I've recently noticed a pattern in my spiritual life in regards to the deconstruction of ideas and the reconstruction of new ones. Basically, whenever I start to strongly resonate with a particular body of spiritual ideas, it is soon smothered by deep doubts. I start to doubt myself in just about every way imaginable but doubting myself in a spiritual sense is the main symptom it seems. I'll feel like I understand something deep about myself, others and the universe, then it's like I shoot down and everything just seems very scary and I want to get off the ride --like a spiritual roller-coaster.
Of course, I am no stranger to doubt and I see it as typically a good thing that helps us. However, I find this as more of a doubting of self that hinders me from weighing concepts from a fair vantage point. The doubt I experience in these particular instances just wants to me to call "bullshit" on everything and call it a day...which, perhaps, isn't the most logical route. This process has actually happened a couple of times for me before. First hearing about the concept of universalism in my Christian days sparked a similar "up and down" emotional phase for me. My brief journey to become a pastor and my conclusion that God was bigger than Christianity were also followed by this phase. You would think that I'd be a pro at dealing with it by now but apparently, not so much.
Maybe a key component of the descent is just doubting my own intuitive faculties and my ability to make sense of things that-- quite frankly-- there is no proof for? I usually feel relatively comfortable with uncertainty and taking all things in regards to spirituality with a grain of salt. Yet, perhaps it is possible that I still yearn for some kind of certainty subconsciously? Not in the dogmatic sense where I unquestionably believe that I have all the big things figured out-- but more in the sense of having certainty that I can trust myself to come to conclusions that are at least in the right direction. I mean, I'd like to believe that I am somewhere in the ballpark of knowledge as far as spiritual truth goes.
It's difficult to believe that, however, when I consider all the things that I simply don't know. No matter how much I read or try to expose myself to different practices and understandings, there will always be a plethora of things I don't know. What I do know (or think I know), will always have the possibility of being misinterpreted or misapplied in some fashion. That just seems to be the way things are and I am reminded of it whenever I strongly consider new and wonderful ideas. Yet, I don't see any other option but to trust myself -- by that I mean trusting that there is indeed something real going on when I resonate with particular ideas or experience strange things.
Of course, trusting oneself can be scary. Many religious institutions make a lot of money off the very idea that you cannot trust yourself to figure things out. The idea is like a damned parasite on our consciousness that can take many years to remove fully. Yet, I've found that it's about the only thing that can be done when it comes to figuring out the meaning of life and how to best live it. As I've said before, to trust other people in spiritual matters is simply to trust that you are trusting the right people in the first place --it's the catch 22 of all religion. We have all been given the freedom and responsibility to make what we can of existential meaning --by God or random chance. I'd like to think that God or some force leads us to think all the things we think so that we are always right where we are supposed to be until we're somewhere else, but who knows? Perhaps it's not important for me to know everything that I don't know and figure out our existential meaning? Perhaps there is no actual existential meaning and I'm just wasting my time fretting about the details of some nonexistent thing? I dunno.
All I can really think to do is sit back, enjoy the spiritual ride and try not to spill my coffee in the process.
What in life truly matters? That's the question I've been thinking a lot about lately. Of course, there are so many ways to attempt to answer that and in life it seems to be an ongoing process of figuring out (or think we are figuring out) what is actually important and worth devoting ourselves to. Yet, I think it's all too rare that we revaluate those things or at least in my case.
I've really just been trying to step back whenever I'm angry or worried and just ask myself why that particular thing even matters or at least as greatly as I think that it does --it's been very eye-opening for me. Someone recently told me about how bad my new tattoo is going to look when I become old and wrinkly, and I thought to myself "why would care about that?" For one, I don't feel like I'm going to be overly concerned with my physical appearance when I'm eighty-something years old but I also may not even live to be old and wrinkly for all I know. So, why should I base my life decisions on a far off future that may not come?
Humanity seems to have such a gross obsession with the future. We're told to save money, go to college, get a good career, build credit, buy a house, etc. all so we can secure this thing called the future, because apparently the future that you're not guaranteed matters so much more than the present moment which you are currently experiencing. In our society, living for today is often deemed as reckless and irresponsible, because everything that matters comes tomorrow-- thats just so ridiculous to me.
I don't want to live recklessly or irresponsibly necessarily, but I don't think true happiness resides in "playing it safe", or following the rules based on an arbitrary set of morals and ideals that are bound to change over time and location. We have been taught that certain things are important when more often than not it's just about our egos feeling a false sense of security while other egos control and manipulate us to their own selfish ends. We're taught that all sorts of things matter and will bring happiness when more often they bring never-ending dread and sadness because we cling so tightly to mental pictures of success. I often call it "the game", if you will.
The game is unspoken, but it is designed to make you jump through countless hoops and bust your ass to attain lasting contentment yet, ironically, contentment isn't really ever found or not for long. Now, religion is principally concerned with pointing out this game and beckons that we escape it, but often I think it just trades it for yet another game that is very similar. For example, we may detach ourselves from seeking worldly riches and satisfaction because someday in the future we will go to heaven, be cured of all troubles and we need to get as many other people on their way to heaven as possible and so on. The best is never here but always around the corner ---so, the mentality is virtually the same between some secular and some religious mindsets. Quite frankly, I don't feel like striving for a sense of bliss that has no real guarantee, be it in this life or the next.
I'm not saying that I want to live apathetically and without passion but simply that I want to live without fear --fear of failing, death, the future. Life is not meaningless to me, it's just difficult to say what anything amounts to in the grand scheme of the universal story. If anything means anything in the ultimate sense, I think it is much simpler than the elaborate mental and emotional labyrinths we have created for ourselves.