the proper way to cut a turkey; I eat, and drip gravy on my shirt and get my sleeve in the the cranberries, and I don’t care. I’m not interested in getting my doctrine right. I don’t even have a doctrine to get right. I try to get my experience of spirituality right, and leave it to others to get their descriptions right.

(Title lost in transferring the blog to a new server)

(From the old blog, and dated April 18th, 2009 at 1:17 AM)

Fundamentalist Christians, after reading the last substantial post, might have clucked to themselves thinking “Yes, I knew it! Meditation is demonic.” So perhaps it’s time to make the links between the world’s spiritual practices.

Treasure map showing many routes to the destination
There’s more than one way to get from here to there.

There are four plausible routes from my where I sit to the convenience store I can see from my window (as well as many more bizarre routes involving things like jumping out of windows or rappelling off the roof or simply going in the opposite direction and circling the earth). I can think of at least three plausible ways I could fry an egg in my kitchen, and another three ways to make toast (not counting extra ingredients). I have at least five different ways to post this entry. Because God  is very great and is more than one dimensional, I find it implausible on the face of it that there could be “one true path” to God.

That’s not to say, as spiritual cowboys (and others who haven’t thought about it carefully) often do, that “all spiritual paths are valid”. As close as I am to that convenience store here, I could nonetheless plot out an infinite number of routes that are guaranteed never to get me there. Human history is a bin overflowing with failed notions and errors committed. To claim that all spiritual paths are valid is as implausible as to claim that there is only one true way.

But there’s more here. When I say I “meditate”, I don’t, really, though what I do is indistinguishable from meditation. I do Western contemplative prayer.

If one is steeped in the Western tradition of prayer, sooner or later in among all the words has to enter the thought “why am I praising That which needs no praise? Why am I asking things of That which already knows everything I would ask about?  What function does all the noise I make serve, except to display my insolence?” Then, the most natural prayer in the world is silent contemplation of the Divine.

Such prayer is absolutely indistinguishable from most forms of Eastern meditation. There is a trend, in fact, to call it “meditation”, so that the general public knows what is being talked about.  Or, worse, to label it “centering prayer” and then to teach it as a technique, much as yoga is taught.  But it’s not a technique. It’s a state of mind that simply sprouts after one has tilled the soil long enough.

If my hypothetical fundamentalist mentioned above was strong in his or her

The Ladder Of Divine Ascent icon from Saint Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai
My favorite icon, The “Ladder of Divine Ascent”, depicts Christians being attacked and sometimes pulled away from the ladder to heaven by demons.

faith, he or she too should have tasted at least something of this silent prayer. (And yes, Christian mystics report all the same problems with disruptive “whatevers” as their Eastern counterparts. If meditation is satanic, so too must be Christian prayer.).

Somewhere after the point where practices converge, so too does theology, which is to say that it disappears. Whether one calls it emptying or repentance or yielding or surrendering,  one cannot cling to dogma with a deeply silent mind, not even to the dogma that brought one to silence.

Any sound path will converge at that same point.

But I did say there were plenty of not-so-sound paths. Our hypothetical fundamentalist is on one. Fundamentalisms of every sort are defined by a baggage train of ideas, rules, and beliefs, and a militant insistence that they have a unique claim to the truth.  Fundamentalism whirs along on its own route, studiously avoiding everything that might disturb its self-absorption, like, for example, God. Either our fundamentalist will someday pray his or herself out of fundamentalism, or his or her fundamentalist beliefs will stifle prayer.

Another path whirring along on its own course, never actually turning towards that convergence point and beyond, is a sizable proportion of what calls itself New Age. Yes, that mean you, cowboys.  If you spend  time creating elaborate cosmologies in one’s head, populated by pantheons of Ascended Masters led by St Germaine who predict Earth Changes after which Indigo Children exploit UFO technology to recreate Atlantis  (insert any one of a number of other incredibly complex, mentally noisy, evidence-free ideas here)— well, where are you going? You’re carving ever more elaborate cognitive gargoyles to adorn the vast mental castles you build, while everyone who approaches the Ultimate throws everything out.

