Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Monday, February 05, 2007

Spiritual Introspective

My wife has taken a keen interest in her personal spiritual path as of late, and, as a result, has posed certain questions to me that has got me thinking about what I truly believe and whether or not there is a religion out there that jives with my take on things, or if I am truly an atheist.

Generally, I have described myself as a quasi-Buddhist/Taoist/Pagan type with strong inclinations toward atheism. If you visit the “Belief-O-Matic” entries, there has been a general confirmation of my Eastern and Pagan leanings, with evidence to support my general distain for the more dogmatic religious groups. In this missive, and largely for my own benefit, I will attempt to elaborate and examine my faith.

The main question: “Do I believe in God?”

From a Christian-Judeo perspective of an omnipotent and omni present entity as found in the Bible, my answer is categorically “no”. In a broader “Mother Nature” vein, my answer is “yes” in that I believe that there is an interconnecting energy that runs through all things. That is to say, energy which exists all around us is, ultimately, the life force in all things, whether we are talking about the chakras, Qi or cerebral synapses. Our brain functions and our heart beats because of electrical stimulation, and all things are comprised of molecules with electrons, neutrons and protons. I believe that this energy, or life force, is eternal and limitless, manifesting itself within everything. Just as a calorie is a unit of energy, so too do all actions rely on fuels. This energy can exist as a concrete scientific manifestation or as something we would tend to label (and this is very much a diction and syntax issue) “supernatural” or “paranormal”. Thus if the body is a vehicle, this energy is the driver and is capable of going beyond its shell and transcending into other things. Take an electromagnetic measuring of brain function as an example, or sleep monitoring. I think our knowledge of this life force is in its infancy, with things like acupuncture being and Qi Gong being the pioneers in its understanding.

Question two: “Do we have a soul?”

Before I answer this, we must look at our conventional views of life and death. The simple fact is that we exist only at the present time and our state does not remain static beyond each instance. All living things are in a constant state of change and engaged in a cycle of life and death. In the human example, our memories serve as one version of continuity, but certainly everything else changes. For example, the cells in your body are presently living and dying. That which comprises your physical being at this moment is completely different from your physical state 10 years ago or from what your physical state will be 10 years hence. Look at your fingernails or hair that has ended up on your shower floor. Those are aspects of you, dead, disregarded and in the cycle of decay. Staying with hair and fingernails, these continue to grow even after you have been pronounced “dead” for a day or two afterwards. Likewise, all the energy you have introduced into your body as food is different on a day to day basis and, when we “die” according to our present definition, we become food and energy for those that feed of our remains, thus living on (maggot eats you, bird eats the maggot, etc.). So to answer the question of having a soul, I would argue that we do live eternally as energy manifestations. Perhaps the consciousness is a larger cluster of energy that is able to transcend the ecosystem and become displaced, thus adding some validity to what we would call “ghosts” or “guardian angels”. That whole sense of feeling that there is someone in the room with you, in spite, to all appearances, of the fact that you are alone, or the sense we get when we feel someone is watching/staring at us. Male orgasm during sex is a very “electrical” sensation causing toes to curl, and body to convulse as if an electrical current is running through your body. When you consider what is actually happening – the release of sperm and potentially new life – this emphasises the idea of the electrical meridians transcending through everything.

Is their a purpose to Life?

One of the things that bug me about most religions is that they are dogmatic and expect us to accept way too much on faith. This is augmented by the facts of history available to us about the Church and its manipulations, not to mention the fact that if I wrote a gospel that claimed was delivered to me by an angel, that I’d be locked up. Yet, in the case of the Bible, we read accounts written by men in a time of dire politics and heightened superstition. Looking at their human-centred take on the world as well causes me to question whether such measures were taken to justify the slaughter of animals for food and to ingrain a sense of superiority and stewardship over all things. In early societies, as in our present day, one must face consequences to ensure compliance (burning in Hell is a good example), and there had to be some basis on which to establish morality. Ultimately, life is tough, but, like any motivator, give the promise of paradise (or a multitude of virgin as is the promise to Islamic suicide bombers) after this level of existence and you might work more toward Heaven on Earth.

As for a true or divine purpose, I don’t believe that there is one. For example, does anything on earth matter if the planet was obliterated by an asteroid? Therefore, there is only an advisable purpose that has meaning insofar as our present world exists. The fundamental aspect of this, in my opinion, is to co-exist in peace, respecting others and living as sensually as possible insofar as this does not directly impede another from living likewise. Just a point of emphasise, the “others” in question extends to all things on our planet, and not just mankind.

Many may view my take in this as being a bit cynical, but it is anything but. As we exist in the present (and thus not in the potential future of asteroid collisions, etc.), that is what must be embraced and that is where we find the joy to be in the present. The past are memories and the future never happens. Thus, carpe diem!

What is life?

Life is one’s perception of existence. Existence is the fabrication of nothingness into being within our minds. Nothing implies no-thing and therefore some-thing, making all an echo, witnessed only in a projection and not a purity an all-encompassing entity/source. We are all on different journeys, will encounter things alone internally and thus plot our course through living nomadically. Our priorities and who we are in the present are cumulative of the past and limitless in our potential as the life force that runs through us runs through all things. Carl Jung, in his writings about man and his symbols, gives a sense of how we will all read the road signs on our personal paths differently. Life is a journey of no apparent beginning or end, experienced only in the present. Through a sense of preservation and maximising the moment is the motivation of traveling in peace, with love, respect and compassion. Though subjective in our heads, we are everything and everything is us. I am a tree and a tree is me – we feed each other and live in a state of mutual interdependence (air). So too am I one with water as my body is largely comprised of water. Fire exists in my metabolism, warm bloodedness and a means to my survival. And of the Earth, I am dust. To not live in harmony with the elements is to destroy ones self. The electric life force is what permeates all and causes their awakening.

