Okay, it is late at night. It’s the perfect time to contemplate many conditions of what we all call humanity.
Like the concepts of religion and spirituality.
For some reason, we associate deliberate misery, deprivation, and the like with an increased awareness, greater consciousness, and spirituality. I find this curious. It doesn’t have the same associations when it is caused by circumstances rather than a deliberate choice though. Then, it’s merely tragedy.
So throughout time, there have been monasteries, convents, spiritual quests, and the like. All of these were designed to create misery and deprivation, and therefore induce a greater spiritual experience.
What is that anyhow? Why do we need misery to create spiritual experiences? Why can’t we experience joy as we commune with our Creator?
Laughter. Singing. Joy. Music. Conversations. Enjoyment.
I’m not talking extravagant and decadent lifestyles. I’m talking modest lifestyles with reasonable comforts and real joy.
Why can I only commune with God when I’m in agony and discomfort? Seriously…do any of us really enjoy conversations with people who are miserable all the time? Why would God be different? Don’t you think God would like to hear from us when we are NOT miserable? Do we have a God who prefers us, as God’s Children, to be miserable?
I don’t think so. I don’t believe God is a jealous, mean spirited, vindictive, and angry Creator. If we are in fact all God’s Children, then God would want us to be happy, fulfilled, and reasonably comfortable.
Happiness isn’t a selfish experience either. I feel great joy when I’m able to make someone else happier, more comfortable, and achieve greater fulfillment. I actually enjoy doing things for other people, although like most people, I don’t enjoy being taken for granted or giving to those who are continual takers without ever contributing anything to the “Bank of Life” where we all have an account.
I suppose I’m a bit odd, but in a sense, the way I see the whole “Bank of Life” deal is like this. When we are born, we come into this world with a mortgage already, held by the Bank of Life. We start making payments on that mortgage immediately, as the child is often tasked with the job of teaching others many important lessons, ranging from love to patience, with an infinite list in between. We continue making those payments to the Bank of Life throughout our lives.
We can default on our mortgage, if we so choose. Refusing to live up to our potential is one way, and refusing to live at all is another, as some people choose to default by suicide. Others choose to increase their debt by taking out additional “loans”. What price do these defaulted or increased loans have?
Apparently, it can mean that we are reborn into this world with a larger mortgage, as the debts are carried over. No one else can make the payments for us, and there is no real way to escape those debts.
Sometimes it’s hard to imagine such a thing as a life debt as we watch young children at play. There are a lot of things that are hard to understand in life, like why some children are born to a life of struggle and starvation while others fight obesity, or why some children are born only to die at the hands of those who were charged with protecting them.
I can’t explain that. I hate it though. Maybe because I lost a child, I agonize more over such things. I wish I could bring them all home, but the reality is…I can’t afford to do such a thing financially. There are millions of children who need a meal, a hug, an encouraging word, and even parents to care about them. Not all of them were born physically whole and hearty, and that too is hard to understand.
I’ve seen children who needed parents, just as many others have. I’ve seen children who are dying. I cried over my own son’s body after he died, confused and unable to understand why he was gone or even where he had gone. I’ve seen elderly people with no one to care about them.
I’ve met nice people, mean people, plain outright nasty people, kind people, and people who just didn’t seem to be at home. From crazy to mentally handicapped and on over to the brilliant ones, everyone has a story. Everyone has hopes and dreams and needs and fears.
Parents’ complaints about the younger generation didn’t sound much different in ancient Greece than they do today. They probably were the same as we moved from hunter/gatherers to farmers to craftsmen to our modern society with a million specialties. We’re all convinced they lack respect and are “going to hell in a handbasket.”
Then, one day, you realize…you are immensely proud of the person that infant you once cradled in your arms has become over the years. You still have hopes and dreams for them, but they all boil down to the fact that every parent wants their children to be happy most of all.
Why would God be different, if God is as a parent would be? Parents love unconditionally. We may get angry, be disappointed…but few of us would turn our backs on our own child, no matter what terrible thing they have done. We may be ashamed and horrified, but no matter what, we do still love them and hope that somehow, they will find redemption and happiness.
