By Lisa Cedrone
There are as many different ways to experience and define the world around us—our reality—as there are people on planet Earth. That’s a lot of viewpoints! Is one more correct than another, more accurate, more ethical? In essence, I believe truth is malleable, subjective, and found in the eyes of the beholder—especially when it comes to the question:
“Which is the best spiritual path to follow?”
When we stop judging right vs. wrong and relying upon others to provide answers regarding what we should believe, we have the opportunity to look within. Here we can find our own unique script, the one we helped write for ourselves at some higher level to provide the necessary life experience and vantage point to allow our consciousness to evolve.
In the field of journalism, we call this the angle of the story. As a writer, one needs to go out and collect information on a subject and then funnel it into a story from a purposeful and engaging perspective. During the learning curve to become a good journalist, many suffer from Kitchen Sink Syndrome. They gather a large mountain of information and then feel that every tidbit should be included in the story—everything but the kitchen sink. What results is a body of work that rambles in so many directions that it never reaches a destination—a logical conclusion. The skilled writer, on the other hand, knows that less is more—when that less actually is a wealth of wisdom carefully mined from that mountain of facts, statistics, and information. And a lot of blood, sweat, and tears goes into the process behind the scenes.
Successfully crafting our own personal spiritual journey is much like learning the ropes to become a seasoned journalist.
As a seeker of enlightenment—one undertaking a pilgrimage to understand the true nature of reality and how we co-create within it to accomplish our mission in life—we often become overwhelmed with options, opinions, and instructions. Most often, this information comes from traditional world religions; spiritual groups; metaphysical researchers and teachers; and, for the more open-minded, from psychically gifted people who channel knowledge from other realms. (Think of realms as bandwidths of reality outside the bell curve of perception experienced by the five senses in the average human body.)
It’s a vast universe of information to explore—one growing exponentially thanks to the global reach of the Internet—and engaging in the research process also puts us at risk of developing Kitchen Sink Syndrome.
We keep adding proverbial books to our library until it becomes so overwhelming that we cannot decide which ONE contains the instructions we should follow. There is always another source out there to evaluate, so we become perpetual seekers paralyzed from gathering data until our brain is filled to capacity with, you guessed it, everything but the kitchen sink. We can become confused and disconnected from the Higher Forces guiding us (our soul, Higher Self, Superconscious, God, guides, or whatever names we chose to call them). We may start to think that the answer is out there, instead of within.
So how do we find our one true path—the one that will culminate in the perspectives necessary to expand our sphere of consciousness in this particular lifetime?
Albert Einstein reveals the answer for us: “The only source of knowledge is experience.”
We can read and learn about spiritual paths, but until we actually walk one with integrity we will not step from darkness into the Light.
Note that I’m not advocating a Pin the Tail on the Donkey approach here, where we let others lead us around with blinders on and then hope to hit the enlightenment bull’s-eye someday. By mindlessly adopting one of the religions, cultural practices, or spiritual disciplines offered up to us by our parents, peers, schools, or society at large, we can end up shrinking in fear (of what others think of us, whether or not we will face judgment, and so on) rather than growing in consciousness.
I say this based on firsthand experience. I can remember when I was a young child and my parents sent me to the equivalent of Sunday school, except it was held on Saturday mornings, when I wanted to be outside playing with my friends. From my point of view at that age, most the lessons seemed focused on right and WRONG, a huge list of sins I should not commit, many silly rules, and an impending judgment at the time of my death—and the sense of doom and dread they imparted just didn’t ring true in my heart. I can remember thinking,
“But how can I be right if I disagree with all the people—including my parents—who believe EVERYTHING in this huge, old religion is TRUE?”
I was afraid to speak up, so I just daydreamed the years away until I was old enough to figure out how to escape from the classes with my parents’ blessing.
Later, in grade school social studies, I learned about Native American Indians and their spiritual traditions, which revolved the natural world, and they seemed more correct to me that what I learned from my religion. However, the general attitude of the textbooks and my teacher was that these people were not “evolved” or “civilized,” so I kept my opinions to myself. Then I reached eighth grade and we covered Hinduism, including reincarnation. I couldn’t stop thinking about the subject for weeks on end because it resonated with me. I honestly believed deep down inside that I had experienced other lives throughout time. The thoughts consumed me so much that I took a big leap of faith and got into a discussion with my parents about it one night—and they shut me down.
As a result, I closed myself off from pursuing any spiritual path. It became a nonissue and a void in my life until I had a near death experience in 2002. This somewhat terrifying event was a real eyeopener for me because I received a 101 lecture from my Higher Guidance (before I was given the choice to come back) that helped me to later move past the roadblocks put up by others who claimed that there was only one way—their way—to graduate from Earth school. I was motivated to follow my own intuition and trust that I could find my own way.
Today, I am a strong advocate of comparative studies; it’s how I found my own personal truth. I needed to objectively evaluate many traditions to gain a personal understanding of how our universe operates and our purpose within it. But this was only a primer. To truly achieve positive, life-changing results I had to wholeheartedly engage in applying these fundamental spiritual teachings in a way that agreed with my deep heartfelt beliefs and leave behind the voices of others echoing through my mind. What happened when I did this? I was able to evolve from disinterested agnostic to appreciator of the human spirit and the Divine. I stopped focusing on what I thought was wrong with every spiritual path and religion and started finding the common truths that remained when I looked beyond cultural idiosyncrasies and dogma.
No doubt, I needed this exercise to find the faith that would allow me to walk a path of direct spiritual experience. Maybe you do, too…but maybe you don’t. Perhaps your journey in this life it to follow a road paved by others? The important point here is to stand in your own integrity and find your own truth. Nobody else can do it for you.
Lisa Cedrone is the editor of Transformation Magazine and a freelance editor, writer, and graphic designer working primarily in the spiritual and alternative healing communities. Prior to establishing her Sarasota, FL-based freelance business in 2008, Lisa spent 20 years as an editor/editor-in-chief for two of the Top 10 business-to-business publishers in the United States, serving the apparel manufacturing and residential construction/building markets. Her company, DragonFly Nation, offers a wide range of creative services, with an emphasis on cost-effective, turnkey editorial and design projects for both print and web. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit DragonFlyNation.com.