About a month ago I started working on a book that will be a compilation of my favorite posts from the early years of this blog, 2004-2006.
Most days I try to find some time to re-read the blog posts that I've chosen, correcting typos, deleting links, and adding a brief introduction that describes how I feel about the post now.
I just came across a post from January 2, 2006 that I still like a lot. Well, actually I still like all the posts I've written on this blog, but I like some more than others.
Here it is:
Tell yourself your spiritual secrets
January 2, 2006
It’s a new year. Time to tell yourself your secrets. Especially, your spiritual secrets. I’m sure you have them. Almost all of us do.
You’re sitting in church, temple, mosque, meeting hall, your own living room. Praying, meditating, singing, listening to a sermon, reading your holy book. And from your psyche’s secret chamber a barely audible whisper comes.
It’s your own voice.
But you don’t want to listen to what it is saying. The voice is telling you a secret. Something that is true but rarely spoken to yourself. Not openly. Not directly. Only in whispers.
Which usually are met with a “shush.”
Quiet down, secret chamber. I don’t want to hear what you’ve got to tell me. Maybe later. Not now.
And yet, the memory of the whisper is more vivid than a recollection of the loudest shout. Once you’ve heard it speak even once, you can’t deny the secret that you don’t want to tell yourself.
I don’t believe in God. (Or Jehovah, Allah, Buddha-nature, the Guru, whoever).
I no longer am inspired by the Bible. (Or the Talmud, Koran, Dhammapada, Adi Granth, whatever.)
I’m tired of these meaningless rules. (Or rituals, rites, vows, commandments, whatever).
Maybe you’ve never had such thoughts. Maybe you’ve never had any doubts about your faith. Maybe you’ve never wondered if your innermost spiritual beliefs were much different from the beliefs you present to the outside world.
Maybe. But I doubt it.
We’re all atheists, deep down, for who among us has experienced God directly? The truth is that we don’t know. Our faith in the divine is a pebble resting on the edge of a dark abyss of doubt that we’re deathly afraid to approach.
That whisper coming from our psyche’s secret chamber is an invitation to kick the pebble over the edge and find out what, if anything, will keep it from rolling all the way down into nothingness.
That whisper is the most honest voice we’ll ever hear, yet we do our best to shut it up.
It’s always struck me as strange that so many people, including myself, say that they want to fathom the secrets of the cosmos, yet are reluctant to lay bare their own secrets.
Seekers of secrets should start their search close to home: within themselves. When we don’t even want to know the truth about ourselves, how can we lay claim to knowing the truth about the ultimate reality of God?
My bet, or gamble, is that if God exists, He, She, or It resonates with truth (I’d say “rewards” but that sounds too anthropomorphic). Hypocrisy is out of tune with divinity, which to my mind reverberates to the rhythm of oneness.
Thus when I break down the barrier between what I really believe and what I tell myself I believe, this unitary truth-telling effort brings me closer to God, not farther away. Such is my hypothesis, anyway.
There’s a lot of energy locked up in secrets.
Telling your spiritual secrets to yourself is empowering. You don’t need to also let the world know about them. However, I’d suggest that the more your outward life reflects your inward self, the less stress you’ll feel.
Acting out an artificial role is more difficult than playing the part of who you naturally are. In the latter case you have to keep remembering what your spiritual stage name is and what lines you’re scripted to speak.
“Praise Jesus.” “I believe!” “God is great.” “Blessed is the compassionate Buddha.” “Guru’s grace is always there.”
So often we speak untruths, albeit with good intentions.
It’s what other people in our religious organization want us to say. Or what the organization itself demands be spoken to keep harmony in the ranks. We’re reluctant to rock the boat with the swaying that accompanies the speaking of a secret.
“What?! You don’t believe in _____ any more? What’s wrong? What’s happened to you? How did you come to lose your faith?”
My answer: You’ve got it backwards. I’ve found my faith. Faith in honesty. Faith in telling the truth to myself. Faith in letting secrets out. Faith that sincere doubt is better than hypocritical belief.
I could be wrong about all this. But at least my error will be mine, not borrowed from a holy book. I’m tired of keeping secrets. Especially from myself.