I think about the torturous things people have done in search of “Godliness” and I can’t help but shake my head. How can self-mutilation, suicide bombings, self-imposed deprivations, and denial of your own humanity help you become closer to God, no matter what name you give to the Deity/concept?
To find our own humanity and spirituality, we need to devote time and effort to the endeavor, just as we devote time and effort to any skill which we regard as important to achieve mastery in . Some people will achieve greater mastery than others, but everyone can achieve some level of mastery. Just like achieving skill in “art” doesn’t mean that everyone does the same thing in crayon, but rather covers everything from photography to computer animation to sculpture to painting to pencils…and a lot of other things too. The variations are nearly infinite, and so can be our search for who we are and what spirituality really means.
Does it really matter what name and imagery you use to represent the concept of God?
Does God even care whether you use a pair of crossed sticks, a candle, a crude fish drawing…or anything else as an image to remind you of what God is all about?
Does God even care which collection of sounds you use as a representation and designation? Does it matter if you say God, Creator, the One, Allah, Jehovah, Yahweh, or Ibbididy-Dibbidy-Do? As long as you know what it means, does it even matter at all?
I doubt it.
Just like aliens and UFOs. Some people seem to think that if aliens exist, it threatens their God concept. I have to shake my head at that, because I figure that if the Creator could manage things like the wildebeest, musk-ox, and platypus…surely aliens weren’t that hard.
Or science. Others think that if science is true, along with things like the Theory of Evolution, then we can’t have a Creator. Surely a Creator that managed the elephant could manage to create a group of laws to perpetuate the system, along with give us the ability to figure out that particular “code of life” to work with it.
Other people are very uncomfortable with the whole religion and spirituality thing. I was once upon a time among them. I wasn’t an atheist, but I also didn’t number myself among the Christians. Today, I live in the Bible Belt among a predominately fundamentalist population. I’ve not changed, I’m not likely to suddenly join a Pentecostal church. I also don’t consider myself to be a Wiccan or any other particular religion. I do, however, consider myself to be a deeply spiritual person, despite my aversion to wearing a label. I find the term “God” to be an easy-to-understand word for a concept of a Creator, Source, One, etc. from which we all have sprung. Soul is a good word to express the concept of our spiritual facet too. These are non-confrontational ways to talk about concepts and ideas without anyone feeling threatened here. Pagans can understand as well as Christians. I guess my whole philosophy is based on tolerance for other belief systems. There is a saying that “All roads lead to Rome” that is very applicable. Spiritual awakening can take an infinite number of routes, but in the end, they all wind up the same place. It doesn’t matter whether you choose to take the route of organized religion or blaze your own path, you’ll arrive there…sooner or later.
Once upon a time, long long ago, when I was young and naive and innocent…I hoped to someday become a wise woman.
Now, I’m slower and grayer, and still hoping to someday become a wise woman. I do hope (and believe) that I have become wiser with the passage of time.
Today, I believe in many things. Things like:
- Kindness–even a small kindness can make a huge difference in someone’s life
- Charity–I believe in giving to the community as a whole as well as to those who are struggling.
- Education–Learning is a great gift. We should learn something every day, and never pass up an opportunity to help someone else learn something new.
- Simplicity–when we keep our lives simple, we leave room for other things.
- Creativity–creativity creates solutions for problems, as well as adds beauty to our lives.
- Appreciation–appreciate what you have, for it can all be gone in the blink of an eye.
- Modesty–This just isn’t about physical modesty, but rather about much more. A modest lifestyle, a modest attitude, and a modest way of living are all in our best interests. We don’t need grand awards and lavish homes, nor do we need fat bank accounts to find happiness.
- Joy–Joy should be shared, not hidden away. Joy should be appreciated.
- Love–It’s one of the things that makes us human. It’s also one of the few things that grows even faster when we give it away regularly.
There we go. Some middle-of-the-night musings…
I think we need a “Everlasting Joy Fellowship” rather than another cold, heartless center of deprivation, don’t you?