The need to move from the status of believer to that of spiritual seeker
All religious traditions are built from one or more people who were spiritual seekers, yet the faithful adopt the posture of believer.
Throughout the ages, religion has spread first under the impulse of an enlightened master. Whether we call them prophets, gurus or mystics, each of these people embodied a message that they tried to spread later. The possibility of attaining enlightenment is not always assured, yet all the masters who have gone before us have tried to do so.
The Problem of Believer Status
The problem with being a believer is that it can block our spiritual progress. To believe is to give for true something that you have not necessarily experienced yourself. If you tell someone that you believe what they tell you, it means by definition that you think it is true without being totally sure.
Belief is one of the stages of the spiritual path. Most often, to be kept alive, it must engender a communal practice. It is easier to believe when one is in a group than when one is alone. A fortiori, it is easier to be wrong with many than to be right when one is alone. Moreover, belief leads to a form of rigidity since it can take offense at deviant or opposing beliefs. Religious conflicts originate from the fact that two groups are opposed because they do not have the same beliefs.
The spiritual quest
If you are on a spiritual quest, you do not necessarily need to be attached to a group that will help you continue to adhere to dogmas. If you are on a sincere quest, you can be satisfied with solitude since this is how the greatest discoveries have been made.
I remind you that all the people who have found enlightenment or have been called prophets afterwards, have lived in a kind of isolation and relative solitude to deepen their spiritual knowledge. So there is no need to be ashamed of wanting to take a similar step.
When one joins a group, there is a dimension that goes beyond us and that controls us in a certain way: the group spirit. We are deprived of our capacity to conduct critical reasoning and we end up conforming to the rules more out of a desire to fit in with the group than out of a total adherence to the principles it underlies.
If for you, being a believer means having a sincere faith, then I would say that you belong to the category of spiritual seekers. Indeed, if your faith is solid, you do not need to join a community to keep it. This faith follows you everywhere, whether you are alone or in a group.
Spiritual, political and social
When you become a believer only for political or social reasons, you are robbed of the very substance of spirituality. In my opinion, it is better to separate the spiritual from the political or social, as this makes it easier to identify the sincerity of the believer.
That said, it is true that there is a force in the group that can act as a kind of master mind or self-help group. This is not bad in itself. However, one must be able to live one’s faith in solitude as well if one wants to evaluate its sincerity and strength.
The difficulty of living out one’s faith in solitude
Some faiths leave little room for initiative or solitary spiritual practice. The community often plays a key role and the life of the believer can be organized from A to Z. While it is good to have discipline and pressure, it is more embarrassing to have to conform to rules that do not suit you completely.
The desire to break free from this straitjacket can give rise to tensions that can sometimes be equated with betrayal, due to the very fact that the spiritual is mixed with the social and political. The dogmas of religious practices are not always adapted to modern life. It is necessary to reappropriate ideas or principles taking into account the changes and the need to establish coherence between contemporary life and the application of spiritual concepts.
The shift to the life of a spiritual seeker
In case you have the possibility to emancipate yourself from certain fetters that may prove to be leaden caps, it is desirable to reconnect with the characteristics of the spiritual seeker. Here is a list, which is not exhaustive:
- You do not fear solitude and even find it fruitful for your spiritual practice
- You do not presume to be right and you do not wish to impose your ideas because you know that spirituality is an intimate process.
- You are aware that the way to “lead” is to apply the ideas you hold
- You do not put up barriers between religions and other cults. You know that each one contains its own truth.
- You do not try to diminish or glorify them excessively
- You enjoy the company of enlightened people from all walks of life, whether they call themselves religious or not, but you do not depend on them to deepen your search.
- Your only spiritual identity is in your actions. You do not try to cultivate a form of superficiality in your practice, whether it be through your unnatural or pompous manner of speaking, or through attire that may seem ostentatious or lacking in humility.
- You use the doubts that cross your mind to pursue your quest without clinging to dogmas that you have not experienced yourself.
- You learn from all religions that you observe with respect and benevolence
- You are ready to revise your ideas if others seem more true