What we believe matters. Our worldview, beliefs and values largely shape our actions and the ways that we show up in the world. For those of us with a passion to seek an absolute Truth, that pursuit can be a struggle. With a seemingly endless cacophony of mixed messaging, opposing sides and contradictory information, how could a person ever come to rest on one timeless, eternal Truth? My intention today is not to share necessarily the Truths I have come to adapt, but instead to explore and to give testimony to the ways in which I approach Truth. As a seeker, I have an innate passion for searching out what is true in an intentional, and at times vigorous way.
Curiosity is etched into my soul like the fingerprints on my hand, I have always had a knack for questioning everything and often (to the dismay of my mother) challenging ideas or widely accepted approaches to life that seemed nonsensical to me. Quickly I learned that there are about as many approaches to life as there are humans on the planet, and each person holds his or her own perspectives and beliefs about the nature of reality, whether consciously or unconscious to that fact. At around the age of 20 I became super conscious of my relationship with reality and Truth, and so began my intentional, purposeful quest in discovering it. You see, our values and what we hold to be true will greatly shape the ways we move in the world. What we hold true can cause us to be a magnanimous force for good, or cause us to instill division, hatred and fear. A person can look at the same text or paragraph and interpret its content in such a way that promotes either love or fear. To me, the ultimate Truth is Love.
I came across one of my earliest conflicts around discerning truth in a rather benign context. I had in my early 20s devoured all of the Harry Potter books and found them to be an engrossing story of the power of Love overcoming evil and fear. As a spiritually awakening young woman, this series had an almost religious significance to me, as it felt so close to the heart of the Jesus I was growing to know and love. I had, at this point in time, not really questioned my perspective on this cult classic. Fast forward to my early 30s, when in a Bible study, I was told to burn all of my Harry Potter books because the witchcraft in its pages is offensive to God. So which is it? Aligned with the Love and goodness of the Creator, or evil work of literature destined to corrupt the hearts and minds of all who read it? As silly as it sounds, this issue caused me a great deal of angst, as it matters most to me that I am in alignment with the Divine. This conflict is but a tiny example of a vast array of issues that arise in today's age of division and polarization. Black Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter? Vaccines save lives, vaccines hurt people? Bodily autonomy, right to life? Liberal, conservative? Israel, Palestine? Fox news, CNN? Fake tree, real tree? In a world with endless information and the overwhelming number of opinions and perspectives accessible at all hours of the day, how on Earth are we supposed to wade through it all and sift out the truth from the lies.
Many Christian friends of mine would share that the only way to know the real Truth is to find it in the Bible, the buck stops there. And while that does resonate, it doesn't answer the question on how spiritually masterful people practicing other faiths --Gandhi, Ram Das, Rumi and teachers like Wim Hof ---have arrived at Truth and wisdom without consulting the Bible. It also doesn't account for the thousands of denominations within Christendom that each interpret the Good Book in their own, unique, often contradicting, individual way. The Bible is one of the richest, most poetic, wise, prominent and important texts in our world. But wouldn't a Muslim say the same about the Kuran? Or a Hindu say that about the Bhagavad Gita? How do we know *for sure* that our particular line of thinking, and the texts and teaching we are placing our faith and hope in are actually the Truth? How do we know if we should be a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Muslim, an Atheist, an Agnostic, a Catholic, a Unitarian, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Mormon, Jehovah Witness, Latter Day Saint and the list could go on forever? To someone like me, who burns with a relentless pursuit of Truth and wisdom, and who loves God, discerning these things has taken on utmost importance.
My process for forming beliefs about the world is intentional, with a spirit of humility, recognizing that any belief or worldview I might hold is likely greatly distorted, given my flawed human nature. Scripture even tells us that our human minds are incapable of holding and understanding the whole Truth regarding the nature of reality and the Creator, as in 1 Corinthians 13:12, "for now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known." There is a veil that shields us from the Ultimate Reality. And until that veil is completely lifted, either by death or a radical shift in consciousness, we are only able to graze the coattails of Truth. And so, even though I do hold certain unwavering convictions, I am tolerant and accepting of viewpoints opposed to mine. We are all just humans doing our best to walk each other home--even if we aren't hip to that fact.
