When we step on the wet leaves of spirituality we risk slipping and falling. The fall can be disastrous. We might whack our heads and wake up with all sorts of belief systems that cannot be scientifically proved.
Consider this: Some believe in a virgin birth. Some believe in bodily resurrection. Some believe there was a literal Garden of Eden. Some believe Jesus was the Christ. Some believe Jesus was merely a prophet. Some believe Jesus was a good man. Some do not believe there was a Jesus. Some believe Mohammad led a legitimate revolt to retake Mecca. Some believe in one God. Some believe in many. Some believe Joseph Smith, Jr., was led to the golden plates of Moroni by an angel. Some are Catholic, some protestant, some neither. Among people who believe these sorts of events there are those who believe a venomous snake, placed around the neck, is a sign of faith.
Some believe Hurricane Sandy was sent as a punishment to man for numerous faith indiscretions. Some believe Hurricane Katrina was sent for similar reasons. Some believe in a Great Spirit that permeates all things. Some believe that nature speaks to us. Some believe in the spirit of plants and animals. Some include rocks and heavy metals. Some believe in terms like ‘synchronicity’ – the individual human synchronized with a universal spirit. Some believe in ‘faith indiscretions’ as being the sin of the flesh – sin such as socially unaccepted sexual practice. Some believe in ‘faith indiscretions’ as sin against nature itself – like the human cause of Global Warming – thus errant hurricanes. Some believe ‘faith indiscretion’ is defined by the Laws God gave to Aaron which Aaron chronicled in the Book of Leviticus. Some believe Jesus changed the Law, thus producing a New Testament to God.
Some believe that Fridays that fall on the 13th of any given month are days of ill will. Some fear a black cat crossing their path. Some will not walk under a ladder or break a mirror. Some believe a penny saved is a penny earned.
I agree with the penny saved. All of the other believes scare me to death. Why? Most people believe in many of the above propositions with no obvious consequences of pain or suffering. What’s the problem? they ask. Some say: If you want true sanity then you have to step out on the gangplank of faith. We can only understand ourselves in the context of the greater universe. We must face our fear in order to eliminate our fear.
People say, “I have been born again”. Are they saying they have found the fundamental spiritual truth and that truth has changed their being forever? Others might put this differently, “I had a numinous moment”. I felt the presence of God. I know God exists because He revealed Himself to me. (Note to readers: I use the term God loosely. There is no intention of limiting the thought to any particular understanding). One might say, “I know God is watching over me”. or “God is present in all things, animate and inanimate. We need only pay attention and nature will speak to us. I was in the check out line at Walmart and there was a short dark skinned man behind me. He spoke to me but because it was not Pentecost I could not understand him. He was probably what some of the people described above would call ‘illegal’ – which interprets on Pentecost as ‘demon’.
The problem is simple. Sciences cannot yet explain all observable phenomenon. Things happen every day that defies the reason of Science. The other side of that coin is that some people drink poisoned koolaide and hitch a ride on the tail of a comet to go visit their God. We are left with a choice – accept Science as the only legitimate method of knowing, which means we do not get to have answers in our lifetime – or accept the concept of spiritual existence, connect with our soul, and believe the unbelievable.
Almost all scientists agree almost all of the time. This is not the case with spiritual people. Whenever two or more spiritual people agree we are quick to shout, “Yikes, Dogma! Run for your lives.” If I accept any one interpretation of God then all people with different interpretations shout, “Yikes, Heritic! Run for your lives.”
I have personally heard people say things like, “Ours is a practical theology. Do not fear. We will not ask you to believe anything that is irrational. All you have to believe is that that one guy was buried after being nailed to a cross and three days later got up and floated around talking to us about salvation. See how that makes perfectly good sense? Nothing irrational about that. This is a self evident truth.”
“YIKES!!!” I run for my life.
I would discount all of this except for one hitch in the scientific reasoning. The one hitch is the mystique of the individual human. Every assertion about seven deadly sins or psychological interpretation is presented generally about humans – the individual does not play by the general rules. There are patterns of behavior which are attributed to particular causation – but individual patterns are ascertained after the fact – before the fact nothing can be predicted about any one individual.
We humans are unique. There are many similarities – but in the end we are unique. We are mystical creatures. For this reason I must step out of the Science boundary. I must take a chance on a faith position. I seek what Jung called, “…the lifelong process of psychological maturation and attainment of self-knowledge – ‘individuation’.”
I cannot grasp any spirituality which speaks to your truth. I have hope that I can grasp a spirituality that speaks to my truth. But scientific method has a role in this learning process. I have to measure against something, some baseline, some standard of sanity. If I put a snake around my neck or drink the poison then I will have gone too far and it will be too late. I must find and measure against a base of sanity.
The base of sanity might be found in the common denominator of all of the wacky ideas listed above. A common theme, verbally expressed if not actively sought, is simple: Love you neighbor as yourself. I will step on the slippery slope – but if I lose sight of love then I will know that I have slipped. I can make this statement based on past empirical observations. When I have acted out of anything but love I have lost any connection to a spirit life.
I have fallen many times. My footing has not been sure. I am going to step out again into the damp forest of spirituality. What shall be different? I hope to walk carefully, purposefully, deliberately, and I hope to take whatever time is necessary with each step. Each step must encompass love, gain maturity, and create more self-awareness. I accept that self-awareness is in the context of the greater universe, the context of nature, and in the context of humanity. Any legitimate step in the forest must benefit all, must be considerate of nature, and must have a numinous moment of some epiphany, some valuable insight into self.
Here I go.