I’m blowing the dust off of this blog for the first time in months. Hello again. Did you miss me? Don’t answer that. Okay, so, the past months have been spirals of stuff. Literal stuff and figurative stuff. So much stuff. Last I wrote here I put up a few things about spirituality and faith, I think. Well, as ever, that part of my life now has morphed into something entirely new. More or less anyway.
So, the pockets of my days that were once filled by the ramblings of people like Eckhart Tolle, Mooji, Ram Dass and so on, have been filled now with something that I’d call somewhat less baseless. I’ve been listening a lot recently to scientists like Brian Cox, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Richard Dawkins as well as passionate and enthusiastic atheists like Ricky Gervais and Robin Ince among others. I’ve gained a lot from it, in terms of both knowledge, experience, having my back put up and in terms of laughter and excitement as well.
One thing I gained was the sudden realisation that one of my favourite things in life is when people talk and make sense. That’s so rare these days, especially now that we live in what I’ve heard Ricky Gervais call the “post-truth” era. Watch any debate between Deepak Chopra and any atheist or scientist and you’ll be presented with a handful of overwhelming things if you’re anything like me. On the one hand: Excitement about hearing people calling bullshit, enthusiasm about hearing pseudo-intellectual mumbo jumbo being shaken up and thrown in the bin. And then, on the other hand: Outright frustration at the belligerence of Deepak Chopra, his inability to accept defeat, his need to change the goal posts so that he can still seem right and then the subsequent overcoming urge to skip past his nonsense to listen to the sensible people talking again. Those scenarios – when you’ve got a ‘faith’ person on one side and an atheist on the other – are quite gratifying if you’ve got the stones to sit and watch the confrontation. The famous one of Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens going up against the Catholic Church comes to mind. These are stark examples of people making sense in the face of covert moroseness and flat-out, bold-faced, I’d-rather-feel-right-and-be-wrong-than-be-wrong-and-learn-what’s-right denial. I used to be one. I shudder to think of it.
So let me clear up where I’m at now. Last I wrote, I was probably done with spirituality and just about comfortable with the idea that some sort of god existed. Yeah, okay. So now I’ve come to feel like the closest thing to what I could call “God” is this… I think there’s something that’s far more special than daily life – than what we had for dinner or who said what about Hermandil McTrout last week. It exists in the silence between words that hangs in the air undisturbed as the sound flows through it as returns when the sound fades. It exists in the space in every room, in every full box of stuffed animals making their way to your new house. Silence and space. That’s it, I think. If God exists, it exists in silence and space.
I think a quiet moment to yourself without any thoughts twatting around in your head where you’re doing nothing and you’re just sitting there is much more special than anything else you could do in your day. It’s not necessarily more fulfilling that setting your mind on something and achieving it nor more exciting or inviting than being creative and making something but it’s there, I think. And, I think, the fact that it doesn’t tug on the brain like “BASK IN ME” makes it more special. Better than old testament god, anyway. Less needy. But it’s only that special for a moment. In that moment in between you sitting down and sighing, just before you have heart palpitations about whether you left the oven on your not. That’s where God is, I think. If there’s a God, that’s where it is.
But then it’s stops being “God” as we define it. I mean, to a certain extent it fits the bill, right? All knowing, omnipresence, benevolent. In a sort of poetic way, that’s space and silence, right? That’s the essence of this “god” thing, without all the angry, jealous murder-y, let-your-own-son-get-human-sacrificed stuff that the Judeo-Christian mythology would prefer to believe is more at place in what they named “paganism” than their own doctrines – even though it’s kept alive by those very doctrines.
So does that mean I believe God created the universe? No. Probably not. Almost definitely not. That takes a bit too much more of this popular fairytale prose thinking that I’m not that keen on. It wasn’t until recently that I realise how genuinely ridiculous the idea that when we die we all go up into the sky and live in a magic place with all the dead people and see Jesus is. That is literally crazy for an idea. Just so ridiculous. When I think about the fact that I’m expected to believe that some people think that’s true, I tend to err on the side of just assuming they like the idea more than believe in it. I dunno. It makes more sense that they’re comforted by such a ludicrous idea (if they don’t think about it too much) than to believe it’s actually the case. It does make sense that a lot of the like core religious fundamentalists don’t like sci-fi and fantasy stuff though. Are they fulfilled by their own magical fantasy that Lord of the Rings pales in comparison? I find that hard to believe. More likely that they’re just annoyed that they ended up roped into the mythology that doesn’t have enchanted jewellery or lightsabres and the force.
I digress. The point I sat down to write about was this: I have come to feel that there is an important piece of the puzzle that we’re missing when it comes to religion, spirituality and philosophy – most notably when it concerns science and the attitudes of the intensely faithful towards science. As ever, I’m just speaking about where I’m at in the hope that you might get something from it and, if you do, great. If you don’t, get on with your day.
