“Doubt is the HIV of the inner planes.”
A skeptical eye is important on the spiritual path. You’d never want to adopt wholesale what someone says about meditation and mindfulness without trying it out for yourself. How do you know it’s true without direct personal experience to validate and verify?
There’s a difference, however, between a healthy skepticism and the addiction of doubt.
When a student spends too much time in the throes of mental crises, thrashing about with uncertainty about the path that they’re following and constantly questioning whether it’s right or it’s worth it, then one of two things is going on:
1. Either they haven’t actually committed to the path, thus they’re not benefiting from being anchored in the practices.
2. Or, they’re scared. They realize the change they are facing and they’re resisting.
Or, this doubting can arise if you’ve let your practices lapse or when you’re inconsistent in attending your group’s meetings; then Maya creeps in and pushes out the light, and you forget. It’s easy to fix this type of doubting: RUN (don’t walk) back to your practice. Get your butt in front of your teacher and you’ll hit the reset button.
If the fear or the lack of commitment are what’s fueling your doubts, there’s nothing wrong with that either — it takes awhile for some people to make the decision to follow the path, and fear is a natural reaction to the immensity that a true spiritual practice embodies.The problem comes in when you allow yourself to indulge in constant mental gyrations that go back and forth over the same territory without coming up with a resolution. That’s an addiction. It’s counter-productive.
If you’re really interested in change, if you’re sick and tired of the same-ol’ same-ol’, then you’ll get ahold of yourself and not tolerate this type of inner behavior. It’s like picking at a scab; it’ll never heal if you keep worrying it.
And, anyone who is addicted to doubt will recognize the truth that it’s not the things you’re doubting that are the real issue; your problem is that you’re invested in the activity of doubting. The frenetic mental energy, the getting-all-riled-up sensation, that’s what you’re so attached to, but that energy is like an acid in the brain, it eats away all the healthy stuff and just leaves a hollow acrid smoke behind. There’s no fulfillment there.
A true spiritual path is about transformation, and magic, and miracles. All of these things are real, and all must be faced up to and accepted in order to evolve to the next stage (yes you have to learn how to accept the magic!). It’s OK if you don’t know how to do that yet; all you have to do is want it. Indulging in endless doubts is simply a manifestation of unwillingness. It’s a mental habit borne from the ego. Without doubt, you have knowing. If you’re not ready for that yet, no problem, just get a handle on the self-destructive doubting by cutting it off at the knees.
You don’t have to know the answers to everything that you’re questioning and scared about; you just have to stop allowing the fear cycle to dominate. Don’t tolerate this self-destructive behavior. Catch yourself when you’re doing it, and slam the door on it.
“Faith grows by not doubting.”
Wrestle those silly doubts down and get them under control. Then watch what arises in their place.