Sunday, June 21, 2009

More on seeking (or moron seeking?): believe, accept, act

Here is a summary of the things that I have found repeatedly in my search for clues to spiritual seeking. I'm not preaching, I'm just sharing what I've read/heard:

Believe. This is more than mere intellectual assent to a set of empirically dubious or physically untestable historical propositions or elaborate yet limiting/potentially misleading depictions of the Divine. That alone is never enough and it mis-characterizes the point of these propositions and depictions*. However, one does need to believe in the sense of accepting the reality of something, in this case, of a Higher Power that orients, inspires, and sustains us. Otherwise what is one loving, prizing, holding dear, committing oneself to, or engaging with (to use some other meanings for "belief" cherished by authors like Karen Armstrong)? In other words, assume that everything is related to everything else or that the parts or the whole are pointless or dependent solely on what any individual makes of it. Adopting this orientation appears to be a necessary initial step.

Accept. Accept that this belief confirms your intrinsic worth independent of what you have done or failed to do. It also suggests this is true of all people and all phenomena. It bestows a dignity on you and every person that cannot be taken away, and thus compels one to see oneself and others as worthy of this dignity and of having a fundamental equality. This acceptance works both to humble and inspire, an antidote to arrogance and despair. This acceptance is often hard to handle, particularly when one lacks or refuses to embrace charity and forgiveness for themselves or others.

Act. In turn, such a perspective leads one to act as if the details of ones life matter. As if all lives matter. As if all things are precious. As if the sacred is found in all. Of course, this has consequences for morality and ethics, for social justice and charity, for taking care of ourselves. Plus, behavior and belief share a two-way causal relationship. Struggling to believe and working to accept the spiritual dimension of life involves action. Prayer, devotion, contemplation, service, etc are the core of such action. Without it, belief and acceptance will always be out of reach.

*The point of such mysteries isn't to simply ask if they are historically true or demand certainty of such things based on second-hand knowledge. You can debate them if you like, and reject them if you wish. The question is - what do they tell you? When we can't know for sure based on our own senses or physical proof, when the details are ambiguous, what does your heart tell you?

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