Teachings for the Masses?

Last week, in the meditation class I attend every other week, the teacher talked about the different levels of teaching that Buddha presented to his followers. There were teachings aimed at householders (the average people), and teachings for dedicated monks. We began to talk about how many, maybe all, religions are like this too. There are easy to understand teachings aimed at people who are not necessarily looking for easy answers, but are looking for teaching that can be easily applied to their lives. Good examples of this include the Christian Ten Commandments and the Wiccan Rede. For people looking for semi-nonreligious teachings, there are things like The Secret and Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now which presents principles that are easy to apply to regular life.

I’m all for teachings that make religion, or general spirituality, accessible to the average person who isn’t really looking to become a monk or dedicate a great deal of their time to spiritual pursuits. But I get worried when all that the public sees is the watered down versions of all of these spiritual teachings. Wicca, for example, is much, much more then just the Rede and the Sabbats, just as Christianity is more then the Ten Commandments and Christmas. And yet, this is all so many people see.

I wonder if there is a way to make accessible a taste of the deeper teachings of religions. Yes, it is true that these teachings generally don’t make sense without having a strong understanding of the foundational teachings (which is generally all that is available now). And I suppose, maybe, that if a person is really interested in a spiritual teaching then they will actively pursue the deeper teachings. But I wonder if there are people out there who might be interested in a certain spiritual tradition but are concerned about pursuing it because they don’t know for sure where the teachings might take them.