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truth, reality, god, the earth, life, spirituality, science, morality.. more thoughts..

April 10, 2011

“Anthropomorphism” – the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object.

Some people throughout time have felt the need to anthropomorphize the earth – to give it a personhood, which includes a gender. Calling it “she” or “mother earth.” All life on this planet as seen as springing from the earth, and the earth being, therefore, our mother.

I don’t assign gender to the earth. For me it’s as bad as anthropomorphizing “God,” by making God a person, and assigning a gender to God, calling him he.

I don’t believe in a God that has a personhood, or gender. I do not believe the earth has a gender either.

And, all life does not just spring from the earth. Without the sun shining on the earth, the earth is a dead rock.

Where did life come from?

Do the earth and the universe have a creator? I don’t believe so.

Not believing in a creator seems like madness, at first glance. There is stuff.. stuff had to come from somewhere. Therefore someone had to have made the stuff.. or so that reasoning goes..

But then, using that same reasoning.. who made the person who made the stuff?

If there is a creator, who made the creator, where did the creator come from?

The band AC/DC, perhaps the king of all meat-head stupid rock, actually came up with a song title that was deep: “Who made who?”

I think that is an unanswerable question.

We don’t know.

I went to hear a Tibetan nun give a lecture some years ago. She said Tibetan Buddhists believe that matter and energy in some form has always been around.. always, and that there has never been a creator.

What does science say?

I don’t know exactly.

I’ve never been much into science. It wasn’t a subject I was naturally good at. I always preferred wonder.. not knowing, just appreciating.

Here is a poem by Walt Whitman that explains how I’ve felt about science..

“When I heard the learn’d astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.”

He said it better than I ever could. Even though he died so many years ago, his words remain timeless.

That’s how I’ve felt about science. I just had no use for it. For me, “science” meant some classes I had to take in school or I would not be able to graduate.. so I put up with these classes, usually earning B’s, because I was able to understand some concepts, and was fairly good at memorization. I tolerated the science classes, passed them, then forgot about what I had learned.. didn’t need it, didn’t want it, didn’t think about it. Went on with life.

I am starting to wonder a little about science now.

I still at times wonder about God, reality, how all this stuff got here.. and have not felt religion could answer these questions.

Buddhism.. some Buddhists and some Buddhist teachings anyway.. don’t bother to ask why.

Walt Whitman didn’t ask why.. or try to find out how. He just appreciated. I think the Buddhists would agree with that perspective.

But I am too restless..

I want to know, and I want to contradict others who believe in a creator and a personal god. Feeling contentious might not do me any good, but writing this entry gives me something to do.

I tend to disagree with people who deify the earth, or who believe in a god or goddess or many deities.

Even though, to a certain vague extent.. I sometimes believe in a personal god of sorts too…

One without gender. Something… a life force, made up of everything, that somehow is more than the sum of all its parts. A collective intelligence.. maybe this is what the Native Americans called the Great Spirit, or maybe not.

If this life force, this higher power, this greater consciousness exists, does it bring changes in our lives? I would say yes.

Even if there is only energy, and no higher life force, can we use or work with this energy? I would say a tentative yes.

Does prayer work? And if so how?

I would say.. probably prayer does work, even though I do not believe in any of the specific entities or deities that are being prayed to. I believe that somehow a prayer or a chanted mantra (which really is just another form of prayer if the mantra is directed toward a deity) somehow influences energy in some way.

Does magic or “magick” as the pagans spell it.. work? Hmm.. to some extent, yes. Or at least.. maybe. It works as much or as little as prayer does. That is my thought, anyway.. Perhaps a spell (or at least some spells?) work the same way prayer does.. influencing energy.. working with this higher intelligence if there is a higher intelligence, and if there isn’t, then just manipulating energy somehow.

Maybe there truly is no higher intelligence of any kind at all though.. nothing at all that could be called “God.” Maybe there is just matter and energy.

And prayer and magick somehow influence the energy.

Or maybe there is just matter and energy, and neither prayer nor magic work at all.. perhaps both are just ridiculous superstitions. In my life, I have experienced a few things that have felt like good answers to prayer and bad answers to prayer.. but maybe these things that I thought were results of prayer, were not. Maybe they weren’t mystical occurrences either. Maybe they just happened… random chance.. and were not favorable or unfavorable events or changes. Perhaps I just interpreted these changes in certain ways.. had a certain paradigm or perspective that in my mind rendered these events “good” or “bad.”

Again.. I don’t know.. and as with most thoughts and feelings I have about so many things..I go back and forth. Sometimes I believe in a higher intelligence that brings changes in our lives. Sometimes I believe that there is no higher intelligence, but do believe that energy can be manipulated by prayer or magic. Sometimes I don’t believe these things at all.

Sometimes I believe in the Tao.. something that cannot be fully explained in words.. that is sort of an impersonal force that brings changes.. that has no morality, that is neither bad nor good at all.. just brings changes in life, and we must adapt.

The Taoists believe it is possible to live in harmony with the Tao. I’ve read the Tao Te Ching, the main Taoist scripture. I didn’t understand much of it. I listened to the “Tao of Pooh,” and “Te of Piglet,” – books written and read by Benjamin Hoff, who used A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh stories to explain Taoism. These stories and their interpretations have brought me a little peace.. perhaps I should listen to them again..

But even some meanings of Taoist philosophy simplified by Hoff go beyond my understanding, or, if I understand them, find great difficulty trying to implement the teachings in my life.. in some cases I find doing so impossible.

Maybe the Tao is reality. An impersonal bringer of changes.. something that cannot be fully known.

If it cannot be fully known, as it is said at the beginning of the Tao Te Ching.. “The Tao that can be understood is not the true Tao.” – Then why contemplate it?

If we cannot find the answers, why even about these things or write or read about them?

The answer to that question is that we cannot help it. It is in our nature to question. I have heard of some masters of Eastern teachings and techniques being able, through learning and meditation, to transcend the seeking, questioning mind, and reach some sort of peace.. not grasping for understanding.

I am not there yet.

Maybe those teachings and techniques work, and the questioning mind can be defeated. And quite possibly this is the only sane response? Perhaps, but it’s pretty damn hard to do,, takes a loooong time, (or maybe not.. there are stories of people reaching instant enlightenment. One story tells of the Buddha simply holding up a flower and not speaking at all.. and one of his disciples suddenly Gets It.. understands it all.. reaches enlightenment instantly..but most of these eastern practitioners spend just about all their lives in monasteries studying the ancient texts, and meditating) and even some of the greatest masters of these teachings and techniques cannot fully get past their questioning minds.

Going back to science.. can science answer the questions about God, reality, where did matter and energy come from?

As I stated earlier, I don’t know enough about science to say yes or no.

I did read a short review of Stephen Hawking’s latest book. As far as I know, Stephen Hawking is generally believed to be the world’s greatest living physicist and scientific thinker. His newest book, so the review said.. made the point that science has proved that there is no need to believe in god or a creator or perceive all this matter and energy as having had a point of origination.. perhaps Hawking is even taking the theory of the Big Bang to task.. ?

The Big Bang.. the scientific theory that all came from nothing.. there was nothing, then there was an explosion, there was light.. and all matter and all energy came from it. This is not all that different from the Book of Genesis, in which God says “Let there be light,” and there was light..

I should try to find an audiobook version of what Hawking has most recently written.. to see where he is coming from. Maybe he does answer these questions.. But if he does, I might not understand his answers.

Awhile back, the Dalai Lama got together with many top scientists to come up with a book called “The Universe in a Single Atom : The Convergence of Science and Spirituality.”

I got the audiobook from the library. I listened to it.. for as long as I could stand. I didn’t understand a lot of it. Maybe I’m just not that bright in a lot of ways. Like I said before, I never understood science very easily or naturally.