Sorry- managed to crash my site

(From the old blog, and dated Friday, April 17, 2009, at 3:00 AM)

I managed to crash my own site by playing with Modules I Did Not Understand [TM]… don’t worry, the content is alive and well, and will be back up later tonight, this time On Software I Know Well [TM]. [Edited to add] Content has been restored, as has the theme. Assorting things like the rss feeds, etc, may still be in need of tweaking, and I need to deal with external links, but I’ve been sitting too long at this desk to deal with it tonight.

I’m already missing Drupal. WordPress is nice, but Drupal is much more powerful (assuming one doesn’t play recklessly with things one should not play with, thereby turning one’s database into powerless sludge). Perhaps once my foot (recovering from minor surgery) recovers, I’ll put Drupal back and keep my hands out of the development module cookie jar (yes, it was that<stupid).

Meditation: not all bliss

(reposted from the original blog. The original is dated  Friday, April 17th, 2009 at 1:37 am

I keep a list of future topics, along with notes on the topics. One of the topics was about how meditation wasn’t all about blissing out, that it often gets difficult.


That topic wasn’t intended for today, and I had few notes under the item. However, I’ve just had a difficult three hour meditation session. And so, if nothing else, the topic is fresh in my mind.


When I say difficult, I don’t mean something ordinary like a wandering mind. I mean disturbing experiences involving seemingly malevolent forces. Nearly everyone who takes meditation seriously will find themselves, at some point, dealing with these problems.


One problem goes roughly like this: a meditator appears to be having an exceptionally good meditation. The meditator feels calm, happy, and then blam! the meditator is overwhelmed with a sense of imminent annihilation and utter terror. The terror may be an isolated occurrence, or this may be the beginning of a problem that affects not only their meditation, but spills out into the rest of their life. These reoccurring terrors are apt to be misdiagnosed as “panic attacks”.


Puzzled about what this could be? Remember the whole point of spirituality is to, as I put it in my very first post here, kill the self (ego, whatever), which the individual perceives as a kind of death, complete with the fear of death? Bingo.


By the way, this problem can happen outside of the context of meditation, in prayer, or pondering philosophy, or any other activity that can bump one’s mind up against something bigger than it’s ready to deal with.

This can be a very tough problem to solve. In one way it’s a good sign — it indicates the person in question has developed very good control of their mind — but they need to take a step back in their practice to work on whatever it is that is maintaining that fear. Stepping back may be easier said than done. So too may be figuring out what it is one needs to work on.


Somewhat easier to deal with, though just as able to terrify unsuspecting meditators, are variations on the theme of “evil spirits”. I put that in quotes because, frankly, I don’t know what to call them, or what they are, and I’m reluctant to call them demons. Ultimately, it really doesn’t matter what they are, they are unwanted and they are obstacles. This is the problem that graced my meditation tonight.


Tonight I first prayed for direction on how to deal with the unwanted whatever-they-are, and then I plowed forward with my meditation. I can’t give this as a universal formula for dealing with the problem. Sometimes it has been better that I change to a practice that is noisy and distracts from the problem — chanting reading aloud, any other activity involving sound and light and motion. Someone might feel guided to order them away, but if so, it’s important to make sure it doesn’t turn into a mental dialogue with them.


Sometimes these whatevers appear as “friendly” beings. And here’s where the Wild West really comes in. Spiritual cowboys are often happy to accept these “friendly” whatevers as “spirit guides” (ever wonder where they get some of their really bizarre ideas?). It is a good rule of thumb that anything that barges in on your practice is not friendly. It is another good rule of thumb that anything that attempts to impose its will on you in any way is not “friendly”. It should go without saying that anything that causes you pain or suggests doing harm to others or to yourself is not “friendly”. And it is a good rule of thumb that anything operating at a “human” level of consciousness, however friendly it may be, can only limit you, never guide you.


Treat every invisible whatever with great skepticism. I have run across what appear to be genuinely friendly and helpful whatevers. Without fail, they have been highly inobtrusive presences.


