I’ve written a lot in the past about spiritual pathfinding, or figuring out what the best tradition or practice is for yourself. While I’d definitely categorize some spiritual beliefs and practices as detrimental either to the individual or to society at large, for the most part I believe that people should find the best path for themselves as individuals.
Of course, many (or even most?) people get some amount of spiritual legacy from their families of origin. Those teachings and traditions which are part of our lives when we’re children embed themselves very deeply in our beings, sometimes even soul-deep, which is unfortunate considering the random nature of that legacy. For every spiritual tradition on earth, there are those born into it, largely taught not to question its legitimacy.
And because such a large portion of human beings adhere to traditions and practices they were born into, the way forward for those who find themselves searching for a better spiritual fit is difficult to find. The prevailing method seems to be the “randomly try out various groups until one seems to feel right”, which is less than effective or efficient.
The first problem is that so few of us consider WHY we need a spiritual life at all, much less what we need from that spiritual path to meet our spiritual needs.
Too many people leave the traditions they grew up with and go looking for something else without leaving behind the residuals: those messages about what spirituality is and what you’re supposed to get out of it. If you leave Christianity but don’t take the time to figure out your relationship to the idea of salvation, you’re likely to end up trying out other paths which promise to save your eternal soul simply because the idea that you need to be saved is so deeply embedded in your understanding of existence.
And that’s a problem.
It seems the people most likely to tell you to consider the deeper questions and ramifications of your spiritual beliefs, to question everything, are the anti-theists and anti-religious. But that process of questioning, of examining not to defend but to understand, is crucial to finding a path which is suited to our spiritual needs.