The Seven Faces of the Religious Mind

By George A. Boyd © 2018

There are different ways of engaging with religion. One can rail against religion, or be its staunchest supporter. One can study about religion, or become immersed in its mystic depths. One can pick and choose from its fruits, or one can believe its doctrine in its entirety. One can flit from faith to faith as the butterfly rests upon different flowers, or one can be steadfast in observance of only one faith.

Some of these different faces of religion can be briefly described as follows:

  1. The critic – The critic gathers information to discredit religion, to find fault with its beliefs and practices, and to promote an alternate viewpoint.
  2. The scholar – The scholar likes comparing the ideas that religion disseminates, reflecting on the meanings of the passages in scriptures and their commentaries, and discovering the hidden gems of truth. The scholar does not necessarily, however, take these dictums of religion to heart, and apply these principles in his or her life.
  3. The eclectic – The eclectic studies several different spiritual traditions, and creates a synthesis of the nuggets of truths from different Paths that he or she has gleaned. He or she adopts some of these truths as moral values, and uses these to guide behavior.
  4. The dilettante – The emotional believer, the dilettante, may take initiation in multiple Paths, but does not follow through on any of them. After the initial excitement of becoming a member of a new group and learning initiatory secrets fades, he or she readily leaves the Path. The dilettante starts many Paths and does not finish any of them.
  5. The anchorite – The anchorite scrupulously follows the guidelines of the Path, practices prayers and meditations regularly, and studies the teaching of the Path assiduously. The anchorite insists that before he or she can begin to teach or take a leadership role in the group, he or she must have perfect knowledge and ability.
  6. The devotee – The devotee wants to idealize and worship the spiritual Master, who supervises development on this spiritual Path, but may not feel worthy or capable to do the work to become a teacher or leader in this spiritual tradition.
  7. The surrendered one – The surrendered one dedicates him or her self to God’s Will, and carries out his or her daily work under the Master’s direction. The surrendered one asks for God’s Grace to teach and help others, recognizing that he or she is not perfect—but does the work, and learns and grows more proficient with practice.

Those that become teachers and initiators in spiritual traditions typically are of type seven. Types five and six, scrupulous observance and devotion, fervently adhere to the Path engaged, but they lack the core commitment that marks the surrendered one.

These three types form the core of any religious group; the other types are not serious about their commitment to make progress along the lines described in this Path and to follow its precepts. Those that do the work deepen along the track that this Path opens; those that dip their toes in its waters make limited or no progress towards its consummation.

If you are currently engaged with any spiritual or religious group at the present time, notice what patterns you adopt in relation to it.

  • Are you its critic, continually finding flaws?
  • Are you a scholar, content to learn about it without adopting its practices or principles?
  • Are you eclectic, selecting truths from many different Paths and creating your own synthesis?
  • Do you have pattern of taking initiation in multiple Paths and not following through with any of them?
  • Do you scrupulously perform the prescribed practices of the faith, and are working to perfect them?
  • Does devotion drive your spiritual quest and you are on fire to make progress on your chosen Path?
  • Have you surrendered yourself to become God’s Instrument of Light and Love for others?

If you evolve to the stage where you can become a surrendered one, you will become the emissary of God’s Light and Love in your tradition. Those that become teachers and initiators in Mudrashram® transform over time into this posture, and show the inmost facet of realized Divinity and Grace to all who cross their Path.

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