Choosing a spiritual path or group

Apparently starting your own blog may lead to an increase in people asking private questions. Over the past few days several people have asked me for my opinion (or the official theosophical one) about obscure spiritual paths. This is an attempt at some guidelines.

First off: there is no such thing as an official theosophical opinion about any spiritual path. Members are free to choose their favorite, or shop around, or stick to theosophy in the traditional sense. Most members I know have studied and or practiced, besides theosophy, at least one other path seriously. (This is one of the reasons the Theosophical Society (TS) is such an interesting group.) The point is: you will have to make up your own mind. The TS does not give itself the privilege of creating a list of groups one should avoid. Or a group of ‘officially approved’ spiritual groups. Each member is responsible to themselves.

BTW: I don’t speak for the TS. I’m just an ordinary member whose only official task is the one of being one of the webmasters of the Dutch TS website. This doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion about a whole lot of things: I obviously do. And my opinion is, usually, based on something. Which leads to my next point:

I don’t know every spiritual organisation, guru or teaching around. I do think I know a bit about the major ones, but we live in a time of tremendous spiritual change and turmoil. This means that there are many small groups out there – guru’s who started teaching last year etc. whom I know nothing of. At All.

But still, there are some things I’d like to point out.

  • A decent spiritual path will have an ethical basis. If ethics don’t come up in the first say seven meetings you attend – I would not go on with the path you’re pursuing. Ethics can mean thoughts about what right living is, or meditations on compassion and other spiritual virtues. If a spiritual path isn’t helping you be a better person in your daily life – quit while you’re ahead.
  • A decent spiritual path will have teachings that make sense to you. You should not have to give up your belief in evolution, or the equality of men and women or anything else that you know is true. In other words: use your common sense.
  • Your chosen spiritual path should be safe. That not only means avoiding drugs, but also that meditation practices should be guided by an experienced (and preferably licensed) teacher. From a theosophical perspective any practice that specifically aims at giving your more spiritual power (as opposed to wisdom or compassion) is risky as well. These siddhis can be a major spiritual distraction – as alluring as S*x or television, but potentially more harmful. (I might go into both s*x and tv in a future post, but now is not the time).
  • Avoid groups that isolate you from your family and friends. Such groups are called ‘sects’ and can seriously disrupt your life.

2 thoughts on “Choosing a spiritual path or group”

  1. I think what you call ‘sects’ (which may be similar to ‘denominations’) may usually be called ‘cults,’ though that also has some not necessarily negative meanings to historians.

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