From the beginning of my involvement with Glenn Morris, I loved his lack of a manifest destiny, the absence of any orthodoxy on what “god and the universe” have to be. At the climactic moment of his initial awakening, with characteristic generosity he leaves the reader to choose how to speak of the experience:
… the whole has a spirit or direction that might be defined as God, or energy, or self/creativity if you’re inclined in that direction…
— Path Notes of an American Ninja Master (1993)
This attitude is what builds the flexible SBNR social form. Not that people are always conscious of it and the synergies it allows, but the knitting-together it’s doing is always visible when you look for it. Not having one “correct” word or concept for the experiences under investigation, but allowing them to play across different vocabularies, means any experience can come under many headings. The creative interweaving of patterns and cultural destinies is characteristic of our current civilisation and the ecology in which it sits. Many flexible stories are required to understand spiritual experiences in such an environment, and SBNR’s own complex history makes this very obvious.
One isn’t likely to read any Abrahamic text saying that “God, or energy, or self/creativity if you prefer, made the heavens and the earth”. There is a definite disjuncture between the religious and SBNR ways of speaking.
Tao Te Ching admits right away that “Tao” is a word for something upon which words must always hang loosely — modern SBNR acknowledges that and slides different verbal lenses across that something according to context. It branches freely out of the tunnel-like Western-religious destiny myths that turn into ideocracies. In a human and nature-scaled environment with the emphasis on creativity, it seems to prosper.