The Order of the Pilgrims for a New Age
The spirituality of the Viators
As inside so outside
The Divine Game
How does a hike become a spiritual journey?
How to become a Viator?
What does a Viator do?
What is the Ordo Viatorum's spiritual legitimation?
- Viators are people who have discovered spirituality beyond the established religion.
- Not a single religion, but components of all religious traditions form an expression of the one spiritual truth.
- This is why a universal spirituality is to be striven for, which each individual can find self-responsible.
- Pilgrimage is both a metaphor of life on this earth as well as a concrete spiritual exercise.
- In order for pilgrimage to become a truly spiritual exercise, it must be a departure from the usual lifestyle of our society: Viators must free themselves from all that is between them and the immediate experience (the experience of themselves, the world, the fellow creatures and the divine plane of being).
- Becoming a Viator is not defined by the declaration of accession (because there is no organization), but by the confession for an individual, at the same time universal spirituality, and by a lifestyle that corresponds to the permanent on-the-road journey to oneself and the Divine.
- The outward pilgrimage becomes a spiritual exercise through meditative methods and the inner attitude of "exteriorized mysticism".
Viator means pilgrim. For Christian theology (Hebrews 11: 13, also Thomas Aquinas) our life here is a temporary stay, a hike through the terrestrial realm, which ends again where it has begun: with God. The meaning of human existence expresses itself to the pilgrim in the image of a lifelong journey: We come from another dimension, enter into this earthly form of existence at the time of our generation (not our birth!), go for a while here to end up taking the next train, which carries us back into another world. We are here to develop and master the tasks that our divine training plan provides. You can only figure out what your tasks are, but the real job is not to achieve in this world: wealth, recognition, title and power. The meaning of human life can only be measured by what we take with us when we die. At that moment (for a certain period of time) our real life begins, beyond this restricted being. While we are here on this planet, the goal is to find our own way to unfold the sacred potential within us. This can only be done by following our individual destiny ("Ita tuum propium fac" - go your own way, is the motto of the Viators). It is therefore impossible to follow the requirements of a society that knows nothing of spirituality, to work and care for one's own career, to seek pleasure or even distraction, to satisfy our consumption needs, or to distract us with drugs and television.
Pilgrimage means to be on the road, to be in search of yourself, of your own way of life, of the divine, to be a person who is on the road until the great goal is finally reached ("Restless is my heart, until it rests in You", Augustine). It means unboundness to life on this planet, to be on the way to one self and beyond, to get on the road and not to stand still, to change and continue to evolve to the higher, the ultimate goal, not to the earthly goal that our materialistic culture pretends to be the sole goal. To go this way, we need above all a spiritual bond that we find in us, not in formulas and rituals and commands that are always external to us. The deep inner vision, the deep contact with ourselves, the natural world and the beings and spiritual forces of the metaphysical world for the true pilgrims replace the bargains the mass religions offer. The Via Viatorum (the path of the Viators) is therefore not a religion and not part of a religion. It is a form of free spirituality.
For thousands of years, since the shamanic primal religion of mankind has evolved into priestly and then personal cult forms, spirituality has been conceived as the private practice within a religion. Still, many people speak of a Christian, a Jewish, an Islamic, a Buddhist, or Hindu spirituality. On the other hand, the approach of Via Viatorum takes a different view: religion and spirituality are opposed, spirituality is not a part of religion but reaches beyond every single religion (see the concepts of natural theology, [philo]sophia perennis, the concept of universal religion by Frithjof Schuon or Aldous Huxley). True spirituality cannot be reached without the guidance of the ancient traditions of teachers, realized masters, prophets, god-seekers, and saints, which we know as religions. Without their precious teachings and their intercession and accompaniment, spirituality is not yet possible. But all these teachers come from the most different cultures, followed the most different spiritual currents, the most diverse perspectives on the divine. Why should one of them contain all the truth while all others are wrong? This claim to be the sole legitimate representative, which all religions present in a more or less strong form (in a strong form Catholicism and traditional Islam, in a weak form Hinduism and Buddhism) cannot be a representation of reality beyond the veil of our limited perception of the cosmic depth.