So what is my process? I've come to trust my inner knowing first and foremost. Intuition is a God given gift. You can call it the presence of the Holy Spirit, you can call it Prana or Chi, but ultimately--that life force that flows within me, and all beings, is the lifeforce that gifts spiritual sight, commonly called intuition. Inner knowing is not the same as egoic knowing in the mind, and it can take some time to develop the muscle of intuition, and the ability to tell the difference between egoic thought and intuitive nudges. I have arrived at the conclusion that all people are born with this innate ability to speak the language of God. When presented within an idea or teaching, I pay attention most to how it feels within the body. And this of course requires a certain level of sensitivity. Engaging in certain ways of thinking and being will dull this sensitivity, and likewise, living in alignment with the Spirit, or Divine will heighten this Awareness and develop this muscle. I experience this in my own life regularly, and when my sensitivity feels dull, I know that some shifting in habits, beliefs and behaviors may be in order. So--what are the actual, physical sensations that cue what is True for me?
1. Truth Bumps--also called 'goosebumps,' these tingles will happen when I encounter and am in the presence of a great Truth.
2. Emotion--when I sense something is True I will often have a spontaneous emotional experience. I will well up with tears, feel sorrow or joy. Feelings beyond the everyday range, but more intense and timeless.
3. Expansiveness--when I am weighing something within myself, to discern whether it is True or in alignment with the Creator, I will come to a quiet place in my heart and mind and determine whether a particular perspective gives me a feeling of expansiveness or contraction in my chest and solar plexus region. The Truth always 'sets you free' as the saying goes and will yield a sense of vastness and expansion, while fear will lead to a shrinking and contracting sensation.
Many of my dearest friends will seek Truth in the Bible and then form their beliefs based on what they have read. That approach does not naturally flow from my heart or work for me. While I do regard the Bible as the primary literary source of Truth in my life, I typically tune in to the resonance within my body first, and then refer to the wisdom found in Scripture to test what I am feeling. I have never had an intuitive nudge that was counter to what Scripture shares. That being said, there is wisdom and Truth to be found in many texts, works of fiction, other religious texts and works of scientific discovery. To me the Truth is the Truth, no matter where you find it. Many Christians might take offense to the idea that I might find Truth in sources outside of Christianity or the Bible, they may even think it heretical, and that is okay too. We are all navigating this Reality the best we know how. For me, intuition and critical thought are the cornerstones of teasing out Truth, and the Scriptures entrusted to us are meant to be supportive to those faculties, not the other way around. With the Holy Spirit alive in me, God gifts me with the ability to hear His voice and know His Truth, and that is a spiritual gift I treasure above all else.
With this Spirit I can detect and discern the presence of the Source of all Life regardless of human labels. God's magnitude could never be contained within the pages of a book, even a book filled with Truth and wisdom like the Bible. The Book is beautiful and a tremendously valuable resource and map for right living, but its human authors are flawed conduits attempting to convey the supernatural via human hands and minds--seeing as if through a mirror dimly. Even Jesus called into question Moses and his earlier interpretation of God's will when He cast doubt on the doctrine of divorce. Jesus was approached by the Pharisees as they attempted to test and trip Him up. They interrogated Him on the Old Testament teaching that a husband could divorce his wife. And Jesus responded "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning" Matthew 19:8. More than a teaching on divorce, this teaching shows my heart that even the authors of Scripture are flawed humans, reinforcing my belief that tuning in to the presence and will of the Holy Spirit is the first step in discerning what is True. In a future entry, I will share some of my favorite ways to tune in to the moving of the Holy Spirit, and some common pitfalls that may dull your spiritual sight and make it more challenging to connect to the Creator and the higher aspects of yourself. I hope this post blesses and inspires you. If you are a new seeker, or wanting to refine and hone your intuition, we have some great tools and tips for you. Click the button below to contact us so that we can partner together as you traverse the winding Path of awakening. Namaste and God bless <3