My personal understanding is that human beings are healthier when they come together to share ideas, and that no idea is absolute in nature, nor is there any set of beliefs superior to another; the foundation for all our beliefs come from our individual moral intelligence. Think of the core of your moral foundation like the trunk of a tree that is held firmly by each individual [root of] moral understanding. The branches of the tree can represent the behaviors that result from our core beliefs; The more we trim the branches and refine our behaviors, the healthier and more open the branches become. The fruit that blossoms on the tree can represent the gifts we receive — and share — from following our morale; The more we share the fruit, the more of it we produce. Like trees grow toward the sky, we know we are developing our spirituality when we move closer to the light and experience that feeling of growth. With all due respect toward any religious readers, I do not believe a person needs to take on a religious label to grow into a very strong and very intricately branched tree that produces fruit in abundance.
Beliefs are personal, subjective, and changeable. To be more specific, let’s look at our core beliefs as primary beliefs. While our primary beliefs are likely to stay the same, they too can shift. For example we could all agree that deliberately murdering someone is immoral. This is a primary belief. A secondary belief, however, could mark an exception. “Killing another person is okay if it is done so to save oneself, or another person” (disclaimer: this statement is not specific to my personal feelings). The point is, some may agree, and others may strongly disagree with that statement. And the statement itself could have multiple meanings. So we can see that our personal spirituality is extremely specific and individualized — even for someone who follows a religion. When a primary belief shifts, so do the secondary beliefs. We all get a little uneasy at the thought of changing our minds. Spiritual development is an ongoing process. One just doesn’t “become enlightened” and suddenly has figured things out. We can experience enlightenment and even exist in ongoing states of it. But storms pass, and we face challenges. We are human, and we are imperfect. We learn, and we evolve.
Those of us who don’t follow a specific religious belief system (or are moving away from a previous system of beliefs) seek understanding through personal experience and through the wisdom of others. To be healthy, our spirituality should be in harmony with the other aspects of ourselves. Our spiritual self should be harmonious with our working self, physical self, emotional self, and our interpersonal self (relationships) in that each of these areas is necessary and come together to form the whole of who we are. Things tend to come out of balance at times, and we may need to focus more on one area than another.
Be Flexible, But Be Grounded
I’ve been questioned for being Buddhist, Wiccan, New Age, among other things. But the fact is, I have no label and I follow no one set of teachings. I even find myself in disagreement with some of the people I look up to the most! Before you dive in to another person’s teachings, take a little time to research the whole of his/her philosophy. Be mindful to consider your personal feelings on specific teachings from that person, even if you generally agree with most of what he/she has to say. Take your time. For example, I had a recent interaction with Ralph Smart as I voiced some concerns to him. Ralph Smart has a YouTube channel that I watch from time to time and I usually enjoy his philosophy. He said to me, “I believe that unity is the way forward.” Which I agree with. I could say that this statement is one of my primary beliefs. But my secondary belief is, sometimes separation can be the way forward. There are other differences in Ralph’s ideas and my own — he promotes that you should quit your job to follow your dream so you can have more free time. Not something I personally agree with (and will be writing about soon in a post about the importance of work and diligence!). But this doesn’t mean I should condemn him for having different ideas.
Spirituality in Social Media: Warning Signs!
On the other hand, I’ve observed and researched some spiritual “movements” online that are downright dangerous. It is easy to be mislead when you are at a low point in life, especially for children and teenagers who are growing up in the Information Age of computers. Cult leaders have a way of making their mission seem welcoming, appealing, and safe — but the agenda is far from the proverbial mission to “change the world”. Sometimes these so-called “spiritual teachers” are only out to gain fame, money, and power. It is important to point these things out because it is so easy for people to start an online “movement”. Here are some signs of cult leaders for parents:
Signs of Cult Leaders
- Leader’s history is questionable
- Leader does not reference anyone outside his/her teachings
- Leader defends himself/herself as being “right” when questioned
- Leader demonstrates conflicting philosophies
- Leaders actions are inconsistent with teachings
- Leader manipulates positive messages
- Leader guilts followers into offering money or gifts
- Leader offers only mystical explanations
Be Confident in Your Own Beliefs
“A true master tears down all the patterns that the ego has built its world out of. A true master tears down all the ideas, all the conceptions, all the wrong beliefs, all the biases, all the bigotry.” — Evan Rock
Be confident to live in accordance with your TRUE beliefs. Be confident to discover them. : )
Have a great week!