If you are lucky enough to select your spiritual path, we have questions to help you in this process. Choosing the right approach is like choosing the right hat; it needs to fit.
Select a Religion Like Buying A Hat
How should you buy a good hat or a religious faith? Shop around. Don’t purchase the first hat or religion you find. Try it on but always look in a mirror. Get a second opinion about your choice from an unbiased third party.
If you were born into a family that made you wear a funny hat, we are sorry about that. Now that you are an adult, you can take it off and make your own choices.
Please don’t pick a hat or religion because someone tells you it will look good. Look in the mirror and see if you look stupid. Ask an unbiased friend if it looks ridiculous. Don’t ask someone wearing the same hat or religion. They will be biased. They will tell you it looks fine, don’t believe them. Get a second or third opinion.
Do You Have A Choice?
Hey, if you have the choice to select your spiritual path, you are lucky. Choosing the right spiritual path is not available to everyone. Many people don’t have the option of choosing their religion because they are born into one. Their families choose for them. They buy their clothes and the spiritual hat. Sometimes they live in such repressive cultures they don’t have the option to select another. So, if you can choose, do it in the same way you are shopping for an expensive hat.
It’s only natural to seek guidance on our spiritual journey. Where do you find a good hat or religion? Hat stores and religions have retail outlets. Many people first look at the most popular beliefs.
Of the 8 billion people on Earth, over 4 billion have bought an Abrahamic hat of some kind. These are the Abrahamic (1) religions of Semitic origin, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Each of these religions has a unique funny hat. It’s important to realize these religions are not new. They got their funny hats and beliefs from earlier traditions. They are the rebranding of Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, and Assyrian mystery religions. So, they took these old head coverings and gave them new names.
Remember, a lot of other stuff comes with the head covering. The rest of the outfit includes a bundle of doctrines and dogma.
“It’s a curious thing in American life that the most abject nonsense will be excused if the utterer can claim the sanction of religion. A country that forbids an established church by law is prey to any denomination. The best that can be said is that this is pluralism of a kind.” ― Christopher Hitchens, Prepared for the Worst: Selected Essays and Minority Reports
Select a Religion or Do Without One?
No matter which hat or path you choose, regularly test your path. Testing ensures you are going in the right direction. Make sure the hat you put on still fits. If it gets worn out, find another. Hopefully, your goals are greater awareness and enlightenment. If these latter qualities are more critical and doctrine and dogma to run your life, you may choose a more spiritual path. Above all, please don’t choose a hat or spiritual path because it is convenient or popular.
There is another and even better option. Instead of choosing a religion, forge a spiritual path of your own. Yes, you can do this. All you need to do is find tools the open your awareness and doors to higher states of consciousness. When you do this, you are in effect creating a unique hat of your own. You’d be surprised to know a lot of people do this. That way, you will be sure it fits.
Test Your Religion Or Spiritual Path
No matter what path you take or what hat you wear, test to make sure it fits. You can apply four tests to help you make sure that the hat you choose isn’t harmful to you or others.
These criteria are:
- Fairness, Equitability, and Responsibility
- Tools for Development
- Equality and Freedom
If the hat or religion you try on fails any of these tests, then it isn’t healthy for you or others.
Consistency is the First Essential Test
If God wrote a book, wouldn’t you want a copy? Why sure? But, be sure it’s not just a selling tool for a belief system. If you select a religion based on a sacred or divinely inspired text, make sure it is consistent from cover to cover. It seems like every religion has its particular version of what they claim are divinely inspired books.
Consistency is essential. The texts should not have contradictory messages. It should not contain conflicting statements of both love and hate, peace and violence, because inconsistency is the mark of insanity. Don’t follow insanity.
If someone tells you that sure the text says that here, but that’s not what it means, don’t believe it. If a book says XYZ, that is precisely what it says; it doesn’t mean ABC. People use this ploy to cherry-pick what they want to make it mean anything they want.
When in doubt, check the origins of the text. Use sources from outside the religion you are researching. That way, you are more likely to find the truth. If something is hiding the origins of their texts, that’s a red flag.
Remember, choosing the right spiritual path means deciding what is right for you. But, if you need guiding principles, you don’t need a religion for that. There are plenty of sources for simplified and non-contradictory platforms.