Maybe I will understand what Hawking wrote, and his answers will satisfy me. But.. even if Hawking uses science, reason, logic, to prove beyond doubt there is no god, most people on the earth will stillbelieve in god.. a god of some sort.

If there is a God or there are gods.. there is morality.. absolute truth.. right and wrong.

Buddhists and Taoists talk about non-dualistic thinking.. there being no “right or wrong,” and yet both religions teach that some ways of thinking and behaviour are preferable to others.. and are thereby thinking dualisticly, even though they say they are not.

But if there is just matter and energy, without inherent meaning.. if it is just here.. then there truly is no right and wrong at all.. and nothing really matters in the absolute sense.

Even if there is no absolute meaning, I do believe that we can and do create our own meaning. There might be absolute meaning, there might not be, but regardless, we create our own meaning. We do this as individuals, and we do this collectively.. as a group or tribe or society. The meanings we create and swear are absolute.. could be all relative.. because we cannot agree on what is True Meaning.

You, who are reading this blog, have meaning in your life.. quite possibly you have meaning what you consider to be absolute.. and disagree with parts, or maybe all of what I have written.

That’s ok..

No point in fighting about it..

But then.. that’s the reason I started this blog.. I wanted to fight about it.

I started this post because I reacted negatively to what a woman wrote to me in an email.

This woman repeatedly referred to the earth as “she,” and “our mother,” and I thought.. “NO!!”

So I began this entry.

Has there been any point to writing this? At least I got some typing practice, and passed some time in a not-unpleasant way.. got my brain cells stirred up a little..

Have you gotten anything from this post, or did you find it a waste of your time? Perhaps, like me, you have too much time on your hands, and can be grateful that you, like me, at the very least, passed some time in a not-unpleasant way?

Have I got you thinking? At all? Did I make any good points? What do you agree and disagree with? And does it matter if we agree or disagree with each other?

Perhaps we are like the blind men and the elephant. Have you heard that old story?

Three blind men happen upon an elephant. They cannot see it, so have to rely on what they feel. One man grabs the elephants trunk, and says, “it is a snake.” Another puts his arms around one of the elephant’s legs, and says, “no, you are wrong, it is a tree!” The last blind man is grasping the elephant’s tail, and says. “you are both wrong, it is a rope.”

It’s possible each of us, or each faith or teaching, or each society, just grasps a little part of the truth, and thinks it is the whole truth, and comes up with the wrong answer. And insists that its answer is the only right one.

We are certainly like the blind men in one way – we make our own meanings. I think our meanings are relative. We shouldn’t stick to them to the point that we harm or kill others. We should accept that there is a lot we don’t know, that we might never know, and that even though this is the case, most of us can’t keep from asking these unanswerable questions. I also point out that many people are religious, and believe that their religions do indeed answer these questions. I have found none of the answers provided by these these people and their texts to be satisfactory.

Therefore, for me, the questions remain unanswered. Maybe science can answer them. Maybe I’ll try to find an audio copy of Hawking’s book.. maybe not.. it might not help me at all.. might just become more head clutter for my already over-cluttered mind.

The simplest thing to do is to live life day to day and take care of some of the simple, small things that I at least have some control over.

I can choose to soon stop writing this entry, go downstairs, and select food for breakfast. I can choose to pet my cat for a little while. I can choose what gym to go to (or not go to), and what videos to watch this evening..a documentary on psychology, or one on linguistics.. or maybe a bit of both.. what books to read.. a book on botany, or perhaps a novel, or I could choose to read about vegetarianism.. and I will find meaning.. simple meaning in these experiences. I can choose to try to take deep breaths.

I don’t have answers to the Big Questions. I just might not need the answers.

Maybe all I need is to go through my day.. try to do so without crippling anxieties and depression. I can make simple choices about simple things.. and just live.

Yeah.. that’s what I’m going to try to do for the rest of the day.

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