If all of this sounds just too weird, do some research. Look at what the major faiths with a mystical tradition have to say about the matter. The guy teaching the meditation class down at the Y might not know about it, but the world’s great mystical traditions know about it and write about it.


Doing without religion doesn’t exempt anyone from natural spiritual processes, no matter what the spiritual cowboys riding the Wild West of “spiritual not religious” may think. Learning to deal with the problems alone is one of those things that puts the “hard” in hard core.

More About Being Hard Core

(This reposted entry was first posted on Friday, April 17th, 2009 at 1:31 AM on the old blog)

I don’t want to give the impression that I think the “spiritual not religious” approach is untenable or that spirituality is just another word for making oneself miserable. Not at all.

If you ask any religious authority what they think about spiritual practice outside of a religion (or away from a guru, whatever), you’ll be told, more or less “Bad idea. Horrible. Impossible to avoid eternal damnation. Demons lurk in the darkness of independence. Our services are at 8 AM, and you can leave a donation with the office when you go out. Goodbye”.

I will tell you, categorically, that they are wrong (except perhaps about where you can leave them a donation). Religion is not necessary for a full spiritual life. Religion is not even possible for a full spiritual life, if one’s conscience tells one otherwise. If one’s conscience sincerely directs one to be unchurched, be unchurched. The right direction is always better than the seemingly easier direction.

The freedom that comes with being “spiritual, not religious” is not the freedom of nihilism and anarchy. It’s the freedom to act true to one’s inner guidance without concern for the views of religious authorities. One never asks “does it conform to doctrine?” but simply “is it right?”. One recognizes only one authority, and that authority is Truth itself.

Of course that wrestling match with self that is the mark of serious spiritual practice becomes significantly harder when the only person one has to consult with is the selfsame person sporting the self in question. Yet, if one can doubt the wisdom of continuing to follow a religion that may have been a part of one’s life since childhood, one can learn to scrutinize one’s own thoughts and ideas. Frankly I’m not sure the committed religious don’t, eventually, find themselves in the same position, unable to find sufficient guidance through their religion, alone with their mind and their conscience and their God. There are a great many things that one can’t really explain to others, even when others are present in one’s life to listen, and some things that must be experienced alone.

Spirituality in general, the real deal, is hard but good. Yes, there is peace in spirituality, though it is not the semi delusional good feelings that can come with meditation or prayer, which is present for a while, then fades (good for that! That feeling makes people who are experiencing it irritable. Ever get into an argument, or otherwise act like an asshole, immediately after meditation, contemplation, or prayer? If you don’t want to be an asshole, be alert to the problem, and make an extra effort to treat others appropriately, when awash in that glow. But back to the topic at hand.) The real thing is less a high than it is a steadiness, and it is present to draw on whether one is meditating or whether all hell is breaking loose. But you don’t get to that easily.

I do not want to fill this blog with personal anecdote, as I think drawing attention to myself can distract from the points I’m trying to make. But a particular example (Ironically, about drawing attention to myself) pops into my mind when I say “hard”.
At the time I was a middlish fish in a mediumish pond, famous in the region I lived in and showing some potential in a field where, if successful, I would gain significantly more fame.And in the circles I moved in, I had a reputation for being “wise”. I was excruciatingly in love with my fame, and very impressed with my “wisdom”. I believed, somewhat correctly, that my fame and my wisdom came from my spirituality. I was so impressed with myself that when a friend of a friend approached me, I spent the afternoon more or less talking about myself (not always overtly, but there are many indirect ways to insure a conversation revolves around oneself). Finally, when the individual had to leave, they mentioned that they were in the midst of a serious crisis, and I realized that that had been the reason this person had approached me.

I certainly could have excused my behavior with “the person should have spoken up sooner”. A few years before, probably I would have. But over time, what would once have been tolerable ceases to be tolerable, if one takes spirituality seriously. And later that day, as I was brushing my teeth, I got a look at myself in the mirror. I saw the puffed up ego, full of pride, that had just made itself useless to a suffering human being that had been looking for a little hope. If I had had the capacity to listen, the individual would have been able to speak, but my head was so full of praise for myself I was incapable of listening. I was an asshole. Getting a good look at yourself when you have run out of excuses is hard.

