There are many paths to God, and the two main ones may be devotion (prayer, surrender) and inquiry (investigation). Each one may be important at different times in our process. Both are equally valid and important. Each one offers something unique. And each one can be medicine for the other.
The statement above reflects the inquiry approach, and how the inquiry approach can be medicine for some of the potential pitfalls of an exclusively devotional approach.
WHAT WE MAY MISS ON A DEVOTIONAL APPROACH
If we are exclusively on a devotional path, we may look for God as something far away and out there, unfamiliar and extraordinary. We may get caught up in ideas about God, reality, and ourselves, and perceive and live as if they are true. And we may miss out on recognizing how our mind creates its own experiences.
INQUIRY AS MEDICINE
One medicine for this is inquiry. Through inquiry into our own experience, we may clear up a few misconceptions. We may explore what we more fundamentally are in our own direct experience, and find something we can call Spirit and qualities we associate with the divine.
WHAT WE MAY FIND THROUGH INQUIRY
We may find ourselves as what the world, to us, happens within and as. We may find ourselves as oneness and the oneness the world, to us, happens within and as. We may find ourselves as without any inherent characteristics allowing for the experience of any and all characteristics and experiences. And so on.
We may realize that our nature is already what we can call Spirit, and it has always been what’s the most close and familiar to us, and for that reason also the most ordinary. We may find that all we have ever known is our own nature since the world to us happens within and as what we are.
TWO WINGS OF A BIRD
Clearing up this, we may still enjoy a devotional approach. The two are not exclusive.
As they say in Buddhism, devotion and inquiry are like two wings of a bird.
THE REVERSE – AND GENERAL ORIENTATIONS
We can also find this in the reverse. An exclusive inquiry approach can be one-sided and a devotional approach can be the cure.
And there are some general orientations that guide and support both devotion and inquiry: Receptivity, curiosity, sincerity, diligence, authenticity, and so on.
- devotion, inquiry, ethics, stories
- often included in any major spiritual tradition
- each one valuable, offer something different, and together more balanced
- upside: can open our heart, humility, receptivity, awe, gratitude, can help us find our own wholeness and ourselves as that wholeness/oneness
- downside: may miss out of many of the ways our minds work and creates its own experience
- upside: can get a direct taste, recognize how the mind creates its experiences, investigate stories to find what’s more true for us,
- downside: can get a little dry, lacking juiciness (not necessarily, depends on how is used)
- ethics –
- upside: can prevent distractions, suffering for ourselves and others, helps a community work better
- downside: not sufficient in itself, can become rigid, self-righteousness, can create stronger shadow
- upside: a starting point, helps us orient, express, check with others etc.
- downside: not sufficient in itself, can stay mental, can get caught up in stories at odds w. reality
Don’t worry about looking for God, explore your own experience instead
There are many paths to God, and the two main ones may be devotion (prayer, surrender) and inquiry (investigation). At different times in our process, we may go more into one than the other and then the reverse. Both are equally valid, each one offers something valuable, and together give us a more balanced and whole approach.
The statement above reflects the inquiry approach.
Don’t worry about (looking for) God, just explore your own experience
- find your more fundamental nature
- And you may find what you can call God
- If try to find God, tend to go into thoughts and stories, tend to look for something unusual and exotic, tend to look for something far away and other
- And what we are looking for is much more close, familiar, and even ordinary to us
- One way to do it, the other is to open to the whole since that’s the same
- Don’t worry about looking for God, explore your own experience instead