The Power of Being Willing to Consider - A Beginning . . .

For most of us, if we really consider the details of our lives, whatever religious path we have followed has not come about as a result of our making a choice – at least not really an informed choice.   

An informed choice is a choice made under circumstances in which we have been mature-enough, then educated-enough and finally able-enough to investigate available information for ourselves.  We take that information and weigh its various aspects for validity and reliability. Having done that, we make informed choices based on our perceptions and lived experience. Lived experience is the most important part. 

Yet, when we consider the ultimate questions of our lives, most of us have been programmed – often from birth and family-of-origin – to turn those choices over to those in religious authority.  We don’t get to make those choices.  They are made for us.  We may believe we have made choices, but they weren’t informed choices. 

This process cheats us out of the ultimate adventure of our lives, and more and more of us are beginning to wake up to that fact.  We are waking up to the realization that we have been force-fed the answers before we even have had the chance to ask the questions. 

The practice of being “born-into” or having a religion hoisted upon us, before we ask the natural ultimate questions of our lives, is perhaps the last and greatest generally tolerated expression of abuse on human beings.  When it comes with coercion, as it often does, I call it spiritual rape. 

Within every human being there exists a natural longing – a sense of emptiness – that arises in the natural course of human development.  This empty core naturally asks questions and seeks answers that will fill this sense of emptiness.  Forcing answers on human beings before they have a chance to ask, and live, the questions is like pulling the petals open on a flower bud and expecting a blossom. 

Yet, few of us have realized that this is spiritual abuse.  In fact, given that this is the norm in our society, it not only is rarely recognized, the practice forms the mainstay of our educational and religious systems.  Until recently few of us questioned the possible damage of a forced bloom approach to religion . . .

 

For thousands of years, we have been told that any spiritual discovery, development or adventure we might chose to undertake must be done under the oversight of a particular religion – generally the one to which we were first exposed upon the advent of our birth, or the one that predominates in the culture or society in which we live.  Historically, the pressure to confine ourselves within that particular religious cartel has been tremendous – even to the present day in many circles.  

Fear is the most common method employed in many religious settings to maintain control of  members, followed close behind by shame and guilt and impersonality of the God-connection experience.   

Even as you read this, as intrigued as you are, your religious training may have you wondering if you are safe to continue reading, because who knows what ungodly influence could be behind this message?   

Or, at the other extreme, perhaps you have become so burned out, either feeling you have failed – or been failed – by the religious influences in your life that you have pulled away from the idea of spiritual discovery, development or spiritual adventure altogether.  And everywhere you have sought these, you may have encountered another “hard-sell” of another set of beliefs and must-do practices in another particular religious path.  

(Here’s a clue:  Whenever somebody uses fear, shame, blame, or a demanding message attributed to the-god-of-their-understanding requiring you to give up your right to observe and think for yourself and to accept their religious message as the right one, you are getting the hard-sell.)   

If this has been happening to you, then please take comfort that you are not alone.  Although there is not enough talk of it in polite society, more and more people have become discouraged, disillusioned or even completely alienated by their family or birth religion, as well as other paths they may have attempted to follow. 

But, if you observe the influence of religious tradition over the course of history – especially recent history – you will discover that religious influence in controlling people’s lives is weakening over time.  This is very fortunate from the perspective of human liberty over authoritarian control, but very unfortunate from the perspective of the growing loss of transcendent meaning and purpose in human existence.  

More and more, everywhere, people are rising to the “glass ceilings” of their religious traditions and allowing themselves to be trapped there.  Perhaps, they afraid to move beyond doctrines and practices they have outgrown.  Perhaps they are burned out by the limits of what their local religious setting offers them, or disillusioned by the hypocrisy that is inevitable in a hard-sell, shame-blame, buy-the-god-of-their-understanding kind of religion.  Perhaps you are among these, and perhaps you are now wondering if what you are reading is going to take you to yet another “you-have-to-believe-this” approach to exploring the deeper questions of your life.   

If you are among these, or simply reading out of curiosity, please be reassured that you will be offered no more coercion here than this: That you be willing to consider.  

To be willing to consider is the first, perhaps most powerful step required to move beyond the fear that traps us in our illusions of our limitations – and most tragically of all, in illusions of our spiritual limitations. For many of us, a lack of being willing to consider has blinded us to awareness of any spirituality at all. 

So you are asked that you be willing to consider that there is no requirement that you believe anything that you will read, discuss or encounter in the SoulMentors environment. (To be continued . . .)

This page is under construction and subject to revision.

Under Construction

Under Construction

Under Construction

This temporary page is a beginning . . .

Imagine if you came to visit a place of deeper learning and discovered partial displays, unpacked boxes and construction work everywhere.  Imagine that those you meet in that setting explain that they are so excited to be sharing their discoveries that enough is available to form an initial presentation - because there is a world of need for even that right now. They give you a brief tour of the place, invite your much-valued feedback on this work-in-progress and heartily invite you to return, as much as your interests and needs apply. May this be your experience here on the SoulMentors site.

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