1. Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Featured Seeking a spiritual mentor

Discussion in 'Seekers Circle' started by Karolina, Jan 31, 2020.

  1. Karolina

    Karolina Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2019
    Messages:
    136
    Ratings:
    +95
    Religion:
    Catholic Seeker
    So... I am a recovering Catholic. Lifetime seeker. Several times I've seriously considered converting to one religion or another, ultimately always returning to the faith tradition of my upbringing. Last year, totally unexpectedly, I woke up one day and started to doubt again. I started to pray for God to teach me how to follow God without denominational affiliation. I was about to start pursuing formal membership in the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) when I realized I would just be changing my affiliation, and not following God directly.

    I need guidance. I've had spiritual directors in the past, but they've either been Catholic or once, a Quaker. I need someone who appreciates my need for the spiritual life without trying to convince me to follow their preferred path.

    I am not certain what role Jesus ought to play in my spirituality. What I have read about Jesus makes me want to follow his teachings.... for the most part. But first, I no longer believe that what we know about him is as reliable as I once thought. Second, as long as I identified as a Christian or Jesus-follower, He could do no wrong. But now I have to wonder about his teaching on divorce. I am happily married, but I've recently met several people going through this difficult transition, and I was concerned to find that the Bible clearly states, at least the Christian Scriptures, that Jesus was against divorce "except if the marriage is unlawful". What about abuse? Neglect? How about when one of the spouses fails to fulfill the role of spouse any longer? Yes, for better or for worse, but I feel our society has turned marriage into an idol. But I digress... this post is not about marriage or divorce. Rather, this is an example of a teaching of Jesus that I simply cannot rectify. There are a few other concerns, but they're beside the point here.

    I think I am most comfortable with free thinking. I do not believe in revelations to prophets for the sake of humanity. I believe in personal revelation to individuals, relevant only to them. I believe in universal revelation as evident in nature. I believe in natural laws/first principles and that God's intentions for humanity's behavior are indeed "written on our hearts". I am leaning towards reincarnation as a valid afterlife possibility. I do not believe God punishes people for their beliefs or lack of beliefs. I believe God is just and our actions have consequences (karma?) one way or another. I'm ok not knowing the details. I'm also ok not knowing the details of Who God is - how can anyone claim to even come close? I'm not sure if God is "personal" in the sense of being an individual personality. Rather, I think descriptions like "ultimate Mind/Source/Reality" are more true than any attempts at specificity.

    I no longer believe in the Devil, as my limited time studying Judaism showed me how the Christian concept of Satan creates a dual-god system of "a good god vs a bad god", borrowed from Zoroastrainism. I believe we are an extension of God in some way ("made in God's image"), so when bad things happen to good people, it's because someone was sleeping on the job. Or many someones. They could've been far removed both in space and time, but we are all interconnected, and so we cannot "blame God" - we can only blame ourselves collectively.

    I'll be honest, I really like the theology of Judaism as was explained to me in the Intro to Judaism class I took. However, I don't believe in the prophets' revelations, and I don't believe any group of people is any more chosen than another. So I can neither convert nor consider myself a Noahide. I also really appreciate the social justice focus of the Quakers, but I find it very troublesome to be surrounded by almost entirely white people, as my family is multi-cultural/ethnic/lingual and I would not be able to feel at home without some ethnic diversity.

    I am currently continuing on with attendance at Catholic mass periodically, but no longer out of "Catholic guilt" regarding "Sunday obligation" (Catholics are committing as sin if they don't show up to Mass every Sunday without good cause.). I go because I need to keep going somewhere, and that's where I'm most familiar. But I also struggle to figure out how to present both Catholicism and God in general to my kids.

    I was smitten by a very charismatic and - dare I say holy? - priest whose faith and demeanor helped me out of a post-partum and existential depression and back into faith. But within a month of his leaving our church, I started to have doubts again. Now I feel as though I was in a cult-like environment, allowing my emotions to substitute for genuine faith. There was an annual women's retreat through this church that I went to every year for about four years, which also contributed to this in-group feeling. And there was a very emotionally charged praise and worship service monthly that, once the charismatic priest left, deteriorated and I stopped going.

    I mention those details because I think they contribute to my assessment that I was in a cult-like environment. That's not to say that I think Catholic church is a cult. Not any more than any other organized religion, anyway. I just feel very indoctrinated. I feel as though my emotions were highly taken advantage of as well-meaning people led me "back to Christ".

    I am experiencing an inner conflict between a sense of freedom (to think) and a grieving for the belonging that, while it clearly was transient and conditional, was still nice while it lasted.

    I should finally mention that I am in recovery for codependence, which means I am learning to think for myself, trust myself, stop depending on external validation and approval, and quit trying to please everyone. I have a hard time with organized religion because of the above factors. I think it's got to be all or nothing for me, meaning I'm either going with organized religion and staying codependent to it, or I'm going rouge and being a free-thinker and continuing on my path of recovery.

