Hola Mi Gente…
It is a lovely day and I’ll be heading to the seashore to take in the rejuvenation of the seashore — eat some clams on the half shell.
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Man is the only animal that has the True Religion – several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself, and cuts his throat if his ideology isn’t straight.
— Mark Twain
What I find interesting when engaging the “holy rollers” is that it always comes down to this: According to the religious, I’m going to hell for daring to question their beliefs. I’ve had some actually say that (for my sake) I had better be right, because (presumably) God is gonna have his vengeance on my blaspheming ass. It has been my experience that “true believers” are more interested in defending dogma than actually living what they purport to believe. If you’re a Christian and you find a measure of justification in your belief that your God will sentence me to a hereafter of eternal damnation, then what kind of person are you?
Beliefs can be a motherfucker sometimes…
As a matter of habit, I do a “belief spring cleaning” at least once a year. What that means is that I take an inventory of my beliefs and get rid of the ones that have no foundation. Now, this is no easy feat. Over the years, I have had to throw away some cherished beliefs. One such belief was my belief in me! I used to believe that “Eddie” existed, but when I sat down to look for “Eddie,” I couldn’t find him. What I found instead, when I suspending my belief, was an on-going process — a series of beliefs — which I managed to cobble together to create this entity we’ve all agreed to call “Eddie” (as well as some other choice names). In fact, what I found was an amalgam of defense mechanisms, beliefs, fears, personality quirks, that when played fast, looked like what I consider my personality — or “Eddie.” It’s a lot like a film. A film gives the viewer the illusion of movement and substance because the individual frames move at a very fast rate through the projector.
But when I sat down and slowed the process down, suspended my belief system, what I saw wasn’t “Eddie,” but a bunch of different components that added up to what I call an “Eddie.” At first that was a fucked up revelation. How could it be that I don’t exist?! I must be seeing things wrong, I surmised to myself, so I began researching this. After all, I was very much attached to the “Eddie” I had created.
But nowhere could I find the basis of Eddie. From a science perspective, I discovered that the brain/ mind has no specific function that creates “Eddie.” There’s no central processing area in the brain responsible for the creation of a personality — an “Eddie.” It’s all made up! At first, this was a very scary revelation. I mean, how will “Eddie” go to heaven if there is no “Eddie”? But then, upon further reflection, I realized that this kinda/ sorta liberated me. I mean if “Eddie” was something I made up as a way to cope with life, then that meant I didn’t have to defend myself as much. “Eddie” was a story I made up in order to explain shit, but it wasn’t really who I was. Sure, I use “Eddie” for stuff like paying the rent and crossing the street, but “Eddie” is still just a story, a movie I made up.
And that’s how I lost my “Eddie.” Or my belief in it.
Another belief I lost much more earlier in my life was the hand-me-down belief in an invisible person that lived in the sky somewhere and who either punished or rewarded us according to our behavior. That one was a lot easier than losing “Eddie.” I realized that belief in a Divine Hierarchy that needed to be prayed to in order to curry favor was pretty much a juvenile construct. And that shit about the world being created in seven days? Yeah right! And why He gotta be a man?! What’s up with that? What I came to experience and realize was that we’re all part of a Divine Spark, that God isn’t somewhere out there, but here inside of me (and everyone else). And some day, who knows, maybe even that belief will be discarded.
Any hand-me-down belief system is a subtle appeal to your deepest fears and longings. It’s like a parasite that wraps itself around your mind — almost like a demonic possession.
Don’t get me wrong, certain belief systems contain important truths, questions, and sometimes even answers. Yet, at a very deep level, they are not your truths, questions, or answers. An unquestioned belief system is like eating free bread, it only masks the real hunger we have for spiritual fulfillment. This basic human hunger can only be satisfied by our own efforts, by the planting and cultivation of our questions, by the harvesting of our own answers, and by coming to our own truths. Only then will you earn the right to live consciously, mindfully, and call yourself truly alive.
Blind faith is, well, blind.
Hand-me-down beliefs are a lot like spiritual trash: easy junk-food handouts offered to us by outdated belief systems and thought constellations that keep us dependent on the spiritual dole and rendering us incapable of fending for ourselves, incapable of coming into contact with our own potentials and gifts. If we, in our thirst for spirituality, agree to drink the Kool-Aid of guilt, shame, and fear they serve us, we will live as zombies — dead from the neck up.
Face it, most belief systems are the rotted remains of what one person sorted out in deliberation and mindfulness for themselves. Will you be content to live on the rotted meat of their long-lost labors?
The unexamined life is a second-hand life. It is second hand because it is dependent on other things for meaning. Take away the hand-me-down beliefs and you take away dependency. An examined life is meaningful because it is the examination and personal exploration that gives it genuine meaning and grants dignity. Do you really believe in or want off-the-shelf, one-size fits-all truths, or are you going to explore and discover your own?
The choice has always been yours.
My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…