Well, this is it. October 31st, Halloween for most of us, and me for a while in life. That's not really what it is, though, but at this high holy day/night of Samhain, I'm finding myself not feeling terribly spiritual.
Believe me, I want to be, but I realized today that now is the time for me to blog about something that has bothered me tremendously over the past few months. I am again going through another shaking of my belief system, and I'm processing it about the only way I can.
I realize some of what I am about to say will likely offend you; that is not my intent. This is not to disrespect anyone who has any (or no) views at all on the subjects I'm going to tackle.
Now I'm also not home, so I don't have all the resources at my fingertips I might require, but I'm not sure I'll need them. This is not going to be a treatise on anything academic, more just my opinion and feeling about things.
In the wake of a hurricane, I think a lot of our lives our really disrupted, and Samhain for Pagans, Wiccans and the like may be stuck in that same situation.
My thoughts may meander, but I'll try not to do that. First of all, we have the dark night of Samhain, but it is not meant to be dark in the way that other alleged religions would have you think.
We head into the winter, less sun, longer nights. We have harvested the fruits of our labor, one would hope, and now we have time to reflect. One of the periods of a Samhain ritual mirrors the Jewish time of Passover (I hope I'm right on this) where the dead are remembered.
This past year, there have been several deaths; too many to mention. Friends, colleagues and others; I feel a disconnect from them, yet tonight they might come around before they move on. If they have, then so be it. It's made me think of my own mortality again, though I feel physically much more able to live on for a lot longer. I just hope my mental status remains good enough to keep up.
This kind of moves me to what I'm starting to think has happened to us: I'm starting to see the madness inherent in organized religion, and how it's being used and misused.
I don't have any particular dislike or hatred of any religion; I just don't like the way people use it. Most of them use it for their own gain, and don't think one second about the consequences of their actions.
Those who claim to be holy or religious may well be trying to live that way, but then one must realize we are human and cannot be perfect. We pass ourselves off as that, though; by every means necessary.
I read recently that one of the tenets of the Sikh faith is that each person must try to live an exemplary life. Well, don't we all? You hope...but what does that mean? A good life? A fulfilling life? One that makes a difference?
Interpretation I think is part of it; I believe most faiths want its people to do that, to do good, and so forth. Again, what is and what is not is open to interpretation, and that's where we get off course.
People who claim religion point to their holy texts...the Bible, the Koran, the this, the that...the fundamentalist (read: fanatical) and possessed believe their word is the only word, and that's it.
I find these texts interesting, as Sherlock Holmes once said, "to a collector of fairy tales."
I do not believe any of these religious texts are the word of "God." They are stories, anecdotes, quotes; were they transmitted from someone in the know, or were they the creation of historians and very early public relations men?
Jesus supposedly didn't write anything down, because he didn't want it traced back to him. So who wrote all that stuff? I don't think he did, and I don't think his "Father" did, either.
Most of this stuff is written to keep people in line, in fear, and unable to get out of a shell. Then we have the grotesque interpretations of same...
You see and hear it all the time; most people just chuckle at it, but I don't find it funny. For example, parallels to Christianity and Islam: certain sects of both faiths believe...are you ready for this? That all musicians are homosexuals.
How about that? Didn't know I was gay! I have heard people spout that shit off.
12 words in the book of Leviticus makes "Alleged Christians" believe all the lies thrown down about homosexuality. If it wasn't being gay, it'd be something else, believe me.
Most of these religions are all about subjugation, in the context of how they are interpreted and used. The Protestantism I grew up with was not a hate-filled, fear-inspired, "Us against Them" religion. The Bible was not a word for word way of life; it offered stories, guidelines and thoughts that were important, supposedly. Faith in it all was one thing, but that faith had to be in yourself, as well.
I do feel a lot of people, regardless of their religion really do try to walk the walk as well as talk it. Of course, the ones who talk the loudest are the ones I suspect the most. You talk too much, you doth protest too much; sounds to me like you have something to hide.
An old and dear friend I went to a Catholic (yes!) college with many years ago, on finding I followed Buddhism asked me: "Does that mean you do not believe in God?"
Good question. At the time I recall saying no; because as a Pagan, I believed in a God and Goddess.
Now let me get into the context of that, and what I think they really are:
To me now, there is a higher power...it is a universal life force that flows within and without us. God and Goddess are male and female labels and manifestations given this force, because we then can recognize and understand them.
There is something there, but I don't think it's anything you really can see. You can feel it, yes; perhaps you can even commune with it. It's there, but the question for me is: do we really need the names, the labels, and all the trappings that go with it?
No matter what we call ourselves, we all have rituals and rites. We again call them by different names; the holidays are the same, just different names.
The Pagan ways that pre-date Christianity are still there; largely, they have been co-opted, borrowed, even stolen.
Now if I may get onto a topic that is more current: about 15 years ago I came up with the phrase, "the obnoxious fad that passes for religion." I used it in a radio commentary, and it raised an affirmation from my boss.
Religion, especially Christianity became a fad to me in the early 80's, but it was like that long before, with television and evangelicals like Billy Graham. Graham is looked up to even by non-Christians but I honestly don't think that man deserves all the credit. Considering the pro-war, hateful stance his son has taken since taking over for the old man, and that Billy has not corrected his idiot son makes me wonder.
