Throughout the last couple of months a number of my readers have asked me to write a post clarifying my position as to what my beliefs are. Such a clarification, some have said, would help them and other readers understand the perspective I come from when writing my posts.
I think my last post alluded somewhat to the perspective I have been gravitating to spiritually. However, what I think those who have expressed inquiries into my beliefs really want to know is what I would label myself as. Am I still a Christian? Am I a pantheist, a Hindu? For I have spoken fondly and reverently of Sri Krishna as expressed through the Bhagavad Gita and have quoted numerous times in the past from the Upanishads, stating that I get much spiritual direction reading from them as well as from works like the Tao te Ching. I have also expressed my belief that all of life is interconnected and have shared my slow turning away from the idea in a personal God. And yet my mentioning of religions that do express a personal belief of God tends to leave some of my readers perplexed as to where I personally stand.
I can only say that at this point my beliefs are fluid and continually evolving. I readily admit that I simply don't have everything figured out yet and am unable to put myself in one camp or another, subscribing to this or that label. Though it can be uncomfortable to proceed from the ever-shifting vantage point of fluidity, it is the only way I seem to be able to proceed spiritually with any genuine sense of authenticity and certainty. Yes, what a paradox; I find a degree of certainty in the very state of uncertainty! Maybe that can be compared to finding permanence in impermanence.
Never before have I been able to relate more to these words of Alan Watts, found in his book "The Wisdom of Insecurity" on page 24.
"But you cannot understand life and its mysteries as long as you try to grasp it. Indeed, you cannot grasp it, just as you cannot walk off with a river in a bucket. If you try to capture running water in a bucket, it is clear that you do not understand it and that you will always be disappointed, for in the bucket the water does not run. To "have" running water you must let go of it and let it run. The same is true of life and of God. "
While I can see beauty in what many religions and spiritual paths have to offer, especially the Eastern ones, I think that trying to subscribe to any one of them would make it only a matter of time before I was branded a heretic by followers in whichever one I tried to follow. So deeply is skepticism woven into my very nature. As soon as I think I have found a path that perhaps I can align myself with, doubts and questions taunt me and I find what I perceive as flaws in the presuppositions that define them. I think my days of subscribing to any organized religion may be over.
I believe to pursue the truth with any sense of integrity means to do away with all presuppositions. I can't help but feel restricted spiritually by the artificial boundaries that religions seem to erect. I immediately feel compelled to test them and eventually go beyond them. Some seem to find comfort with recognizing and accepting these boundaries and I respect, honor and sometimes envy that. I, on the other hand, find myself feeling rather claustrophobic at the idea of them.
I tend to view God/reality as something bearing a lot more depth than religions generally express. I believe that throughout the various wisdom traditions there have been mystics who have had deep revelations into the true nature of man and the universe. These revelations have undoubtedly been the inspiration to truths that many religions have found ways of turning superficial. Perhaps my current perspective is a strength, maybe it will lead to my ultimate spiritual demise. More than a few have voiced the idea that it will lead to my eternal separation from God, even to hell. Those are repercussions, though, that I do not fear. For God, whom I equate with reality, is closer to me than my very self. Separation from God is impossible for "He" is found at our nature's core. That, I do believe whole-heartedly. And I no longer believe in hell. So, that is also not a concern as I move forward.
So, after all of this, where exactly am I at? I am at the point where I am merely enjoying the act of learning as much as I can about different religions and philosophies for the sake of exploring the underlying parallels that can be found between them. I am concentrating my studies more on the various Eastern philosophies and religions, particularly Buddhism, Taoism and Hinduism. I see all of reality as being interconnected; as an ever changing and infinite organism of interrelated parts.
I am enjoying the spiritual disciplines of chanting, meditation and mindfulness. I believe that the truth can be revealed to us experientially in the present moment and that we can train our minds to become more and more aware of the presen through spiritual disciplines but we need not be bound to them. I view them as tools; sometimes they are helpful and sometimes they can be a hindrance. Oftentimes what is needed is the letting go of all effort. It is then that understanding breaks upon one's consciousness. Sort of like how when you are looking for something you end up finding it when you stop looking for it. I have found immense value and inspiration in the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, the writings of Alan Watts and Eknath Easwaran as well as philosophers like Ken Wilber whose philosophy of spiral dynamics in particular has helped me understand the direction my journey is taking me.
I know this blog started off as one that held a strictly Christian theme. That has certainly changed! I hope that readers will bear with this change as my perspective continually evolves and my understanding hopefully deepens. As a result of my changing views, this blog has now reached a turning point in terms of the material it will cover and is heading in a new direction. I plan on continuing to write about different religions and philosophies even though I might not subscribe to them because I believe it's important for all of us to develop a deeper understanding and empathy into what people believe in order to begin to not only see the similarities that we all have with one another but also to have a healthy appreciation for the differences.
I also am looking forward to introducing some new content into this blog from other fields of study other than just religion and philosophy like, for example, neuroscience, psychology and astrophysics. I think these areas of study are also essential in exploring when trying to ascertain a more complete view of reality.
I look forward to sharing my next post which will relate the experience I recently had of attending a Shin Buddhist meditation meeting.
Thoughts? I'd love to hear them. Please leave them in the comments section! Thank you!