Following ‘the path’ was once such an important spiritual ideal in the Theosophical Society that Jiddu Krishnamurti took it upon himself to break it down. (After first having written a whole prose poem about it ‘The Path‘) I’m not sure though whether the path itself was the issue, but the here and now. I’m sure he’d hate for me to say it – but perhaps what I’m going to say in the next few paragraphs isn’t so different from what he’d say – all the limitations of words taken into consideration.
Just like we demand freedom, we also often think that our own spiritual path is unique. That is true in a sense: each of us grows towards insight in their own way. Each of us have our own experiences that lead to change. Traditional spirituality stresses the set stages of the spiritual path, but doesn’t deny that what happens in each stage is different for each individual.
This ideal – of finding your own path – has to do with our cultural stress on the individual. We find each detail of our own lives terribly important. Which person harmed me? How did I respond? Who helped me? Which teacher had something to say that guided me? Not only do we demand of ourselves the freedom to set our own course, we also value it if others accept that. This comes down to the value of accepting others on their path, as they are.
But if the insight is central, instead of what leads towards the insight, the differences are probably not all that big. However one may want to put it, this ideal is close to the virtue I started with: freedom. We demand the freedom to go our own way. And we are each doomed to make our own mistakes.
What I like about this virtue is the insight that it is useless to compare ourselves to others. He IS successful. That one will become famous, while I continue to struggle in shadows. I could never say it that well… All of those thoughts are useless. You are who you are. You have your own unique place in the Whole. Comparing yourself to others isn’t going to help you move forward.