I would simply say, be especially wary,
of those who SEEM to encourage searching and open-mindedness, yet who also assure you that you'll come `back around,'
in time. In other words, watch out for those who have - at best - asked merely superficial questions, while never truly letting go of underlying assumptions
... such people will always
have a hidden agenda, even while they `encourage'
you to seek out the Truth.
There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that in time
, we shall all come to the Truth, including both the answers we seek, as well as quite a few answers which we do not seek.
It is often these latter which we are totally unprepared for, yet it can also be discouraging or daunting to find that things are not, actually, as they have always seemed!
Is it sinful to criticize Christianity?
It would only be sinful if one were aware of the criticism, and knew, consciously
, that what s/he was suggesting was either untruthful, and/or if what was being said was wrongly motivated. So, in some situations, it would certainly be sinful to criticize Christianity, yet no more so than it might be to criticize Buddhism, or Native American religion, or Paganism. It's about motive, and our willingness to explore just how aware we are
of this motive ... as much as it's about accuracy, or truthfulness.
Is it sinful to doubt Christianity and try to explore other truths?
Nope, and nope. The greater sin here, rests with those who do not encourage
such questioning. It looks like most folks appreciate this, but those who cannot bring themselves to question even their own convictions
, probably have another step left to go. They must learn to question even that which they have taken as gospel
. And it doesn't have to be an everyday, all day, sort of questioning, as in blatant doubt or incredulity.
Yet if all we ever say is, "Gee, I wonder if --,"
then we've never REALLY brought our own faith, and the content of our belief, into the Higher Light of Reason.
What those who seek the true Gnosis
must all, inevitably discover, is that there is precisely this Light of Reason
, operative within us all. It is a gift of God, if we prefer to think of it in terms of a Christian metaphysics. We do not need to ASK
for it, and we do not need to be (a) Christian, either,
in order for this PRINCIPLE of our Consciousness to be present (as the quality of the Soul, or rather, the SOUL, AS Quality, AS Consciousness - of which Reason, or Intuition is a Faculty
There are doubters of this simple Truth, yet it will be found, in every case, that their doubt is based upon disbelief, upon refusal to question innate assumptions or tenaciously-held convictions
, or else is partnered with their own agendas (hidden or otherwise) to espouse a certain doctrine, or advance a certain cause ... being LESS than The Truth, the Whole Truth, and nothing BUT the Truth.
If we choose to explore other truths
(and it is already a sign of recognition, imho,
thelxsystem, that you chose to phrase the question in this manner) ... there is no requirement that we CEASE to be Christians, or Muslims, or Baha'is, or agnostics, but we must
be willing to set aside
our assumptions - based on these, and other foundations
(cultural, or societal, philosophical, gender-based, economic or caste distinctions, etc.) long enough to make the inquiry!
We must engage what the poet calls the willing suspension of disbelief
, and look at other (spiritual) teachings as FREE from all types of bias as possible. And this is not easy, and it's not something we can do on a Saturday afternoon by propping ourself up in our favorite armchair with a copy of Huston Smith's The World's Religions
Not that that's not a bad place to start, but a month spent in India, volunteering (through one's church, perhaps) with a remote village, where the interest is in SERVICE,
and not in making good Christians out of everyone
... will likely bring us much, much closer to understanding Hinduism, than any amount of book learning. Philosophy classes and guidebooks will help, as also hearing teachings from a learned Guru or authority, yet sitting in the pew every Sunday morning will not
make of a person a Christian, much less a `Good' Christian.'
Amazingly, many millions of people do not seem to recognize this!
Is it sinful to attempt to try solidify your faith by opening it up to interrogation, even if by doing so there is a risk you may lose your faith?
Faith in what? The way you start to ask this question does not seem
(to me) to be the way you end it. It looks to me like you're changing the connotation of the word `faith'
midstream, even if there's really only a certain potential
here for ambiguity. But let's clear it up ...
by which we mean a religious tradition, its many & often-worldwide adherents, as well as its sacred scriptures, practices & rituals
... is a very broad, all-encompassing term. This seems to be what you're saying at first, thelxsystem, speaking of solidification
. But when we say something like, "losing one's faith,"
it seems unlikely that any of us
could do so, in one fell swoop, in the same connotation as faith
in terms of (a) religion.
Rather, what seems more likely the case is that we may begin to withdraw our creedence, our belief, or perhaps our affirmation (both to ourselves and others)
that such & such a religious tradition is the right way, or the way for us.
And this is, of course, entirely possible as we begin to explore other religious traditions, and as we take a look at Spirituality
in a larger context (than religion alone).
Really where this gets us back to, is the questioning - IF
we feel we are ready to begin such a process (or to take the next steps
in what should be an ongoing process
) - of what we REALLY believe. And we can ask this in terms of what are our underlying assumptions, or the `givens,'
of our currently-held religion (`faith'
in the first sense).
We may find that our faith,
in terms of creedence
, only deepens, bringing us reassurance that we are on the correct spiritual path
(for you, or for me, individually
) ... and that we may have been all along! But it is quite possible we will find that many of our assumptions have been ill-founded, or that in fact, there is no good reason at all for us to continue to believe x, y or z.
This doesn't mean that x, y or z
have no truth or merit, unto themselves, or that in fact, x never happened
(Jesus wasn't resurrected, Mohammed never walked the Earth, Angels don't exist, etc.). But what we may very well discover
is that the nuance, or the context,
within which that BELIEF has been TAUGHT,
has been mistaken, or misframed,
from the very get-go. And that could have been the case from as far back as the 5th Century
, even perhaps the 5th Century BC (!) ...
or yet it could be due to a recent mis-translation, or to a spin
which has been placed upon a certain doctrine in the past couple of centuries.
