by Ken Wear, 12/00

Man, the species, is essentially a spiritual creature. My spirit tells me so. And, in the final analysis, when we have exhausted the sources for insight we feel we can trust, we must turn within to sort out all the competing ideas and settle upon something that our intuition tells us is true (or at least acceptable).

Among other things we are an inquiring lot. We seek to know and wish for a certainty in the knowledge that results from our inquiry. As is so often the case, our dedication to truth, the reality of personal time management, and our thought processes are not adequate to the tasks of seeking and sorting. To compound our vexation, there is an abundance of sources that would present to us, either deliberately or inadvertently, their version of truth. So in frustration we cease our search for truth and reach the compromise that we will accept without further question a particular authority (or set of authorities) or we will adopt ideas that seem to us defensible. And we often hide the schism competing ideas present by erecting an emotional barrier when our certainty is challenged, thus closing our minds to a continuing quest.

A friend insists we early in childhood acquire a mind set that provides the framework into which we insert whatever knowledge we later acquire. Among other things we learn to trust what we perceive that our physical senses can verify, such as what we call water descends in what we call rain, and sometimes as snow. And we learn to extend that certain knowledge into speculations about the meanings of other perceptions. Most important, we learn to rank on a scale of their reliability the various sources of explanations. And the sources are many: parents, relatives, mentors, teachers, studies, friends, even casual sources such as entertainments. How our thinking persona ranks these sources is a matter of observation guided by intuition.

To sate our egos most of us wish others to adopt the truths at which we have arrived, however arduously or however easily reached. And many of those we have learned to trust have extended their interpretations far beyond what their evidence will support, to ideas that their intuition allowed them to embrace.

So in finality what you believe is what your intuition has allowed you to accept. At 72, in those 70 years since I acquired a framework, I have acquired a set of ideas that I feel best fits the most trustworthy of the ideas and observations of my experience. And intuition, which largely guides reason, has been the only true filter of ideas.

Life is a continuing process of experiencing and learning. I sometimes find myself returning to ideas that I had abandoned; because it is difficult to recall the chain of thought that led to the ideas I hold, there is always quicksand in expressing my certainty in today's stance. But with effort I can make comparisons to see what grows from the exercise. And, if the new seems stronger than the old, I must respectfully adapt, for that is how intuition has led me to my present understandings.

What do you believe? Whom have you trusted? Reason is trainable; it has been trained by a variety of influences including formal schooling. And reason in turn trains intuition. But it has always been intuition that has guided me in placing confidence in people (even scholars who assume a lofty intellectual stance by virtue of their vaunted intelligence and extended formal schooling) and in their ideas. And if reason is turned on its head by experience that intuition insists is true, then intuition must prevail.

So where has intuition led me? Science is real; its explanations of my observations lay a foundation for confidence in its pronouncements. But science is questionable when it extends to speculations and trained hunches. I have learned to believe in an all-embracing Intelligence that is accessible to each of us through a poorly understood connection with the Spirit Realm, of which each of us is an infinitesimal though wholly independent part. The spirit that is me, that provides the spark of life to this body, has an existence that far surpasses that of this body, extending both into the past and likely into the future. I believe I have been privileged to live this physical life as a willing subordinate to, and sometimes surrogate for, that Intelligence. And I believe that, when this body is abandoned, my spirit will find other avenues of service in the spirit realm, or perhaps again in the physical realm. The best science cannot deny it; my experiences suggest it; my spirit tells me this is true.

Unhappy is the person who cannot find a solid foundation for his beliefs but allows his soul to be torn asunder by conflicting claims. And lonely is the soul who trusts no one and feels he must discern truth for himself in order to resolve his standing in Nature. My hope for you is that your intuition leads you in directions of truth that nurture your soul and provide you with fulfillment, light and happiness.

To offer an opinion or seek further comment, you may send an e-mail that will pass my spam filter if you use as Subject -- I read your post about whom we shall believe -- exactly as you see it here. Click here for the e-mail form.

In honesty I must confess that I have led a lonely existence in my intellectual life since my soul rebelled at teachings I was exposed to in my youth. I have been led by a chain that is expressed in my Odyssey to a spiritual understanding that I call Rational Theism. Whatever the ultimate outcome, it is my hope that others, like me, can discern what seems to them the more likely truth so that exercise of mind can lead to supplanting ideas having a poor or slippery foundation with ideas anchored in a trained and reasoned intuition. (Added 3-26-09)

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