You cannot know
Personally I feel that most people are just a little too sure of their own beliefs.
I may be a little biased on this point but I feel people, and society as a whole, would be much more happy, secure, and mentally healthy if they were to embrace and become comfortable with a sense of uncertainty.
Nearly everyone I talk to has it “all figured out”.
The theists seem far too certain that there is a god; atheists tend too come across as far too comfortable in their knowledge that there isn’t. But sometimes I wonder if most agnostics aren’t a little too certain about their uncertainty.
Here I mean mostly they get to the point of “I’m not sure if god/gods/witchcraft is real or not”, and then they leave it at that.
My thought is that a sense of uncertainty should push one to question and pursue further understanding, not lull one into apathy of thought or deed. (Yet nor do I think one should worry that the search may be long or fruitless; in many ways I see the questioning to be the most important part).
None of us really know how the spiritual parts of the universe really work, what they look like, or if they exist. Yet most people seem happy to make their minds up one way or another, based mostly on hearsay.
The beauty of Unknowing
But I don’t think that this awareness of uncertainty should just be something we know in our minds, but something that can be fully experienced as well in the heart and body.
I do not think that this unknowing is bad or inhibiting- though for many it may at first be highly uncomfortable, or even painful to break the bindings of “certainty”.
And maybe this uncertainty will always be a slightly uncomfortable and unstable place to stand, but hopefully this will keep us on our toes and keep us curious.
It can be frustrating not quite knowing, yet it can also be a little exciting.
The unknown now becomes a thing of great importance, and in some ways, I feel that this can place the sense of wonder back into many areas of our lives, both secular and religious.
We can indeed learn to love the abstract beauty of that which is unknown.
Orthodoxy Or Orthopraxy?
What might this mean for people in a practical sense, in their spiritual life and practice?
That will probably differ from person to person. But for me it has meant a huge shift in the way I approach and think about my practice- though my actual practice has changed very little.
Orthopraxy is something that I have come to lean on quite heavily.
Orthopraxy (correct behaviour) vs. Orthodoxy (correct belief)
Thus we can see that from the stance of orthopraxy it is the practice that is important, not the belief.
And so I maintain a strong practice because I feel it helps me and adds to my life, while having little in the way of strong beliefs.
I’ve traveled from literalist pagan, to nearly atheist, to something of an atheist humanistic pagan, to a rather more agnostic humanistic pagan.
As such I sort of have a dual view of my practice: from the stance of a literalist, and from the stance of a spiritual atheist, and I am finding these two worldviews sit side by side much more harmoniously than I would have ever imagined before reaching the point I am at today.
A very beautiful and beautifully written post, somewhat related, can be found here.
Do any elements of uncertainty or unknowing inform your spiritual practice? And how important is uncertainty/unknowing in your worldview?
How do these things express themselves in your practice or philosophy?