Learning to remain autonomous from external religious authority while getting support from a teacher/mentor relationship is an art and science. Critical thinking, logic, discernment, and becoming a master student will require you making consistent effort overtime. Few of us have learned how to apply the art of discernment in our spiritual development. We have not been trained to do this properly. In simple terms, some of you have not learned how to learn without loosing yourself in the process. As a result some of us either cling to dogma or become spiritual autonomous and risk loosing further development.

Before I continue, I want you to know I am guilty of every negative thing I write about in this article.  I speak from a place of reconnaissance and humility from having learned the hard way over decades of real life experiences. There's a simple lesson that I will attempt to clarify in this article - critical thinking and spiritual development are lovers. 

Critical Thinking and Spiritual Development

Because of how our brain develops, we needed to apply critical thinking in our decision making process before we turned seven (7) or by the age of 14 at the very latest. Notice, I'm not saying we needed to master it but learn to apply it consistently. Many of you may not have heard the critical thinking model until much later in life if at all. Teaching people to think logically empowers them to make decisions that may be against the norm; and is often discouraged for the masses. Bottom line, it's hard to control of bunch of people who have learned to think for themselves.

Logical/critical thinking teachings are easily found in elite and some private school systems. However, for the masses who went to public schools, they are usually taught the art of memorization and regurgitation, leaving the thinking to the chosen few. Regurgitation and repressed mental development create fear and prevent us from questioning the status quo. But it goes much deeper than that. It keeps us from discovering our true purpose and reaching states of enlightenment on our journey. This limitation is further sealed in us via constant mental and physical feed of daily media and food stuff that ramp up our emotional anxieties and passivity.  We never learned how to learn, and by the time we realize it, we become too scared to do something different. 

Fear is a huge problem in many spiritual communities which fuels division and spiritual conflict!

The Danger of Spiritual Regurgitation

Knowledge which bypasses the logical brain and processed directly from the emotional sensors cannot be called knowledge. It's information. Thinking is not an irrational act but developmental process. It requires practical actions which require thought.  When we take action that's only been cleared by our emotions without any critical assessment, we are not gaining knowledge. We are marinating ourselves in the emotional reaction the experience contains based on our limited perspectives. Another word we are not thinking at all, we don't know what we don't know and are afraid to find out.

We are receiving the information based on how it makes us feel. This is dangerous as new information often goes against what we think we know. It rarely makes us "feel" rosy. So we avoid it. Going through the emotion to find out what exactly am I uncomfortable with is very difficult for so many of us. It requires a rewiring of our brain, and for some, that may be impossible.  Some say there's been a deliberate dumbing down of our spiritual intellect. While that may be true, there's something we can do about it as adults. While it may be more difficult, it's never too late.  Unfortunately, the new age movement has not helped many to move away from this and has created another matrix entrapping the emotional and spiritual from exercising logical thought through their development. Another word, while this movement has made information accessible to many,  in the long term, it is perpetuating fear and ignorance through simplification of ancient knowledge which requires logic, experience, and deeper study to fully embody.

 

Feel Good Spirituality is Dangerous

Evaluating spirituality based on how it makes us feel and only how it makes us feel deprives us of elevated thought which is one of the three tenets of spiritual enlightenment. Let me be clear; feelings are good for measure the effects of the information throughout the process, it is a check point NOT the only measure of discernment. We come into problems when we use our emotions to replace logical thought.  In mythological terminology, this means we cannot bypass knowledge gained through Aizan (Vodou), Tehuti (Kemetic), Orunmila (Ifa),  Buddha (Buddhism), Binah (Judaism), or Christ (Christianity) and so on.  These elevated forms of knowledge require us to connect with our ascending heart for balance.

It takes knowledge, wisdom, and understanding to gain enlightenment on information we receive. Enlightenment is a process of development which allows us to move through life at higher states; it is not a static state of being. 

Some of you may not like what I'm about to say. Frankly, it doesn't matter which spiritual entity (Aizan, Tehuti, Orunmila, Buddha... etc.) you align with as long as you know which path supports your ancestral lineage development and which one suffocates it. Your lineage (line) of spiritual development is a key that we often miss. 

Most of us know by now that all religion contains divine knowledge. A god that is partial to one group of people and looks a specific way is no more than a demigod under a universal cloak. The master student would have learned to study from multiple sources recognizing universal teachings. Spiritual enlightenment is not a comfortable process if it doesn't challenge you it probably limits you.

What About The African Continent?

I've witnessed a phenomenon across multi-faith and Universalist movements - the lack of awareness, appreciation, and love of African traditional religions. Besides maybe Kwanza and the occasional mention, there's a systematic void and avoidance of our ancient traditions. While I have my speculations, the problem is much more harmful than anyone can imagine.  While some of it may be fueled by lack of critical thought and deception, African spiritual systems are often used as the basis to further spiritual development in the background and without proper credit.  So there's an appreciation, just not an open one. Any system which avoids or disregards the role of traditional African systems in the open maligns the spiritual evolution of the planet as a whole. This is a topic many educators much more knowledgeable than me can better enlighten you on. I suggest you seek them out.

