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First Steps on the Path, Part One

Posted September 24, 2017


A couple of weeks ago, I asked you to tell me how you got started on your spiritual path.

Wow, what a response!

Your stories are so great, and I want to share so many of them, that I'm breaking this blog into two parts, this week and next.

For most of you who emailed me, your current spiritual understanding is the result of a lifelong journey, and you're definitely not at the end of it. But the triggering events fell into just a few categories:

• Questions that started in childhood
• Something you read, heard or saw
• Life experiences
• Mystical experiences

A typical life path sounded a lot like this one from a woman who grew up in Catholic church and school:

“From the time I was quite young, I always thought there was some other way. I used to cut quotes and little sayings out of my mother's magazines and keep them on my dresser to read over and over.

“I was 22 years old when I watched an Oprah show featuring Marianne Williamson. I was blown away! I had no idea what she was talking about, but I knew I loved it. The first book I read was A Return to Love . . . A love affair with all things spiritual was born.

“I have spent 30 years exploring it all—A Course in Miracles, Wayne Dyer, Cheryl Richardson, Ernest Holmes, Science of Mind, yoga, meditation, David Ji, affirmations, Buddhism, Unity, mantras, Deepak Chopra, crystals, prayer, tai chi, singing bowls. You name it, I've explored it! I admire people who are passionate about one way, but I just love it all!”

She's currently enthralled with Tarot cards. And still goes to Catholic mass.

Isn't wonderful to know there are many paths to the same destination?


So many of us had doubts about what we were told as children, and rightfully so.

One woman said she was taught she had to be saved by Jesus Christ or she would go to hell. But she also was taught that God is pure love.

“Therefore, much of what they said didn't make rational sense to me. Things like: John Kennedy shouldn't be president because he was Catholic (not the one true religion!); and it was okay for whites to close the doors of their churches to blacks in the South; and Mormons, who were my friends in large numbers in Arizona, were totally wacko and off base (again, not the one true religion).

“I couldn't believe that a limitless, loving God would condemn anyone to a place that burned them for eternity, just because they believed something different than I did. And especially those people who had never even heard of Jesus. That just couldn't be.”

Did anyone else have those concerns as a child? Show of hands?

Not all of our early questions were met with understanding.

“As a fundamentalist child in an independent Presbyterian church in Virginia, I had a few doubts about the inerrancy of scripture,” wrote another woman. “I was due to be accepted as an adult member of the church, so I was about 12 years old. In my interview with the pastor, I expressed my doubts. He said (and it impressed me so that I can quote), ‘If you doubt this, you cannot be one of us.'

“I was a kid! He was telling me that I would be excluded from all my buddies, from my main community. So I went underground, never asked a ‘telling' question again. In my heart, I saw myself as a fake. But I tried to believe.”

Childhood spirituality wasn't all bad, however.

Another writer said her ninth-grade Sunday school teacher took the kids every Sunday to experience a different religion—Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish.

“That was probably the biggest eye opener, that we all were not the same in beliefs, but all had the same goal,” she said.


For many of us, what happened next was media. A book, magazine, movie, even shortwave radio.

The Secret, of course.
Louise Hay's movie, You Can Heal Your Life
Daily Word
Meet It with Faith by Martha Smock, found on a dollar table

And it seems Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch launched a thousand spiritual paths.

One woman said she read it at her son's soccer practice, unable to put it down.

“It wasn't motivated by some event or drama in my life that needed reconciliation,” she said in an email. “Just another ordinary night as a mother raising two kids and spending a lot of time in the car.”

But even picking up a spiritual book was a huge step for some.

One woman, who thought she had abandoned her fundamentalist ideas about God and religion, was walking through a bookstore in the mid-80s and felt herself drawn to the New Age section. Those old fearful teachings kicked in immediately.

“I knew if I even went near it, God would literally strike me dead,” she wrote, not really kidding. “But I ventured toward it anyway, quickly glanced at some books, and walked on by, looking behind me for God's lightning bolt.

“I had noticed some books by Shirley MacLaine, and since I had returned from a stint of pursuing an acting career in L.A. a few years earlier, they piqued my interest. I quickly picked up a book, read the back, and put it down as if my life depended on it. Walked around some more, but kept going back.

“I finally purchased one of her books and ran out the door looking over my shoulder for the bolt of lightning. I've since read everything she has written.”

Shirley MacLaine's message turned out to be: Keep an open mind in all things.

More cool stories next week.


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