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The Mithraic Path
When you read spiritual publications today, you are lead to believe that walking a spiritual path requires a tremendous amount of personal effort and commitment, and that at the end of the road there is a goal that gets reached. Enlightenment, Illumination, Salvation, Ascension and Nirvana are just a few of the names given to this goal, which you are supposed to strive for when you 'take up the yoke' of a spiritual journey.
Here in the West, we are born into a social consciousness that is burned into the fabric of every cell of our being. The western ideal plainly asserts, “the harder the effort required to reach a goal, the greater the reward once the goal is reached!" At the same time, though, there is a paradox in our way of thinking, in which we also believe that if we can somehow find a way to make a difficult process more quick and efficient, then the end result is equally as rewarding.
Capitalizing on our western way of thinking, there exist spiritual organizations and publications that propose to teach us secret, mystical techniques that are reputed to decrease both the amount of time required, and the tremendous effort required to become enlightened.
In the Mithraic Path, our advice is to ignore everything that you have ever read and learned about the difficulties of walking a spiritual path, and to not be enticed by schemes that market quick enlightenment. There is no strenuous effort required to reach the goal. The act of walking the spiritual path is the goal in and of itself. There is no need to cut corners and to make things quick and efficient along the spiritual journey, because our entire lifespan is the spiritual journey.
Many eastern religious paths teach that it is the supreme goal of all students to strive to become one with a changeless, formless expression of divinity that is purported to be the origin of everything. Mithraism does not teach this. In Mithraic philosophy there is the recognition of an infinitely diverse expression of the universe that we call "Mithras The Divine Lord'. Mithraism is a religion that recognizes the infinite diversity of Divine expression.
Enlightenment, according to Mithraic philosophy, is the art of living a divine life, a life in which the devotee of Lord Mithras is in a close and personal relationship with Mithras the Great Maker. Enlightenment is the act of living a life in which guidance and companionship come directly from Mithras, but at the same time we recognize that we still have the free will to choose the course of our life, and to make decisions about the direction of our mortal and spiritual existences.
In Mithraism, wisdom can be gained from The Divine, it is the goal of the Mithraic person to live a good life, and to teach others, by example, how they may also live a good life. What is required on the spiritual journey along the Mithraic path, is simply the cultivation and sustenance of Devotion and Love for The Divine and all of creation.
Mithraism is a devotional path that is followed throughout an entire lifetime. Again, walking the spiritual journey is the goal. Later in our journey, when we wake up from delusions of ruling the world amidst the ooh's and aah's of adoring fans, we realize that there is still a void in our lives. We realize that there is still something greater and more enjoyable out there which can be known.
Mithraism can help replace the painful void that disillusioned students feel when they realize that they can't move mountains or teleport themselves with only the power of their minds. Instead of psychic powers, we offer a relationship with The Divine Mithras. Instead of a large worshiping and adoring fan base, we offer a sense of Peace and Understanding about your role in the universe both during your mortal life and in your spirit life after the death of the physical body.
Along with being a devotional path, Mithraism is also an initiatory path. By initiatory I mean that Mithraism is a path that teaches knowledge of the spiritual and harmonic laws of the universe through revelatory experiences which we call initiations. The wisdom that is acquired from initiations teaches us how we can work with the spiritual and harmonic laws of the universe to create beneficial changes for the betterment of humanity and the environment.
The true meaning of the word initiation refers to the personal revelatory experience that awakens the heart's divine intelligence. The rites, rituals and techniques that we perform daily are also called initiations.
In essence, any practice that can lead to having an initiatory experience is called an initiation. Taking part in an initiation may not necessarily lead to having a profound revelatory experience each time that you perform it. All initiations have an immediate subtle effect on a person's consciousness, but it may take years before the full meaning of the initiation is completely understood.
Also, taking part in an initiation will most likely result in a different experience each and every time it is performed. Becoming receptive to wisdom is, more often than not, a unique and gradual process within each practitioner.
There is a universal body of spiritual knowledge that can be known by all initiates, but the process of learning and experiencing universal truth is, in itself, a completely unique journey. This is why the ancients called their initiatory rituals the mysteries, or the mystery plays. Not even the saints could predict what would be revealed or experienced when the initiation was performed. All the same, we guarantee that the continual practice of the initiations will lead to an awakening of the heart's divine intelligence, regardless of whether it is revealed through a gradual accumulation of wisdom, or in an explosive insight.
