Believing is Seeing

You choose your belief

I’d love to be wrong, I really would – but unfortunately this is all there is. That means belief in spirits, other realms, and even escaping the cycle of death and rebirth is all in your head. Their only real reality lies in the psychological impact those notions have upon you and your emotions.

To put it another way, it’s as if you had a red sweater but you imagine it’s blue – you do this because it makes you feel happier and you wear it more often that way.

Continue reading “Believing is Seeing”

Wisdom for others

Why is it easier to advise others than to apply our wisdom to our own lives? And at the same time why is it that other people’s advice always falls on the deaf ears of our own soul?

By that I mean I’ve been told the same advice by countless people in countless different ways and yet it only ever ‘sank in’ when I actually sat down and figured it out for myself – at which point all their words came flooding back in one huge “Ooooh, so that’s what they were trying to tell me!”

Why is that dynamic so out of whack?

And yet all that advice, I’m certain, is still what allowed me to get it – had I never had any guidance, I don’t think I would have figured it out for myself.

Definitely a broken system…

Real Faith is No Faith

Real Faith

Many people (atheist and theist alike) see ‘having real faith in God’ as the complete and utter surrender to [its] omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence – to know in your deepest core that [it] exists and works its work in the world for you and through you.  The epitome of this ‘real’ faith should allow us to leap off a cliff and if we have ‘enough’ faith, God will find a way to intervene – be it by bringing a gust of wind that will press us against the cliff face and slow our fall (we may break many bones in our body as we bounce off rocks etc. but at least we didn’t reach terminal velocity and splat on the ground.  We’re still in a state where doctors can helps us recover), or cushion our landing (we may hit a very tall tree, and every branch on the way down, but again, at least we’re alive and can recover), or if we’re really faithful, even make us fly!

That’s not what faith should be. That’s not how it works. Jumping off a cliff and ‘having faith that it will all work out’ is stupid, and irresponsible.  God will let you fall to your death – after all, you’re the one who jumped off a cliff ya dumbass!

I don’t know whether God exists or not but I deliberately choose to believe [it] doesn’t.  Yet I am not faithless.  Why? Let me tell you how I see it. Continue reading “Real Faith is No Faith”

Reality is all …

Fill in the blank

When referring to the nature of Reality – what it’s made of – as soon as someone begins their statement “It’s all made of … ” the next word could be anything – gouda, gold, god, tao, apeiron, the force, consciousness, anything. The reason I know this is because I’ve understood what “all” means to our human brains.  The next word may as well be “all” for what it’s worth, and it would be a more honest answer because at least the speaker recognises the futility in putting a label on it.  In that light, anything you wish can be what it’s all made of – the significance lies in the fact that it is what you feel is closest to your understanding of what Reality is made of.  It becomes the context or raw material from which you make sense of the world.

My own personal struggle is trying to reconcile my modern scientific understanding of the physical world with the deeper insight of how my brain operates.  Sameness and Difference.  That is how my brain operates (and how I think we all operate at the most fundamental level).  My scientific mind interprets Sameness and Difference being ‘made of’ Transformation (in the mathematical and physical/mechanical sense) so to that part of me, “It’s all Transformation.”  But my spiritual inclination wants to say “It’s all Magic” or “It’s all Chi/Ki” or “It’s all The Force” and the two aren’t friends yet.

Trying to do something with Ki/The Force/Magic feels supremely silly and foolish because I know at the same time it’s all transformation – and transformation doesn’t behave in the way I want Magic/Ki/The Force to behave.  Magic then becomes merely my own will, and to get more banal than that seems impossible to imagine.  Sure, my ability to ‘will’ my arm to move may seem magical if we really ask ourselves how that works (the whole mind/body interaction), but my ‘will’ and thus my capacity to ‘do magic’ goes no further than my own body.  Then I have to get creative and make excuses for this ‘magic’: if I want a glass of water to appear before me, I have to “concentrate very hard” and “gather up all the strength of my willpower”, “channel” it and “release it out into the world” (i.e. I ask you to get me a glass of water), whereupon the “influence” of my magic extends outwards (you walk to the kitchen). Then my “energies will be returned back to me” (you’ve come back from the kitchen) and voilà! I have a glass of water!

Do you see how silly that is? I’m irrationalizing the rational!

However, there is a non-negligible aspect of magic when you do think of reality in those terms. There is an undeniable “power” to words that gives us pause. If my magic is my will, then I must become cautious of how I use it (what words I say out loud, what gestures and actions I use my body to effect).

But this perspective is also an open door to madness: every thought I provoke in you, every image you experience in your mind through the “descriptive power” of my words, become the very real effect, however subtle it may be.

But working of magic as none other than the cautious application of will sounds very much like Mindfulness doesn’t it?  Where one is highly conscious of one’s gestures, thoughts, and words.  Everything becomes deliberate and full of careful intent.

And thus the working of magic regains its respectability, as the phoenix of decorum rises from the ashes of folly.

So to close this with a quote I give you:

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

How my Beliefs Changed

My Non-Belief

I had lived my life from a worldview which was handed to me – through education and authority (parental education/influence) – and which I had never properly questioned.  It was a world filled with the amazing discoveries of science, and a lack of a deity simply because there was no room for one.  As I grew older, I became so content with my atheism and so disgusted by theism that I began to physically manifest that disgust (actual shudders, or rolling my eyes, or an audible expression) whenever I came across the slightest mention of “God” or “Jesus” or any of the Christian words/names/concepts (merely because I lived in a Christian-majority area – my aversion would have been the same had it been Muslim or Jewish or any other theistic religion).  Understand that I never once suspected that ‘believers’ were in any way on to something that somehow the non-believers had missed.  Instead it was an instinctive rejection in reaction to the condescending attitude most ‘believers’ had towards non-believers – they pitied us, which I found reprehensible; they acted so smug and self-assured because they felt ‘wrapped in the love of God’ or whatever turn of phrase the person would use.  But that love somehow wasn’t unconditional – they were quick to reject anyone whose beliefs didn’t align with theirs, which smacked of hipocrisy which I wouldn’t accept (nevermind that I was oblivious of the hypocrisy in my own rejection of religions!).  Today, I call that period my ‘atheist adolescence’.

The change of belief

But about five years ago I experienced a very banal event that still managed to spur me into actually taking the time to stop and question my worldview.  My fiancée and I were watching one of those American sensationalist ‘documentaries’ (riddled with pre-commercial-break cliff-hangers as the American formula goes) on the topic of past lives.  It was pretty-well constructed and seemed fairly… if not convincing, at least intriguing.  And what got me thinking was this line of thought: “Suppose it was true… I don’t think my worldview can handle it.  It has answers for everything but past lives.  I don’t think I’d know how to fit it into my system of beliefs.” It then dawned on me that I didn’t actually know what my own worldview was – and so that set me off on a quest of discovery that has absolutely shattered my worldview and brought me such enriching insight that my life has been forever changed.  Now I’m far more laid-back about other people’s beliefs.  Now I respect the human being who expresses their enthusiasm for their god’s love.  I see why they might think that there is a god and especially, I see that their ‘god’ is my whatever-I-call-it.

So how about you: Do you know what your worldview is?  Do you understand how you understand?  I dare you to find out!