Institutions as a step to freedom or bondage.

I think the reason I generally prefer Eastern religion to Western religion is summarized in this quote "The role of a guru is to wean you from them, so that you can develop confidence in your own true nature." ~ Pema Chodrin
The sentiment of that quote seems typical of Eastern religion and something I can't imagine hearing from the Pope or the Prophet or a Mullah. Don't get me wrong, I have my qualms with Eastern religion too, but Western religion generally seems more spritually limiting for the individual. Like the ultimate goal of this life is for the the individual to be inexorably tied to the institution, rather than the institution being a mere stepping stone on a path that would, ideally, be transcended.

Interestingly, the infamous and controversial 1984 talk by Elder Poelman originally made several points similar the quote mentioned above, for example, "Institutional discipline is replaced by self discipline. Supervision is replaced by righteous initiative and a sense of divine accountability." while the edits required by the institution basically made the exact opposite point. That same line was changed to "We will exercise self discipline and righteous initiative guided by Church leaders and a sense of divine accountability." (here is a link to all the changes )


Vincent said...

Yes, but the guru is like a dentist, whose job is to keep your teeth healthy so that you don't need a dentist. Do you imagine any dentist wants that situation, when there are so many dentists competing? No, he needs customers who come back, not those who have been weaned away. I have had thirty years' experience of the guru system & would not recommend it any more than I would Mormonism.

Chris Almond said...

I agree with you vincent. My point wasn't to advocate the guru system, I find it distasteful. My point was to praise a conceptual framework that sees the institution as a mere stepping stone to something else, rather than an ends in an of itself. That, in practice, it does not always work out that way is unfortunate and expected. But that a religion would have such a concept at all, is something I find admirable particularly because it is in such stark contrast to one of my biggest issues within mormonism.