This concept affects your life, even if you don’t believe one exists. The idea shapes the way you think and value. Thankfully, you have the power to control this. See how and why you should define your higher power.
Discussing the subject of God can trigger some interesting emotional responses. Some people feel anxious, others feel angry. It also triggers fear for some. We want to identify these mechanisms so that we can control them. To do this, we ask ourselves some questions to understand our relationship to this concept. We’ll review three ways to approach this subject:
What is Your Higher Power?
Even if you are what believers call an atheist, this concept still affects your thinking and values. That’s because the idea of a divine entity is part of the cultural folklore that governs a vast majority of people. Much of the modern world is still under the influence of belief systems that favor a particular set of religious dogma.
So, this article aims to explore the three ways people validate this concept and answer the question, what is your higher power?
The concept of an all-mightly divine entity stretches back to Animism (1), the theory that some divine essence is within everything. It infers that some unseen intelligent force is observing, guiding, and directing things to some extent.
It is human nature to seek answers for things we don’t know. We want to know how things work, so we seek answers to the cause of things. It goes hand in hand with questions about who we are and why we are here. That’s why the following discussion will help you. We think it will help you answer these philosophical questions.
Again, the goal of this exercise is to answer the question, what is your higher power? When you understand the answer to this question, then you can manage how it affects your thinking. To help understand how this concept affects your thinking and values, keep the following questions in mind as you read each approach.
- How do I feel while reading through the definition of this approach?
- Does this approach resonate with me?
- Do I disagree with the definition or approach?
- As you read each definition, write down your immediate thoughts.
- Does this article help clarify my thinking, values, and beliefs?
How to Define Your Higher Power
The three largest religions by population are those of the Abrahamic tree (2). These are the Semitic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. However, these religions aren’t new belief systems. They are the rebranding of Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, and Assyrian mystery religions. Together they boast over 4 billion followers (3). Today, there are over 10,000 versions of these themes. These systems have the most significant impact on the culture of the world.
Their social reach enables them to affect the minds of many people. Their beliefs, superstition, and bias make their way into the laws which govern much of the civilized world. Their religious doctrines become part of the laws which govern everyone in their social reach—the greater their social strength, the larger their customer base.
The primary goal of these systems is to generate income. The wealthiest religion has more material wealth than most countries. The Vatican of the Catholic Church is a country. It holds an estimated net worth of over 400 billion dollars, including cash, real estate, precious metals, and art.
Above all, Christianity and Islam are the leaders in marketing and rebranding. They improved on the dying-god sect religions. It makes their product accessible to more people via belief. In contrast, Judaism bases its membership primarily on ethnic lines.
Next, they perfected the process of indoctrination and groupthink manipulation. Most cleverly, adding “its own collection” of sacred texts building on the work of their closest competitor, Judaism. With this strategy, they could legitimize their belief system while showing Judaism in a negative light.
The Three Ways to Approach God
Before you proceed, take the time to write your initial thoughts about the above questions. Everyone will have different answers. Above all, there are no wrong answers. Your response to this question will depend upon many factors.
Your answer will probably change over time because we are constantly reframing or affirming our perceptions and values. It happens in two ways, either consciously or unconsciously. Conscious changes occur when we use our intellect to review facts and make a choice. Subconscious changes occur through propaganda and brainwashing. Subconscious psychological manipulation can frame our thoughts, values, and behaviors, and we don’t even know it’s taking place. It’s not a choice but a response to stimuli.
Observe your social environment. The concept of God is everywhere. There are subtle and direct forms of self-hypnosis and group hypnosis. Both of these are the brainwashing tools of Western organized religion. It triggers our deepest fears. This programming can define your higher power. It can program you to protect and support the boundaries of the system. This discussion will help you recognize this type of social manipulation, and then you can also assist others.
Approach by Reason
First of the three ways to approach this subject is by reason. People who like this approach want objective answers. They prefer rational logic and proven sciences. The classical proofs of cosmological existence are the starting place for their quest. Reason always leads to more existential questions (4).