Had it been possible for me to instantly plummet to the building’s basement and bury myself there, face down in the dirt below the foundation, I would still not have been as low as I felt in that moment. As it was I knelt down on the spot, in an almost equally appropriate position, next to the toilet (I generally do not kneel, but sit at a desk, when I do spiritual things, but given that I felt like a sinner, I think my Catholic education kicked in). I prayed to the Ultimate to do whatever it took, that I wanted to be free of the horrible person in the mirror, and I prayed as hard as I ever had. I meant every word of it. I wanted to change, and I wanted whatever it took to do it.

Good news: my prayer was answered. Bad news: the answer was that my job situation and my housing situation almost immediately fell apart (this was back before homelessness was common). Someone stole the tools I needed to pursue my field. And I otherwise lost every bit of status and fame and apparent potential over the course of a few months. That’s how I lived, homeless, for the next two years. It was one hell of an answered prayer. It was very hard. And if it were not for that two year opportunity to change, I would still be an arrogant asshole, and a much less happy, much more fearful one.

Please note here that because I prayed for something, and found it in the form of homelessness, this does not mean that the cowboy notion that those who suffer homelessness or other injustice have brought it upon themselves, is accurate. Responding to those who suffer with anything less than compassion is wrong. I will write on the Just World fallacy, I’m sure, soon. The Just World Fallacy is perhaps the most grievous error promulgated by cowboys.

Why spirituality is a crappy way to escape reality

(This reposted entry was published Friday, April 17th, 2009 at 1:21 am at the old blog site)

This ought to be a one sentence-post: “spirituality is the act of seeking ultimate reality, by definition it does not avoid reality”. There. End of post.

Except not. Because a post like that would be too simple for some people to understand.

I have an icon on the computer I’m typing on which, when clicked, causes the better part of a day’s time to be destroyed, though independent observers have sworn that they have seen me during the purported missing hours, sitting right here, playing a game 🙂  Everyone has his or her escapes. Aside from being fun, they serve a range of useful functions. I’m not against escapes. If someone needs an escape, wants an escape, I hope they find an escape that they find satisfying.

Spirituality is not it.

When talking to spiritual cowboys (and their undisciplined religious comrades in arms) I get the impression that they see their spiritual future something like this: They sign up for a meditation class. They learn to sit in a funny posture and focus on their breath. After a few weeks they become very relaxed when meditating, and they feel good. Then, when they’ve sat around feeling good long enough (maybe a few lifetimes, maybe next week when the UFOs arrive, *shrug*), someday lotus petals will fall from the sky and 108-gizillion Buddha worlds will open up. That’s it. No mess, no fuss, no intrusion of the real world upon their plan, no requirements on their part to involve themselves in that world, just a lot of panting followed by a really cool laser light show.

What they seem to forget is that the scriptures that describe light shows of that sort describe the audience for them as dirty monks living in the forest, eating one meal of leftovers a day, getting their asses bit by mosquitoes as they watched bodhisattvas frolic in the skies. Which, by the way, featured a guy who starved himself half to death and fought off demons. And if quasi-Buddhist fantasy escapes lose their appeal on that account, they’ll find no easier laser light shows in any other spiritual tradition worth its salt. Want Christ on the clouds? The price of admission on that one appears to be much closer to “get crucified by the Romans upside down” than “wear a WWJD wristband and rock out to Amy Grant”.

Here’s the facts:

Spirituality is the hardest activity a person can do.

One can’t do a little bit of it. Anyone trying to do a little bit of spirituality will eventually face a painful crisis. It’s all or nothing. Note that “all” does not mean go get yourself a yellow robe and traipse over to Yosemite to be eaten by a mountain lion if you don’t freeze to death first. It means put your whole heart in it and learn to steel one’s will and seek out the hard things rather than avoid them. They hurt less that way.

