The subtitle of this Spirituality for Seekers website is How to Create a Spiritual Path that Works for You, and some people may well ask why anyone would want to do so. After all, aren’t there already more than enough spiritual paths in the world?
To get some idea of why you might want to create your own spiritual path, allow me to start by comparing spirituality with the need for nutrition. Every human being on the planet requires nutrition for physical survival, but the form which that nutrition takes, and where we get it from, can vary enormously.
Here in the western world, many people like to eat out at fast food restaurants, and somehow manage to keep themselves going by eating burgers, fries and milkshakes on a regular basis. That might not be the most nutritious way to live, but there is just enough nutrition in the fast food to aid survival.
Other people don’t really like the taste or quality of fast food, and so they dine out at traditional restaurants. It takes a good while longer to be served your meal in a traditional restaurant, but the food tends to taste better and is of a higher quality, and so the additional investment of time (and money) is viewed as worthwhile.
Still other people don’t like dining out at all but prefer instead to prepare and cook their own meals. The advantage of that approach is that they can cook the meals that deliver their precise nutritional needs and at the same time taste exactly as they like their meals to taste.
I think that spirituality works in much the same way. We all have spiritual nutritional requirements which need to be met if we are to live and enjoy life effectively, but we don’t all have the exact same requirements, and we don’t all have the exact same preferences when it comes to matters of taste.
All spiritual paths offer spiritual nutrition to one degree or another, but the way in which that nutrition is presented varies from place to place. Someone who likes their spiritual nutrition to be presented with a great deal of volume and enthusiasm might therefore quite like to attend a Pentecostal church or a drumming circle, depending on their personal taste. Someone else, who prefers silence and quietude, might prefer to take nature walks, sit with a meditation group, or attend a Quaker meeting.
And then there are the people who I refer to as the Seekers. These are people who don’t want to ‘dine out’ at just one type of venue, but would prefer to learn to ‘cook for themselves’ by creating their own spiritual path. This allows them to get the spiritual nutrition they need in a form that better suits their tastes.
If you look at the creation of a spiritual path in that way then you might also find it useful to compare the wide variety of religious texts and scriptures that are available as different types of cookbooks.
Just as you don’t need to cook every recipe in any given cookbook to get something useful out of it, so you don’t need to blindly accept everything that is written in any book of scripture in order to come away with an idea or practice that benefits you. Study a variety of scriptures, pick out the ideas that meet your current nutritional needs from each of them, and you can write your own cookbook to suit your own particular tastes.
Personally, I believe that all scriptures are potentially useful, even if some appeal to my tastes more than others, and that is why I enjoy exploring as many as I can. I may particularly love the taste of meditation as described by those in the tradition of Theravada Buddhism, but I know that I can also enjoy a side-dish of mantra meditation as practiced in some Hindu traditions, as well as a little meditation on my oneness with the creative principle of the universe, as taught by Jesus and others in the Christian Bible.
So, if you are someone who feels a spiritual hunger, but you can’t quite find an established path which meets all of your needs, don’t give up on spirituality itself. Instead, learn to create a spiritual path of your own, and enjoy it to the full. This is an approach that Jesus, Buddha and many other teachers approved of, and it is certainly one that I can recommend from personal experience.