The spirituality of the new age, as the Via Viatorum teaches, is based on the certainty that all religions are expressions of the one TRUTH that can not be perceived directly, but only indirectly by humans, as long as they are completely trapped in their physical existence. The TRUTH is like the glaring white light that is broken by a prism and produces thousandfold colors - the religious teachings that depend on the cultural forms and the personal abilities of the people through which this light must pass as vessels. In this case, however, not only is the white light shining in a variety of pure colors, but also with contamination, since hardly anybody is made of "pure glass", which allows the color to pass unhindered. On the contrary, every person brings with him/her a share of personalities, and even more the second, the third, who receives the doctrine, the epigones of the great masters, the theologians, interpreters and religious scholars. Compared to the first-rate prismatic figures, which may be regarded as religious founders and great saints, but perhaps never in their lives attract attention, the spiritual truth is tarnished and spoiled by subordinate but in the hierarchy of religions highly esteemed persons (does not the great Paul of Tarsus belong among them?).
The founders of religion, too, may be penetrated by the TRUTH to varying degrees. Therefore, also in the single religions one must suppose a different degree of access to TRUTH, but no religion holds the whole TRUTH and no religion contains no TRUTH in itself. A spirituality for the new era of the globalized age, which miraculously opens up all spiritual sources to everyone, can no longer escape the comparison of religions regarding their content of truth (not from an external perspective as comparative religious science does, but to examine religions from their transcendental truth - as William James defined "psychology of religions"). This requires not only the experts having an overview, but certainly not the priest of the individual religions. Each individual is asked to join the project of TRUTH from the individual truths of the religious traditions and to test personally what is true and what is not.
Many that have grown up in the Christian (Jewish, Islamic) faith believe what their theologians say, who, in the face of the New Spirituality, speak of a "potpourri," a stew of beliefs that cannot authentically restore faith. But faith does not exist, even within a religion, church or community. Some consider it blasphemy not to declare the Bible or the Koran as the basis of their own spirituality. But what are these books? The Bible, for example, is (even in the opinion of the majority of theologians today) nothing more than the written experience that people have made with God, declared by others as the obligatory transmission of the self-revelation of God. Regrettably, the search for the experience of the living God has been terminated at the same time with the completion of these sacred writings thousands of years or hundreds of years ago. It is not at all justifiable, however, why the experiences of present people with the divine, the supernatural, and the depth dimension of the cosmos, should not also be "canonical," that is, validly expressing something about the divine. "By their fruits you will know them," said the great saint of Nazareth. Whether a realization of the Divine is TRUE proves itself by its consequences: Does it lead me or you personally to a deeper, more genuine, more fulfilling and for the whole of life more positive knowledge, attitude, lived habit - or not? This is the only crucial question when examining each spiritual doctrine. Take the path and seek the TRUTH in you by using the experiences of others as a guideline, but not as a dogma.
Expressed in a "confession of faith" one might perhaps say: I believe in God, the Father, the Almighty Great Spirit, and to the Mother, the Creator of the Earth and the Universe. I believe in their only sons and daughters, who have recognized and transmitted the spark of the Divine in themselves, and in the reality of their experience. I believe in a world beyond this world, an order beyond the order made by us human beings, a righteousness beyond human righteousness, and my mission to realize this reality within myself. Or: I take refuge in the doctrine of the great masters, the communion of the saints, and the Divine within and outside of me. This latter formulation is reminiscent of the confession of the Buddhists, where the Buddha, his doctrine, and the community of the perfected, are the only refuge from the sufferings of the world.
In the above mentioned confession, appear some assumptions, of which one is very basic, the divinity of the interior and exterior, the correspondence of the depth and the surface dimension of the world, of God-Father (Holy Spirit) and God-Mother (holy world). We are all part of a well-ordered spiritual world, a cosmos (from Greek "order", "ornament"), in which nothing happens by accident, but the inner and the outer, the self of man and the universe give each other answers - even if we are not always aware of it. There are occurrences (or synchronicities, C. G. Jung), in which our own destiny and the event flow of the world are linked. We are only conscious of it when we are in a state of connection between ourselves and the divine or inner and outer, lower and higher self. This condition of connection ("connexio") is attainable through meditation, especially through inner silence and mindfulness. Every human being, no matter what spirituality s/he exercises, is part of this spiritual Unus mundus (the "one world") which is inseparable and indivisible in its interrelationships (such as the Net of Indra), the spiritual ("God-Father") and the material world ("goddess mother"). In sharp contrast to the prevailing materialistic conception of the world today, a Viator assumes that the world can only be explained by sciences on its surface. The spiritual depth of the world lies underneath like a non-physical net (see the theory of the theologian and scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin). It is therefore also impossible to play out the scientific and the spiritual perspective or one spirituality against another, as is the case with the human institutionalization of the spiritual, the religions. For the spiritual depth dimension lies beyond intellect, feeling, or perception of the senses (these can only reflected it imperfectly at times). It lies beyond the divalent logic, as Nicholas of Cusa already knew (God is the coincidentia oppositorum, the coincidence of opposites). And, in contrast to the purely expediency of scientific perspectives, the depth dimension is always ethical, because its principles are always ultimately good, because everything originates from a MEANING (translation, according to Richard Wilhelm, of Chinese = TAO). Therefore, not the nuclear power but love is the most powerful force in the universe. We should therefore do everything as worship, observant of the Divine, with mindfulness, and not from selfishness, from egocentrism, which is the greatest mental poison. We should be humble towards the Divine, which is ever stronger, greater, and wiser than individual beings, but towards the realities of this world, and conceive them as a mere reflection of the real reality behind it.