Any spirituality that is based upon seeking benefits for oneself is doomed. Only one force is powerful enough to overcome the fear of death, and that is love. As in, love for others. As in, you cannot ignore the fate of the world while seeking your own personal salvation. Doubt me? Try it.

If one wants to see light shows in the skies of one’s own mind, without any real effort, there are drugs for that.

Spirituality is not an escape from reality. It is a plunge into the deepest parts of it.

So what is “hard core spirituality”?

(Originally posted on Friday, April 17th, 2009 at 12:05 am, at the old site)

I was speaking to a fellow survivor of Catholic school the other day, about the personalities of the various nuns we had to deal with. “There are two types of people attracted to religion”, I opined, “those who are attracted to the love of God, and those who are attracted to rules, with God serving, to such peoples’ eyes, in a side role as cop, judge, jury, and executioner. The ones who love rules provide no end of torment to those who love God.”
Something similar is true of the great many people, myself among them, whom pollsters have categorized as “spiritual not religious”.  Some of us are not religious because our spiritual understanding has not brought us into, or has led us away from, organized religion. And some are “spiritual, not religious”, because they are attracted to the absence of rules, where no demands are made, no obligations are incurred, and no consequences arise. Spirituality to them is a world of happy bliss and wishes coming true – a wholly imaginary world.
Hard core spirituality is what you get from people in the first group who are deeply committed to spiritual practice. It’s the kind of spirituality that understands the weight of what it means to seek God (or Goddess, or wisdom, or whatever: I often use “God” because that’s the most common word in our culture, but given that what we speak of is supremely transcendent, all of the names we use are equally absurd, equally inadequate to the point of ridiculousness, in the presence of that which they speak). When one, sincerely, with genuine intent, chooses to do spiritual things and pursue spiritual thoughts, one is in effect resolving to kill oneself. Not in a literal sense, of course, but in the sense of wanting to do away with the “self” or “ego” or whatever else one wants to call it, to lose that self in the Transcendent.
The fact that the body isn’t the target  of our suicidal urge in no way makes it easier to come to grips with.our aims. We don’t really fear losing the body. If it was loss of material substance that we fear, Hollywood would make horror movies about the use of toenail clippers, and we’d grieve in our bathrooms rather than flush. What is scary about material death is not the loss of matter, but the apparent loss of self. Nor does it matter that not all of us, or even many of us, wholly experience the death we seek. Those who are hard core still pick at our selves. Every piece we tear off is a struggle. And in our triumphs, even in our passing moments of bliss, the spectre and the fear of the death of self lies just under the surface.
Of course what I’ve just written applies to anyone who makes a genuine spiritual commitment, whether within a religious framework or outside among us “spiritual”.  We are distinguished from our religious compatriots by not having any external framework — no theology, no liturgy, no hierarchy, no scripture, no guru, no practice, no ritual, none other than what we borrow or make ourselves.
We are not like the spiritual cowboys who see this absence as meaning there are no standards for what is true or acceptable or right. Anything does not go, for the hard core. We’re on a mission, a kamikazi mission, and only those things that will lead us to crash our egos on the deck of Truth count. Everything else is fluff and distraction and destruction. The hard core know that even though we don’t operate under church law, we most certainly operate under natural law.
The spiritual cowboys think having no formal rules makes spirituality easier. The hard core know it makes it harder. On a tough night, when one’s mind is cluttered and one needs to find one’s focus, there is no Salaat, or Vespers, no puja or published Daily Bible Verse, for us to plug in to fill our needs. We can borrow one of them if we need to, but we must first, in our confused state, decide what to borrow. There is no Father or Imam or Guru to whom we can bring our hard questions. We are completely free from the danger of being misled by a bad or mistaken religious leader, and perpetually at risk of being misled by ourselves.
Many who practice Hard Core Spirituality eventually find a religion where they feel at home. They are not betraying the “true path” and abandoning the rest of us. Anyone who finds a home for themselves in an organized religion and does not take it is nuts. The hard core don’t want to be without religion. The hard core need to.