Occultism posits the “right-hand path” and the “left-hand path” which are supposed to lead – by different turnings – to the same place, the former through good and proper use of all things, kindness, etc, the latter through chaos and self-direction. It might be imagined that the one is “good” or “white” magic while the other is “bad” or “black” magic. That would be improper. Both allow for the same actions, the same means to ends, only one requires more reason than “because I wanna try this”. Both of them tend to start with “I wanna”, however. The “right-hand” has to do more justification than the left. That’s all. I realized I had spent much of my life walking both of these paths and – when you think about it – you can be on a “right-hand” or “left-hand” path in pretty much any religious tradition. If it is you, the walker, who is in charge of the walking, you’re on one of these paths. Make it up as you go along, with or without internal moral qualms, and you’re doing this. I’ve been writing my own prayerbooks and liturgies for years. I’ve been making up rituals and theologies, pantheons and hermeneutics to justify everything I could do or want to do. It all begins with, “I wanna”.
Having failed to cobble together my own idea of what works for me, I came to the idea that maybe there was order – and possibly even rules – and I needed to follow the Golden Road since it was the only option that was left that was also attractive. But doing this requires two assumptions: I don’t know how to do this, and someone else must. For a while, even this was about “I wanna”.
Then it dawned on me, that possibly the answer was, “You want me.”
To walk the Golden Road, the Tao, you need to follow. You can’t lead. You can’t make it up as you go along. There are well-worn footsteps in front of you and, like the Royal Page in “Good King Wenceslas”, you have to follow in the footsteps exactly to keep from getting lost in the blizzard. One step in front of the other, each step exactly like the footsteps in front of you. Every once in a while you wander off on your own and you find you’ve gotten far away. You have to come back and rejoin the same pattern that has been walked – danced, actually, by everyone in front of you.
You find, slowly but surely, is that every once in a while a set of footsteps cuts off to the left or to the right, some go backward. You have to sit down and make a choice. Do you follow the steps that keep going or do you go left or right or back? And what you’ll find, over and over, is if you make the choice to go forward on the Tao, to go forward on the Way… eventually you’ve only got Jesus to follow. For all the other prophets, teachers, and gurus peel off one way or the other.
What happens is, over and over, the Golden Road, the Tao, the Way, is Jesus. He said he was the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The path to heaven is Jesus.
The choice we make – to build our own roadways out of the bricks we have forged – is an illusion. Those “roads” are really walls that cut us off from life, that cut us off from God, that cut us off from each other. We are the bricklayers of our own prisons.
In submission, in humility, in slowly placing one foot in front of the other, we will find, walking out of prison, that we are following Jesus. He is on neither the right-hand nor the left-hand path. He is the path. I don’t know how he does it, but that’s what he does: reaching in, talking us by the heart, and leading – if only we will follow. Our quest to escape “this isn’t fair”, our quest to “find me”, our quest to “Understand it all” will – if we are not careful and if we are honest – lead us directly to Jesus and through Jesus directly to our selves.
This is the Kingdom proclaimed. The kingdoms of this world are on either the left- or the right-hand path. They all wanna do something because they wanna. Jesus, however, wants you. When we respond, giving up all our petty wants and rights, all our choices except the choice to respond to Jesus’ call… when we respond: we become who we really are. We never are that until then for we are made exactly for this.