Friday, June 11, 2010


What do I believe in? We are all faced with these questions at times in our lives. As my dearest grandfather lies dying, all these questions of belief have risen up in me once again. I ask myself, where will he go? And also, where will I go? Is there anything else out there, or is it just darkness? And if there is an afterlife, what is it like? And how do I get there? Which leads me directly into the thought of…what is it that I believe in?
Religion serves a function in human society. One of those functions is to teach us right from wrong. Most religions have some sort of tenet to lay out our morals for us…or at least they hint at it. Some are seeped in tradition or rituals, while others are constantly changing, melding. Another of the functions of religion is to help us deal with death. Religion serves to put our minds at ease. The belief in something greater than just this life soothes us when we think about death.
Death is something we can never really know about. It is the great mystery, in a sense. Although, I prefer to think of life as the great mystery…that is often times the beauty in it. I am not one to discount the sightings of ghosts, and I do believe in a lot of that folk lore. I have seen things that I believe are spirits communicating with us. I do believe we are spoken to from beyond the grave, if only in our dreams. My grandmother spoke to me in a dream after her death. I wonder if my grandfather will do the same. We may be able to commune with spirits and speak with ghosts, but we can never be sure of what is on the other side.
I like to think that I have researched the ideas of religion and spirituality. I do know a lot about the evolution of monotheism, and also the more ancient Earth based religions. I have been to several different types of churches, and I have an open mind. I also have my own set of ideas. Maybe it is because I am “terminally unique” that I am always bucking the system, and organized religion is definitely part of that system. But, I think my ideas, like most ideas about religion, spring up out of a need. A need to make sense of it all. A need to be at peace with the way our existence is.
I do have a lot of debate about many Christian ideas, and at times I find certain things about Christianity to go against my core beliefs. I guess it sounds pretty crazy, but I just have my own ideas about the way things work…but it is the only way I can come to terms with this thing we call life.
I think it is much more natural than all monotheism makes it out to be. I think the natural world around us plays a very important role in our spiritual being. Mother Nature and this Earth have a life force all of its own. And her life force is also our life force. Her life force is every creature’s life force. There is a thread of the natural element in all of us. I fear that it is the fact we have steered away from nature, our world is falling apart.
Look at the inner city, anywhere I suppose. I know this certainly applies to the inner city of New Orleans, and that is the only inner city that I know first hand. In the inner city, the poorest people often live in what one would call “ghetto.” The inner city is where the projects are, where public housing generally is, where the dwellings are run down…and no one is trying to fix them. This is a place that care has truly forgotten. The people who live there do not take care of it, or do not know how to care of it. And the city does not take care of it either. Inner city crumbles with the ruins of concrete and hopelessness.
In the inner city, there is very little exposure to the Earth. All the ground is covered in concrete, even if much of it is cracked and broken. There are rarely many trees in the inner city, and the skyline is far away and somewhat polluted. The stars are not visible from the inner city in New Orleans because the city lights are just too bright. And look at the crime in the inner city. There is so much disharmony and disconnection that violence is the natural reaction. Like an animal kept from the forest, the inner city erupts in madness.
As we get farther and farther away from the natural world with our modern technology, we are losing something. It is that sense of connection to the rest of the planet. Looking at a beautiful sunset, one realizes that there is something out there that is much greater than us. When you look of a mountain lookout and the valley below spreads wide and teetering, we become aware that we are a much smaller part of this world. Our modern day lifestyle keeps us indoors keeps us focusing only on self. We need to be in awe of nature to get that sense of connectedness. We are just a small part of something greater, and something natural and organic.
Where do we go when we die? The Christians believe you go to heaven if, and only if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your lord and savior. Anyone else…burns in hell. And that just does not sit well with me. What about millions of Hindus, who are good people whose beliefs are more about right and wrong…do they burn in hell just because they were never introduced to Christ? And what about babies and small children who have not accepted Christ into their lives? What about the small, isolated tribe in the middle of the Amazon who has had no contact with the outside world?
When I was in jail, I asked a priest about this. He assured me without doubts that yes…all these unsuspecting people will burn in hell for all eternity. I asked what reasons he had for this belief, and his response was simple…because the bible tells me so. Well, that just does not settle well with me. This just cannot be true, and it does not make sense to me.
Well, what does happen? That I do not know. I do have a theory, though. I think the key is that you have to believe in something. I think that when you really, truly believe in something…that when something spiritual really speaks to you, and really moves you, you have all the proof you need. I think that if you really, truly believe in something then that belief is right for you. And hence your destiny after death will follow the path that your belief leads you. I think all religions share many of the same ideas…unfortunately we get caught up in all the little shit that we forget what the point behind it all really is.
I do not believe in a heaven or hell. I do believe the spirit lives on. I do believe that in the years following death, our spirits are still near our loved ones. We are still very connected to the last life and those people, and our spirits hang around to guide our loved ones.
I also believe in reincarnation. I do not believe that in each life you move up some kind of social or spiritual ladder until you reach enlightenment. I think enlightenment comes with knowing all…experiencing all. I believe we are reborn until we experience everything. Then, we are enlightened and we move on to a higher plane of existence. Have you ever met someone that was often called an old soul?
I also believe in soul mates. I do not really mean soul mates in the sense that two people are made for each other and they will meet and fall in love…although that is one of the roles of soul mates. I believe that soul mate’s travel together through these journeys we call life. You may be lovers in one life, siblings in another, or maybe mother and daughter in even another life. Throughout each journey, your soul mate (or soul mates…) is an important part of your existence. You are woven together from the same thread.
I think the spirituality of the Earth is much more ancient than so many institutions that are called religion. I think there is something to be said for these ways of life that have remained over the years. They are enduring. We are part of nature…and each of our lives, no matter how insignificant or not, are a part of something much bigger.

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