Questioning - Is It A Natural Process?
One of the first issues people on the spiritual path have to address is a doctrinal one: Is it wrong to question? Is asking questions about the truth we've been taught "sinful?" Your answer may have a dramatic effect on your ability to explore without guilt!
One of the major issues facing many individuals today is the question of whether or not questioning the doctrine presented by their religion as a whole is "sinful." It's the first doctrinal issue that must be addressed by an individual seeking to strengthen their level of conviction, whether that conviction is for or against their religion as the foundation on which their spirituality is built. If you believe that questioning is wrong, you will not question. But if-as is the case more and more often - your level of conviction in religious truth as you've experienced it is less than soul-deep - you will walk away from that religion without first seeking to confirm what, if any, basic truth IS acceptable to you. Regardless of what religion you were trained to as a child, walking away is a major detour on the spiritual journey, a detour that can only be avoided by making a personal commitment to walk that part of the path with an open mind.
Objectively evaluating the historical implications of religious doctrine as it is taught today is an important aspect of personal growth within any religious structure, regardless of what that religious structure might be or what philosophy it might be based on. The truth of the matter - from God's perspective - is that "HE IS," and every major religion in the world recognizes Him. They may call Him by different names and they may "see Him" in different forms, but the concept of an all-prevailing Creative Source is a universal one, and is, in actuality, the basis on which all religious doctrine is structured. God is the foundation of any religious movement.
The majority of people in the United States today follow a Christian philosophy. The percentages of people who belong to this sect or that sect - and therefore who follow this doctrine or that doctrine - is a variable that changes relatively consistently, but always there are individuals who are "born into" a certain philosophy, grow up within that philosophy, marry into that philosophy, and raise their children according to that philosophy. These individuals have never explored any other philosophy as a potential replacement. The reason for this is an obvious one: the philosophy under which they are working fits their lifestyle. They are comfortable with it, and they see no need to change - or explore the opportunity for change - in a situation where there is no crisis. There is no sense of being uncomfortable with the truth that they are living by, and in most cases most everyone else that they associate with thinks on the same basis. In some cases, this is good. In some cases, this is not so good.
The culture - and even the subgroup within a culture - that we choose to be born into has a major effect on our life lessons. The culture can either serve as a solid foundation on which our spiritual lessons can be built or as a catalyst for change if the existing foundation is not supportive of the spiritual growth we intended to accomplish. This is the primary reason why we sometimes question the spiritual beliefs of our families, and in many situations we find that what was perfectly acceptable to our mothers and our fathers, our aunts and our uncles, our brothers and our sisters, is not acceptable to us.
The process here is not just a spiritual one; our emotions are brought into full expression as we work our way - step by painful step - through the realization that we are somehow "different" from the people that we love. We suffer guilt and regret and self-doubt because we can't just accept "the truth" as it has been offered to us, and we have to decide - based on how emotional a choice it is for us personally - whether to stand separate in our own definition of truth, or whether life is easier, and more peaceful, if we just put our own ideas aside and live, as best we can, by the truth our families taught us.
For some people, this is a relatively minor process. Their sense of inner self is strong enough - whether its recognized on a conscious level or not - that they can question and confirm and deny within their own mind without feeling particularly guilty or experiencing any sense of betrayal to either a specific belief system or to the people who taught them that belief system.
For others - especially those who have been raised in an environment of fundamentalist teaching in the shadow of the belief within that particular structure that says "blind faith and acceptance of the Bible in a literal sense is the only way to make God happy" - this inner need to explore and question can be a very traumatic experience, since the teachings of these fundamentalist groups are teachings that discourage both personal exploration and personal responsibility through their spiritual doctrine. Any person who has lived within this structure for several years and who finds himself asking questions or doubting doctrine can - and often does - go through major emotional trauma, since - with each question asked or each doubt raised - they are confirming in their own minds the fundamentalist belief that they are "evil" or "being led by Satan" and have "gone astray" and will surely "burn in Hell forever" for their indiscretion.