Graham was virulently anti-Catholic in earlier days, and made clear that John F. Kennedy was not fit to be president, because of that. He later backpedaled and apologized when he found out what a howler he'd committed.
What followed? Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson; two men of hate if ever there were. I recall a radio colleague trying to apologize for Falwell and his rants against "Witches." I technically am one; wonder how this guy would have reacted if he knew?
The point I make: a flimsy, unreal form of faith has penetrated our consciousness to the point that it no longer represents what it was meant to be. We trivialize our faith and spirituality at every turn; politicians for eons have declared "God" to be on their side, and their party's side. The media repeats quotes of "God" and prayer and anything like that because it supposedly makes good copy. No, it's just "working God in there," and it makes me sick.
To me it is offensive. One of the most egregious and disgusting acts has been the dog and pony show starring Tim Tebow. The NY Jets backup quarterback is the frontman of a money-grubbing operation led by his father. The "Tebowing" and all the sickly sweet things that guy does are done with calculation and with an eye toward making him look good...and making all of them money.
It's all like that.
The man who became Buddha never called himself a "God." He was a man, and never said he was anything else. What he learned he passed on in oral tradition; the Four Noble Truths, his sayings, thoughts and so forth are all things that came to him, and he shared them with others.
After his death, his followers traveled that part of the world to bring those teaching to others. A monk is said to have reached the west shore of Central American in the 5th Century; they made it as far as the Middle East. Would it be too much to wonder...did Jesus meet one of these traveling monks and share information with him? Possible.
I do think Jesus was a real person, and some of the stories are plausible. Most of what is written of him is long after his death.
Another point: Jesus supposedly did not walk about the world crowing to all that he was anything special. He did not need churches, mosques or temples to show off how great he was. He didn't want everyone else making a lot of noise either.
Add to this the trappings we throw down; look at the churches, the temples, the cathedrals. Modern day ones look like Wal-Marts or malls, but the old ones do have some charm in their architecture. I want to think these places were built with love and with the right intent, but again, it's the people who run these things and how they run them.
The point is: we have allowed things to surpass yet again our reason. We allow those who claim the power and the special line to the almighty to rule us, and dictate what we will do and not do.
It gets downright stupid; laws are made to govern that men must wear beards, women must cover their bodies because the men are too stupid to control themselves, and it's the women's fault anyway. Men have to do this, women can't do that, and you must give 10% of your wealth or more to the church, and so forth and so on.
You know what? None of that is the church's damned business!
Then we have the lovely scandals...the Catholic Church, and that ongoing scandal that will never end I fear. Look at the Mormon Church; they supposedly outlawed polygamy and child brides in 1902, but it still goes on. They do nothing to stop it. Of course a "religion" founded on the alleged visions of a man who claimed an angel delivered him the plates of a book should be considered suspect.
We have permitted ourselves to be taken in, ruled and controlled. Pure and simple.
So where do I fit into this? I am still trying to figure it all out. All I know is that while I want to ensure that you have a right to your own mind and can decide for yourself, also know I am not trying to change your mind.
I am not saying you're wrong. I am not saying anything of the sort; if it works for you, good.
"An' it harm none, do what ye will," is the mantra, but there are others.
I believe in the life force, and I do think it's there. The spirit world does exist, and it is all around us. This is not for peace of mind, it just is.
IT JUST IS...mindfulness of Buddhism, the mindfulness training that Thich Nhat Hanh put forth...we are, it is, it's here, so are you and I.
We all are here...like it or not, we need to learn to exist together. In most cases we do, but we do have a way of destroying ourselves, don't we?
Of late, people will note that Krishna Das has again become part of my spiritual life. He is a vessel; the chants (or Kirtan) that he sings are songs and chants that go back centuries.
Krishna Das wrote in his book, "Chants of a Lifetime" that he was not singing to any deity, but just to his guru. It was what he had to offer.
Meditation, chanting, prayer, mindfulness. They are all the same thing.
We all do it one way or the other.
I respect your right to do it how you wish...just don't put it on others, which we unfortunately do too often. We demand everyone be like us, or else.
That has got to stop.
Organized Religion should have its hall pass revoked. What you are and what you will be should be up to you. It's time for the so-called religions to pull their weight; to pay taxes, to register for selective service and serve this country in some way. I love how we can send young people to war, but some of those who support and push for the war make sure their own kind doesn't have to go.
Decide for yourself, where things fit in your life and be practical. Be thoughtful; be mindful.
I'm still trying; I don't where I'll end up tomorrow, but know this, I'm making an effort to be me, to be a decent person and to try and correct the crazy things that I know are not all right with me.
I'm not perfect, never will be, but I can be better.
Blessed Samhain to you and yours; whatever you do or don't, it is up to you.
I don't see you any different than I did before; to my friends, my people, I'm still me, and you're still you. Let's keep working to stay together on that, and respect our differences, and the things that make us different.
For me, it's the life force that guides us. If you think I'm fucking nuts, you have a right to your opinion.
Peace, I'm outta here.