I was born, baptized and raised Roman Catholic attending a Sister’s of Notre Dame elementary/middle school and a Christian Brother’s High School in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. I was never touched inappropriately, spent a good deal of time kneeling on my hands as I developed issues with authority at a young age, was slapped around on occasion by nuns and brothers and have no bad memories of my childhood. It was great really. I wear my merit badges for obsessive compulsive disorder, co-dependency, adult child of an alcoholic, depression and delusional tendencies with pride on my now unused Harley jacket – no helmet of course.
Beginning in 7th grade I began dangerously messing around with the existential philosophers and their forerunners; people like Søren Kierkrgaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, etc. as well as with theological types such as Paul Tillich and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Sister Frances was not at all pleased to see Sartre’s Being and Nothingness beneath the catechism on my desk, but she let it remain. I read once that it is not possible to embrace great thoughts and to come away un-scathed. I don’t recall who wrote it, but let me tell ya, I was scathed plenty.
Some of the scathing enlightened me to the fact that much of what theologians, philosophers and metapsychologists write is not written to elucidate, but to gratify and/or erect defensive perimeters around their phenomenological arguments thereby fending off probable metaphysical attacks. Reading or listening to these people to seek knowledge and understanding is like opening a thousand oysters to find a single shiny pearl. The pearls are worth the effort, but the work is fretful. I concluded by graduation from High School that personal ego gratification and fear leads most intellectuals to jousting with windmills; a pass-time I had no interest in. Fast cars, money (which I worked for) and girls were the ticket to happiness. I recall pizza and beer being in the mix as well.
By the time I graduated High School and drank my first legal beer I was a confused agnostic, although never an atheist, carrying Mao’s Redbook (Quotations From Chairman Mao) in my shirt pocket at all times, and hating everything in site – particularly the capitalist military/industrial complex as we so fondly referred to it. I didn’t set foot in a church for many years, finally got married in one, got real serious about it and now once again have serious issues with organized religion and am probably best characterized as a Catholic Buddhist with no organized religious affiliation. It’s between me and the Universe now.
After High School I couldn’t really cope with what I perceived to be a distasteful waste of thought energy. Sartre’s despair in dealing with what he described as human facticity finally drove me from this area of endeavor entirely, not to mention I wasn’t really that bright a bulb to begin with. It seemed there must be a better path than the side road to obstreperous thought duels. At this point, I mean now not then, I find Meditation to be a pretty good pathway. Reality doesn’t lie and silence is as real as it gets.
The single pearl I was able to pocket out of the progressive miasma of the sixties is the concept of self actualization. Some very smart people such as Kurt Goldstein and Abraham Maslow developed this psychological theory dealing with human motivation. The idea is to determine the “master motive” or the only real motive any person has in realizing their maximum or best potential. I just like to call it the “pursuit of excellence”. Goldstein wrote a book entitled The Organism: A Holistic Approach to Biology Derived from Pathological Data in Man”, which the holes in my mind have long since lost, but Wikipedia handily quotes “the tendency to actualize, as much as possible, [the organism’s] individual capacities” in the world. Now you’re talking my language.
These actualization folks seemed to me the best the West has regarding analysis of human fulfillment, but folks in the East had all this down pat centuries ago. I’m pretty lazy so don’t see the benefit in plowing old ground. Meditation is more relaxing and more direct when grappling with silly questions like “why am I here” so I started investigating Buddha, which led me to Deepak Chopra, which led me to quantum mechanics, which led me to string theory, which emboldened my thinking on gene frequency occurrence as relates to the small probability of random organic evolution, which convinced me the universe is its own infinite creative force, that is, God – or whatever you want to call it, but it’s big. Very big and we are each part of it – like it or not. God is not a grumpy old man sitting on cloud who is mad at you all the time, although sometimes it seems that way, doesn’t it?
I am convinced that the universe is its own infinitely powerful creative force and that force is love; both as an object or noun and simultaneously an action or verb (a little infinity going on there). Humans are compelled to name this force in a puny attempt to comprehend it, which our self limited finite minds find difficult to accomplish while ensconced in our gravitationally bound, physical bodies. Perceived physicality incorrectly infers (actually we deduce) separateness, which our ego in turn easily and mistakenly reinforces. How many wars have been started with nothing more than this one mistake in understanding? People are disappointing sometimes.
There is nothing in the universe but a quantum soup of intelligent, interconnected energy bundled in incentivised myriad forms mostly made up of space. It’s just all God spelled out as E = mc2 although Einstein didn’t describe it that way. Einstein suggests that energy and matter are interchangeable in terms of the speed of light squared. I say that energy and matter are the same thing varying only by our perception, intent and the easily convertible forms of energy at hand. This makes no sense until quantum mechanics (we will need to go several layers deeper than quantum eventually) where we can clearly see that our act of observation affects that which we are observing while we are observing it. Why? Because observer and observed are both parts of the same thing. They are “one”. Everything one does affects all others; good, bad or indifferent. Everything is interconnected, which I believe led Stephen W. Hawking to write an interesting book entitled “The Theory of Everything”.
Suddenly instead of finding ourselves asking “how did we get here”, we find the obvious convergence of Eastern Transcendentalism with Christian Mysticism with Scientific Discovery. How cool is that? It’s all the same with different words. It turns out there are many trains on different tracks all going to the same place; and that place is us; that place is God; that place is the universe. The fact is we don’t need to leave our living room to find God. We are each an infinitely tiny piece of God; a manifestation or aspect individually expressed through “free will”; different from rocks, sharks and dogs only in that we have the gift (or curse if you choose to be negative) of self-awareness in space and time.