The seal of the Divine Order bears the inscription : "The Divine is unnameable - man is a capable player". If we have understood the aforesaid, we can already imagine why the Divine should be unnamed or nameless: Because every name ("God", "Allah", "Odin", etc.) reduces the Divine to a certain human idea and definition. As the ancient mystic Dionysios Areopagita learned, the Divine can only be defined in what "It" is not (negative theology). The second part of the seal circumscription refers to the world's view as a free play of the divine forces. As we can never understand spiritual reality as long as we maintain a logical explanation according to the scheme of Aristotelian logic, little can we conceive of the seriousness and significance of the spiritual dimension as long as we do not see its meaning as a Game which the Divine plays with itself, dispersing itself into many individualities which know nothing of each other and of the whole (so the Kabbalah and a Hindu legend describe it). Thereby performing the Game as perfect actors identified with their role.
The cosmos contains many dimensions, in which many different beings live (cf. the researches of the physicist Burkhard Heim; cf. the various bodies in Hinduism, the different heavens in ancient Christian doctrines and by spiritualists like Allen Kardiac). A rebirth from another dimension as a human being is meant for us to stand the test here, because the form of this rebirth is best suited to develop us further. This is the purpose of our life, but also gives life the character of an illusion, a gameplay, similar to a sporting game or adventure game, a modern computer game, a quest that presents level by level new tasks for the player until s/he reaches the target. But the characters who act in it do not know that they are in a game and the real reality only begins outside the game. If they knew it, they would no longer exert themselves and the intended effect would vanish: to use the short stay here in this world dimension as a training camp - with all seriousness and all serious fear of death, of leaving the playing field. The person, then, is a player, and as soon as s/he understands that s/he is part of a false reality, which is indead a Divine game (ludus divinus, sanskrit: lila), s/he becomes an able, conscious player. This view of the world as a Game is a slightly different accent, but not a contradiction to the experiences of many mystics from East and West, the Hindu perspective of the world as "maya" or the experiences of advanced Buddhist meditators (although they express it in quite different thoughts).
When we see the world as a Game, we realize that the social roles that we occupy in this world are only part of this game. But at the very moment we leave our bodies, it becomes clear that they were not real. That is why it is important to learn how to differentiate with every human being we encounter, especially with ourselves, between the conditioning and the formed being by society and our biography from our essence and the essence of the others. We must necessarily learn to separate the appearance, the social position, and the behaviour of a person from his/her real essence, for only his essence is genuine and outlasts this existence. Similarly, someone who has understood the Game perspective no longer reacts when his outward behaviour and the way he appears are criticized because he knows that his essence cannot be meant at all. On the other hand, we do not need to pay more respect to high dignitaries and people with a high social standing than to anybody else. Respect deserves the one whose nature we recognize as particularly accomplished and highly developed, not the one who has reached much here in this world. To recognize this, however, requires - like everything else - a long practice to look behind the scenes and into the heart of things.
As soon as we can see through the different social and personal games of other people, we can begin to play our own role consciously. We can also give a name to our role and think of it: Now I play the clown, or: now I play the old wise one - knowing that we only play a role like on a theater stage. The sociologist Erving Goffman has rightly claimed that we played all the theaters, but he did not take into account that our play corresponds to a Divine screenplay. This even includes that we see ourselves as persons, because our infinite spiritual continuum is enclosed in a material body for the duration of our earthly life (and in other worlds, too, different bodies are connected with it). Because of the body attachment we do not think "I am an infinite stream of consciousness," but: I am Henry or Caroline or such and such a person. This identification is, in fact, nothing more than a theater play, which we stage with ourselves. The difference between this identification that is valid only in this life, which we call the ego, and the true self, is marked by the transition from this into another form of existence: what remains is our self. Our lower self is the part that makes us being a person even in the next form of existence, our higher self is the part that connects us to the Divine, our Non-Self (An-Atman) only occurs when we become one with the Divine.