    Anyway, to anyone who actually read all of this, thank you for your interest. What led me to post this right now, by the way, was that I was going through some old papers and found several worship songs from prior retreats that I had loved listening to, and this sparked that grief I mentioned about missing it all, even if I think it was a rouse. They don't say ignorance is bliss for nothing. If anyone is on a remotely similar journey as me and would be interested in sharing experiences and ideas, or if you've been there done that and have some insights to share, I welcome both.

    Thank you for letting me share.
     
    • Friendly Friendly x 6
    • Like Like x 3
  2. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2014
    Messages:
    51,157
    Ratings:
    +21,877
    Religion:
    Love
    The title that noted you are seeking for a spiritual mentor is in conflict with you wrote including this:

    I can only ask if you deeply within yourself and ask yourself what is your deepest need what answer comes. And if you ask yourself also in deep reflection, what advice you would give yourself what words come to mind?
     
    • Like Like x 3
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  3. Milton Platt

    Milton Platt Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2015
    Messages:
    8,053
    Ratings:
    +3,178
    Religion:
    Atheist

    In all things, use critical thinking skills, or develop them. Demand facts which are demonstrable, falsifiable, verifiable, repeatable.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  4. Deeje

    Deeje Avid Bible Student
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2009
    Messages:
    12,463
    Ratings:
    +6,767
    Religion:
    Christian JW
    @Karolina...thank you for sharing....I find a lot of similarity with your doubts and feelings as I had many years ago myself.
    I was raised in the Anglican Church but struggled with knowing what the Bible said and not seeing it practiced in my church. I tried a few different denominational churches but found them to be basically all the same under different banners. What was the point of that?

    My search ended when I started studying the Bible in earnest for the first time in my life. I knew a few things about the Bible's teachings, but never was able to put the pieces of the jig saw together. It took me two years to come to my decision after carefully checking out everything that bothered me.

    If you'd like to explore the Bible's teachings, in isolation from religion, it is a very good indicator of which direction is right for you.
    In John 6:44 and 65, it makes it clear that no one can come to God without an invitation. I believe that God invites us to get to know him through the pages of his word, so mashed up by the churches that confusion is the only thing that results. Put God to the test and ask your questions but allow only the Bible to provide the answers. You'll be amazed at what you find in there that you never knew.

    Feel free to PM me with any questions.
     
    • Friendly Friendly x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2009
    Messages:
    46,796
    Ratings:
    +4,362
    we may be kindred spirit

    stick around
     
    • Friendly Friendly x 2
  6. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2014
    Messages:
    9,857
    Ratings:
    +8,333
    Religion:
    Baha'i
    Hi @Karolina ,

    It sounds like an exciting but extremely challenging journey. I grew up Christian (Presbyterian) and went through a period of about five years of searching before I became a Baha’i nearly 30 years ago. I mention that, not because I believe the outcome for you should be the Baha’i Faith but because the outcome wasn’t what I expected it would be. I naturally assumed my spiritual journey would culminate in being within the bounds of Christendom not outside it.

    So in the first instance its about being open to God leading you in a direction that may or may not be what you expect. That may require some courage to move outside your comfort zone.

    Second principle is to live in accordance with universally recognised values. For example being truthful, kind, compassionate and courteous.

    Third, have a spiritual practice. As I was searching that involved daily prayer, meditation and reflection.

    Of the list of beliefs you list we will share the majority but differ on some. However living a good life with a daily spiritual practice and being open are probably more important than some of these details.

    Thanks for sharing and hope you’re good with my reflections.
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  7. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2017
    Messages:
    16,088
    Ratings:
    +3,925
    Religion:
    Baha'i
    @ Karolina

    Like @ adrian009 I am a member of the Baha'i Faith, but unlike him, I was not raised as a Christian. My mother had been raised Greek Orthodox and my father Anglican, but both of them dropped out of the Church in adulthood.

    What was it about Catholicism that made you want to drop out?

    I was wondering what it is that you do not like about the idea of Prophets (Messengers of God)? Do you believe that God can communicate directly to ordinary people? Have you ever had that experience?

    I consider myself a free thinker even though I belong to an organized religion. Moreover, I am not a participant in the Baha'i community right now and have not been for many, many years. I talk to Baha'is on forums and in e-mails but the only Baha'i I see in person these days is my husband. It is not considered a sin to not attend Baha'i activities, as you said about Church. Nobody bothers me and they always send me cards and welcome me back when I do show up on occasion. I am not judged buy anyone.

