If you’re part of any social networking site, chances are you’ve seen (or more likely, been deluged) with various fun tests. Some claim to check to see how smart you are (although most of those really only check your memory for trivia) while others claim to reveal aspects of your belief system or psychology. Which Start Trek character are you? What political party should you belong to? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? These on-line tests are all multiple choice and lots of fun. However, they are so simplistic I have to question whether they’re useful.
Recently I saw a test called “Are You Philosophically Eastern or Western?” Coming from a magickal point of view, discovering the answer to this question could help a person determine what magickal and spiritual path to follow. Should you study ceremonial magick? Wicca? Tantra? Taoist Alchemy? Tibetan Bon? A test like this would really help.
Unfortunately, this test, like so many other on-line tests, is too simple to be of any real value. It asks a mere seven questions, each with only two possible answers. For example, the first question asks, “What do you think determines your future?” The potential answers are either “God” or “Your actions.” To these responses I have to ask: “Huh? How does this determine whether you are philosophically Eastern or Western?”
Both Eastern and Western philosophies incorporate systems of magick. That means we can determine our futures…if we use magick. Buddhism is definitely an Eastern philosophy, but it has no specific deity. Atheism is both Western and Eastern and has no deity. Paganism in the West has multiple deities, not one God. Hinduism is definitely Eastern and also has multiple deities. Asking if “God” determines your future is already making false assumptions about both philosophies. This question and its available answers is not going to be helpful in determining your philosophy.
The last question is: “More than anything you seek…” with the two available answers, either “Happiness” or “Enlightenment.” Why not both? Why not neither? I think that most spiritual traditions in either philosophy make clear than enlightenment leads to happiness. It seems to me that this question isn’t helpful for determining your philosophical nature, either. The other five questions all have similar problems.
But what do I know? After all, I only have a degree in philosophy from UCLA.
Tests like these are fun but are less accurate than a game of darts played in the dark. I consider myself to be philosophically both Eastern and Western. Determine what you think about yourself before you take the test. Then take the test yourself. Do you think the results are accurate? What questions would you ask in such a test to make it more accurate?