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September 16th. 2015 ...
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GOD AND ME (A Pagan's Personal Reply to the New Atheists)
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NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
A System of Belief
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Article ID: 15032
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: November 25th. 2012
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I believe in nothing. This is not an atheistic statement, nor is it a declaration of despair. Itís a bit more than a statement of fact however. Itís a life system. After I lost my faith, I knew in my heart that Iíd never believe in anything again. And though my heart was also filled with despair at the time, that despair slowly drained away over the years and I was left with only the statement, the thought.
For a while a few years after it happened I thought I was free of it, but it had only turned into a bitterness that swam deep beneath the surface. Any talk of spirituality was met with skeptical scorn, if it was different from what Iíd been taught, and if it was similar I only felt a nostalgic longing to return to what could not be. It is only now that I can truly say I have cut ties with my grief and bitterness, and am left with a life system that can be a vehicle for spiritual progress. And I know that sounds contradictory.
How can a life system that states I believe in nothing aid me spiritually? If anything, shouldnít it hinder me? Isnít one required to believe in things beyond oneís limited comprehension to advance on a spiritual path? And that is the crux of the matter. Does one have to believe in something not yet seen, to progress towards it? The answer is no, and this comes from a logical point of view.
If youíre traveling down a road that leads to a wondrous golden city, yet you are unaware of that fact, and perhaps do not even know the city exists, will you not still arrive at it eventually? Aha! But.... you say, if there are other roads to take, crossing the one youíre on and if you donít believe the wonderful city is there, why on earth would you not take another road, one of which its destination is known? To that I have this to say:
This is a metaphor, of course, for enlightenment, for expanded consciousness, for spiritual awakening. Can anyone argue that epiphanies, milestones on the way to enlightenment, are counterproductive? That a slowly expanding consciousness is a bad thing? That a spiritual experience is not a moving and wonderful experience? And so the road itself is a wondrous thing to walk upon. There is reason enough to walk it without the promise of glory at the end.
But, you say, are the experiences not road signs telling you that the city does in fact exist? No, I say. Well, yes and no. Yes, because they tell you youíre on your way to something, you are progressing towards something important. No, because the people youíve met along the way all have wildly differing tales about what the city actually is, what its function is, how exactly to get there, and how impressed you should be when you get there. Of course most of those people you meet have never been there in the first place. Perhaps it is a city, filled with wonders for the eye to behold, or just perhaps it is a small forest glade filled with the singing of birds. But the point is this: it doesnít matter whatís at the end, as long as the path youíre on fulfills you. Therefore belief in whatís at the end is not necessary, and in fact that same belief may be detrimental or even fatal to your motivation for walking the path.
If your expectations are to see great palaces and towers sprawled in the distance once you get close, and all you see are trees, why then would you continue on? Iím speaking of course of the danger that false expectation generates, that springs from belief not based on personal experience. That is not to say I donít see the purpose or good in belief. If someone has had nothing but bad experiences on their path and donít have the will, or just the information they need to change paths, then belief may be all that keeps them walking. But at the same time that very thing may very well keep them from taking the right turn at a very crucial crossroads. So it becomes an obstacle, and they may walk forever down a road that indeed goes nowhere.
So it is that I have distilled everything in my life into what I know, from what Iíve been told and havenít experienced for myself yet, or what I donít yet know for certain. And this makes me more open-minded that those with beliefs that are more flexible than some religions. Even if your beliefs are a hodgepodge of every known religion in existence and youíre more open minded than more rigid dogmas allow, theyíre still beliefs. And if youíre not willing to examine your beliefs and change them based on the most important evidence a person can get themselves, anecdotal evidence, then you are as rigid in your life system as any other. And if you are able to change your beliefs on a regular basis, are they beliefs at all? And if they are, why have beliefs in the first place? To feel connected to something bigger than yourself?
Join a group with similar experiences to yours and engage in theme-based projects with them, or explore those experiences with someone you can share them with. Or better yet, close your eyes and know that every cell in your body is made up of the same basic building blocks that make up everything else in existence and so in a way are connected. Changing your entire worldview every time youíre presented with indisputable evidence is time consuming, and in my experience not very pleasant.
Take life for what it is, what your senses and observations can tell you. Experiment and theorize about what lies ahead, certainly, but look for signs that what you imagine is correct and matches up with what youíre experiencing and what you observe others experiencing. Because I imagine everyoneís shining city is a bit different that everyone elseís, and the paths to it as varied and eclectic as there are people in this world.
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