Beginnings are tricky things, times of great caution and precision. So it is with a new spiritual path.
The question is, spiritually, what am I? What is calling me? The only way I know how to discover the answers is to peel away the layers until I get to the truth at the center.
My heart believes in the sacredness of truth. That is not to say I condemn lies – sometimes, not to lie is itself irrational, such as when the soldier asks you if you are hiding Anne Frank, and you are. Holding the truth sacred isn’t about always speaking it – although that is always preferred – it is about knowing the truth, and more importantly, being unwilling to use that term to lightly.
The sacredness of truth also means turning my back on absolute certainty. A person who is absolutely certain can no longer learn new things. And everyone who has been wrong has had moments before that discovery where certainty was felt – right before it was dashed.
I guess for me, it’s not ultimately about what I believe, it about how I believe. It’s about the journey more than it’s about the destination. It’s about being willing to submit oneself to embracing whatever the search for truth reveals, instead of deciding what to believe and then looking for ways to justify it.
The process of truth is what makes actual truth. If I follow the path of truth, then wherever it leads is the right place, the correct ideas, the accurate facts, the sacred truth. It’s not at all about what one belives, it’s utterly about how one seeks in the first place.
So I guess I am a seeker. I embrace a mixture of feelings and reason – feelings to reveal to me what matters to me, what I am pulled toward or repulsed from, and reason to guide me in understanding the world and and my choices within it.
To put another way, reason is the GPS – but a GPS is useless without a destination. Our feelings give us that destination.
I have heard many labels applied to people like this. Atheists – which as I addressed in the last post, is utterly incomplete a term for this use. Skeptic – which is better, but not much. Freethinkers. Secular humanists. Brights. Each of those labels have issues in my opinion.
The closest I can come of existing terms is perhaps “rationalist”. After all, what fills me up is the desire to follow the rational path, and to repudiate all irrational choices and acts.
And by “irrational” I want to be clear, I am not speaking of emotionally based decisions. As I just said, I believe emotions and feelings give us our north star, our motivations, our goals – and that is also rational. An irrational act or choice is one that goes much further than that, it’s the embrace of allowing one’s emotion to overule one’s reason – or vice versa – inappropriately. Telling oneself that smoking isn’t unhealthy because that’s easier than facing the truth that it is, is irrational – just like driving north when your GPS tells you to drive south (all other things being equal) is also irrational. Likewise, picking a flavor of ice cream at random because you want to pretend that your preferences for flavor are irrelevant is equally irrational – it’s just that people tend to corrupt their reasoning to serve their short-term emotional needs far, far more often than they do the reverse.
So “rationalist” is a good term, but it too has some problems, two I can point out right now. One, it has a very specific use in philosophy that isn’t necessarily exactly a spiritual belief system. Two, a bigger problem, is comes off as extremely dry, academic, and very non-spiritual.
My belief system, whatever it winds up getting called, is not dry to me. It is not academic. It’s not passionless. For me, it is alive, vibrant, joyful, and wondrous!
What shall I call it? I don’t have a really good answer to that yet, and that bothers me. The Seeking? The Journey? What should the adherents be called? Seekers? Journeymen (and women)? Methodists? (Kidding!)
Another option is to use the term “rationalists” but to add a modifier that bring back in the passion, the spirituality, that makes it its own thing.
Perhaps a Devout Rationalist from the Rational Path?
What do you think?