Is there a need for a higher power? Does the world or our universe need one or more to operate it? How does it relate to theological beliefs like the afterlife? It also begs questions about human nature. For example, is morality proof of some divine intervention? Or, is morality a part of our DNA? Then again, or perhaps morality is simply a logical necessity for civilization? Are morality and belief in god independent subjects?
Answers to the above are beyond any scientifically verifiable evidence. So, you’ll need a good understanding of logical reasoning to develop sound conclusions. It will help you avoid common issues with false arguments.
We highly recommend you add logical reasoning to your truth-seeking toolbox. We are all different. Your research may provide different conclusions. A lot depends on the source of the data we use to make decisions. Also, we have different skill levels, backgrounds, personalities, and instincts. Our life experiences are unique. So, our conclusions about a higher power will probably differ. Being pro-facts doesn’t mean you should be anti-religious.
Approach by Faith
The second of the three ways to approach is subject is by faith. Almost everyone who prefers the path of faith has deeply held religious beliefs. More than likely, they are part of the Abrahamic tree. They assert faith is the only approach to a divine entity.
Faith is to believe things without evidence. Admittedly, this takes considerable effort to maintain. The modern world surrounds us with resources and facts. Training the mind to pick between ideas and facts is stressful. If you define your higher power with faith, then you will require a lot of reinforcement. You’ll need to subject yourself to semi-weekly sessions to combat the increasing conflicts. The struggle to reconcile facts results in a condition known as cognitive dissonance or “the religious headache.”
This group is skeptical of scientific, rational, and logical proofs. They also reject experiential methods. For this paradigm, the Higher Power is a mystical persona. For that reason, the approach by objective data and rational thinking processes is man’s wayward wisdom. Similarly, the path via experience is a fabrication of man’s imagination.
So, the lack of proof is proof of their faith. They claim faith is the only correct path to Divine revelation. This group rests its authority on sacred texts and a charismatic leader’s leadership.
You shouldn’t discount the use of faith as a methodology for everything. Faith and hope are the basis of a positive outlook. We build every plan of action on the expectation that it will succeed. Faith and hope help us through life’s adversities. These attributes allow us to overcome obstacles. For that reason, faith is also a valuable component of your truth-seeking machinery. Not as an excuse to ignore the facts but to regulate attitude.
Approach by Experience
Last but not least are those who assert that experience is the only sure method to know God. This third approach to the subject is god is a purely subjective vantage point. Its pure form is the counterclaim of the above two methods. It’s the idea that one cannot approach the subject by reason or faith because both reason and faith are subject to corruption. Here the direct experience of the divine provides all the proof.
These types of divine encounters have some common attributes. Terms like “oneness” and “transcendent silence” are common among these types of Eureka experiences. Practitioners use several spiritual technologies to get this knowledge. Interestingly, people who have near-death experiences also report similar revelations. So, it would seem that this type of experience is shared. People drawn to this approach believe experience is proof of divine energy.
Many ancient cultures spent considerable time and effort investigating these processes. These mental activities sometimes including psychoactive substances to shift consciousness to non-ordinary states. The goal here is to connect directly with the Universe or Higher Divinity.
What is Your Higher Power?
Of course, the three approaches above are pure extracts. Some people indeed ascribe to just one of these three methods. However, most combine all three approaches in differing degrees. We think using all three approaches is beneficial, but common sense and reason should be this triune method’s primary leg. It makes your spiritual journey more well-rounded. It helps make you more open-minded.
Once you open the door to question the validity of this metaphor, several other questions come to the forefront. Are we alone in the universe, or not? Are the reports of aliens and angels the same thing from a different point of view?
Are you interested in spiritual exploration? Check out the blended learning process at the core of our teaching process. We offer this curriculum through our individually tailored virtual learning academy and our traditional face-to-face sessions. It reflects what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey (5). Our learning options include both face-to-face and virtual learning sessions. Please consider donating and supporting our mission.
This article is an excerpt from—How to Find the Truth (2001) by JJB
(1) Animism, Wikipedia
(2) Abrahamic Religions, Wikipedia
(3) World Religions by Population, Wikipedia
(4) Existentialism, Wikipedia
(5) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia