Probably the most common question I get asked when people realize I don’t adhere to a mainstream religious tradition is what, exactly, I really believe. It’s an interesting question for me to try to answer and, truthfully, I struggle with it because I don’t have a set of doctrines to list for the curious. The whole point of my spiritual endeavor is to discover things, to think through things, to find truth for myself. So even if I were to give a list of things I believe today, many of them might not apply in a month or a year or a decade.
So, really, that’s my answer. Knowledge changes, and belief is based on knowledge, so my beliefs might change over time. But I absolutely believe that the search for knowledge and the effort spent trying to put that knowledge into perspective in order to achieve understanding is the most worthwhile activity which can be undertaken by humankind.
The one absolute truth I have been able to consistently use as a way of describing my spiritual viewpoint is this:
The amount of knowledge we possess as a species is only a minuscule fraction of all the knowledge it is possible to possess in the universe.
What that means for me, spiritually, is that it is the responsibility of every single human to learn as much as they can possibly learn. If I want to elevate my spirit, to connect to the universe, to leave behind some kind of positive influence on society, the first and possibly only step in that process is to learn. I seek to collect facts, acquire skills, spend time thinking and thinking about thinking. That is why I read and write, make things and talk to people. I think if we really pay attention, our entire existence can be happily focused on filling our heads with knowledge and figuring out how to use what we learn.
Beyond that, I don’t really have any ultimate, unquestionable truths.
That one concept, though, easily becomes an entire way of life. If the whole point of life is to learn more things, it follows that we should look at all sorts of things as learning experiences rather than trials and tribulations. Change is good because change teaches us things. Teaching others is valuable because teaching often deepens our own understanding. If every person has a different amount of knowledge, then we can all learn something from every other person we encounter. The quest for knowledge can easily transform a person’s life.Tags: knowledge, personal essay, religion, spirituality, truth
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