The Role of Doubt in Spiritual Development
Doubt has its role both in the mundane and spiritual life. Regardless of its source, it is there to steer us away from a danger, to make us question, or to create an opportunity so that we can learn more about ourselves. In the spiritual work, many students are often assailed by doubt, making them question if the spiritual path is the right for them, and if the esoteric topics one learns are true. As today’s upbringing and education often have very little to do with discovering one’s true spiritual potential and purpose in life, it is of no surprise that a student, later on in life, would have doubts about their spiritual choices. However, it is not like this all over the world; some cultures still nurture spirituality, though the age of reason has made its strong imprint in life of almost everyone.
The doubts emerge when something is not as we learned it to be, or when something conflicts with logic that we established, or with common sense. As we develop mentally, emotionally and spiritually, we may start to experience our doubts differently, perhaps becoming more inquisitive towards not only what the doubt doubts, but towards the doubt itself.
In the book The Flight of the Feathered Serpent, appears the following poem of Judas Iscariot:
“Do not doubt the doubt, and doubt.
But doubt with faith, and even doubt of the faith.
For isn’t the doubt inertia on the slope of faith towards darkness,
and strength in the impulse to reach comprehension?
Don’t doubt, and yet doubt of everything you believe is true
because the doubt is also true, in itself and for itself.
Doubting of the doubt, and doubting with faith and of the faith,
you will see the illusion of the doubt and faith collapse at your feet…
and rising majestically before your eyes the doubt made Truth.”
~ The Flight of the Feathered Serpent
The poem indicates that there are two types of doubts – a conscious doubt produced by the essence, and unconscious one that stems from the egos. In the mundane life, doubt often has its purpose to steer us away from trouble and towards the right path, and our understanding of it may deepen as we evolve. However, once we are on the Path to awakening, our doubts can take on a very different role. When doubts assail us, they tend to be accompanied by strong egos, powerfully charged egoic emotions and thoughts that always look for an opportunity to sabotage our inner work, knowing that that’s the only way to save themselves from a definite dissolution. In such situations, the doubts itself are the egos camouflaged, tearing a poor aspirant apart with the conflict that they’ve created in his mind. It is only when the doubt dissolves that the “…doubt made Truth”.
If we live in the state of detachment and non-identification with what is going on within us and outside us, we are in the best position to tackle any kind of doubts most appropriately. The esoteric teachings may bring about doubt as they deal with things that are not only of this plane of existence, which is why a practical spirituality is important to complement such teachings. Without this practical aspect, esotericism remains on an intellectual level, and that doesn’t take us far. With practical spirituality, we gain experience, and therefore knowledge and wisdom. The more experience and comprehension we have, the more the doubts bounce off of us like an insubstantial matter that dissolves when exposed to the light of Truth.
In his book The Revolution of the Dialectic, Samael Aun Weor has given an important teaching as to what to do when a doubt emerges during our meditation:
“During meditation, we should converse with the mind. If a doubt crosses the mind, we should dissect the doubt. When a doubt has been properly studied, when it has been dissected, it does not leave any trace whatsoever in the memory, it disappears. But when a doubt persists, when we want to incessantly combat it, then a conflict is formed. Every doubt is an obstacle for meditation. But it is not by rejecting doubts that we are going to eliminate them, rather it is by dissecting them to see what they hide, that is real.
“Any doubt which persists in the mind becomes an impediment for meditation. Therefore, we need to analyze, tear to pieces reduce the doubt to dust, not by fighting it, but by opening it up with the scalpel of self-criticism, by carrying out a rigorous, implacable dissection on it. It is only in this manner that we will come to discover what was important in the doubt, what was real and what was unreal in the doubt.
“Therefore, doubts sometimes serve to clarify concepts. When one eliminates a doubt through rigorous analysis, when one dissects it, one discover a truth; from such truth something more profound comes, more knowledge, more wisdom.”
~ Samael Aun Weor
Fighting a doubt, whether in meditation or outside it, only stirs up the problem and creates a larger inner conflict. The best is to comprehend what it is about. We can do this by being detached from it and clear when looking at it, allowing for the consciousness to be fully there and to use its ability of comprehension when its light is directed upon whatever it is that we want more information of. This shining of the light of consciousness dissects the doubt, so that the latter opens up before us and we see its content – its agenda, its fears, its viewpoints… We then hold the doubt in the palm of our hand, seeing it dissolve into a number of egos that have now been stripped away of their camouflage.
That truth that Samael mentioned in the last paragraph is related to the essence that is liberated when the egoic doubt is dissolved, but it can also relate to the liberation of other types of high energy that are entrapped by the knot of our complex ego structure. Each time that structure is understood a little more, such energy is loosened, and we see more deeply into our nature. We see what enslaves us and what sets us free…
HDP, September 2021.