Not all people on the path of spirituality are feelers. There are thinkers among us. And that’s not to say that feeling types don’t think, or that thinking types don’t feel. It’s just a way of classifying how we process information around us.
As an author my job is to make stuff up and write it down. From the reservoirs of imagination, I have to design worlds and interesting folks to go in them. For some writers this is as easy as visualizing an alien civilization that lives on the surface of a spherical planet revolving around a sun – in a universe where gravity doesn’t exist…? I wish I could violate logic like that! But I just can’t. I’ve tried. I end up feeling the wrinkling of my nose from a disgusted disbelief. You see, the thinking type within me needs to know that any world I create, even though fictional, operates within structured parameters that make universal sense. For example, if I incorporate into my stories a fluorescent species of butterfly that makes thunder with its elbows, I need to first figure out what sort of environment would allow that kind of creature to evolve. There must be physical laws. There must be natural laws. There must be vibrational laws. Even if they’re wildly different from ours, they have to be there to validate that physical existence. Understanding those laws helps me to create – and it helps my readers suspend their disbelief about what they’re reading, because it makes sense.
In the same way, I have a deep need to intellectualize spirituality. It’s not as easy for me to just “feel it and believe it”. For me, it needs to make sense, have pattern, and be provable. Oh, I’m not reliant on scientific proof, I understand entirely that the esoteric cannot easily be proven in the physical. Even in the secular, scientific realm ‘evidence’ is a very subjected and disputed thing. Although I see modern science make fast progress towards the ability to measure what spiritual teachings have told us for thousands of years, I’m not one to wait. In the meantime give me sound anecdotal evidence, or, more importantly, experiential evidence, that makes sense within the realms of known physical, natural and vibrational laws.
So I go seeking that proof. I read widely on spirituality, science, myth, legend and life. I read widely and skeptically. It has taken me a lot of training not to get pissed off with text that doesn’t fit my beliefs, or that contrasts other perfectly valid sources, but instead to pull out the perspectives that either resonate or enlighten me. In that way my understanding of all-that-is has evolved continuously, and is by no means complete.
I also ask for signs from spirit – and then I feel frustration if they don’t come, and doubt when they do. A sign can come as clear as crystal, so specific there’s little room for question, and yet the ego voice in my mind will say “coincidence, nothing more.”
I’ve found my spiritual mentors have often offered gentle criticism for this habit of mine.
“Looking for signs, asking for guidance from literature, seeking approval…These are just symptoms of the yearning for validation, from those around us or from higher realms. It shows insecurity, lack of faith in oneself, and doubt.”
Our spiritual leaders teach us that all we really need in order to embrace our greatness exists inside of us already. That there is no need to seek validation and that our higher selves already know the answers. That seeking approval is a habit of the ego mind. Not a soul thing.
And that’s fair enough. But they use “ego” as a label for something lesser than “soul”. And is that fair?
You have an ego mind – yes, and it is valid! It is a logical, rational piece of equipment that uses complex cognitive processes brilliantly engineered by evolution, and it helps you make sense of your world in a way that brings the lessons your soul yearns for. And if you’re anything like me, it helps you suspend your disbelief about the wonder you’re surrounded by.
Your goal isn’t to become a perfect spiritual being that is separate from the dense, physical ego. You already are a perfect spiritual being. If there was no value in the self-deprecating, insecure chatter of the mind then we wouldn’t have agreed to be a part of this thick fog that is physical life.
For me, if I can validate it, then I can intellectualize it. If I can intellectualize it, then I can understand it. And if I can understand it, I can believe it. And once I can believe it, I can be at peace with it.
I don’t know about you, but my spiritual awakening was like a sudden jolt to the gut when I was thirty. Before that I wasn’t exactly deep in slumber – I always did have some vague awareness of a connection with something higher – but I was stumbling around in a drowsy state of groggy incoherence. Mostly because I was drunk. (And I was mostly drunk because I was desperately searching, but that’s another story altogether!)
I had my feet firmly planted in proud agnosticism, comfortable in not having to commit to anything (a philosophy I still stand by). I declared that any sort of God-force, whatever it was, couldn’t be defined so it was folly to even try.
Then, when I came into the understanding that there are fundamental universal laws, primarily the law of vibration, that alarm clock went off and I woke up with a start. Everything changed. These laws, once understood as far as is individually possible, cannot define God but do provide the framework that starts making sense of it all.
It is not through blind faith that we get to truly understand things. Feelers may be able to better process their spirituality through their sensing and emotional tools, and that is also validation. But for thinking types, the intellect is incredibly important in providing substance to faith.
So “feel it and believe it” doesn’t work for me. It’s not how I build my faith. It is through the duality of recognizing doubt, processing it, understanding how the element I’m questioning fits in with a bigger picture, and then either accepting it as a part of a universal truth, or discarding it. I have to continuously refine my faith as I learn, whether that learning takes place in meditation, prayer, study, observing life or gaining wisdom through experience. I suspect I’ll always be unable to settle on a belief system and say: “There, that’s the Truth. It’s written here in this old book and it’s infallible.”
Because it is in the contrasts of life that I can better know God.
E.A.A Wilson is an author, minister of metaphysics, mom and reluctant bureaucrat. Her comic fantasy novel “Ascension Denied” is set in purgatory but is nonetheless available to the living, now, online, at all major retailers. Stay in touch through: