The image of light dispersed by a prism has been with me for a few weeks. It struck me as a powerful metaphor for different spiritual traditions.
We sit on the refracted side of the prism (the rainbow side). Each tradition explores its own colour of light. Each tradition has developed a set of rules which allow the followers to get to a more or less true approximation of resonance with the actual frequency of that particular light path.
Not all traditions are equal and not all facilitate the real resonance of all to the same degree, but all are striving to the same end.
Some traditions encapsulated more frequencies of light than others, and so do hold a greater part of the whole, but none – not one – holds everything. Not one holds the true nature of unrefracted white light – that is a gift from God.
I had an email conversation with an acquaintance today about Centering Prayer and the Ignatian tradition. Each sits in a slightly different space in the spectrum. Each helps followers to come to greater resonance with that segment of the spectrum i.e. each helps people into deeper relationship with God.
When we find that sweet spot of resonance in a particular tradition it is so exciting – and it is so tempting to begin to proclaim that you have found the way to others. To those who are sitting in the same section of the spectrum your words may be both encouraging and genuinely helpful. But to those are operating in a different zone your words may be more disorienting and destructive than anything else.
The experience of resonating in the white light is perhaps what Christians call contemplation and Buddhists call enlightenment. Those who live from that space are always characterised by humility. They understand the gift of the tradition which led them to that place, but they know that it is not the only route.