We Are at War

We are all soldiers in a war that has endured for countless millennia and we are the enemy that we seek to destroy. We are the combatants, the prisoners, and the casualties. We are at war with Nature and, by implication, we are also at war with Humanity since Humanity is a part of Nature. And if we are at war with Humanity then we are also at war with ourselves as we are part of Humanity. We are at war with ourselves, our humanity, and our nature.

All people have confrontations with Nature but people who have learned to live in harmony with Nature rather than confront it, have also learned to live with their own humanity and their own nature. We refer to these people with adjectives like primitive, aboriginal, indigenous, backwards, and uncivilized.

“Civilized” people, on the other hand, see Nature as something which must be conquered, tamed, and made to do our will. Civilized people see themselves as striving to gain mastery over Nature and as being separate from it. By denying Nature, we also deny our own nature and suppress it. Civilization is is essentially the denial and suppression of Nature. Because civilized peoples see themselves as separate from Nature, they feel they are superior to it. This notion extends to other peoples whom we deem as less civilized than we are. We see them as inferior and separate from us. Anyone or anything we deem to be inferior must be controlled, suppressed, or destroyed. Thus, we declare war on them.

War is always about power and control over people, territory, and ideas. In our war footing, we have defined civilization, religion, commerce, and politics in terms of power and control.

From the Book of Genesis:

23 There was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so.
25 God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground after their kind; and God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
29 The God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;
30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for for food’; and it was so.
31 God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Genesis 1:23 -31 (Updated New American Standard Bible)

Genesis is the root of the three major Western religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These verses justify our war on Nature, Humanity, and Ourselves as a Holy crusade. According to this scripture, God told us to subdue the Earth and rule over everything that lives upon it. But in order to subdue the Earth and rule over it, we must separate ourselves from nature and see everyone and everything as separate form ourselves. Since, according to The Bible, God create it all, we must also see ourselves as separate from our God.

Yet we are not separate from nature or humanity. Nor are we separate from God. And we are certainly not separate from ourselves or our nature.

Religion can be an instrument of war and throughout history it has often been used as such. Religions are often instituted among men as a means to establish power over others and to acquire wealth, territory, and resources. Isn’t that also the purpose of war? Religion is often used in the war against ourselves. Religions demand obedience and use guilt and shame to force us into submission and conformance.

According to Genesis, God provided us with everything we needed for life but left it up to us to sustain it. If we look back on our progress in the great war with Nature, it should be obvious that Nature is victorious in the end. We are fighting a war we cannot win. It seems that the Holy mandate of Genesis 1:26 has doomed mankind to bring about its own extinction. When our time on Earth has passed, the earth that God created for our benefit will once again flourish, at least until the Sun dies out or the Earth is struck by a gigantic meteor.

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Penultimate Day 2016

Today is December 30, 2016, the penultimate day of the year, a day I review and contemplate the events of the year and, hopefully, set goals and intentions for the coming year. There really aren’t really any events to be reviewed. Many of my posts this year were commentary on religion, politics, and American society and culture.

I wrote several pieces expressing my views about religion. Over the past year, they really haven’t changed much though I think I’ve become more tolerant in my outlook. I still find the practice of religion a fascinating subject. Aside from the obvious inconsistencies and contradictions I see in The Bible and in church doctrines, I am continually confounded by those who claim to be believers and followers of their faith who have so little apparent regard for or knowledge of the basic teachings. Many same to be ignorant of the teachings while others are simply indifferent to the teachings.

I made some commentary on the state of our political system. The incoming administration does not bode well for our country so I expect that I will have much more to comment about in the next few years. There seems to be much that needs to be addressed in this arena.

I commented on a few societal and cultural changes that I noticed, particularly in regard to sexual and gender identities and my views have evolved considerably. The ultra-conservative ruling parties that are poised to come into power will undoubtedly make every effort they can to suppress and repress these changes but the toothpaste is out of the tube. These changes in attitudes toward the LGBTQ community and others have taken root and they will eventually flourish. Progressive change might be slowed down but it can’t be stopped. We either move forward or we fall behind; we can’t stand still. Trying to maintain the status quo or go back to a fictitious previous time is falling behind, an effort that’s quite dangerous and quite foolish.