Never before in the history of mankind was there a time when the spiritual so little found its place as today. Many people cheer up technology, which supposedly gives us such a comfortable life. In fact, the opposite is the case: our world has become so complicated that we cannot find time for the essential things. The Internet does not save us time, but feeds our desires for material and intellectual consumption, distraction and entertainment. We are spending more and more time on technology, and we have to follow more and more bureaucracy, which makes us bribe and unfree. We have too much of every object, so we drown in things. The stress of the accomplishments and tasks that are accumulating the more we want of life, let us no longer find ourselves. Never before have we had so little time to come to ourselves and feel the spiritual cosmos that surrounds us. We drown in a sea of triviality and do not want to notice it, because we are afraid to have no ground under our feet. This creates alienation from the cosmos and denying the guilt that we invite to us.
In fact, our lifestyle is full of sin. But not because it does not correspond to the commandments that somebody has defined in ancient scriptures as God's supposed will, but because it neglects the eternal spiritual commandments of the protection of life and the prevention of the suffering of others. Our way of life is sinful to nature, the animals and plants, and the whole planet we inhabit, and is about to destroy it completely. The number of animals that live here has already declined by two-thirds over the past 50 years. The spirits of nature, its depth-dimension, are disregarded and ridiculed by us. At the same time, we are sinning against our children and grandchildren, who will find a devastated earth for the preservation of which we are be responsible. We people of the north-west of the earth also swear against the great majority of our human brothers and sisters who live in real poverty and will soon be affected by water scarcity and other natural catastrophes. To the insensibility and soullessness of our way of life there is thus an ever more unscrupulousness, which creates a climate of hatred, fear and poisoned coexistence. The worst thing about this is today's widespread madness that there is no alternative to this our life.
On the other hand, only the exit from the mill of social compulsions is helpful. But not everyone with true spiritual enthusiasm can become a monk or nun. Not everyone is born to be an organic farmer or hermit. Therefore (as long as there is no unconditional basic income), it must be possible to be a pilgrim and still pursue an honest civil life. The pilgrim becomes a pilgrim by constantly declaring new places as his/her home, or going on a pilgrimage for a long time, or by spending enough time beside work in which s/he pursues his spiritual path day after day. Although pilgrimage is more an inner than an external movement, the external change of location is an important spiritual method to be aware of the pilgrim character of the whole life. Everyone in our society should make a pilgrimage in his life for a few months, not in the way that many people do today, on the safe, fully developed paths of the Way of St. James, but in a much simpler and more difficult way. You simply run straight on and see, where you get. The outer path and the inner - feeling, intuition - can only be combined if one simply takes what comes, and falls freely into the adventure of unbound life. Pilgrimage happens by being accompanied by a peasant a bit of the way, sleeping under a pear tree, then being received by nice people in a small village when traveling like a vagabond, but in contrast to the vagabond following an inner goal: that of a personal, inner development.
If you are going on a real pilgrimage, you should complete everything that binds you to this world: the mobile phone is not a means of communicating with your partner, relatives and friends, but only for emergencies; no smartphone, no radio, no music player for distraction or information, but listening to nature and people and circumstances; not clinging to certain habits of comfort and cosmetics, but to free oneself from it; overcoming the fear of the wilderness and the animals and spending the night out on the landscape; no excessive reading and no small talk, but being quiet inwardly, meditating while sitting, keeping silent in walking, being mindful in the senses and meeting with others as ambassador, messenger of the Holy Spirit, not as a chatterbox interested in politics and sports results; trusting the Divine and not so much a map or another person; praying before each stage to the Divine, and visualizing the goal which consists in approaching oneself to the depth of the cosmos, in letting go the ego, which prevents us from becoming aware of being a part of the one Divine, the Buddha in us, of Brahman.
- Leaving the past behind: As soon as we leave our home and go on a journey, we leave our ordinary self back (our role in everyday life, our habits, our attachments, our identification). We should even make our testament beforehand and renounce any obligation. The moment we pass the threshold of our house is a sacred moment in which we should speak a dedication ("The journey has begun, may I return as a true pilgrim!"). It is our intent to release all conditioning into the flow of current events. Everything that makes us unfree to experience our true being will be left behind on the way.