What I mean is that I feel like both religion and spirituality want to have all the answers. I could speculate about why that is all day. Is it because they want to keep people suckling on their mythological nipples indefinitely? Is it because in order for the things these ideologies claim are the truth to be believed, they have to have context? Is it because once you believe the craziest part of the mythology is a genuine fact then you’ll believe just about anything else they tell you? I don’t know. Maybe all of the above, maybe none of them. I don’t know.
When I say “spirituality” here, I mean it in the context of its modern, almost religious, incarnation. New age cults abound. Actually you know what, these new age things are basically religions now that it’s become an epidemic so I’m going to make my job easier and just say “religion” and mean both religion and spirituality.
Religion seems to want to have all the answers about everything. And I mean everything. The amount of times I’ve heard a religious person claims that god created the earth (and all that other boring, less important stuff in the vast and infinite universe) in seven days as if it were an insoluble, infallible fact far exceeds the number of times I’ve heard the same sort of person say, “I like the idea that god created the universe in seven days but I don’t really know. I’m more comfortable believing this than not knowing at all. Also, I like church because we sing songs and there people there speak softly and it only costs we a few quid a week.” or something to that effect.
In light of all of this, I feel like I want to say, “The thing that fills the space of God in my life is those little moments of peace that come upon me when I sit down and shut up in every conceivable way and just enjoy being alive for a second. I don’t need hollow promises of life after death because if I need that then I’m not living this life well enough. I don’t need the idea of some angry, overzealous and yet somehow absent father figure watching over my life to make me morally balanced. I’ve already got a dad. I don’t need another one. One’s enough. I don’t need a religion to tell me how to be a decent person either. I would rather bolster the value of being a decent person by choosing to be kind and considerate and respectful and so on because I think that’s the best way to be not because some old man who happens to force little boys to have sex with in private told me that some invisible man in the sky is disappointed in me when I lie. I don’t lie because I value honesty not because your old book says not to lie.
I think it comes down to one clean and clear point. There’s a fat and hairy mollusc like line between science and philosophy. I feel like there’s a huge need to treat philosophy and philosophy and science as science. So, pondering what these medieval men might have meant by what they wrote in their book thousands of years ago and what on earth compelled them to do so would come under Philosophy. Debating whether it’s a good thing or not to lie and or steal another person’s livestock would come under philosophy. The origin of the universe = science.
This approach to these mythologies might encourage each person who approaches them to settle on their own philosophy and question the accepting fallacies and inconsistencies in these traditions. It would make ejecting someone from a place of worship for asking intelligent questions a pathetic thing to do and it would result in less of us taking baseless assertions as fact on faith alone. But I don’t know why I’m telling you this. If you’ve made it this far through this post you either agree with me or are just reading so that you can get your facts straight when you grumble with your religious friends about me before praying for my soul or something.
So, yeah. That’s where I’ve come to now. Closer to the Taoist thing about God existing but not existing without it really affecting my life all that much. No more wishy-washy nonsense about magic thoughts. A deep abhorrence for Deepak Chopra, as if that didn’t come across crystal-fucking-clear earlier. And more respect for science and the scientific method than ever before. Said the person who one said, “science is wrong about a lot of stuff.” How far we come. I wasn’t totally wrong though. Science probably is wrong about a lot of stuff, in tiny ways which it will correct by admitting it’s wrong and asking good questions – a practice I think we can all learn from.
That’s what I’ve done, really. When I was like 15, I learned what like to do horrible thing and then hate myself for it for years afterwards. When I was 18, I started looking into Buddhism and different world religions having grown up with no real religious influence other than two grandparents who are Jehovah’s Witnesses. By 20, I was on that old path to being brainwashed by a cult. When I was 21, I was balls deep in the Law of Attraction. 22, I was done with the Law of Attraction, the cult and everything else associated with it. 23, I was into gurus and non-dualism and the Power of Now.
I’m 24 now. I get my ideas by thinking about them on and off for weeks, debating with my wife and then submitting to likely never knowing for sure before deciding to settle on something that “works for now.” The need to find answers about the big questions as all but worn off. I just don’t care anymore. I’m open to new ideas and genuine and non-anecdotal proof. I don’t really hate anybody but I’m skeptical of most things despite being a die-hard hope addict. I avoid people because they annoy me and with all the time I save no having that many friends, I focus on creating beauty. I write music, I mod Skyrim, I learn new things and develop my skills, I talk to the people I do actually like about things that matter to me and to them (as often as possible that’s not which part of their body aches today and how they slept). And I don’t need religion to be happy. I’m happy now than I’ve been for so long and it’s not dependant on what I believe about the work, the universe or about metaphysics. It’s dependant on what I do with my day. So it’s at my fingertips, so to speak. It’s not up in the sky, or after death, or subject to the biased opinions of a man in a dress standing in the front of a crusty old building reading dodgily translated words from a dusty old book. And it’s certainly not reliant on whether I believe in God. God doesn’t even factor into it. I don’t need half-baked platitudes anymore either.
Mad that. When I was so sure that I’d be happier than ever if I unlock the metaphysical mysteries of the universe if I kept my eyes closed long enough. Lol.