Spiritual Basics: Are Your Spiritual Beliefs Consistent With Your Personal Experience?

Hold Open the Possibility that Either Your Experience or Your Beliefs Need Improvement

Yet hold open the possibility that  your experience may be lacking and your beliefs in need of revision

Greetings, my friends.  Many of those  following blogs such as Rosalie’s readily recognize that we are more than physical beings. Many recognize that spirit exists.  Yet there is much room for confusion and doubt. I want to take a bit of time and space to tell you why I do not feel confused and why I do not doubt.

We live immersed in cultures which discourage recognition of the spiritual dimensions of our reality.  Yet even in highly materialistic societies, we may still have been taught some concepts of spirit through instruction in conventional religious institutions, though this instruction often becomes compartmentalized, restricted to certain times and places and infrequently applied on any other occasions.  I, for example, live in “the Bible belt” of the U.S.  Churches are numerous.  Compared to other regions in the U.S., churches are well-attended, but even here, typically only on Sundays and perhaps Wednesdays.  If church activities are more frequent, they are often concerned with fund raising or the provision of opportunities for “fellowship” that are worthwhile activities but not of a spiritual nature.

We are a busy people, busy trying to improve or maintain our physical circumstances,  and most of our time is spent in workplaces where God, angels, or spirit realms are considered “private matters of belief” and anyone speaking of such things is regarded as a “religious nut,”  “Jesus freak,” or labeled with some similar term of condemnation.  If our spiritual beliefs are more unconventional, we risk being socially ostracized.  We often find that it is unwelcome to express  ANY spiritual beliefs at all.   Among those who are not reluctant to espouse their beliefs,  we observe a great deal of intolerance for the expression of any but those they favor.   Some strictly adhere to concepts found in conventional  Judaic-Christian teachings; others to those found in far-eastern traditions such as  Buddhism or Hinduism.  Finding “organized religion” too intolerant or in other ways lacking, some come to base their concepts of a spiritual nature on secular sources such as Dolores Cannon’s  books that describe QHHT sessions in which clients  under hypnosis tell of  lives without physical bodies, experiences in spirit realms or of  communication with spirit guides.   Some draw primarily on personal experience without insisting that  their views strictly conform to those of any formal source, religious or secular.

I place myself in the latter category.  I do not want my spiritual views to be constrained by any formal  or authoritative source, yet I have been influenced by exposure to many sources.  I do want my spiritual views to be consistent with my personal experience however.   If my beliefs are not consistent with my experience, I either doubt my beliefs or I doubt my experience.  In either case, I am then moved to make revisions in the conclusions that I draw regarding what is true and what is not.

When confronted with competing, sometimes conflicting ideas, it is helpful to do as modern scientists are urged to do: do not assume that something is true on the basis of the authority of it’s source. Hold open the possibility that even  conclusions from authoritative sources could be in error.  Base your own conclusions on the extent to which they are consistent with prior observations in which you already have some confidence. It is wise to ask, “Does this conclusion make sense in view of what I have previously observed and what I am willing to assume is true?” It is even prudent to hold open the possibility that some truths ARE inconsistent with our present experience or with our present understanding of it.  After all, our experience is itself limited. This is a good reason to question the quality of our experience.  Have we misunderstood or misperceived our experience?  Do we lack the experience necessary to recognize the truth in question?   This criterion, then,  is still a tough criterion to apply, but I have found it helpful especially on occasions in which I am faced with very contentious arguments and must choose which I at least tentatively accept as true.

Using this criterion lead me to question many religious teachings that are traditionally accepted in the culture in which I was raised.  For example, I and many others have been troubled by the conventional Christian teaching that, unless they have conformed to God’s requirements for forgiveness (which vary depending on the Christian denomination being consulted) a loving God will punish those who break his Commandments even to the extent of burning them in Hell for an eternity.  But,  I have asked,  is such a teaching consistent with my own experience as one who loves?  In fact, I had occasion to ask an acquaintance who is a loving mother, “Is there anything that your son could do, ANYTHING that would so offend you, that you would cast him into hell to burn for an eternity?”  Her answer was an unhesitant, “NO !”  Then why, I continued, would you believe that a loving God would do such a thing?  Why do you think  God,  who loves with even greater purity than you or I, would do such a thing to us, whom He is said to love beyond all measure?  Is that belief consistent with your experience as a loving mother? No.  I am willing to accept that God is Love. Such cruel and unloving behavior is inconsistent with that fact and with the behavior of those who, in my experience, genuinely love.  I am led to look for other concepts of God and spirit, despite the authority of the many churches and denominations which teach us to fear God while at the same time teaching that God is  Love.

In my next post, I will share some personal experiences which encouraged me to apply this criterion to some more basic questions, Is there a spirit realm and do I receive loving help and guidance from it? Unlike some who have been deluded into thinking that we cannot know spirit through use of the common senses of touching, hearing, seeing, smelling, and tasting, I see no reason why not.  Contrary to the mistaken views of the most extreme adherents of “hard science,”   we are not precluded from recognition of spirit even by the scientific empiricism which restricts data gathering to that available to these five senses.  While I do believe that we could benefit from the use of many other senses, we can and should learn to recognize spirit even while relying on these five — we do not have to be “psychic” to recognize in our own experience that we are spiritual beings.  We can come to recognize  that the  world we so readily perceive as “solid” is not all there is.

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