How to Distinguish False from True in Spirituality? — The “Show-Me” Method

garden_of_flowersSpirituality has to do with the spirit, or the heart. It is different from science, which has to do with the brain. Spirituality and science should be in harmony with each other, but they are different from each other. Spirituality is different also from religion. Religion is mixed up with RELIGIONISM, which is the belief in “chosenness” and “exclusive salvation.” (Click here to find out more about religionism.)

In this article, I will consider the “Show-Me” method, which is the way of distinguishing false from true in matters of spirituality. But first, I will describe more specifically what spirituality is.

What is Spirituality?

ocean_with_pelicanSpirituality is a set of principles, practices, and habits to nurture and enhance the life of the heart, which is the life of the spirit. In the Back-to-the-Body Perspective, we consider three realms, represented by the metonymies “stomach,” “brain,” and “heart” (Click here for more information about these metonymies.)

Spirituality deals with the realm of life within the sphere of the heart. There are many teachings about spirituality. If we do not possess the skill to distinguish false from true teaching, we can find ourselves on a destructive path in life.

The “Show-Me” Method

pudding_on_plateIt is customary to say that Missouri is “the Show-Me State.” The people there don’t fall for flowery words; instead, they want to see the evidence from facts. Another way of saying is, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” This method is exactly the same as the one that Jesus taught: a tree is known by its fruit; therefore, by their fruits we can know a false from a true prophet (Matthew 7:15-20).

What are, then, the good fruits that we are looking for? I like the way that the US Declaration of Independence puts it:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—

happiness_freedomAll humans are, then, looking for “Life,” “Liberty,” and “the Pursuit of Happiness.” How, then, can we know if a particular teaching about spirituality is false or true? Ask yourself this question: if I practice this teaching, will my LIFE become enhanced? Will I experience greater FREEDOM? Will I be a HAPPIER person?

What about other people? Will their life, their freedom, and their happiness become enhanced by this teaching as well? If I can answer all of these questions with a positive response, then I know I have a good teaching.

When inquiring about a spiritual teaching, then, it will not help to ask if the person has the right credentials, or has the right qualifications, or has the right PEDIGREE in terms of ancestry. That is looking at the TREE instead of at the FRUITS. The best way is always to look at the fruits. By the quality of the fruits obtained from a certain teaching, we can know the quality of the teacher of those teachings.

the_prophet_preachesThus, even amidst a multitude of theories, prophecies, teachings, and competing ideologies, we do not have to feel confused or bewildered. There are standards of truth that we can apply to judge right from wrong, or to distinguish true from false. We just have to do as the folks in Missouri do: “Show me!” By the fruits, we can know the tree.

I conclude with a quote:

O you who seek the highest and the best in the depths of knowledge, in the tumult of action, in the darkness of the past, in the labyrinth of the future, in graves, or above the stars! Do you know its name? The name of that which is one and all? Its name is beauty.
(Excerpt From: Friedrich Hölderlin. Hyperion. iBooks.)

Paulo-Juarez Pereira
Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA
September 13, 2014

Photo Credits:
Author: Lewisha Jones
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Photo: Ocean with Pelican
Author: Bob Jagendorf
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Photo: Pudding on Plate
Author: Christer Edvartsen
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Photo: The Prophet
Author: Jim Valentine
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Photo: Freedom and Happiness
Author: Rakesh JV
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  1. Thomas Aquinas and the Back-to-the-Body Perspective | Paulo-Juarez Pereira - September 29, 2014

    […] have argued in another article that, even from the point of view of the Bible, these are the wrong questions to ask. I do not […]

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