Lack of Spiritual Knowledge Creates Suspicious and Superstition

When we do not learn how to think logically, we are in suspended development. We become suspicious of knowledge itself. We fight shadows that are internal to our psyche and make manifest what we fear the most. Our demons show up as the "other" in the form of other races, other religions, other people and so forth. Consider the racial divide prevalent in cosmic spiritual groups. Few enlightened beings "controlling" the universe is of a black race. Some have taken their racial prejudices to create racially motivated color ranges of cosmic proportions. A real question to ask is if the Universe is evolved and billions of years old might our racial perceptions be limiting it. What do you think? I mean what do you - logically- think!

Today, so many of us have also become suspicious of spiritual teachers. Manu hold knowledge that could benefit us. Yes, there are some unscrupulous teachers out there, but with critical thought, you are to be able to decern which is for you and which is diverting you from your path. Few people appear to be able to do this without emotional outburst and nonsensical meanderings.  I study everything I can get my hands on, not because I like to read from sources that insult my Soul but because I can better discern what is emotional and what is Tehuti (Gnosis/Knowledge). I'm specially fond of atheist blogs because help to keep me from the pollution of my own dogma. Putting ourselves in situations that challenges your own belief is not for the docile and takes real inner work. A spiritual autonomous who seeks to avoid challenges by avoiding community is not learning but suffocating within another matrix of their own creation. We came here to learn with each other. Avoidance of conflict does not secure enlightenment and may fuel a lonely descent.

What's the danger? Mental / Spiritual Maladies. Here are somethings to watch out for:

  • We become arrogant and think we know more than we do. We cannot differentiate between our lower and higher egos, spirits or Soul. We take all information we derive from our mind as truth without realizing our minds are often corrupted from the training we received.
  • We circle the same life issue for decades without objectivity, and as a result, we never learn how to exit a negative cycle. When someone presents a way out, we fear the person or the message. We neglect to evaluate our resistance to it.
  • We avoid teachers that challenge us for those that gives us an easy way out. We gravitate towards the sugar coated one liners often erroneously attributed to a Buddha.
  • We can't face the truth about ourselves, so we externalize and create monsters under our beds, or in our neighborhoods, country, the world and now the cosmos. This escapism has real consequences as ancestral karma for our descendants.
  • In many cases, we may find ourselves seeking knowledge from trees and inanimate objects without proper support. Our inner ventriloquist (ego) learns to master this tool to further deceives us. Few know the difference and often uses mutable feelings as basis for evaluating in-mutable knowing.
  • We may develop a disrespect for those more knowledgeable than us and will seek ways to cut them down to feel better.  We can't seem to stand still enough to face ourselves objectively, so we move from teacher to teacher, gulping down spiritual intellectual food we are ill-equipped to digest.
  • We fall prey to those who will feed us what we need to hear; we buy snake oil to cure inner conflicts, we soothe ourselves with beautiful words, and seek out those who dumb us down further. 
  • We become addicted to how we feel (emotional) and physical sensations seeking spas and retreats. While regular respite is necessary as a part of the balance of life, it's not something to be used to support escapism from critical analysis of our lives.  

What Can We Do?

Those of you who see value in freedom to define your spirituality must stop being ambivalent about your spirituality.  You are doing real damage to your growth. Start by learning HOW to learn critically. How to decipher truth using logic. Then you can be a worldly student without the fear of losing yourself to a method, system or way that is counterproductive to your divine purpose. 

If you've never taken an Intro to Philosophy course, you start there or find a teacher who is further ahead of you in this process. Engage in discourse to develop your critical thinking muscle. If you find conflict challenging, learn to understand the process and how it helps us grow. Take "baby" steps and stop being in so much of a rush. Spirituality is not a sprint, but a marathon. Seek guidance from those who are (1) wise, (2) knowledgeable, (3) elder student or teacher (4) with an excellent reputation. Have many different types of educators and mentors, not just one. But work with one at a time. Too much information at once clouds the mind.

Lastly, identify one of the most challenging spiritual things you've heard and commit to learning more. Start there. Learn to break it down using a logic method. You'll reap the benefits that a forebrain has to offer.

Conclusion
Spiritual autonomy does not insulate us from damage, lack of discernment, spiritual supervision, and lack of critical thought does. While we may value the freedom to define our spirituality, ambivalence, and lack of knowledge building is harmful to the spiritual seeker. Take care to understand that not all of us here to gain the same levels of spiritual experience, so it's important to tap into your unique needs and divine purpose as early in life as you can. Your study and path can then unfold more organically and naturally.  One thing for sure you cannot do it in a vacuum, take part in a set of practices and do not limit your learning to one study. 

Happy Journeying!
Irmina

www.sodotutu.net
For spiritual coaching and life coaching, contact me online, tutu@sodotutu.net or leave a message at (708) 888-0411