When someone asks us how to select a religion, look for consistency in words and actions. Consistency has to do with what they say and what their texts say. This first test is the one criterion that will eliminate the three most popular religions from your list.
Is Fair, Equitable, and Responsible in Action?
Look for a path with a long-range mission with equity and equality as a fundamental basis. The path or religion you choose should show that it inspires decisions based on the long-term just and verdant treatment of all people. Ensure it is inclusive and not a sect establishing its membership on gender, ethnic or race.
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” ― Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
It should also promote the ecological welfare of the planet. Similarly, it should not exclude people or places based on their backgrounds. Everyone on the earth and every site on the earth is sacred. There isn’t a “B” planet.
Many Western religions talk about conquering the world, but this opposes living in harmony.
“We keep on being told that religion, whatever its imperfections, at least it instills morality. On every side, there is conclusive evidence that the contrary is the case and that faith causes people to be meaner, more selfish, and perhaps above all, more stupid.” ― Christopher Hitchens
Tools for Development
A tradition only has merit to the extent that it preserves and promotes independent self-development. Just because some religion has a cool or unusual hat doesn’t mean its teachings will help you. The path you select should contain processes for developing and investigating consciousness. Hence, it should provide tools enabling people to develop their approach for further enlightenment. Instead of boundaries of belief to keep you in, it should promote tools to break down the barriers.
When people ask about selecting a religion, this one also rules out the top three most popular religions. They are significant for the absence of any tools for developing consciousness. Instead, they offer faith and belief.
Promotes Equality and Freedom
The tradition you select is only worthy if it does not promote sectarianism. Sectarianism is any form of bigotry, discrimination, or hatred. Likewise, feel you need to join a religion, be sure it does not promote bias or prejudice. Nor should it attach importance to perceived differences.
For example, the religion or philosophy you choose should not inspire discrimination between people with different ethnic or religious beliefs. It should not promote hatred toward those without faith in imaginary friends or enemies (Atheists).
“We still name our military helicopter gunships after victims of genocide. Nobody bats an eyelash about that: Blackhawk. Apache. And Comanche. If the Luftwaffe named its military helicopters Jew and Gypsy, I suppose people would notice.” ― Noam Chomsky, Propaganda and the Public Mind: Conversations with Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian
“Nationalism of one kind or another was the cause of most of the genocide of the twentieth century. Flags are bits of colored cloth that governments use first to shrink-wrap people’s minds and then as ceremonial shrouds to bury the dead.” ― Arundhati Roy, > War Talk
The religion you selected should not promote artificial boundaries like patriotism or nationalism. It should not justify preferential treatment because of religious beliefs, economic class, regional, or other human-made divisions. Its policies should not justify inhuman acts. For example, no justification for torture, genocide, or persecution of any kind. It should not include guidelines for treating people as slaves. And it should not promote gender superiority or practices.
“The scriptures present a God who delights in genocide, rape, slavery, and the execution of nonconformists, and for millennia those writings were used to rationalize the massacre of infidels, the ownership of women, the beating of children, dominion over animals, and the persecution of heretics and homosexuals.” ― Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined
So, if the religion you are researching doesn’t meet these guidelines, we suggest you keep looking. Choosing the right spiritual path is an important decision. If you have the option to choose, take your time. Then, test it regularly to make sure you learn what you need to progress. If you find you’ve selected the wrong path, change it.
And most importantly, please don’t choose a path based on the need to believe or need to belong. Don’t join because you are hurting or in need of help. When you are in crisis, you are the most vulnerable to the tactics of self-hypnosis and group hypnosis manipulation. If the religion or path cannot meet the guidelines listed above, keep looking or do without one.
Remember, selecting a religion is like buying an expensive hat. You will invest a lot of time with it, so make sure it fits. Don’t settle for the wrong fit. Don’t settle for something harmful to you or others.
We recommend making your own hat. Forge your own spiritual path. Find tools that expand your awareness and open doors to higher states. Become a freethinker and be an example for others. Show them that it is possible.
Thankfully, you don’t have to join a religion to conduct spiritual exploration. There’s quite a difference between spiritual exploration and religion.
Thanks for reading this article. We welcome your opinion, so don’t hesitate to comment or email us. We hope it provides some food for thought. You can find more mind-opening topics on our blog.
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(1) Abrahamic Religions, Wikipedia
(2) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia