In understanding how Tzaddi fits in to world spiritual traditions, it may be useful to consider, “How did the spiritual lineages that we accept as ‘established’ actually begin, and what do they have in common?”
Judaism, the oldest of the three monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), began when Abraham had a revelation in which he received offers of a covenant, and direct instruction from Yahweh about certain practices required to found and sustain a new nation. These were acts out of the mainstream conventions of the local time and culture, but they gained legitimacy and normalcy as Jacob’s people were fruitful and multiplied and as they kept in touch with the root vision of a covenant with God.
By the time of Jesus, Judaism had four main branches of philosophy—the Essenes, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Zealots. There was considerable disagreement among them about what was correct practice and teaching in certain areas of theology. Jesus’ teachings came forth in that atmosphere of debate and friction. He was considered a revolutionary and consequently, was put to death.
Every Christian denomination in existence today came from a personal vision or revelation, often combined with a political situation, that caused a new offshoot to spring forth in Jesus’ lineage.
In 1054, in the Great Schism between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches (up until that point they were one church), there was a split about certain points of theology—the Trinity and the nature of God— and about politics—whether the Bishop of Rome would have a higher standing than the bishops of other seats of power. To this day, some people on each side view themselves as the “true original church” descended from Peter, in whom Jesus vested authority as “the rock of the church.”
Protestant churches came into existence when visionary reformers like Martin Luther (1483 – 1546) broke with the Roman Catholic Church. He “felt impelled by his own religious experience and his transformed understanding of God to challenge … and finally to reject its entire papal and priestly system. George Fox (1624 – 1691), the radical visionary who founded the Quaker movement, was moved by his encounter with ‘the inner light’ to denounce the whole structure of Puritan authority—legal, governmental, and religious.” Joseph Smith Jr. (1806 – 1844) founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormonism), a large, growing church that is a formidable presence today despite starting as a small, obscure sect.
Islam, born five hundred seventy years after Jesus, was founded on the revelations of the Prophet Muhammad. Muhammad was not looking to be taken up into the role of Prophet and the tumultuous life changes that followed, but nonetheless remained true to his calling by God. From that original transmission arose many Islamic traditions, including Shi’a, Sunni, and Sufi paths, and a very different perspective on world history and culture from that taught in the West.
Lord Siddhartha, a handsome, wealthy prince born in Nepal about five hundred sixty years before Jesus, founded Buddhism. The prince was so moved by witnessing old age, sickness, and death that his sheltered, comfortable worldview was shattered. This led him to defy the restrictions of his father the king, abandon his wife and son, and leave his comfortable life in the palace to strive for a way to end suffering on Earth. He tried various practices, from life as an ascetic forest yogi to a more moderate “middle way” until he found enlightenment, winning his battle with his own ego. He became known as Buddha, “the awakened one.” The different branches of Buddhism (Zen, Tibetan, Theravada, and others) and different lineages within the branches of Buddhism arose from different interpretations of Buddha’s teachings.
In short, spiritual traditions that we accept as “mainstream” or “normal” such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism are spiritual lineages that began somewhere with someone who was moved by something (a revelation), and who answered the spiritual call to do something different. Tzaddi came about in the same way.
Tzaddi’s perspective is in alignment with the mystical branches of these religious heritages—Kabbalah in Judaism, Sufi in Islam, Hildegard of Bingen and Teresa of Avilon in Christianity, to give a few examples. We call ourselves “inter-spiritual,” a phrase coined by Catholic monk Brother Wayne Teasdale to describe the “mystic heart” of different spiritual traditions.
First Nations spirituality perspectives—living much closer to the Earth as our mother, providing everything we need for life, and offering gratitude and reverence to our Father in Heaven for all of creation— are also part of our community culture. Tzaddi Founders Amy Kees and Dorothe Blackmere routinely spoke with spirit guides of Native American identity, and many people in our community practice circle, smudging, sweat, pipe, and other Turtle Island First Nation traditions as part of our inter-spiritual way, in accordance with our 21 Principles. These traditions were given to the original People as part of a living revelation, passed on in tribal story and history through thousands of years.