In ancient times, the daily observances were considered an integral and necessary aspect of daily life. All citizens of world lived and breathed devotion for The Divine. Religion wasn't a social obligation meant to be endured once a week. The ancients knew that The Divine was everywhere, and in a state of activity all around them. The religious fervor of our ancestors wasn't a fear-based attempt to appease divine wrath, but rather the ancients' religious fervor was a means of co-existing harmoniously with, and a means of learning from The Divine that they could see all around them. It is taught that the human spirit has the potential to become one with The Divine. The ancients sought wisdom and initiation so that they could exist as one of the Saints in a divine state free from suffering.
There are some parts in Mithraism that require a priest to be present when certain rituals are performed. This is Not necessary of all parts in Mithraism. Although rituals in a group setting are encouraged because of the power of the group dynamic, neither access to a priest nor a group is necessary when walking the Mithraic path. Most of our rituals can be performed by either a single individual or in a group. Although the goal of Mithraism is to build a community of practitioners of the Mithraic path, it is clearly understood that walking the faith path is a uniquely personal experience. Faith communities provide encouragement, motivation and fellowship, however, they don't provide the personal religious experience, the personal initiation. Having both, the religious community and access to initiation provides the devotee with the best of both worlds, but of the two, having access to initiation is far more important than community.
The primary mission of the Mithraic leaders is to Empower people to Awaken their own heart's divine intelligence. Providing a community in which Mithraists can find support and fellowship is also part of the mission of the Mithraic leaders, but it is a secondary mission.
Mithraism is a spiritual path in which the devotee awakens to having a personal relationship with The Divine Lord Mithras and in that relationship, illumination and a life of joy and wisdom naturally evolve. Just as there isn't a point in your life when your relationship with someone you love reaches a pinnacle of perfection that can't be improved on or destroyed, the same is true in our relationship with The Divine. The Divine Mithras Loves us regardless of whether or not we reciprocate our affections. At the same time, though, Lord Mithras is definitely more responsive when our own hearts are both open to love, and equally as giving of love. Wisdom and Illumination are gifts of love, and they are blessed on us when our hearts are in a mutual exchange of unconditional love with The Divine. There is no end to the illumination process when our hearts are open to it. The wisdom of the universe is as infinite as the universe itself. Even the Saints are in the never-ending process of receiving illumination. Again, unlike the promises of other spiritual paths, the Mithraic path doesn't claim that a devotee will suddenly become an all knowing saint at some critical point which marks the end of the journey. There is Not a point in which people suddenly recognize something different about the Mithraist, and then start bowing down and worshiping them as a living incarnation of Mithras. Mithraism does not offer a course in how to become a spiritual celebrity. The only courses that Mithraism offers are about having a lifelong and loving relationship with The Divine.
Devotion needs to be planted and cultivated like a garden, hence the need for Mithraic practices. The development of devotion and the heart's divine intelligence, however the human body is the temple of the divine and it should be treated as such. It should be kept clean and healthy, and it should be allowed to fulfill its natural desires and engage in activities that bring it pleasure.
We all know from both personal experience and the historic record that sensual over-indulgence can adversely affect our good health, however, it doesn't mean that we should go the other route and deny ourselves of sensual pleasure entirely. As with anything in life, moderation is the key to a fulfilling life. We all know that heart disease, some forms of cancer, sexually transmitted diseases and liver failure are a small sample of the types of diseases that can afflict people who overindulge themselves in the pleasures of life. At the same time, though, completely denying our body of the things that bring it pleasure or comfort can be equally as unhealthy on all levels. Malnutrition, hypothermia, diseases and sickness are equally prone to attack a person who wears no clothes in cold weather, or who fasts and lives only on 'God's breath of life' for too long. Mithraism is a path that teaches the need for sensual fulfillment to occur in Moderation and with Responsibility. Mithras wants us to enjoy the sensual aspects of life and to be comfortable. Only the Clergy are held to a more stricter standard.
Although the practices that a beginner performs are few in number and relatively simple, they continue to be the foundation of Mithraic practices throughout one's entire life. The sages of The Divine lived the enlightened lifestyle. From the time that they were children to their last dying breath, they walked their sacred journey, always improving their relationship with The Divine, and always increasing in wisdom. Fortunately for those of us who were born several millenia later, the record they left behind continues to inspire and guide us in our own relationship with Lord Mithras. The wear and tear of time and nature was not enough to hide the Divine truths that were written in the stone and architecture of ancient civilizations. Nevertheless, even if the temples had all been destroyed through religious desecration or by natural causes, Mithraism would still exist. The Divine Mithras can't be destroyed by time or by the acts of men. He is real, and is all around us and in us everywhere and at every moment. At times when the collective consciousness of a society starts to suffer and fall into chaos, The Servants of The Divine manifest themselves and bring light back to the world. Mithraic practices and teachings are a manifestation of that light.
The Basic Seven, or Simple Seven is the name that we have given to the collection of activities that make up the foundational Mithraic practices. These are: 1. Prayer; 2. Meditation; 3. Devotional Chanting; 4. Ritual Worship; 5. the Creation of Sacred Space; 6. Charity and 7. Spiritual Study. The words 'basic or simple' might be a little misleading because the practices themselves are the core of a Mithraist's practice throughout their entire life. The wisdom that is gained from doing the practices will progressively grow and enlighten you through to the end of your human existence, and into your spiritual existence. You may already be familiar with most of the simple seven practices, because they are universally the foundational practices of all religious paths. If you have any previous experience with eastern religious paths such as Taoism or Buddhism, then you will recognize many similarities between the practices of those paths and the practices of Mithraism. At the same time though, there are many differences, some of which are polar in quality, in our approach to the practices, the religious philosophy and the ethical system that has evolved out of Mithraic practices.
Differences that can be found in the philosophy and ethical systems of any religion exist because of each religion's own unique understanding of both humanity's role in the universe, and of humanity's relationship to The Divine. Differences also exist because each religion is profoundly influenced by the culture, politics and social climate in which it is founded and practiced. The ancestral version of Mithraism was lived in a social and political climate quite different from the cultures surrounding lands. This is also true between the contemporary version of Mithraism and other spiritual paths. Whereas other paths are still tied to their cultural inhibitions, prejudices and prudery of the lands that they migrated from, Mithraism had its rebirth in the free thinking and less inhibited West. Unlike most of today's modern religions, Mithraism teaches the Equality of all humans. Women are treated as Equals to their male counterparts in every regard. Sexuality for those who wish to practice it, is celebrated and considered a positive and beneficial aspect of the human experience. It is taught that sexual energy needs to be experienced in its natural form, rather than repressed, suppressed or transmuted into some other form of energy.
The Mithraic path teaches that an individual is completely responsible for the positive and negative consequences of their actions. Mithraism teaches that a devotee is responsible for their own relationship with The Divine. Mithraism teaches the importance of having spiritual teachers. Not unlike the teachers in other religious paths, however, who are believed to be fully responsible for a devotee's spiritual progress, teachers in the Mithraic path serve only as guides and as examples to follow. It is solely up to the devotee to do the practices, to experience the initiations and to cultivate devotion. No teacher can claim that they act as a catalyst for the quick spiritual awakening of a student. Mithraism is about having a personal relationship with The Divine, and about growing in wisdom through experiencing The Divine Mithras on that journey. Spiritual evolution is entirely personal, it is not something that can be purchased.
To many, total personal responsibility is a deterrent. To a Mithraist, it is Freedom.
Doing the practices takes a small degree of discipline, but they are not stressful or painful to do. Worshiping The Divine Mithras is an act of Joy, not an obligation that one must begrudgingly perform in order to appease some jealous and violent god. There are many days where one could be feeling in a bad mood and you don't feel like chanting in the temple. Don't force yourself to do a religious act that you don't want to do, and especially don't subject yourself to a guilt trip when you don't do your daily worship.
Mithraism is completely opposed to religious guilt. If you miss a day, then you miss a day and that's all! There's no punishment or feeling of betrayal when you get lazy or moody. The Divine Mithras is Not a jealous and vindictive god who savors taking vengeance on those who don't bow down in subservience to it at all hours of the day. The Divine Mithras is a presence of Love and Joy. Mithraic practices awaken that Love and Joy in you, but let's face it, you're only human and there are of days where you could be in a bad mood or feeling lazy. The Divine lets you have your tantrum, and then is there to receive your Love when you break out of your spell. There's no divine spanking for being angry, or for deciding to skip a day in your worship. The Divine will be there to receive you with open arms when you decided to practice again.
With freedom comes personal responsibility. In Mithraic philosophy, if you cause suffering, then it is entirely on your shoulders and You are totally responsible for any repercussions that might arise because of your actions. Personal responsibility is the foundation of a theology that teaches perfect justice. Never choose to walk a religious path that teaches that its members can cause suffering without consequences. That belief is purely Evil, and any god or teacher that promotes such an idea is themselves Evil. Taking responsibility for all of our actions and living to only do good and to prevent suffering is the foundation and cornerstone of all Mithraic practices.
Mithraism is a religious path that embraces peace, spiritual studies and is fun to follow. A Miserable religion leads to miserable people. Mithraists are not miserable. It is our experience that living and practicing the simple seven, and other practices and trying in earnest to help people end their suffering does lead to a life of Joy and brings us into a close personal relationship with The Divine. It is my hope that you will have a Joyous relationship with The Divine Mithras.
May You All Walk in The Light Children of The Divine