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
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
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
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
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.
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.