Spiritual ways of knowing are not primarily about the canons and creeds that make up the organized body of religious practice. Those documents, while inspiring and instructional, tend to be more intellectual because they use analysis and generalization. Visible at their ancient and original cores, however, are the root experiences of spiritual knowing that all humans experience from time to time: intuition, revelation, awe, reverence, fear, and wonder. This kind of knowing is often tied to a person’s sense of having encountered something much larger than the self, yet something intimately related — even something experienced as the Whole of which the self is a part. The great spiritual texts of the world’s religions record such experiences of their authors, and evoke them in readers.
Spiritual ways of knowing are keyed to the great paradoxes humans face: the complementarity of light and darkness, illness and health, life and death. That the best of our existence is interlaced with perilous and tragic events challenges any sentient being, and it is often in spirituality that we find expression of the mysterious, unspeakable power that lies in embracing exactly that which most terrifies us. Says Sam Keen in “Fire in the Belly” (1992), “The authentic religious quest has always been the quest to absorb one’s own shadow, to realize that we ourselves are the projectors of evil. To be a joyful person, know your depression. To be a good person, know your evil.”
To explore an example of Spiritual Ways of Knowing first-hand, visit Spiritual Ways of Learning about Tornadoes.
You may use the table below to explore the directions, their associated ways of knowing and learning, and an example of each type of learning as applied to understanding tornadoes.