When we proceed into a time of spiritual confusion there are different responses. Here’s a few:
Reversion: Because the intellectual confusion is so foreign and overwhelming to us, we revert back to our previous posture. The new conditions actually feel wrong to us. Even heretical. The strangeness is so intimidating that we assume we are going against our consciences and that we would be sinful to persist in that direction. All kinds of people and scriptures come pouring in warning us, threatening us and condemning us. We revert back to preserve our sanity, our sense of security, and our social network. Some forget about ever going in that direction again. Some always wonder if they did the right thing by reverting back.
Aversion: Again, the intellectual confusion is so profound that it stupefies and invokes a kind of terror, from mild to monstrous. But, adversely, reversion is so repulsive that we wouldn’t even consider it. It would be a shameful betrayal of ourselves. But the way ahead is as dark as a starless night. In fact, it is so dark that it is like a wall. There appears to be no way ahead. So what we do is abandon the project altogether. We leave the faith, forsake belief, change or lose our religion, or get diverted into another philosophical paradigm or religion or spirituality. In some cases this is not an unhealthy move. But sometimes it’s not the best.
Conversion: The intensity of the intellectual confusion doesn’t subside. The darkness deepens the further we proceed. But something compels us forward. We will not settle for more of the same… just an amplification or modification of where we’ve been. That is just as objectionable. We are like alchemists who refuse to give up on the belief that we can experience true conversion… deep, lasting and transformative change. We are somehow certain, if we can just hang on long enough, that pushing through will change everything, and that we will pass from knowledge to wisdom.
I’ve tried all of these. Many times. We don’t encounter epic confusion just once, but many times. As many times as we are willing to be transformed.