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In 1968, I told my catechism teacher that I didn't believe in original sin. I just couldn't (and still don't) understand how innocent babies could be born sinful because of something Adam and Eve did light years ago. The teacher called in the priest who, rather than berating me, told me to keep thinking. This defining moment made me a free thinker. The fact that my heretical thoughts were sanctioned by a forward-thinking emissary of the Catholic Church makes me smile to this very day.
In 1970, my mother took my sister, my brothers and me out of school to attend a peace rally in Pittsburgh. She told us that we should never be afraid to stand up for what was right -- and in her opinion American participation in a civil war in Southeast Asia that was taking countless lives was not right.
One year later, a few months after I turned 11, my father and I marched on Washington, DC for peace in Vietnam. He told me to always question authority. Long after the Vietnam War was over, my dad kept trying to walk his talk by letting me question him. He didn't always handle it well, but he sure as hell earned an "A" for effort.
Unconventional Thinking: Question Everything
Thanks to my parents' example, my unconventional thinking and my speaking out when I disagreed with the ideology of the moment continued past elementary school. As a senior in high school, I wrote an English paper for a conservative teacher entitled, "In Defense of Homosexuality." Despite the fact that he disagreed with my position, my teacher gave me an "A" because he said I made some good arguments and he loved my spunk. Working for a traditional Wall Street law firm, I consistently questioned the status quo. Rather than getting fired, I was promoted over and over again because thinking outside the box led to creative solutions.
In 1994, all this questioning led me to Concept-Therapy* where I began to take inquiry to a whole new level. No longer was I content to question the outside world, instead I turned my attention inward and began to question my deeply held beliefs about who I am and about the nature of reality.
An infinite and beautiful world opened up for me and in 1999, I began to collaborate with Karen Weissman - a friend from Concept-Therapy - on THE SPIRITUAL CHICKS QUESTION EVERYTHING: Learn to Risk, Release and Soar. Not surprisingly, we came to the conclusion that the most direct path to the Truth was to question everything, condemn nothing, and align ourselves with what we want.
*Concept-Therapy is a metaphysically-oriented course of study that stresses the underlying unity between science and spirituality and offers practical solutions to real life problems. For more information check out www.concept-therapy.org
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Being a Free-Thinker
I'm a rebel, not a sheep. And thankfully I've always been rewarded for being a free thinker. I now know that's because I'm a natural empathizer, not a condemner, and have always aligned myself with the unifying principle, the glue that holds things together, the reality beyond the illusion, and not the ephemeral party line of the moment. This is not self-aggrandizement. I'm no Gandhi. I yell at my daughter way too much, boss my husband around, act selfishly, make bad decisions, have a hard time saying no, like to spend money, eat too much fat, drink wine, etc.
As a matter of fact it's my flaws that make me interesting, my shortcomings that will give my daughter something to question when she gets a bit older, my inconsistencies that will provide interesting material for my eulogy. But my life experience to date has taught me one thing. In the game of life, human perfection is not required, in fact it's not even possible, but a questioning soul, an open heart and a reverence for life will give you access to the big picture and inspire you to keep on going when things get tough.
And things are getting tough. Our country that has always prided itself on our constitutional right to free speech has tried to squelch domestic dissent in the name of patriotism. And on the global front, our government has reduced the diverse worldwide community into two groups -- those who agree with us and those who don't -- as if there aren't any other possible points of view.
Peace Is Not Irrelevant
Peace is not irrelevant. And as any one on the spiritual path knows, it's the only goal worth pursuing. The fact that it's so hard to achieve on both the global and personal levels does not diminish its ultimate spiritual power and value. And despite the current doublespeak, peace cannot be achieved through killing. It can only be achieved through questioning, understanding and persistence. There is one God and this almighty power doesn't take sides, no matter what anyone thinks.
In college, I traveled to Russia before the fall of communism and saw firsthand how drab and scary a police state really is. We're not there yet, but without the right to question or disagree, we'll never come up with creative solutions to our longstanding problems.
I for one do not yearn for order, control and security at the expense of my right to ask why. It's no longer the Republicans versus the Democrats or the haves versus the have nots. It's the questioners versus the fear mongers, the seekers versus those who seem to know everything.
Let's wake up before it's too late. Question everything, condemn nothing and align yourself with what you want. That's spiritual activism.
©2004/Tami Coyne/All rights reserved
Book by this Author
The Spiritual Chicks Question Everything
by Tami Coyne and Karen Weissman.
The Spiritual Chicks Question Everything is about overthrowing whatever holds us back from living the lives we want to live. Myths about how to be spiritual abound, and most of us have bought into at least a few of them, even if we're not aware of it. Tami Coyne and Karen Weissman help strip away the woowoo, the nono's, and the silly rules. With an outrageous and edgy look at the challenges they face in their own lives, the Spiritual Chicks share a no-holds-barred quest to know, feel, and apply universal goodness and authenticity to life.
Short lessons, posed as questions and juxtaposed against relevant passages from a surprising range of sources (The Terminator, the Bible, Yogi Berra, the Peace Pilgrim, Clarence Darrow, Mahatma Gandhi pop culture, sacred scriptures from a variety of traditions, thinkers from around the world and throughout history).
Info/Order the book. Also available as a Kindle edition.
About the Author
Tami Coyne is an ordained interfaith minister and spiritually-oriented career and life coach. She is the co-author of The Spiritual Chicks Question Everything: Learn to Risk, Release and Soar and author of Your Life's Work: A Guide to Creating a Spiritual and Successful Work Life. She co-hosts the popular website www.SpiritualChicks.com.
Visit her website at TamiCoyne.com/