It appears different life forms have different levels of self awareness. A rock is aware although we can’t perceive it. A plant is more aware and we can see that it reacts to light, heat, water, attention, etc. We see that a shark or fish is even more aware and more reactive than a plant. A dog, cat, pig, horse or parrot is much more aware and exhibits emotional responses to physical presence, language, memory and are quite capable of emotional bonding. Finally we get to us and the dimensional perception of ourselves in time and space. Immediately we panic, becoming dyslexic and disoriented, swollen heads spinning with argumentative ideas of dialectic materialism and the existential existence of our very important selves as relates to what we perceive to be “others”. The whole argument is pointless. We are all the same thing. Read some old Vedic Sanskrit stuff, you’ll feel better. It’s no wonder the Marxist existentialists are lost in space.
Our physicality leads us to be unaware of our spiritual nature and connectedness. This lack of awareness then results in an acute anxiety or conflict with self causing us to become defensive, always fearing some non-existent enemy. We learn to hate ourselves, hate others, fight wars and generally adopt destructive behavior patterns and modes of thinking, which we then blame on someone else. We actually try to run society with this kind of garbage. It’s pretty easy to see how we create real enemies who will kill us when our lives consist of acting out paranoid fantasies. As Ron White is fond of saying, “You can’t fix stupid. Stupid is forever.”
Most major religions, at least the one’s I’m aware of accept the idea of an infinite power of some sort. Humans seem hardwired for this regardless of culture, skin color, location, etc. If you can accept this concept then it follows that an infinite being, power or force must be all inclusive. In other words you and I, the rocks, wind, trees, seas, dogs, bunnies, spiders and everything else are part of infinity, which by definition is all inclusive. Therefore, you are me and I am you and we’re all just a rock the same as we are simultaneously everything. The only difference is some creatures, such as humans possess some level of self awareness, therefore complicating their state of being with memories of the past as well as visions of the future. As we all know this can be problematic.
Many insist that science disproves the existence of God. Let’s clarify that I use the familiar term God loosely. Think of this infinite power however you are comfortable; as a person; as a spirit; as a force; as mother earth; it doesn’t matter. We can call the force Zeus, Yah Wey, God, Allah, Buddha or whatever. It’s not like we control an infinite organizing power by tagging it with a nice name and the power certainly doesn’t care what you call it. It’s perfectly happy just being and you’re part of it anyway, so you’re just talking to yourself.
Science doesn’t disprove the existence of a unifying creative force; it confirms it. Take for example the occurrence of gene frequencies as occur in molecular DNA. When we study the occurrence probabilities of these frequencies we quickly see that the possibility of forming one single protein molecule from a random mix of 20 amino acids is not likely within geologic time as we know it. The probability of randomly forming many protein molecules and combining them into the myriad life forms we see throughout history is so small as to be insignificant. This suggests an intelligent organizing force or energy form, not randomness.
The occurrence of natural constants such as the speed of light, gravitational acceleration, the mass of an electron, proton or neutron, the permeability of free space and others, any slight variation in which would make life as we know it impossible suggests that this level of organization maintained over many, many centuries is simply not probable without an intelligent organizing energy force. Over time systems tend toward equilibrium. Energy must be input or output to disturb the equilibrium. Why would a system in equilibrium randomly disturb itself? How would it do this?
To suggest that totally random energy inputs can result in the consistent and balanced combining of materials and energy in such a way as to sustain specific life forms in symbiotic relationship over time without significant variation simply defies reason. The laws of thermodynamics are an excellent proof of the existence of an organizing force in the universe. We can place a pile of stuff from our backyard on a table then sit back and see how long it will take to randomly form a squirrel or fish, but I’m not going to wait there with you while you’re watching because you’ll be there a very long time and I’m easily bored.
I don’t accept the idea that this intelligent organizing force is a personal God sitting apart from and judging humans. If God is pure love then justice has to exist. If God creates a stupid creature like a human, which makes mistakes every day of its life, then insists on punishing the stupid creature that he created, where is justice? There isn’t any. This is not love and is certainly not what’s going on.
We are all together with the rest of the universe, God. When we hate each other we hate ourselves. It would do the world well for humans to recognize their true spiritual nature and to accept the love by which they are created and exist. Free will allows us not to and we generally don’t, hence our hardship on earth. God doesn’t do things to us. We freely choose what we do. We just don’t come to grips with the responsibility that freedom to choose entails nor the consequences our choices create.
Love cannot exist without freedom. An act of love is a freely chosen, selfless act of caring for another creature without expectation of a return benefit. The universe is built of and for spiritual love, but humans are blocked to their own detriment by their misleading attachment to physical existence. If we would slow down occasionally and observe reality we would be better off and the world would be a safer place. We should realize hate does not exist. Hatred is the absence of love in the same way cold doesn’t exist. Cold is simply the lack of heat. Hate is the result of our personal choice not to accept or give love. Man denies his own nature and pays for it every day.
As Forest Gump told us, “Stupid is as stupid does”, but there is still hope that Ron White is wrong, that stupid is not forever, that we can learn, so never give up. Sit and be quiet. You’ll find yourself along with the rest of you, that is, God in that peaceful silent place. If nothing else, maybe we’ll calm down a bit and quit hurting each other. Wouldn’t that be one sweet gift for our children and friends?