“All things in life should be questioned” ~ Socrates
So here we are. We are these human beings born into some inexplicable experience of life on earth. We realize we have consciousness and whatnot and at some point, we start seeking to give some kind of meaning to the whole crazy experience. Along the way, we create a mental map or worldview that outlines what we think is true about this life. And, although our personal mental map is somewhat open to change as we receive new information, for most folks after they reach a certain age, this map becomes basically static and tough to modify.
So here is a basic question we must all consider: How open am I to changing my views on the world and the “meaning of life”?
In other words, am I so certain about what “I think is true”, especially on the “big stuff”, that there is no way I can change my mind on those items? Maybe beliefs around the “edges” of life are malleable to a degree, but certainly not my “core beliefs”.
Previously we mentioned a few of the common types of mental maps that folks hold where their core beliefs are so similar that we can group them together for ease of discussion. Examples would be (among others) the very devout religious person with the “traditional” viewpoint or one who believes that only physical matter is real, and science is the only path to understanding. Such core beliefs frequently are so deeply ingrained that it’s hard for a person to question them.
But I am hereby calling you to do so. No matter what you believe is true, I want you to be open to questioning it. Hold every cherished view up to the light and examine it. Be open to growing and changing.
So why is being open to questioning your beliefs important? There are 2 key reasons.
First, all too often we find it easier simply to accept what we already believe. It’s comfortable. It’s easy. We don’t have to think too hard. We can concentrate on “living our life” and “having fun”. But this path of least resistance closes us off to growth and becoming all that we can be. If we are at all interested in maximizing our potential, be have to be open to evolving.
Secondly, I recognize that much of what I present here as a type of “spiritual philosophy” will be new and different for many people. If you are not open to questioning your current beliefs, you may be too easily closed to what I am presenting for your consideration.
Now there may be some of you reading this who may be so “locked into” your beliefs that you cannot really “question everything”. If so, that’s fine. I hope you continue reading along anyway. Maybe you will learn something or find an idea to ponder as you mentally call me “full of crap”.
However, what I am really calling you to be is so “open” to new ideas and possibilities that you are willing to question everything. And, by “everything” I mean not only your long held cherished beliefs but also everything that I am offering in these writings. As I outline my spiritual philosophy, I want you to also hold it up to the light and see if it makes sense for you. If it does, then consider how it might be rolled into your mental map somehow. If it doesn’t, then simply move on.
So how does one “question everything”? Here are some suggestions.
One: Consider the source of the information you are considering. Has this source had a track record of being reputable and reliable or not? Don’t simply accept something because it came from someone in your “belief tribe”. Conversely, don’t simply discount it because it came from someone who’s not in your tribe. Consider if the source may have some ulterior motives for convincing you of this “truth”.
Two: Consider any assumptions that underlie the new information. What assumptions is this individual making as they present what they believe is true? What assumptions are you bringing to your evaluation of the information. This is generally where those religious or scientific materialism beliefs can be a key factor by either you or the one presenting their “truth” to you.
Three: Consider if the new information seems to pass your sense of being “rational”. Is it logical or not? However, only use this as one factor in your questioning process. Be open to something being true even if it may not seem logical.
Four: Consider your own intuitive feelings over the new information. Ask yourself, “does this feel right?”. Again, don’t use this as your only factor for consideration of truth. (And, I would add into the category of “intuitive” wisdom such things as gathering information via muscle testing, pendulums and other methods for seeking non-physical confirmation.)
Five: Let go of any fear that may come up about asking questions. All too often we accept things as presented because we are afraid of how we will be perceived if we ask anything. We think, “what will they think of me if I ask a question?” We don’t want to appear dumb. Also, we sometimes let things go when we see the source as powerful, an “expert” or “someone in my belief tribe”. Don’t worry about the perceptions of others (more in future articles on that), question things.
Six: Seek other sources for information to validate the evidence you are considering. Make sure you look for a variety of sources that have different viewpoints before making up your mind.
Seven: Allow the space within you to hold what appear to be conflicting ideas. Maybe we cannot see how to resolve two opposing beliefs. Maybe, just maybe, there is no need to “resolve” the seeming conflict. Maybe there is another way of looking at the data and realizing there is no conflict.
Eight: Be open to uncertainty. Allow yourself to “sit with” the new information and hold the possibility in your mind where it “might be true or might not”. Be open to allowing life to eventually and possibly bring you the comfort of clarity.
Finally, I want to add a word about questioning things and being a “skeptic”. A true skeptic is one who uses the suggestions above (and others means) to truly evaluate truth. They take in new information and are really and truly open to it as they go through their very personal method of questioning everything. They even allow their personal biases to be questioned.
However, in recent times the term “skeptic” has been co-opted by individuals who are truly not open to questioning everything. Most of them approach their evaluation of new things with a silent unstated belief that the only thing that is real is physical matter and the only means of evaluating reality is their version of “science”. If the new information appears to connect to some non-material aspect of life, they immediately discount it. Many of these “skeptics” have developed a personal reputation based on being a “skeptic” when they are ironically anything but one. Don’t be that kind of “skeptic” and recognize it when someone else is.
So keep this in your awareness as you read on in our future articles ….what is your mental map and unstated assumptions as you read the ideas presented here? Are you truly open? Can you question those assumptions to give the ideas here a fair shake? Also, can you read my words and not simply accept them as true?
Remember to question everything and make up your own mind.