Many people claim to be spiritual rather than religious. They accept that a higher power exists and works in their lives but they don’t go to Church or connect themselves with a particular religion or religious denomination. This has become a standard refrain of modern people in the West as established institutions, ideologies and traditional values decline in relevance. It sounds like a nice contrast from atheism or pure materialistic beliefs.
The problem with this idea is that it leaves out, for many people using the term, the fact that not all spiritual forces are benevolent. Spirit can be both positive and negative just as human desire can be both positive and negative. Without a religious framework or model to inform the numinous experience, it is difficult to assess the quality or relevance of the experience. When people suggest that rather than being religious, they are spiritual or somehow connected to spiritual “presence”, they forget that there is a potential for negative spirituality. Demons, it should be remembered, are also spiritual beings, no less than angels. So-called spiritual people, without a guiding principle to work with, could be embracing demonic influences without even knowing it.
But wait – are demons real?
Why shouldn’t they be? There are positive and negative forces everywhere. It is, certainly, hard to argue that negative forces are not at work in the world. And it is hard to argue that many people who commit negative actions believe they are doing good work. Hitler and his closest advisers all considered themselves spiritual and thought they were doing God’s will. Leaders of murderous cults throughout history believed they were acting on the side of angels. Members of the Islamic State believe they are following the will of God and not just being demented psychopaths (although to be fair they consider themselves “religious” rather than “Spiritual”). Just as some consider positive energy to be angelic in nature, negative energy can be seen as demonic. The reason Christians talk about a HOLY SPIRIT is because many other spirits exist and many of them seek to influence people.
This isn’t meant to dissuade you from following a spiritual path rather than adhering to some religious teachings – there are many harmful religions and religious practices and there are many benefits to a personal, spiritual or mystical practice. It is important, however, to be aware of just what might be involved in connecting to an uninformed spiritual path.
You might ask, why would anyone want to follow a negative path rather than a positive one? It’s often not a conscious choice. Some people simply want to be told what to do – or they want to be told that they have power: negative spirits will do this for them. Many people simply want to feel inspired – a word that means “filled with spirit” – and aren’t fully cognisant or concerned as to the source of that inspiration or the feeling of empowerment some influential, EXTERNAL source can provide. Although being inspired, in itself, is not a bad thing to desire, a positive sourced path requires work and study – a negative path is usually easy to follow and offers quick rewards. Humans, unfortunately and particularly in our current secular, materialistic society, tend to seek a path of least resistance. Negative, or demonic, forces offer just such an easy path. When you make a choice to adopt a spiritual life, be sure to check what your sense of SPIRIT is encouraging you to do.
How do you know if your spirituality is positive rather than negative? Negative spirits proclaim that reality is completely subjective, nothing is true and all things are permissible. There is no true or correct path and everyone’s judgement is equal. This might sound pleasing to people, but what is pleasing to humans isn’t necessarily the best thing for them. “There is a way that seems right to a person, but in the end it leads to destruction.” (Proverbs 14:12)
The Master Jesus said this:
“Enter through the narrow gate. The gate that leads to destruction is wide and broad and many enter through it. But the gate that leads to life is small and narrow, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)
Ultimately, each of us must decide for ourselves what spiritual path to follow – we must understand, however, that different paths do exist and choose our own path wisely. We must be careful not to be led by social conventions or influenced by some popular celebrity. Being famous or materially rich is no proof of spiritual attainment – Hollywood and the whole entertainment industry has long been described as “Babylon” and with good reason – the celebrity cesspool is vast and foul.
“Beware of false prophets [spiritual teachers]. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them…Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. (Matthew 7:15-18)
How can you decide? You must learn to distinguish between positive and negative influences. To do that you first have to wake up. Not in the popular sense of being “woke” – whatever that means – but in the sense of actual Enlightenment – becoming full of Light. Wake yourself up anyway you can – there are lots of ways available to the modern seeker and what works for one person will not necessarily work for another. Prayer, meditation, deep study, community service – a spiritual practice is just that – a PRACTICE – something you do regularly and with the intent of getting better at it. Let your natural preference or style of learning guide you. Sitting for hours in the yoga lotus position works for some people but you might prefer rigorous, intellectual study or self-less volunteer service. Find something that suits you and works for you. Once you wake yourself up, you can then start to wake up everyone else. You need your eyes and “inner eye” open before you can make good choices and the choice isn’t just between religion and spirituality, it’s also between leading a positive or negative life. Be careful and strive for excellence.