The Quaker ethos provides Friends with the freedom to think with an open mind rather than giving them a set of rules to follow. Quakers encourage questions like ‘Who am I?’, ‘Why do we exist?’, ‘What is God?’, ‘What’s the purpose of life?’
Although Quaker views and practices have their origins in Christianity – and very many Quakers often express themselves using a Christian idiom – Quakers actually find inspiration and value in teachings from diverse sources reflecting cultural viewpoints from around the world. People come to Quakers from many different faiths – or none.
Quakers spend little time on theology as such, one reason being that it distracts people from looking for and responding to their own Inner Light. This metaphore points to something deep within us or beyond us (however one wants to look at it) that undercuts our usual mental mode of discursive thinking and fragmented experiencing.
Friends experience a unity at an emotional, intuitive and practical level that is much more rewarding than any doctrinal consensus.
For a Quaker, religion is not an external activity, concerning a special “holy” part of the self. It is an openness to the world in the here and now and with the whole of the self. If this is to be not merely a pious common-place, it must take into account the whole of our humanity: our attitude to other human beings, … the way we live, the way we treat animals and the environment.[Harvey Gillman, 1988, in Quaker Faith and Practice 1995]