- Keeping the goal in mind: The aim of the journey is not a geographical location, but a place inside. We are on the road to getting closer and closer to ourselves. It is not important where we are, but in what inner state. The goal of the path is our own higher self. We do not want to return as the same as we have parted. This is the goal we want to keep in mind during the whole pilgrimage.
- Meditation and Presence: While we are going, we do not talk. We only talk when it is necessary. Instead, we are in the state of meditation (there are many possibilities: pure mindfulness, Zen [Kinhin], Dzogchen [open widness, thoughtlessness, Rigpa], mantra / heart prayer or tantra / energy work). The central state of mind is that of being present: to be fully present with all senses, to be totally open (as opposed to "being in thought"). One can talk when resting.
- As inside, so outside: We do not blindly follow a given path. We are always looking for the answer from our inner self to the external realities and the external response to our inner realities ("connexio", connection with the cosmos, the recognition of signs). If we are looking for the way, we first examine the external conditions. But then we decide not by them, but by looking at our intuition.
- Fate as guidance: We do not reject new experiences and encounters, but welcome them. We let the accidental and the unforeseen happen and look forward to it. We are friendly, open, and kind towards other creatures that meet us on the way. We see them as emissaries, whose message we try to read. We see ourselves as ambassadors for them.
- Devotion to the destiny master (game plan): Everything that happens to us, including the negative, is a task and a challenge, not a provocation and an evil. We humbly accept difficulties and do not show any negative feelings towards them. We know that everything is given to us as part of the quest of our existence, and that each of our reactions leads us forward or throws back our development. Neither angry nor sad, neither exuberant nor carefree, we dwell in grace, surrender to the Divine will, and serenity.
- Overcoming the ego: We demand no comfort, no unnecessary relief and no luxury. We seek the simple, uncomplicated, natural. Everything that is not convenient to us and does not please us, we use in order to kill our ego by enlarging the boundaries of the tolerable. We are not afraid that we could suffer from anything, since there is nothing to fear. All experiences are part of the divinely ordered cosmos and we release our resistance against them. We want every experience to appear to us as of one and the same taste.
Viators carry inside the deep longing to transcend the realities of this world. They are filled with the desire to experience spiritual truth and to bring the holiness inside themselves to maturity. Truly, only someone following the path to these goals with uniqueness and authentic motivation can be a Viator. Viator one does not become by membership, because the Pilgrims Order has no firm structure. One becomes a Viator by professing a free spirituality beyond the rigid structures of established religions. One starts to orient one's lifestyle to this inner approach towards the Holy (the numinosum, Rudolf Otto). One decides to look at life as a pilgrimage. One experiences one's initiation into the order by going on a concrete pilgrimage, beyond the emerged paths, confronting oneself with life and one's own being. One learns to consider life as an expression of the Divine and to interpret everything as a sign on the way, as gifts of the Divine, every human being and every animal and every event that meets you; not to stand still, but to go further, also in inner development, not to hang by a belief, a doctrine of opinion, but to deepen everything into one's own life-reality, into the personal experience, to live it through.
Being Viator requires much courage. It is much easier to derive the meaning of one's life by the majority society and to strive for comfort, career, or mere entertainment. It takes a lot of courage to strive for other destinations for the duration of a pilgrimage or a whole life-pilgrimage. There is even more courage needed in moving besides the paths of the established religions, if you do not want to use the services, the dogmas, the theologians and institutions of the established religion, because regard them as restrictive and unjustified defining the Divine. It requires courage to align one's life with a spiritual goal, of which no priest can say where it is. Only one who has already walked the path can tell you that, but finally you have to walk it yourself. And yet it is much better to be courageous than to complain about the meaninglessness of existence for a lifetime.
The motto of the Viators is "go your own way". It is clear from this that it is always a question of finding a spiritual path that is appropriate to the individuality of each being. This searching and finding is the lifelong task of everyone. But there is a wide range of tools, methods, and practices provided by the deeper (esoteric, mystical) parts of the religious traditions, of which the individual must recognize those, which seem most helpful for his/her temporary existence. Viators should learn a form of meditation or spiritual practice, which they exercise regularly. It would be best if an experienced teacher teaches them the techniques most appropriate to them, but the fewest spiritual teachers today are trying to recognize the needs of their students and align their offerings accordingly. Most of them teach everyone just what they themselves consider as good and have mastered well. There is a great variety of spiritual ways.