Sometimes, simple logic offers a clearer perspective on this all-important issue than philosophy does. If we look around us - at the world we live in, and the universe of which it is a part - then it becomes obvious that - whatever else He may be by our personal definitions - He is not wasteful. He does not create simply for the sake of creating. It was God who gave us free will and conscious choice; why would God have given us the potential for thinking - for analyzing, for drawing conclusions, for making personal choices - if He didn't intend for us to use that potential for our own growth? To accept blindly what any other person - even if that person is someone we have loved and trusted and shared with all our lives - teaches us "spiritual truth" without confirming on an inner level that the truth is acceptable to our inner self is reneging on our personal responsibility to and follow our own truth, and, once we have found it, live by that truth on a day to day basis, as Jesus Christ did before us.
What is it that motivates a person to question the established belief system? If our life is working - if at the present moment pieces of our personal puzzle fit together comfortably - we have no need to question. It's not our nature to seek answers for what IS working in our life; it's only when the situations and relationships in our lives create circumstances that do NOT fit comfortably - that the answers or the processes are not obvious to - that we question. And - when someone does everything that the church tells them to do (regardless of which church that may be, or which belief system that doctrine might be built on) and still doesn't feel that their life is working that it becomes apparent that one or more of the puzzle pieces is missing. It's at that point - when we realize, with some sadness, that our "truth" looks good on paper but doesn't work when we apply it to our day to day lifestyle - that we are driven to find the missing element (or elements) so that we can be at peace again, knowing that we are living day by day according to our own truth - a truth we have developed the deepest level of conviction in through the simple process of applying it - and seeing it work - on a day to day basis. Truth isn't what we say we believe, anymore; it's who we are, and a natural expression of our "self".
Most often, we find that the missing element is a personal relationship with God. The day to day ritual that is such an important part of "established religion" doesn't constitute a working relationship with the Higher Power in our lives, and when we limit the spiritual expression of ourselves to ritualistic participation in specific activities within certain time frames, then we're not only prohibiting the development of a personal relationship with God, we're prohibiting our personal growth and self expression overall.
If we've been taught that in order to "be a good Christian" or "be a good Buddhist," or "be a good lightworker" we have to do this and do this and say this, then we haven't been taught that spirituality is an aspect of ourselves that is present 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Spirituality is our personal truth; religion is the way in which we choose to express our spiritual truth to others.
Spirituality is the foundation on which our life is built, and should be the basis on which we make our everyday choices. It is through this day to day expression of our personal truth that we express our personal relationship with God; it is our active choice to live our life according to God's universal laws - an active choice to work in the best interest of everyone involved rather than focus into our own ego-driven emotional responses - a willingness to look at our lives and the world we live in with a more loving and accepting perspective that sets us apart from the average person. Living our personal truth is what enables us to live an ordinary life in an extraordinary way, and that is the ultimate objective of every major belief system in the world: for each of us to experience, on a daily basis, the extraordinary benefits of having a personal relationship with God.
Questioning is a natural process. It's through questioning that we come to confirm our own truth. As we grow in awareness, and begin to integrate the spiritual aspect of ourselves into our day to day lifestyle - as it becomes not a part of who we are but WHO WE ARE - we come to realize that we need not feel threatened by someone else's truth or someone else's perspectives. Once we've moved beyond our own emotional issues, we find that exploring truth - in it's many forms and it's many faces - for the personal purpose of confirming or denying what WE think, what we believe, and what we express - isn't wrong at all. Questioning feels right, because we understand that it was God's intention that we use our minds to explore, to question and to find our own answers. And it was God's intention that we use the free will He gave us to choose to live by those laws that we believe in.
To follow, like sheep, is to give someone else responsibility for our soul growth and our soul truth. Failure to take responsibility for deciding for ourselves - using the gifts God gave us in the form of our minds, our hearts, and our free will - who we are and what we believe in is failure to fully appreciate the true meaning of "the infinite potential of being created in His image."
Lois Grant-Holland is a Life Path Focus Counselor offering Life Path Focus Sessions, Karmic Astrology Charts, Channeled Guidance, Intuitive Readings and Classes and Workshops to spiritual seekers on all positive paths, and is the site facilitator at The A.N.S.W.E.R. - (The Seeker's Resource Guide to Alternative, New Thought, Spiritual Growth, Wellness and Enlightenment Resources.) You can visit her website at http://www.loisgrantholland.com
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