by Michael Maciel
Thinking differently about our most cherished beliefs is not only difficult, it is sometimes impossible, because we are not always aware that we have stopped thinking.
Even when we evaluate and analyze our beliefs, we do so from within the beliefs themselves. Our evaluations and analyses, therefore, can only be those that are possible from within those beliefs. We must step outside of our beliefs in order to actually think, to have new thoughts. Then we can look at the world, and our life within it, without having to look through a filter.
How to study
A spiritually viable course of study must begin with the direct experience of God. Otherwise, it can only lead to intellectual understanding. Usually, we defer this kind of experience to someone else, like Jesus, Moses, Buddha, or Mohammed. But the whole point of their teachings was to prepare us to have the experience of God for ourselves and not to just understand their philosophy.
If we approach our spirituality primarily as a "belief", hoping that the belief will lead us to the experience of God, our belief can become a barrier to that experience. Why? Because belief carries within itself the unspoken assumption that we do not know.
We must seek the experience of God first. Only the experience can give us the perspective we need that will make understanding possible. Isn't this the way we learn in the world? First we have the experience, then we seek to understand it. Imagine trying to learn how to swim by listening to tapes and reading books! The same is true when it comes to learning about God. We must immerse ourselves in the experience of God before any of the teachings about God can make sense.
Touching the teachings
Throughout these pages, you will find ways to put your hands on the Teachings, to touch them in a way that perhaps you have not been able to before. In order for the Teachings to become real, they must live in and through you. This means that you must experience what the Great Ones have experienced, the great teachers of humanity. It was their experience of the reality of God that enabled them to write and speak about God. Once you let go to the experience, you too can give a firsthand account. This is the only kind of knowledge worth having - the firsthand kind.
Each firsthand experience of God, no matter how subtle, must be integrated into the way we live - not the way we think we should live, but the way we actually DO live. Any belief that says that the way we are living is wrong must itself be wrong, because trying to change our inner life by altering our outer life will not work. It is better to change our inner life and let the outer take care of itself. This is how we let the wisdom of God work through us.