Freeing yourself from dogma is an important milestone on your path...
There is a story of a traveler who desired to go through a huge deep woods, for his goal lay somewhere upon the other side. He found a path and followed it, but it began to lead him away from the direction he wished to go, so he left it.
He wondered awhile, and discovered another path which seemed to wind towards his goal. But this path was rocky and unnecessarily difficult, and finally he decided to leave it, too, and took another path which branched away from it.
He walked on for a time, and discovered an encampment right in the middle of the path!
People had liked this particular path so much that they had chosen to live there, and raise their children there -- and when asked, they told the traveler in no uncertain terms that their path was the only path! In fact, they said that their village was the only village that mattered, and that he need never look upon another village again -- in fact, he would be doomed should he leave their small village. Shaking his head in amazement, the traveler walked on.
He struggled through the thick undergrowth for a time, and passed a couple of paths that were headed in the opposite direction from his own, until he found another. This path was marked by sweet scented flowers and followed a dancing brook. He enjoyed the companions he met upon this road, and it brought him contentment and peaceful travel for a time -- but eventually, it too, seemed to wind away from his intended direction. So the traveler again walked alone, often making his own way.
Pathless, and yet mindful of what he had learned of the terrain from each of the paths he had encountered, he discovered that by choosing his own path he was now able to make much progress. And one day, the traveler finally reached the end of the woods and The Center of All Things.
To his amazement, each of the paths he had seen eventually did lead here, but because he had chosen to mindfully create his own way, he had reached his destination much more quickly.
Belief systems are like stepping stones over the quicksand of ignorance and amnesia. Each may be useful, but if you linger too long upon one, it will sink into the quicksand and you may become trapped. The wise course is to skip over each stone, appreciate its usefulness and note it's dangers -- and don't stop! Just take a look at them, use them (or not) to find your way over the quicksand without getting mired in it.
This is referred to as walking the Royal Road - which is pathless. There is no "authority" who can show you the Universe within.
Although learning from others who inspire you can often be quite helpful, in the final analysis we must each look within for truth.
No matter what the ritual or practice, we cannot reach higher consciousness by playing follow the leader. As a teacher and counselor, I find it especially important to remind my clients that I am not here to lead with my own light, but instead to touch my candle to yours so we can each carry our light together. And all that light creates beautiful brilliance!
That's why conscious spirituality is so very different from religion.
"The word religion beautifully defines itself, of course. It means "to bind" from the Latin, re(back) and ligare (to tie up).. All religions are straight jackets, jackets for the straight." - Timothy Leary, Changing My Mind Among Others
Priest John Spong People discusses the invention of "hell" as a control tool. People don't need to be "born again", they need to grow up. The church doesn't want people to grow up because you can't control grown-ups. "You and I are emerging people, not fallen people". Lovely, check it out: http://youtu.be/LkaH3hEmV3M