You can meditate more physically, with certain breathing or movement techniques (e.g. Yoga, QiGong) or purely mentally (e.g. Dzogchen or Zen: Shikantaza), imaginatively or with the energy system (e.g., tantra). You can use a koan to eliminate the logic, or a mantra to calm the thoughts (including the heart prayer or the rosary). It is possible to meditate inward-looking (concentrative meditation) or with all senses (mindfulness, vipassana). One can go into ecstasy or strong spiritual feelings (Spanish mysticism, bhakti yoga), fully aspire to understanding and experiencing the spiritual world order (Jñana yoga, Rosicrucian) or combine feeling and movement (Mevlana dervishes). One can try to reduce the taste of the world (shading the senses in Raja yoga, asceticism) or to make it exploding (Osho-Tantra). You can make the experience of other worlds a path (shamanism, mediumism) or take the local world as an exercise field seriously and train yourself in altruism and self-offering (karma yoga, path of devoted charity). There are many ways and they all lead to spiritual experience when they are suitable for you. Your own experience is the only thing that ultimately matters for you, the only thing that can withstand a philosophical analysis of realness (real is, "what works," see William James, both his pragmatism and his psychology of religions). Teachers are very useful for this aim, but if you have to go alone, buy good introductions into various forms of real spiritual paths, different types of traditional meditation, and authentic spiritual practice, and exercise it without ceasing. This is what a Viator does above all.
In addition, the spiritual practice of the Viators is focused primarily on the integration of external and internal life. Their mysticism is "exteriorized". This means that the inner being is brought into harmony with the external, the external with the internal, so that one does not live in a contradiction with oneself and receives contact ("connexio") with the flow of life. This exercise is the integration of silent meditation and action, of thinking and feeling, of higher and earthly reality. It is possible only with a lot of practice, requires the technique of mindfulness (which for Buddha Shakyamuni was the central practice of his monks and nuns) and the ability to soothe and silence the confusion of thoughts without drifting into other worlds no longer perceiving this realm. Or, as Meister Eckhart said, we should constantly be aware of the presence of God in our feeling.
The Abrahamic religions acquired their legitimacy essentially from respect for the authorities. Why, however, these authorities are regarded as such is, as one says, a "question of faith". But we live in a new age. Today's values - ideological pluralism, the equality of all human beings and all living creatures at all (universal egalitarianism), post-Enlightenment reason - are hardly compatible with faith in any authority without a more detailed justification. But there are contemporary, rational reasons for the legitimation of spiritual teachings. The main reason for this is qualified experience. Many epistemological positions emphasize that we cannot have any reliable theoretical knowledge at all. Personal, subjective experience is the only secure foundation of knowledge. We can only say with certainty what we have experienced ourselves, without, however, knowing whether it is a representation of external or internal reality, or a mistake, a psychosis. Qualified is a personal experience when we have reality criteria.
In the case of spiritual knowledge, it is the same: there is not a single objective statement about God or a spiritual reality. All these statements are filtered by persons and language, by the understanding of the listener, and by the nature of the human psyche in general. All these statements are thus subjective. But they can be more or less true. They are qualified if they are inter-subjectively testable. Many people who go on a personal spiritual path have similar experiences. We can thus assert that they mutually confirm each other (without addressing in detail the different criteria and difficulties of inter-subjective knowledge). Moreover, statements by experts are more qualified than those of less experienced persons. Those who have meditated for a very long time and very intensively and are looking for spiritual truth inside them are most likely to have more appropriate experiences than a beginner. In addition, a qualified experience is one that is well-aligned with the general statements (constructs) derived from many experiences.
In other words, a spiritual doctrine is true when you personally take the path to review it, and then it will help you on your way. If it corresponds to your experience. If you know from others that it has taken them forward and is consistent with their authentic experience. If it is consistent (on a higher level of thinking) with what you have learned from different traditions of spiritual knowledge and wisdom. Ultimately, there is a more spiritual view of the legitimation of a doctrine: if you do not ignore the guidance from above and the coincidences of your life, but follow them; and if you do not forget them, but integrate them, you will become more and more mature in your certainty about the laws by which the spiritual world works. Take the path of being led like a scientist who through each experience gets more knowledge about the depth-structure of the world. This is the Via Viatorum: the science of the numinous, as it can be conducted only by every individual and all together. Whoever just wants to parrot what others have found out, cannot be a Viator. If in a few decades, however, the science of the spiritual will be so far as to publish its results, then as a believer of a new, universal religion you can continue your comfortable way of consuming external truth. But you are not yet part of the pilgrimage route then.