Spiritual inquiry, by its very nature, implies the absence of authority. We must be willing to doubt every religious figure and text, and we must release preconceived notions and established ideas. To truly inquire, we must be open to anything, recognizing that firm belief only arises when we realize the truth for ourselves. Although people and books can provide guidance and food for thought, it is our own ability to reason that lights our way.
Unfortunately, many of us are afraid to question. We crave security, and challenging our beliefs threatens this security. In same cases, our religion may discourage such challenges (see Can we be open-minded in organized religion?). However, unless we do question, we will never find the security we seek, because if we are not fully prepared to question then we can never fully believe. If we refuse to question something then it is not a belief but a hope – it is something that we are afraid to investigate lest it turns out to be false. When we flee from reality in this way, we are no different from an ostrich burying its head in the sand…wanting to escape from a predator that may or may not be there.
The adage says that ignorance is bliss. However, ignorance is not bliss, and unquestioning faith is not a virtue. We must lift our heads out of the sand and discover for ourselves what is true. Spiritual inquiry will not threaten this truth, because the truth will withstand any test. Spiritual inquiry is only an attack on that which is false. If we claim that we already know the truth, we are fools. Our beliefs will always have error, and inquiry must never stop. Answers will not come from a book or doctrine, at least not without the additional requisite of questioning. Even if we were to have complete faith in another’s words, our understanding would always be imperfect. We need questioning as the litmus to separate true from false. If we seek the Truth, we must question forever.