I have been a nearly lifelong doubter. Not a nonbeliever, but not a believer, either. I’ve dipped my toes into more faiths than I can count, but never dived in. There’s always just been too much chill to that water, too many biting fish swimming around.
It’s taken me a long time to get to the point where I could rest in uncertainty, find a little niche there, take off my shoes. To think of searching as a spiritual path and practice in and of itself. How does the word “Questioner” sound? Or—I know! I know!—Spiritual Explorer.
But when I say I’m an explorer, rather than a believer, that doesn’t mean anything goes. I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about what doesn’t go. What I expect from a spiritual path. What I will never accept. And over the past few weeks, I’ve written a few things down.
I almost labeled this list my Ten Commandments, but that sounded as rigid and severe as the religions I don’t believe in, and also there are eleven of them. So instead, I’ll just call it the Searcher’s Code. Rather than rules, I think of them as requests I make of spiritual traditions, beliefs, and practices. No one else is required to buy any of this.
1. Please do not threaten me. Nothing is going to send me packing faster than the claim that, if I don’t believe in your loving, compassionate god, he’ll have me roast for eternity.
2. Do not ask me to believe something that goes against science. I’m not going to believe the world was created 6,000 years ago, that the colossal collection of evidence supporting evolution is all made up, that people rise from from the dead, or that the apparent position of the stars at the moment of my birth determined my interest in languages and poor sense of direction. If other people believe such things, they may: I don’t expect them to change for me, as long as they don’t push it.
3. Don’t tell me to put all my eggs in the science basket, either. Science doesn’t know everything.
4. Don’t tell me you are the only path to truth. Let me love the world’s great diversity of faiths. I happen to find joy in the raucous jumble of beliefs that is Hinduism, the mindfulness of Buddhism, the playful worship of Pagans, the devotion of Islam, the rich traditions of Judaism. I love that the world is full of Yogis and Shamans and Sikhs and Christians and Jains. I’ve never met a religion that didn’t have something to offer, though I have met a few believers I wanted to slap around a little. Don’t expect me to “other” people who don’t believe what I believe.
5. Don’t for a second tell me that the Y chromosome is the key to the Divine. If only men can lead your rituals, interpret your texts, or teach your teachings, I’m outa here. If you think half of the world’s people are less than the other half, you have no claim to the word “enlightened.”
6. No way I’m worshipping a person. No gurus, no masters, no messiahs. Teachers and guides are fine, but I’m not following anyone who asks me me for undying devotion, unquestioning faith, or money.
7. Never limit love. Never condemn anyone's love for anyone else.
8. Embrace animals.
9. Revere the Earth.
10. Honor the Sacred in everything. Everywhere.
11. Let me be open and questioning. Let it be all right not to have all the answers. Let me dwell in the temples of paradox and contradiction. Honestly, I don’t know if mystical experiences are real or just some form of migraine. If the universe is conscious. If there is such a thing as a soul. Actually, I don’t even know whether ghosts exist. I’m just saying, if someone gave me reason to, I could believe in them. Just give me that, the right to question, the right to maybe believe.
Causes Jill Jepson Supports
Humane Society of the United States, Defenders of Wildlife, Interational Society for the Protection of Burros and Mustangs, National Wildlife Federation,...