I have often told my good friend Scott that we are both “seekers.” It seems we have spent most of our lives searching for… well, that’s a hard sentence to complete. In search of Truth? Enlightenment? God?
“Spiritual but not religious” (SBNR) is a phrase that gained popular usage as a way of saying that you self-identify as someone that has a hard time believing that an organized religion is the only or most valuable means of furthering your spiritual growth.
Though I was raised a Catholic, I parted ways in my late teens and explored a number of other religious seeker from Quakers to Buddhists and finally decided that there was no group that filled my needs or answered my questions.
SBNR became very “New Age” and got mixed in with “mind-body-spirit” and holistic movements such as tai chi, reiki, and yoga. They became groups to join and pay for memberships.
I was convinced that spirituality had more to do with the interior life of the individual than that of a group.
There actually was a group known as Seekers (also known as Legatine-Arians). They were an English Protestant dissenting group that emerged around the 1620s, inspired by three Legate brothers.
These Seekers considered all organized churches of their day corrupt. They were patient – waiting for God’s revelation. They were not an organized religious group in any way that would be recognized today. They were not a religious cult. It was an informal structure and localized. To be a “member” didn’t mean you couldn’t belong to another sect. Many Seekers were also Quakers.
But to me that doesn’t sound like “seeking.” To be a seeker, one needs to actively be in search of something, not waiting for revelation to come to you.
Seeking is not limited to religion and spirituality. It is a quest to know more about everything.
If you do an Internet search on just “in search of” books, you will find a very wide ranges of things being sought. From those in search of memory through the science of the mind, to those in search of Schrödinger’s cat in quantum physics.
I think I was a seeker from my earliest teen years. I definitely searched for answers to many questions in books. In novels that weren’t always considered to be about seeking (Siddhartha, Catcher in the Rye, The Grapes of Wrath, Slaughterhouse-Five), I found Seekers. I found books that were about seeking too – The Seven Storey Mountain, Dark Night of the Soul, The Wisdom of the Sufis, Carlos Castenada’s books and others.
Yesterday, I wrote about some other books that have inspired seekers and there are lots of other books that have been spiritually influential to people.
College exposed me to many of these books, but it also brought me to other people who seemed to be on a similar path. It was a time of experimentation. We followed paths that seemed to hold new possibilities, including sexuality and drugs.
After college and as a young husband, I felt like there were other unexplored worlds contained in this one we believe we live in that I needed to first find and then examine.
During this time, In Search of… , a weekly television series appeared. It was devoted to mysterious phenomena. There had been three one-hour TV documentaries (In Search of Ancient Astronauts, In Search of Ancient Mysteries and The Outer Space Connection) that were narrated by by Rod Serling in the voice that had intrigued and frightened me in my younger years from his Twilight Zone.
Certainly, a lot of the 146 episodes of the series (hosted by Mr. Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy) were fringe science at best. Those ancient astronauts came from the book Chariots of the Gods by Erich von Däniken and though I never believed his theory, it certainly made me consider us being alone, or not alone, in the universe. It led me to seek out more about the Mayan culture and other mysteries.
The seeking certainly wasn’t restricted to religion or spirituality. The TV program shifted from UFOs, and the Loch Ness Monster to cults, the disappearances of cities (Atlantis, Roanoke Colony), ships (Mary Celeste) and people (Amelia Earhart, D. B. Cooper). Some of this was quite real, more like history than the paranormal.
I remember the show’s opening disclaimer and was able to find it online. It is pretty close to a seeker creed.
“This series presents information based in part on theory and conjecture. The producer’s purpose is to suggest some possible explanations, but not necessarily the only ones, to the mysteries we will examine.”
In college, I had a girlfriend who was deep into the occult and “strange worlds.” Many of the topics she exposed me to, I found out more about in the years to come. I found several books by Arthur C. Clarke that were not his sci-fi novels, but non-fiction collections about mysterious worlds and strange powers. I suspect that Clarke didn’t write the books, but was attached to the project. only the foreword but
When I started reading aloud the first Harry Potter book to my son, I was amused when we came upon a Seeker. It is a position in the wizarding sport of Quidditch. The one Seeker on a team has to find the Golden Snitch, and until the Seeker catches it, a game does not end. What is your Golden Snitch?
There is a song “The Seeker” written by Peter Townshend and performed by The Who. I hope that as a Seeker all my searching low and high won’t end as the song does – that I won’t get to get what I’m after till the day I die.
I’ve looked under chairs
I’ve looked under tables
I’ve tried to find the key
To fifty million fables
I asked Bobby Dylan
I asked The Beatles
I asked Timothy Leary
But he couldn’t help me either
They call me The Seeker
I’ve been searching low and high
I won’t get to get what I’m after
Till the day I die