Belief systems have played an essential role in my spiritual journey. In the mid-1980s I was exposed to New Age spirituality, and I have subsequently embraced it with what can only be described as life-transforming dedication. The underpinning of my journey for the past twenty years has been the evolution of my spirituality. In essence, this has entailed a redefining of who I am as a human and a spiritual being.
For the first half of my life, I was a human being with a soul. And my "soul" was an abstract concept that I accepted as a belief taught to me in a Christian church. My soul had almost no conscious relevance to the day-to-day living of my life. Now, however, I realize that I am a soul experiencing life as a human being on Planet Earth. And I know that, not from external teachings, but from a deeply felt, personal connection to my soul itself. My soul is now an ever-present and essential component of who I am.
Beliefs are personal and collective agreements about life. As such, they form our comfort zone and provide our sense of security. If they are unquestioningly held, however, our beliefs can become the confining boundaries that limit us to rigid and inflexible thinking. They also can condemn us to repeating past self-destructive behavior patterns.
Perhaps ironically, the most important belief underlying my spiritual journey has been the acceptance that in order to evolve spiritually, my beliefs themselves must evolve. It has been my experience that the core of spiritual evolution is the evolution of belief.
I was raised in a world wherein "seeing is believing." The world was something created outside of myself, and I observed and reacted to it. Now, however, we are in the midst of a fundamental shift to a worldview wherein we create our reality from our thoughts and beliefs. In essence, we are shifting from "seeing is believing" to "believing is seeing." We create our reality from our thoughts and beliefs. Even quantum physicists have demonstrated that our thoughts and expectations impact the behavior of subatomic particles in the laboratory.
If I ever find myself doubting the power of beliefs in my life, I remind myself that I have known for decades that walls are not solid. Everything, including a wall, is composed of infinitesimally tiny particles of matter surrounded by the open vastness of seemingly empty space. And yet, I continue to experience walls as solid and oh-so "real." Scientists tell me that molecules never touch, and yet I "feel" the solidity of a wall. I also perceive that solidity as dramatically different from the smooth softness of a baby’s cheek or the gentle flexibility of a flower petal.
Flexibility is a key component of spiritual evolution. I seek to remain open and flexible enough to reexamine my beliefs and my responses to them. At times it feels as though the only constant in my life is change. Because growth happens on the edge of our comfort zone, living life on the shifting sands of evolving beliefs is never comfortable. I once described the spiritual journey as walking down a flight of uneven stairs in the dark. You never know how far you will drop, nor even if there will be the comforting solidity of another step-a new belief-waiting to catch and stabilize you.
In the meantime…I trust.
For trust is another essential ingredient for spiritual evolution. As I connect evermore deeply with my soul, I have learned to trust that I, as a human being, am being guided by something infinitely larger and wiser and more lovingly compassionate-my soul. I now accept that today I know more than yesterday, but less than I will know tomorrow. I remember that keeping open is the key to growth, and I trust that my soul continues to lead me to experience and examine different beliefs. Some of these beliefs I will embrace as gifts, and some I will discard as limitations that hinder my evolution as both a human and a spiritual being.