    Many years ago, I was a member of CODA (Codependents Anonymous) and ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) so I am very familiar with these issues. I have also been through a lot of counseling and I have a MA Psychology degree. I still have certain "psychological issues" but nothing like I used to have. Most of my issues now are related to my life circumstances. Hopefully, I will be able to change those someday soon. I also have "issues" with God since I am not sure He is All-Loving, as I posted on my thread
    Why would an All-Loving God create a world that has so much suffering in it?
     
    #7 Trailblazer, Feb 1, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2020
    • Like Like x 2
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  8. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    30,617
    Ratings:
    +14,606
    Religion:
    Saivite Hindu
    Hello there again ... When you say you're looking for a spiritual mentor, do you also have some specifics in mind?

    In Hinduism the mentor sets by example, offers occasional advice when the student/devotee goes astray, and does a whole lot of listening. It is your life, after all.
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  9. stvdv

    stvdv Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2018
    Messages:
    9,066
    Ratings:
    +4,973
    Religion:
    Sanathana Dharma [The Eternal Religion]
    I think it is more subtle than that.

    A real Spiritual mentor will guide you inside. In India the concept of Guru (Spiritual Teacher) is a very positive one. No conflicts at all.
    First drop all other worldly attachment, then drop Spiritual Master (or like this Buddha wisdom 'in the end you have to kill the Buddha')
    Many people nowadays are eager to "drop the Spiritual Master", maybe because they want to keep their attachments to sex and food

    BUT agreed, be careful in seeking a Spiritual Mentor, He should help you to become independent of Him, and trusting your own conscience IMHO
     
    #9 stvdv, Feb 1, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2020
    • Like Like x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  10. KenS

    KenS Veteran Member
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2013
    Messages:
    10,790
    Ratings:
    +3,126
    Religion:
    Judeo/Christian
    Maybe we can start here?

    I don't think Jesus would support abuse or neglect. Context would be important. Christian Scriptures has grace for divorce and has no problem with remarriage. What God doesn't like is when divorce is used like a evening meal. Finished with one course and bring on the next.

    When Jesus met the woman at the well in John Chapter 4, she had five husbands and the man she was living with wasn't her husband.

    He just offered forgiveness and healing. Never addressed divorce or living together.

    Divorce does have side effects on the two people and in their children, but abuse and neglect have the same consequences.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
    • Useful Useful x 1
  11. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

    Joined:
    May 5, 2007
    Messages:
    23,597
    Ratings:
    +9,899
    Religion:
    Atheist, Advaita (Non-duality), Orthodox Hindu
    If you are that, why seek a mentor, why seek servitude? Be what you are. See my comment "Be your own guru".
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  12. Jim

    Jim Nets of Wonder

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2004
    Messages:
    6,169
    Ratings:
    +2,174
    Religion:
    personal development and community service, with love for nature
    I’ll start with some ideas, then some experiences.

    Ideas:

    - Keep working on some kind of spiritual growth.
    - Practice some kind of community service with some other people, online or offline.
    - Don’t worry about making any decision about Jesus. Just read the stories sometimes, as stories. You might learn new things from them each time, to help with your spiritual growth. Jesus might still be a good mentor for you, even if He isn’t perfect.
    - Maybe you can find different people to be companions for different parts of your story. I’ve been able to do that here with some different parts of my story. Not all of it, but some of it.

    Experiences:

    Most of my life, that’s a few decades now, I’ve wished for someone to share my journey with, and never found that in one person, or in any group of people. Sometimes I think of myself as Lucky Luke, a poor lonesome cowboy a long long way from home. I’m like you, I miss having traveling companions, I ache for it, but not enough to give up my freedom to think, just to have an illusion or an imitation. It does me some good to see someone else who feels the same way.
     
    #12 Jim, Feb 1, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2020
    • Like Like x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  13. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Sākṣī
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2016
    Messages:
    9,866
    Ratings:
    +13,597
    Religion:
    Advaita Vedanta
    *hikes up pants and saunters over* I'll do it.

    Seriously though, my suggestion is to make a list with two columns: things that are important to you from a spiritual perspective and things that that are less important to you.

    That's where the fun begins. Start looking at worldviews and religions that incorporate the aspects of spirituality that are important to you and read everything you can get your hands on about them. This will aid you in what direction you want to take. Perhaps you will find a religion that incorporates everything you want, perhaps not. What's important is to find one that conforms to your views, not the other way around.

    As I see it, only you can determine what worldview is best for you. Choose one or make your own. In the words of @Aupmanyav, be your own guru.
     
    • Friendly Friendly x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Jim

    Jim Nets of Wonder

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2004
    Messages:
    6,169
    Ratings:
    +2,174
    Religion:
    personal development and community service, with love for nature
    Another idea: Imagine a person who has a friendly interest in your journey, and is able to give you the kind of encouragement and support that really helps. Write a message to that imaginary person, about your journey. Then read that message as if it came from someone else, and try to find some friendly and helpful things to say to them.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Sākṣī
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2016
    Messages:
    9,866
    Ratings:
    +13,597
    Religion:
    Advaita Vedanta
    My imaginary friend would just make fun of it and tear it up. He's a jerk like that.