Other posts were experiments dealing with personal stuff and tentative probes into my own darkness. I hope I was able to avoid revealing too much information in that regard. One problem with exploring one’s own darkness is that while total disclosure might be ideal, the reality is that there’s going to be shit in that darkness that others might not want to or need to deal with. Despite my abhorrence of secrets, I still keep a lot of secrets and I will probably keep them in the shadows for many years to come, if not to my grave. The important thing is that I learn to accept and come to terms with them.

What’s in store for 2017? Hopefully, more of the same kind of commentary and probably more exploratory probes into my own darkness. I would hate to disappoint my anonymous readership.

I claim no religion

I claim no religion but I do not identify as an atheist. I might be considered agnostic, literally meaning that I don’t know. A belief in a supreme deity is uncertain but not likely. However, I am certain that I do not believe in the God of Abraham, and the systems of beliefs that run contrary to my sense of reason, my understanding of the Universe, and my own experience. I strongly suspect that modern interpretations of Western religion are very different from what the original prophets and mystics were trying tell us. It is mainly the modern interpretations (the last 17 centuries) that I find troublesome.

I would like to believe that there is something greater than us, a supreme consciousness, a force, or an energy that binds the Universe but the empirical evidence for it seems to be, at best, sketchy, anecdotal, and circumspect. Still, I’m hopeful that something of that order does exist and I’m open to possibilities.

There is so much that is beyond ordinary human capacity to observe and comprehend. Our science has made great strides in observing and measuring more and more subtle particles, forms of energy, and frequencies but much still lies beyond our senses even with the most advanced scientific instrumentation.

I’m certain that there are energies and frequencies that are beyond name and form — what we can sense and comprehend intellectually. You can call it Divinity, God, Brahman, Supreme Consciousness, The Force, The Great Spirit, or any other name you wish to give it. Whatever we call it, it is eternal and exists outside of the restrictions of our perceived reality based on our concepts of  time and space. It transcends our reality. We cannot give it name and form because when we attempt to describe it in terms we can understand, we limit it to our limited reality, thus restricting our understanding of it and our connection to it. Ultimately, it must be experienced intuitively, not intellectually.

As for religions, I find Vedic philosophies intriguing but I’ve found myself gravitating toward Buddhism, not necessarily as a religion but as a life philosophy. The Buddha never claimed to be a god, the son of a god, nor did he claim there was a god. He simply taught four basic truths and demonstrated that there was a way through which we could, through discipline and our own efforts, achieve our own salvation. It’s a path that requires more work than maintaining a belief that someone will grant you salvation but ultimately a path worth the following.

No religion yet on a path

It’s not often that I remember my dreams. Usually, all I have after waking up are disjointed fragments that usually fade within a few moments of opening my eyes.  That said, occasionally one of these fragments will stick with me. Such was the case when I woke up yesterday.

In this dream I was being interviewed for something and one of the interviewers asked me about my religious beliefs. I responded that I had no religion and followed no sect but I did endeavor to follow the precepts of The Four Noble Truths and The Eightfold Path that were taught by the Buddha.

It’s true that I don’t subscribe to any religion to include Buddhism. On the other hand, I do find Buddhism interesting and much of what I’ve read, makes more sense to me than many other religions. Most of my knowledge of Buddhist thought comes from The Teaching of Buddha by Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai. My daughter-in-law gave me the book several years ago and I’ve read it several times and I’m currently reading it yet again. I’ve also read a couple of books by Pema Chödrön. Other than that, my exposure to Buddhism has been online. So, I wouldn’t say that I’m a practicing Buddhist.

