Posts Tagged ‘Many Voices’

Many Voices, One Journey

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Sounds True has a new logo (see above) and a new tag line: Many Voices, One Journey.


The new tag line came from Mitchell Clute who works as a Producer at Sounds True. When I first heard it, I thought it sounded a bit like we were a gospel choir, but hey, that’s not that far from the truth.


The phrase “Many Voices, One Journey” has grown on me. Obviously, we each have our own individual journey to make, however we are all here together experiencing our one life. As unique as we each are, there is an underlying universality that we share, which is the human journey of birth, death and the potential for spiritual transformation.


At a deeper level, I have been reflecting on the whole notion of what it means to be a universalist (someone who appreciates what all the world’s spiritual traditions have in common) and at the same time someone who has chosen a particular spiritual path to follow (to be part of a particular lineage).


In my own life, I started out in my early twenties in love with the direct path of mystical knowing, determined that I would always be a “world citizen” and never become a member of any particular tribe or tradition. However, by the time I reached my late thirties, I had the feeling of being a bit lost in the woods. I had studied with many different teachers and in many different traditions. I knew a lot, but there was a way that I had remained on the surface. At one point, my partner Julie said to me “You like to talk about spiritual transformation more than anyone I have ever met. The question is, when are you going to start transforming?”


Her question stung, and I knew she was pointing to something absolutely critical. It was at that time in my life that I started working intensively with a single spiritual teacher and with a single spiritual community, and this teacher and community have been my “home base” for the past 8 years. What is interesting is that now that I have a home base, I am engaged with exploring many different spiritual teachings and traditions (my heart is a universal heart), but I no longer feel lost. I feel like someone who has a home and who is an adventurous traveler.


Perhaps even more importantly, I can now appreciate in an experiential way deeper dimensions of various teachings from other traditions (different from my own) because I have reference points from my own practice that illuminate the language of other traditions.


When I first started meditating, I studied with S.N. Goenka who is a Burmese meditation master who teaches the Vipassana style of meditation. I was 20 years old, and I remember him saying, “If you want to find water, don’t dig in hundreds of different holes, dig deeply in one place.” I remember thinking that he was an old fuddy-duddy, a traditionalist, and besides, how did I know that I was digging in the right one hole to begin with? Two decades later, I reached a certain point where I knew the smell of water and I knew what pure water tasted like (I had also tasted quite a bit of what I might call “muddy water”). I had experienced enough and grown enough to have confidence in my instincts. And when I found the tradition that had the right scent and the taste, I decided to dig in a very serious way.


I love the tag line “Many Voices, One Journey” because I believe there is a great underground table of pure water that is available to all serious spiritual journeyers. I also believe there are many routes and access points depending on your personal bent, your personal karma (all of the various conditions of your life), and on what teacher and practice form calls forth your heart and inspiration. I have met deeply realized people from many different traditions. One Sounds True author whom I dearly love, John Milton (who takes people on vision quests in nature) recommends to students to always study in more than one tradition because it creates checks and balances on the path (John himself has studied and practiced extensively within 4 lineages: Taoist, Shamanic, the Kali Tradition, and the Dzogchen tradition of Tibetan Buddhism). And this combining of paths is an interesting “voice in the choir” as well.


My current perspective is that spiritual transformation is a universal process (“one journey”). No one can own it. However, the universal becomes real for us when it has a voice, a name, a particular expression. We discover the universal through the particular and then we can appreciate all particulars as expressions of the universal.