    When I was a kid, I'd ask him to play, and he'd just ignore me and go across the street to play with the other kids.
     
    • Funny Funny x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  16. Jim

    Jim Nets of Wonder

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2004
    Messages:
    6,169
    Ratings:
    +2,174
    Religion:
    personal development and community service, with love for nature
    Another idea: I know that the spouse abuse issue was just an example, but I’ll use it as an example too. Think of Jesus as you’ve seen Him in the gospel stories. Imagine if you could talk to Him personally about that question, what He might say to you. The same with anything else in His teachings that doesn’t look right to you. Just talk to Him in your imagination, tell Him what doesn’t look right to you, and see what He says. Then read one of the gospel stories again. You might see something that you never noticed before. For example, part of the context is who He’s talking to, and how the topic came up.
     
    • Winner Winner x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  17. Karolina

    Karolina Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2019
    Messages:
    136
    Ratings:
    +95
    Religion:
    Catholic Seeker
    Thank you all for the feedback. I'm sorry I'm not savvy enough on my phone to respond to individuals and keep track of where I am. I'll try to address the questions i remember.

    What about Catholicism turned me off finally? The literalist Catholics who insisted Adam and Eve were historical people. Honestly, that was the straw that broke the camel's back.

    What am I looking for in a spiritual mentor? Mostly a listening ear, and suggestions for how to draw closer to God from a variety of sources, without insisting I try this or that. Honestly, just having this thread seems to be a good start.

    What's my issue with prophets? I don't trust them. Anyone can claim they heard from God that everyone should do this or that, but where's the proof that it's not just someone on a power binge? Some people even seek out martyrdom for that sense of being God's mouth piece. And there's so many prophets from various religious traditions that all claim to speak for God .. so why don't they all say the same thing?

    Have I experienced God communicating with me? Yes. God led my husband and me together, and he led us to our children. He's given me lots of insights into the marvels of the universe/multiverse (take your pick) and I've never doubted "His" existence. Whenever I take the time to be still and quiet, I sense God's message. And it's never to tell other people what to do, but rather what I should be doing.

    This wasn't a question per se, but someone mentioned how often people shy away from organized religion bc they don't want to be constrained to live a virtuous life. This is not me. I have high standards of acceptable behavior, for myself and others, and it's actually one of the reasons I can't stand denominational affiliation any longer. People don't practice what they preach. (For a singular example, I find modesty to be important, including in how we dress, and I'm surprised at how lax the dress codes of many self-professed Christians/Catholics is.)

    As for the conflict of my codependence and seeking a mentor, I don't see it at all as problematic. 12 step programs, for instance, thrive in part because there is a sponsor or accountability partner we stay in contact with. We don't look to these people to tell us what to do. A good mentor wouldn't see it as an opportunity to control, anyway.

    Sorry if I didn't answer your question. I'm trying to be real here, though also having technical difficulties.
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Useful Useful x 1
  18. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    30,617
    Ratings:
    +14,606
    Religion:
    Saivite Hindu
    My imaginary friends were cruel as well. One was stupid cruel, and the other was passive aggressive cruel. Since there were 3 of us, I'd chronically get outvoted 2 to 1.
     
    • Funny Funny x 2
  19. Jim

    Jim Nets of Wonder

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2004
    Messages:
    6,169
    Ratings:
    +2,174
    Religion:
    personal development and community service, with love for nature
    I was thinking the same thing. If you would like to be able to do it offline, you might learn to find different people in different places to listen to different parts of your story.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  20. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2014
    Messages:
    51,157
    Ratings:
    +21,877
    Religion:
    Love
    You clarified very wonderfully key points. I have comments on one point you made:

    That is a true and critical issue. You are 100% correct. When I was searching, one of my questions was that question.

    I quite like the following two quotes for different reasons. The first echoes the reality of hypocritical so-called saints and prophets:

    'Tukaram says: "Let their dead conscience be burnt; it is no sin to thrash them!" Tukaram, though he was Love-Incarnate, could not tolerate hypocritical saints.;

    The second can be a helpful frame-of-reference:

    "A true leader does not seek followers, he wants to teach others how to be leaders. He does not want control, he wants the truth. He does not impose his leadership on others, nor does he take away anyone's autonomy. He inspires by love, not coercion. When it comes time to take credit, he makes himself invisible; but he is the first to arrive at the time of need, and he will never shrink away in fear. He is so passionate about your welfare that when you consult him for guidance, it is like coming face to face with yourself for the first time." Rebbe Menachem M Schneerson

    Of course, differentiating "fools gold"
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Winner Winner x 1
Loading...