Some people believe strongly that God exists.
Some people believe equally strongly that there is no such thing as a soul, or the soul’s journey to God, or God.
Some people are not sure what to believe.
What is important is to ask yourself as honestly as you can a few questions, “What do I believe is the truth of this life?” “Do I really believe what I say I believe, or do I just give my answers to such questions because these are the answers I have always given?”
If you believe God exists, then how do you know that what you believe is true?
If you believe there is no God, how can you be sure your view is correct?
If you really are not sure whether God exists or not, how can you proceed to explore this question to see if there is a way to find out one way or the other?
The more carefully one examines their beliefs, the more they will be able to see that they really are less sure of their answers to important questions than perhaps they let on. The more one examines the foundations of their beliefs the more they will find out the foundations of their beliefs are pretty shaky and generally poorly thought out
This is just as valuable an exercise for believers as it is for atheists.
Certainly there are many people in religion, politics, philosophy, business, and science who will tell you with great certainty what their beliefs are and why they are correct to believe as they do. They will give you their arguments in a confident form as though there could not be any other interpretation.
In fact one of the core traits that an atheist such as Richard Dawkins, or a Christian Fundamentalist such as Jerry Falwell, or a Vipassana Buddhist such as Mu Soeng have in common is how convinced they are they are right and that alternative views are wrong.
In limited questions of science or the history of religion there are many questions that have clear answers where someone is right and those of the opposite view are wrong. But that is not the case with the great question of whether God exists or not.
There is plenty of evidence to conclude that there is no God or at least not one that has any particular concerns whether any of us live or die. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that God, or universal spirit, is indeed the foundation of all existence and is available as a source of strength and inspiration for our personal life.
In my view there are a couple of important points.
Think carefully and honestly about what you believe is the truth of whether God does or does not exist. Look carefully at the foundations of your beliefs to see if they are as solid as you think they are or whether in truth they are a hodge-podge of sketchy assumptions and hazily thought out opinions.
Let your unanswered questions emerge. Give yourself the permission to inquire whether you really believe what you say is true, or whether you believe as you do because someone else told you it was true.
Draw your attention to whatever few core beliefs and values you either are sure are true or you feel are at least worthy of deeper exploration.
Pay particular attention to those core beliefs and ask yourself, “Is there room for improvement in the way I practice what I preach?”
Look carefully at all of your relationships and ask yourself, “Is there room for improvement in the love and respect I offer to others?”
If the answer to these questions is, “Yes”, then look honestly and sincerely at your life as you search for ways to live your core truths and values with greater integrity and fidelity.
Look carefully at the way you treat friends, lovers, family, co-workers, neighbors, store clerks, and others. Regardless of whether you know the answers to the great questions of life and faith, each of us can find our way forward to the next deeper level of peace and understanding by improving the way we treat ourselves and others.
From this simple practice, great truths will emerge.
Careful, sincere, patient searching for ways to be more faithful to both your core truths and your core unanswered questions will support your practice of meditation in this way.
You will be much more clear about what you really believe is true and those beliefs you either are not sure of or which you come to see need to be set aside. A deeper respect for the subtlety and the confusion that most of us feel with regards the great mysteries of life will engender, hopefully, a true and meaningful humility. The humility to know that one is often wrong and that others are sometimes right.
Sorting out what you truly believe from what you no longer believe, or at least are no longer quite so sure of, is also beneficial.
You will find a few simple beliefs to which you can devote your best and most lucid efforts.
You will be able to gather your energy and concentrate your best efforts to cultivate the full potential of your beliefs and core values.
There is a secret to making progress with the practice of silent meditation. This secret works just as well for atheists as it does for believers and those who are genuinely perplexed.
The secret is this. You do not need to know the answers to the great questions of this life unless you naturally feel you do.
It is enough to commit much stronger efforts to the simplest of beliefs than most people would ordinarily think of doing. A full engagement of the simplest beliefs and values over the long contours of your life will help you unlock the great power of simple views and virtues. A full engagement of the simplest beliefs and values will allow you to reach the highest states of consciousness and wisdom available in this life.
This is the secret.
Please let me know what you are working on with your practice. All sincere comments will be acknowledged and posted.
Will Raymond firstname.lastname@example.org 774-232-0884
Author of The Simple Path of Holiness and Host of MeditationPractice.com