,' too, has different motivations, and can be either conscious and intentional, or entirely unawares & unintentional
, while most often it is probably somewhere in between. But inaccuracy is inaccuracy. And those who are afraid to open up certain basic religious teachings
to the scrutiny of science, and logic (for consistency and rationale's sake), only demonstrate their innate fear of change - and perhaps the fact that they have become a bit too accustomed
There is nothing wrong with tradition
, as this word is neither positive or negative. It is a purely neutral term, yet if we look around we will sometimes find that there exist varying agendas for suggesting that all tradition is `good'
(meaning desirable & right,
because comfortable and `established' -
as if ERROR does not creep in over centuries & millennia, just as across years & decades).
And we must be just as careful to avoid concluding that a given tradition, or a practice within a tradition is `bad,'
since we may in fact just be reacting to our own opening to a deeper realization. Some of these realizations will even bring us full circle, giving us a new appreciation - and understanding
- of our faith
(or chosen religion
, and its particular traditions
) ... yet only after we spend awhile as a prodigal, a true Wanderer, searching for unbiased Truth.
The greatest difficulty seems to rest with LETTING GO of our assumptions and ingrained beliefs
... many of which we do not even consciously or intentionally hold
, but which exist nevertheless at the DEEPEST level of our thinking, and of our emotional being.
It is not
recommended that we force ourselves
unnaturally, or prematurely, to expel
these assumptions, or abandon our childhood faith
... or the religion which we have consciously chosen for however many years:
Exploration is a gradual process, and we have every opportunity to make it a gentle one, a positive one, and a spiritually productive one.
If we pursue our Journey to the next natural stages
of awakening, it is a given that there will be upheaval enough. And that is why we must be careful not to strand ourselves between a rock and a hard place
- or rather, between the (apparent) safety of the land, which we have always felt & known
... and the recognition of that Distant Shore,
which can come into view for us too swiftly & calamitously
if we row our boat out too far, too fast,
getting caught in a dangerous current.
Fools rush in, where Angels fear to tread.
It might seem, as we look into the teachings of other religions
, or other manifestations of Spirituality
(of God's communication with Humanity, of the relationship that has always existed between God, Humanity, and all of Creation) - it might seem
that we must LET GO of one approach,
in order to come to another, and move into a greater Light, a deeper Truth.
Undoubtedly, on some levels, this is so
Yet what I think many of us have already come to realize, and what plenty of us are in the process of realizing (or STRIVING to realize)
- is that there's a whole lot MORE to God's Plan, and to God's Creation, than we have ever dared to Dream
But we don't have to have all
the answers. We don't even really need to have any
of them. If we have just a few, simple questions,
which I think every single one of us is born with
, as children ... then we are already
on the right track, and we are already
closer to the answer than 99%
of people, who LOSE this ability - and responsibility - to QUESTION, once they grow up, and fall for some one or another of the world's religions or ideologies, hook line and sinker.
I hope fourgrtkidos will forgive me for quoting her comments on the Conversion and Children
thread, but I feel she said this so beautifully ... getting right to the point:
Childlike is: open minded, willing and eager to learn, trusting, quick to forgive, fast to make friends and to love.
Young children love equally and easily. They aren't attached to earthly posessions, status or accomplishment. Which makes it easier for them to see truth and fairness.
They learn ignorance, intolerance, legalism, status, wealth, desire to accumulate possessions, proudness, boasting and hatred from us big folks, later.
And I would add, children also learn from us to stop questioning,
and this shuts down an essential line of connection (and potential spiritual development) between personality and Soul
.... between our normal, everyday awareness - and the Spiritual World.
It should not surprise us, as we progress along our Journey, and open to the experience of the Wanderer
(the Spiritual `Initiate' in esoteric traditions) ... if we do indeed discover that our life and our spiritual search has taken the form of a spiral.
This recognition is an elementary and a universal one. What comes next, may well be a bit unexpected!
Our entire sojourn into the Christian Faith, including all the specifics of the Christian ritual and tradition,
may turn out to be just one arm
of this spiral Journey ... a temporary visitation, or passing through
, just as we may do regarding other world traditions, and other religious experiences. We may find that we must let go
numerous times, only to deeply learn again
, and truly experience a thing from the inside out
(be this a religion, ourselves, or each other).
As the pattern of the mosaic begins to appear before us, the Universals
do start to make themselves known, and it may that we can say, with St. Augustine, that
"That which is called the Chrisian religion existed among the ancients, and never did not exist, from the beginning of the human race, until Christ came in the flesh, at which time the true religion that already existed began to be known as Christianity."
I do not mean to put the cart ahead of the horse, too hastily
, and yet ... perhaps we can imagine ourselves, for a moment, in the mindset
of someone living thousands of years before Christ
, even in Ancient Egypt ... where the Christ was known
- even on a Grand, COSMIC Scale -
You see, if our search,
, our Journey
- has not yet brought us to the above point of recognition, and acceptance ... then even to imagine
such might seem difficult - a strange, unfamiliar idea.
Yet to a student of the Ageless Wisdom, this will be perfectly natural, as it is part of the ABC
of what we have studied, gained insight into, and come to understand. Our question
, the question for plenty of us, will - once again, in acknowledgment of the spiral - perhaps be something like, "How did the Egyptians come to this (mathematical) knowledge, and how was it formulated, over time ... or`distilled' into genuine WISDOM?"
And the Journey continues!!!
Namaskar, and Best of Luck on your Journey, thexlsystem!