This morning I was chatting with one of my daughters over an early morning coffee when she discussed what she had been learning in her religion class at school. “Unfortunately,” she told me, “this year’s class has pretty much convinced me not to believe in God.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well, there are just so many things that don’t make sense. Having sex outside of marriage is a sin. Disagreeing with your elders is a sin. Apparently even thinking bad thoughts about someone is a sin. For an all-loving forgiving being, God seems pretty insecure and judgey.”
We spoke and joked about that for a while, contemplating how uptight and controlled you would need to be in order to not commit any sins when the definition of sin is expanded that broadly. And then, in a moment of quiet, I asked her what she saw about the spiritual side of life.
“Well…” she began, “…I do see that there’s a spiritual reality. That seems obvious to me. That there’s something other than us spinning the planet that runs through everything that we’re a part of.”
As we sat in the feeling of that, I got to thinking about what I call “before the therefore”. It’s the topic of the first week of this years Advanced Course 4.0, an exploration of the deeper nature of the spiritual principles behind my work, and one of the first distinctions I made between spiritual truth and man-made dogma.
The idea is basically this:Whatever is true about life ‘before the therefore’ is just true – full stop. Everything ‘after the therefore’ is made up of our personal thinking and therefore arbitrary, transient, and up for grabs.Click To Tweet
By way of example, my daughter’s recognition that there’s something other than us spinning the planet is just true, regardless of whether or not that ‘something’ is actually a thing that has human characteristics like insecurity and judgement. But as soon as we go ‘after the therefore’, we’re on pretty shaky ground.
Here’s how it usually plays out:
“There’s something other than us spinning the planets, therefore…
…that something must be a supreme being. If there’s a supreme being, it must work the way we do. Therefore it must be able to be pleased, displeased, and negotiated with. Therefore, we must learn to do the things that please it and not do the things that displease it. Therefore (insert the behavioral dogma of your choosing here).”
And the further we go after the ‘therefore’, the more extreme and outlandish the apparent implications of our descent into logic become. Now we have to figure out a way to control our thoughts in order to not displease an infinitely “insecure and judgey” being that we inferred from a simple spiritual fact: we’re not the ones spinning the planet.
Don’t get me wrong – I have no idea if there’s some kind of a supreme being or not. But like my daughter, it’s obvious to me that I don’t have to take responsibility for spinning the planet, let alone breathing my body or even controlling my thoughts. Not that I can’t try; just that it’s not implicitly my job.
What’s interesting is that over the years, the most religious people I’ve worked with have gone deeper into their faith through this understanding. When they stop worrying about implications (‘after the therefore’) and look instead for spiritual facts (‘before the therefore’), they inevitably find themselves quieting down and experiencing the deeper, more profound feelings of love and peace that drew them to their religion in the first place.
Here’s what I’ve seen to be true ‘before the therefore’:
- There is a pervasive aliveness and underlying intelligence in the universe.
- There is a creative force in the universe.
- We all have the capacity to experience that aliveness, intelligence, and creative force in our daily lives.
- Our individual experience of these forces and capacities is what we call our personal or separate reality.
No implications for how we should live our lives; just the truth of life as I have seen it to this point. Which is why I like sharing the principles of Mind, Consciousness, and Thought as a starting point for spiritual exploration. It’s just harder to attach dogma to the principles than it is to some of the more “fleshed out” spiritual systems of understanding.There is nothing in the fact of an energy and intelligence behind life, an ever-present capacity for awareness, and a creative force that is constantly at play that dictates or even suggests what brand of beer I should drink, what I should do with my weekends, or what political party I should affiliate myself with.Click To Tweet
What do you see to be true “before the therefore”? In other words, what is essentially inarguable regardless of when, where, or how a person was born and raised?
What if you didn’t have to agree with anyone (or get them to agree with you) about anything “after the therefore”?
How much simpler would your life be if you spent more of your time in the space before thought?
Have fun, learn heaps, and happy exploring!
With all my love,