Maybe this dream fragment is a revelation or a not so subtle hint about my spiritual path. At the moment, I can’t say for sure what significance it has. It might not have any but it’s still an interesting prospect and a direction that bears looking into. I have kind of stuck on the path for the past couple of years so maybe it’s a finger pointing out a possible direction out of my rut.

Penultimate Day 2015

Another year is about to pass into history or, more likely, oblivion and on this penultimate day of the year, I take a retrospective look back over the events and non-events of the past year. Overall, it seemed to be a year on non-accomplishment — employment, projects, yoga, genealogy, et cetera. Maybe I can change that next year.

One theme that was nearly constant through most of the year was my contempt for my job or, as I called it, the Pit of Despair, which seemed to suck out my will to live on a daily basis. I didn’t mind the work itself and at times I actually enjoyed it. I worked with a great Field Support team at the hospital. My source of aggravation primarily stemmed from disdain for the company that employed me and its policies, particularly the emphasis on “productivity” and the necessity to document how I was being productive.

I was essentially providing a service by being available to respond to whatever came up so it really didn’t matter how “productive” I was since I had to be there anyway. Actually, the requirement to log everything and keep track of my time, resulted in much less productivity. There was no incentive to multi-task or work more efficiently. I found it more beneficial to work on one task at a time and do a thorough job. Sometimes this meant dragging out a process to take longer than I normally would have. Throughout the year, I developed scripts to simplify tasks and do them more efficiently and it was a challenge to slow down the pace of my work.

I also felt a great deal of contempt for the management of our local “team.” Our manager clearly lacked managerial and supervisory skills. I couldn’t understand why they didn’t bring in someone qualified for the position with the necessary experience to manage the project. Kermit constantly went on about how we were a team although I never felt that I was part of that team. About the only times I had contact with him was when there was a problem or he had something to pass down from Corporate. I greatly missed the independence and autonomy I enjoyed at the beginning of the project.

I still find it hard to believe that everyone in the company, from Kermit on up, was surprised that the contract wasn’t renewed. I saw the writing on the wall a year and a half before. By this summer I knew with utmost certainty that the client was not going to renew. Yet, despite this foreknowledge, I didn’t do anything to extract myself from a worsening situation. I had kind of hoped that I’d be able to hire on with the company that took over but the company held me to my non-compete agreement and the client seemed to be determined that none of us would be part of the new contract.

For me, that turned out to be a blessing. Although, I would have preferred to wait five more years to retire and draw my Social Security, events seemed to have provided the right timing to draw it at age 62 even though it would mean I wouldn’t be able to draw the full benefit. Over the past few years, I’ve grown quite weary of the computer support trade and really had little desire to go through the turmoil of finding work, fitting in to a new working environment, and patiently tolerating a job for five years. Right now, my greatest challenge in the transition is to avoid finding a job. By the 20th week of unemployment, I’m supposed to develop a “career plan” of some sort. By mid-March, my career plan will be to be fully retired by the first of May.

On to other matters. My views on religion have changed little in the past 12 months. I still find Western religion, particularly Christianity, to be incomprehensible, illogical, and confounding. However, I’m developing a greater appreciation for Jesus as a teacher, a guru, and a realized being. I like Jesus, not as a savior but as a teacher, a guru, a realized being, and a source of inspiration.

I don’t believe he died on the cross for my sins and was resurrected. I actually suspect that he survived the crucifixion using yoga practices and siddhis, appeared before his disciples for a while and then made his way out of the Roman Empire, probably to India. Of course, that idea is pure speculation and can offer up only the most circumstantial and speculative evidence for it. That’s assuming the Jesus actually lived in First Century Judea, an assumption I’m willing to accept even though there’s no historical evidence. But then again, thousands of people lived in that time and place for whom there is no historical evidence.

At this point, I’m not going to offer up any New Year’s resolutions, intentions or goals. All I can do is strive to do better and to do what needs to be done. I’ll take it one day at time, try to be present in the moment, and surrender to whatever grace befalls me.

If I’ve pissed anyone off, I’m not sorry. Get over it.

An Atheist in Denial? Does it really matter?

