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Mudrashram Institute of Spiritual Studies

 

 

 

Shifting from Dogmatic Perspectives

 

by George A. Boyd ©2002

Dogmatism is parent to fundamentalist religion and terrorist political persuasions. Dogmatism cannot be argued away; arguing only entrenches the believer in his faith and may lead him or her to see you as an enemy of the faith, an infidel or non-believer, or someone deluded by the Devil.

Shifting from dogmatism is a gradual, experiential, conceptual and perceptual change that arises from inner growth and transformation. Being able to accept the truth of other faiths may take the form of seven different belief positions about God and the Divine Nature. These belief states are as follows:

  1. Only my vision of God and belief in the Nature of God are true and all others are false. My scripture and/or spiritual teacher verifies this and I believe it, too.

  2. My vision of God and belief in the Nature of God are true for me now but I entertain the possibility that, sometime in the eternal future, God may reveal aspects of Himself that I cannot conceive at present. I do not understand why others see God differently than I do and I assume that they must be misguided.

  3. I have known God in different ways and forms as part of my spiritual development, so I would not be surprised if I know God in a way than I conceive Him at present. Maybe it is the same God Who shows Himself to others in different ways through the filter of language and culture, but I am not sure if this is true. I cannot ascertain why others see God differently than I have and do at present.

  4. I have been taught God is what I believe Him to be by people in my life: parents, friends, neighbors, my priest, minister, rabbi or clergyman of my faith. Maybe other people are taught something different about God and they have been taught to believe differently than I do as a result of their indoctrination. I will study other faiths in an attempt to understand their beliefs and why they believe the way they do. I will create a dialog with members of other faiths to learn what they understand about God.

  5. I have had a mystical experience that has given me a glimpse of God in a way that is vaster than I had conceptualized. Maybe God is infinite and our varied conceptions are simply our ways to try to make sense of that infinitude through our limited intellect and individual perspective. This suggests that there may be multiple perspectives by which to understand God, each one representing a metaphor by which to grasp the Ineffable.

  6. In meditation, I have seen several different visions of God, each corresponding to different Planes. This suggests that people see God according to their level of spiritual evolution on the Great Continuum of Consciousness. I suspect, but have not verified, that those of other faiths view God from other levels of this GCC.

  7. I have verified through my own experience that God does exist in different forms on the Inner Planes and I have fully experienced the God of my faith and the God known to others. Both experiences are true revelations of God, relative to my/others’ current stage of spiritual evolution. As we grow towards our respective spiritual horizons, we will ultimately be revealed new aspects of God upon our paths.

Belief positions one and two are strongly dogmatic, position two showing a little more flexibility in attitude.

Positions three and four represent a philosophical shift that permits the believer to at least entertain that different perceptions of God may be culturally-based, or due to alternate religious education and indoctrination. This produces a greater open-mindedness that ultimately leads to a quest for greater understanding of other faiths and dialog.

Positions five through seven represent the individual’s shift beyond a conceptual, ontological or theological understanding of God, to a mystical, noetic or Gnostic experience of Mystery. This is a shift from being a believer to a Knower, an aspirant to an Initiate, having the keys to the Inner Kingdom of Light.

The reader is invited to evaluate where he or she is on this continuum of belief positions. We point out that until an individual has experienced mystic transcendence, beliefs about God will be fundamentally conceptual. The quest to move beyond conceptual models of God into experiential areas is the beginning of the aspirant spiritual path, where the individual seeks to enter the Great Way of the sages and seers.

 

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