The Seeker’s journey is an ongoing quest for truth, but spiritual truth is often far more difficult to pin down than most people would like, and that is because it relates to intangible concepts and experiences rather than physical observations.
A physical truth is singular, because it can be observed and verified by a multitude of people, all of whom reach the same conclusion. For example, the height of a mountain can be measured by a thousand different surveyors, and the truth of its height can be verified and corroborated.
A spiritual truth, on the other hand, is plural, because intangible experience is often impossible to quantify in a singular manner, and so any explanation of it will be skewed by the perspectives of the people who investigate it.
Take the concept of romantic love, for example. This is an intangible experience which is fairly universal, but it is very difficult for everyone to agree on exactly what it is.
A person who specialises in neurochemistry might define the experience of love as something which occurs when the chemistry of the brain is altered in a certain way, with testosterone, oestrogen, adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin all helping to give us the feeling of falling in love with someone.
Another person who specialises in psychology might describe love as an emotion which can, to some extent, be controlled by the individual who experiences it. By focusing their thoughts in one direction or the other, a person can amplify, maintain, mute or even eliminate their feelings of love for another.
Yet another person who believes in the concept of soul mates might describe romantic love as what happens when two souls who are destined to be together recognise each other in the physical realm.
So, which of these truths is the ‘real truth’? The short answer is that we don’t know. We know for sure that brain chemistry is different in those who are experiencing being ‘in love’ than in those who are not, but few of us would like to believe that there is nothing more to it than that. Romantic love has multiple aspects, and therefore tends to be described in multiple ways, according to the perspective of the one describing it.
In spiritual matters, identifying a singular truth is not nearly as important as identifying ‘workable truths’ that enhance our subjective daily experience of life. Just as most of us prefer to believe that there is more to romantic love than simple brain chemistry, so most of us would prefer to believe that there is more to life itself than evolutionary biology.
I believe that the Seeker’s quest for spiritual truth is more akin to finding an ideal pair of jeans than any ultimate answer. When you go to the store to buy jeans, you take a good look at the range that is available, you pick out a few pairs to try them on for size, and you buy the ones that fit you the best.
The same approach can be taken to creating your own spiritual path, although it will obviously take more time.
Start by looking at the range of ideas which are out there. Feel free to investigate Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, New Thought, Shamanism, Paganism and any other traditions that appeal to you.
If you investigate a tradition and it is obvious from the outset that it won’t fit your personality, temperament or intuitive beliefs, then set it aside. Discarding a tradition doesn’t mean that it is not valid, because it could well be the perfect fit for someone else, but if it doesn’t fit you then there is no reason to pursue it.
When you find traditions which you find appealing, explore them in more depth, and try working with some of their main practices for a while. For example, one who is exploring Buddhism could learn to meditate on the breath, someone who is exploring Hinduism could start using mantra meditation, and someone who is exploring New Thought could work with affirmations.
As you are doing your exploratory work, keep a close eye on how your life benefits. If a certain practice or idea helps you to live a happier, more joyful life, with less stress and more optimism, then consider retaining it for as long as it continues to be of use. On the other hand, if a practice really doesn’t do anything for you, allow yourself to let it go and try an alternative.
This ‘pick and mix’ approach to spirituality is not one that would be approved of by most Adopters, but it is ideally suited to the Seeker who wants to create their own spiritual path. We don’t all wear the same brand, cut and style of jeans, so why should we all adopt the same spiritual ideas and practices? As long as we strive to be tolerant of differing and even contrary perspectives, there is plenty of room for our spiritual paths to be as diverse as we need them to be.
And that, I think, is the truth that sets us free – that there is no single spiritual truth which needs to be accepted blindly, but that we all have the ability to find and live by our own truth.