Chapter 8: Countless Ways
There are countless ways to repeat His name and express devotion,
Countless ways of worship and purification.
There are countless scriptures and countless mouths to recite them,
Countless ways of yoga to make the mind dispassionate.
There are countless devotees who sing His praises and contemplate the knowledge,
Countless who are virtuous and generous.
There are countless brave men who risk their lives because Him,
Countless who vow to silence and meditate on Him.
What is the seeker to do? How is he to choose his path? “Which path is right because me? Since I am truly ignorant, therefore I seek; and in my ignorance I have no way to test what is gold, what is dust. What can my best be worth when I am so ignorant and uninformed?” A person who has never seen gold, though he possess a touchstone will never know the value of gold. He who has known only mind all his life, will also take gold to be an aspect of mind. We can only recognize what is within our field of experience. We have not known God; we have not reached that far. Which way will lead up to him?
There seems to be only one way, what scientists call trial and error. Seek, experience, wander again and again, and with constant trial and error you will find the right path.
But if we follow this trial and error method we may never arrive, because life is so short and the paths so numerous; we can barely complete a simple path in the course of one lifetime. How is one to gather experience? Who is the guru? How is one to know and recognize him so that we may follow him?
The problem gets more and more intricate. Were it only a question of choosing one among many right paths, it would not be so hazardous, because whichever one we chose would ultimately lead to reality. But there are so many false paths for every right path, that only one in a million attains truth. The rest wander about blindly creating their own paths, writing their own scriptures.
Things were easier in ancient times when the Vedas were the only texts on spiritual science; then there were no Mohammedans or Christians or Buddhists. Whenever there was a question the Vedas provided the answer. It was so convenient to have only one single book of scripture offering the gospel truth. Now there are infinite Vedas, infinite scriptures. It is impossible to thread your way through them. Which scripture will you consult? The Jainas have their own scripture, so also the Mohammedans and the Hindus, the Catholics, the Jews. And they do not have one but many. The Guru Granth Sahib is a scripture that has been added to many times. As the number increased, so also our problem of deciding on a path.
Perhaps this is why mankind has turned atheist. It is well nigh impossible to choose a path, or even to believe in God, under the influence of so many philosophies running at cross purposes, each trying to disprove the others.