How I Went from Being a Southern Baptist Preacher’s Daughter to an Open Atheist was interesting to read. Lately, I’ve been reading Facebook posts and watching videos by the Godless Engineer and Timothy Havener. I tend to relate a little better to Havener’s perspective; the Godless Engineer presents good logical arguments but he seems to be coming from a place of anger.

I didn’t have much in the way of religious indoctrination growing up other than Grandma Sophie dragging me to JW meetings and her frequent preaching. I have vague recollections of Vacation Bible School at the Baptist church downtown but nothing that sank in. Christian ideology was present in the culture; I was well aware it and, to a degree knowledgeable of it. For most of my life I was content with a Christian identity of “non-church goer.”

It’s probably only been in the last decade that I’ve given a lot of thought to spiritual ideas. Working with the assumption that I was, by default, Christian, I attempted to read the Bible. I think I got less than halfway through the Old Testament and read three of the four canonical gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). I found some some of the ideas attributed to Jesus interesting and inspiring but nothing that inspired belief and faith. Later investigations of Eastern spiritual ideas put many of those ideas into a different perspective but still nothing I could cling to.

I began to formulate my own ideas about the Divine, the spirit, and the soul, drawing on things I’d had casual exposure to when I was younger. I read some about the teachings of the Buddha and found that, at a basic level, Buddhism made much more sense to me than anything I’d heard or read in Christianity. My study of yoga philosophy and Buddhism supported many ideas I’d held for quite some time and further separated me from my Christian assumptions. Finally, I let go of the assumption of Christianity as the default and realized that I didn’t not need religion or a religious identity to be spiritual, to lead a holy life, or to be a good person. I have no need for salvation for there is nothing from which to be saved except my own ignorance and desires which are the cause of my suffering. My soul is Divine in its essence, unchanging, and immortal.

I shed the Christian identity and, to a point, only loosely identified as agnostic in that I admitted I don’t know, which is what agnostic means. I’ve drawn the line at calling myself an atheist because I have concepts of Divinity, not as a supreme being, but as a force, an ultimate source of energy in the Universe, or a Cosmic Consciousness. Lately, however, I’ve been pondering the thought that I may be an atheist in denial.

I’ve been reading and listening to Ram Dass lately and trying to come to grips with the concept of transcending the rational mind and go beyond what I can observe and know with my senses. Transcending the rational mind leads into the realm of faith and knowing things intuitively. My rational mind still has a desire to give name and form to what it intellectually knows is beyond name and form, creating a paradox that it can’t deal with at this stage of my spiritual evolution.

I’m certain that there is something beyond what we can detect and measure with our senses or our science, subtle forms of energy or even matter, subtle forces, planes of consciousness and existence that are, as yet, intangible to us. Because they are unknown and mysterious to us, it’s convenient to attribute them to God. There’s nothing wrong with that but we have to be careful of falling into the trap of allowing the mysteries become ideology and dogma that bind us to suffering, making us slaves to the belief, and veiling ourselves from our own Divinity.

Is Religion Inherently Oppressive?

Is religion inherently oppressive, particularly when it comes to women? Since virtually all modern religions are patriarchal and even their deity is portrayed as a male, I’d have to say yes. Empowering women would be a threat to their power and influence over their faithful. History clearly demonstrates that religion has always been much more about power than about saving souls and improving the lot of mankind. Saving souls has always been the justification for their power.

The article talks about how both Christian liberals and conservatives cherry-pick verses from the Bible to justify their viewpoint. These contradictions and inconsistencies in the “infallible” word of God convinced me that I could no longer assume the Christian identity or that of any other religion.

Western religions tend to fully embrace and embody the masculine but, with the exception of the Virgin Mary, they vilify and demonize the feminine. There are good and bad qualities in both the masculine and feminine and there needs to be a balance. Eastern religions religions recognize this though they still tend to be largely patriarchal. Even their female deities tend to be subservient to their male counterpoints or hold an inferior status.