The first part of this missive has sent me on a journey back through the pages that inspired a large part of the basis on my overall Spirituality treatise. Osho’s book Tao: The Pathless Path was the first I turned to, as memory reminded me of how I was inspired by his writings. After reading a few pages in, I realised that I had read this book but had somehow abandoned that which I saw fit to apply in my life.

The first comment that struck me was one that affected me big time the first time that I had read it, especially resonating with my bohemian punk rock spirit, and reads as follows:

Tao respects the individual and not the society. Tao respects the unique and not the crowd. Tao respects freedom and not conformity. Tao has no tradition. Tao is a rebellion, and the greatest rebellion possible.”

This is me to a T. My self-righteous, “Amen brother!” Taoist declaration was short lived, however, as I carried on through a few more pages. Osho writes “Tao says that ignorance is not the barrier against truth – knowledge is the barrier” and that “You can go on thinking and thinking, and it will be nothing but invention – the pure invention of human mind to hide its own stupidity.” WHOOOSH! I am Mr. Cerebrally-constipated Introspecter Supreme, to say the least, whose thinking is more of a masochistic art than anything, causing most who know me to shake their heads and causing my wife significant marital strife at my inability to be content or happy. The Tao is a journey based way of life, using the analogy that if you simply go with the river you will one day end up at the ocean, and that no man or woman can take more than one step at a time. Likewise, Tao teaches that you take the journey as it comes at your own pace, as opposed to following the well trodden path of the masses. In our world of endless bills, mortgages and taxation, it is so easy to become corralled into a specified chute. Either way, all our lives one day will come to a close, it is the journey that qualifies the whole thing. Thus, Osho continues: “Drop your intellect, and you will not lose anything. Carry your intellect with yourself, and you will lose all”, and continues “If you really want to know, then start becoming alert, aware. Live consciously, learn consciousness, accumulate consciousness.”

A parting comment from Osho echoes much of what my missive on Spirituality is stressing: “Only this moment exists, so don’t rush hither and tither; it is pointless, it is neurotic, it is mad. Just relax in this moment, just be.”

I am certainly not one to take and apply one person’s writings as gospel, and I can’t say that I am in entire agreement with Osho’s comments on the intellect and knowledge. What I do agree with is that there is a serious danger that one can become too dependant on one particular faculty and I fully acknowledge that I have moved over the years from being a world traveling free spirit to one who spends far too much time contemplating things and searching to see within certain things that which I want to see as opposed to simply experiencing that which makes itself known. That’s what I am taking away from this particular writing.

In conclusion, though I do find my beliefs very much concordant with Buddhist, Taoist and Jungian writings, I still find it hard to attach myself to any conventional dogmatic approach to spirituality. My journey is much like Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kun Do of Martial Arts where he took aspects of several other Arts that suited his body type and that worked for him. I base many of my beliefs in Eastern Philosophy, but can still accept the sentiments of peace offered from most religions. There’s nothing wrong with the Christian Ten Commandments, and I do not wish to offend the good work done by many members of the religious community. I think Jesus was in the same class of Lao Tzu and the Buddha when it comes to his teachings; a profound and great man. I simply don't buy the Son of God portion of his legacy. Again, it’s a matter of selecting your own path and realising that no matter where you go that you are here and an intricate part of the greater picture.

Readings that I’d Recommend:

Hardcore Zen by Brett Warner
Tao Te Ching by Lao Tze
Dhammapada (sayings of the Buddha)
Tao: The Pathless Path by Osho
Heart of the Buddha’s Teachings by Thich Nhat Hanh
The Art of Peace by Morihei Ueshiba
The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff
Writings of Carl Jung

Peace, love, joy, harmony and happiness to one and all, and thank you to my beautiful wife for inspiring me in this introspective. In the words of John Keats: "Beauty is Truth, and Truth, Beauty; that is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know".


  • At 11:17 a.m. , Blogger auntiegrav said...

    Life is defined by its action upon the universe.

    Schroedinger's definition is the one I like: Life is Anti-Entropy, creating structures and systems out of decay.

    I take it to a modified conclusion: Life is Net Creativity. All species (including humans) are defined by the Net Creative usefulness they contribute to the universe, AFTER their consumption is subtracted. We are an equation, in a sense.
    God, The Creator, is the essence of Net Creativity: pure creation of everything from nothing. As things fall apart in space, they fall together.
    Whether energy patterns, particles, or living organisms, anything that forms self-reproducing patterns can be creative, but only if they are useful to the universe are they Life.

  • At 5:32 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    and you thought i was on drugs. cockroaches and fish are consuming the uppers and downers that are not digested by the philosphy department and the housewives who need them. that is why the fish are getting two sexes at once and we cockroaches are getting three or four genitalia we do not know what to do with. but thanks to you guys, we have fun. the mites that live in your bedsheets tell me what leftover sex fluids they get from you are causing them to give birht to more evolved mites, with hominid heads and canine teeth. you should not be having cerebral sex. it is causing an anomaly in their space-time continuum, from which they used to be able to contact the 'q'.


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