I’ve been in Twelve Step recovery for many years and yet I’m still “a seeker”. What I mean by this is that from a young age I was never comfortable with a black-or-white answer; I loved exploring the gray areas of life.
Often I catch myself saying that I’m a Christian…and more. I never felt that God exclusively revealed Himself/Herself in any one person or any one religion. I ultimately knew, for me, that there are many paths to God.
Please do not misunderstand what I am saying; I’m not saying that Christianity is wrong or in error…although I do believe that some horrible things have been said and done in the name of Jesus Christ. Indeed, I believe that alcoholics wanted to keep their anonymity because so many (in the early days of AA) believed that they were “bad”, “weak” or “sinful”, rather than having a disease. And if the alcoholic believed they had a disease, the rest of society also saw them as “bad”, “weak” or “sinful”.
It is perhaps important to distinguish the teaching of Jesus from the later dictates of the church…nevertheless — certainly in my life — Jesus and the church have played an invaluable role in my spiritual growth, and I will probably remain “Christian …and more”.
And yet I’m also a spiritual seeker. How can I not be stimulated and enriched by the teachings and writings that have emerged from Jewish, Buddhism, Hindu and Muslim philosophers? The poems of Rumi, and the stimulating and provocative questions posed by atheists and agnostics? Spirituality demands that I think and (yes) sometimes change my mind. Nowhere have I discovered that black-and-white solutions are helpful!
I’m also coming to the awareness that our journey into God is also our journey into ourselves. God is manifest in each and every one of us, and it is our duty, as seekers, to reveal the divine in what we say and do. As Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you”.
In this sense, I’ve had to replace the old tape with a new tape. The old tape told me:
- God sent some people to Hell.
- If you didn’t believe the “right” message, you were a heretic.
- Non-Christian believers were in error — and in serious trouble!
- Women were expected to be submissive to their husbands.
- Gays were an abomination.
Oh, and so much more.
- Today, I emphasize Heaven.
- There is no “right” message.
- Women are equal.
- Gays reflect an aspect of God’s love.
It is really hard to believe that so many Christians, who know the love message of Jesus, seem to be able to switch it off when it comes to certain issues. Of course, the real challenge is fundamentalism. If you believe that the Bible or Koran is the literal word of God and no interpretation or evolvement is allowed, then you are stuck with certain judgments. Indeed, the religious-fundamentalist will actually say that it is not they who are condemning anyone, rather are they simply following the dictates of God in Holy-Writ: “Don’t argue with me, take it up with God!”
As you can see, my new tape respects scripture but encourages me to consult with science and psychology; indeed it requires interpretation allowing me to grow, even change my mind. I no longer waste energy in being what other people want me to be; it’s OK to have a different point of view. I’m comfortable today taking responsibility for what I say and do. Your acceptance with my life is not essential.
I’ve been to Teotihuacán, Mexico, to learn about the power of the Pyramids and study the Toltec spirituality found in Mexico. Interestingly enough, not so many years ago the spiritual culture of the Toltecs would have been considered heretical; today it has become the basis of the best seller The Four Agreements.
And it must also be said that traveling has played a major part in my spiritual development, and I have met other people who feel the same. Places such as Thailand, China, Vietnam, India and Mexico all offer spiritual teachings that feed my spirituality.
Never before has there been such an interest in the Divine Feminine as I’m seeing in workshop after workshop. Spiritually speaking, nothing is written in stone. Even in the recovery world of Twelve Step, I’m seeing more people reading beyond approved material, and their lives are being transformed.
When we read in Step Twelve language, “having had a spiritual awakening”, then we are being encouraged to leap forth into a world of mystery and imagination.
Exciting? I truly think so.