Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Whispering Grass 6 - Seeking God, Losing Self

"God has no religion." - Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Rivers spend days as clouds. Cities listen as horns honk. Sometimes, inconclusively perhaps, days merge the moon with sand dunes. Down in the depths, below the hoary crust, beneath where we thought life couldn’t live lives life. Small, almost immobile but merely moving so slowly, almost imperceptibly, that human detection needs mechanical assistance to see it. Furtive eyes observe this alien life that breathes unlike anything else on this planet yet is very much part of this planet. Mother Earth, the sweet offspring of the terrestrial motherfather, spins her blue as she blows her winds across our world sending currents eddying, trees bending and birds chattering. There is no up. There is no down. Size is a trick of Maya. The boulders that crush our bones allow particles of life to drift through their unwelcoming mass. What is massive is small and what struggles to gain notice is huge. The wind blows forward and the wind blows back. Time is ticking but who’s counting?
"What is the impetus behind the search for God, and is that search real? For most of us, it is an escape from actuality. So, we must be very clear in ourselves whether this search after God is an escape, or whether it is a search for truth in everything -truth in our relationships, truth in the value of things, truth in ideas. If we are seeking God merely because we are tired of this world and its miseries, then it is an escape. Then we create God, and, therefore, it is not God. The God of the temples, of the books, is not God, obviously, IT is a marvelous escape. But if we try to find the truth, not in one exclusive set of actions, but in all our actions, ideas, and relationships, if we seek the right evaluation of food, clothing, and shelter, then because our minds are capable of clarity and understanding, when we seek reality we shall find it. It will not then be an escape. But if we are confused with regard to the things of the world - food, clothing, shelter, relationship, and ideas - how can we find reality? We can only invent reality. So, God, truth, or reality, is not to be known by a mind that is confused, conditioned, limited. How can such a mind think of reality or God? It has first to decondition itself.It has to free itself from its own limitations, and only then can it know what God is, obviously not before. The reality is the unknown, and that which is known is not the real." -  Jiddu Krishnamurti
And still we seek the truth. We search for where’s and why for's. If God cannot be seen, cannot be touched, cannot be heard then where is God? We construct buildings for Him to hide in but there is no building big enough. We construct buildings where we can meet with Him, but there is no one building in which He resides. The fallacy of deity reveals little about God but a lot about us. We create religions and yet God has no religion.

"The religious man is he who does not belong to any religion, to any nation, to any race, who is inwardly completely alone, in a state of not-knowing, and for him, the blessing of the sacred comes into being." – Jiddu Krishnamurti.
My presenting God as an enigma is unhelpful and yet enigma it must remain whilst we perceive God as a being, a personal deity who takes care of us rather than us accepting responsibility for our own actions. When we realise that God is only ever that which we cannot distinguish, that which lives within us and without us  do we start to grasp the enormity of the problem. As we do, so must we empty our minds of thoughts. They only seek to harness our perceptions to what we know not what we don't. They can only project the images already there not those that don't exist.

If a man of the twentieth century speaks to Napoleon Bonaparte he is declared deranged. If a man of the twentieth century speaks to God he is declared devout. He isn't. The devout become deranged by default. Deities are the projections of the mind as is anything supernatural. God is nothing but a word; a word that humankind uses when they speak of that which their minds have created. There is undeniably something greater than humankind, something undefinable, unnameable. The only way to interact with the eternal is through silence. When the mind stops its incessant chattering and is quiet it is able to listen. In that silence our minds and the universe merge.

We are of this world, of the earth. This is pure logic. The earth is part of the universe. This also is an empirical fact. In my garden are five trees - a maple, a willow, a weeping birch, a cherry blossom and one now so covered in ivy it is hard to recall what it was. All these trees are individual with different and contours and shades of bark, different foliage and yet they are one and the same thing. Each has roots going deep into the earth where all life on this planet springs from. Yes, they are individual in much the same way humankind has individuals but that individuality is an illusion. We, that is humankind, are a collective. We all are part of the same source. We are one. There is nothing extreme in this truth for truth is pure love. Love has no extremes.

I confess to having been angry with religion. I have spent long hours wondering why? When younger faced with the bullying antics and verbal abuses favoured by Christianity I, being told that those who committed sin would burn for eternity in hell, being told I would go blind if I masturbated, being told God is white, that Jews are bad, that sex was sinful, that homosexuality was wrong and contemptible, that Muslims are weird, rebelled against that authoritative, almost dictatorial doctrine. I led my fellow students, when in assembly, in a riotous, bawdy version of Blake's Jerusalem. I read sections of the Bible which led me to believe God to be mad. The Ten Commandments to be bereft of wisdom and containing a 'me, me, me,' diatribe that could be found in any asylum. I basically reacted then rejected God, Jesus (briefly) and the Bible and with them all religion. In part I was wrong. With organised religion, I wasn't.

I wrote this when younger, a lot younger...

"Jesus was a songwriter and a beautiful song it was too but the band he chose to play it was off-key and out of tune."

I am proud of that juvenile poem especially that first line. I believe it to be true even now. Jesus was okay. Organised religion is redundant. The extremists God is a vile projection. That God, that man-made deity of whom extremists promote is nothing short of evil and I will not, cannot believe in Him.

“A man who believes in God can never find God. If you are open to reality, there can be no belief in reality. If you are open to the unknown, there can be no belief in it. After all, belief is a form of self-protection, and only a petty mind can believe in God. Look at the belief of the aviators during the war who said God was their companion as they were dropping bombs! So you believe in God when you kill when you are exploiting people. You worship God and go on ruthlessly extorting money, supporting the army; yet you say you believe in mercy, compassion, kindliness. As long as belief exists, there can never be the unknown; you cannot think about the unknown, thought cannot measure it. The mind is the product of the past, it is the result of yesterday, and can such a mind be open to the unknown? It can only project an image, but that projection is not real; so your god is not God, it is an image of your own making, an image of your own gratification. There can only be a reality only when the mind understands the total process of itself and comes to an end. When the mind is completely empty - only then is it capable of receiving the unknown. The mind is not purged until it understands the content of relationship -its relationship with property, with people until it has established the right relationship with everything. Until it understands the whole process of conflict in relationship, the mind cannot be free. Only when the mind is wholly silent, completely inactive, not projecting, when it is not seeking and is utterly still -only then that which is eternal and timeless comes into being.” - Jiddu Krishnamurti

In my personal search for truth, I have never come to hate the religious even if I have come to mistrust organised religion. The former is made of people of faith entrapped by tradition afraid of either change or bullies. The latter is made of those who would entrap and bully those of faith. I am not embarrassed to admit to having such feelings of dislike for that which is dictatorial. Any faux fascist regime, be it Islamic, Evangelic or any other, is anti-freedom of speech, anti-freedom of thought and anti-freedom of choice. Such authoritative regimes were found in Nazi Germany, Stalin's Russia or Pinochet's Chile. It is not a God of whom I could believe in, nor my desire for humankind to see faith followers subjugated by anyone, not even God. They, extremists, are an abhorrence who hide behind a veil of fraudulent religion. There is no love to be found there, no crossing that divine line found in meditation or orgasm when you feel as though you have stepped out of yourself when you achieve personal Godhead. We do not need more hate we need less.

"When you say you love God what does it mean? It means that you love a projection of your own imagination, a projection of yourself clothed in certain forms of respectability according to what you think is noble and holy; so to say, 'I love God', is absolute nonsense. When you worship God you are worshipping yourself - and that is not love." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

My reasons for writing these series of posts is neither to disparage religion any further nor to seek epiphany. The truth is a thing we all should seek no matter what it reveals to us. The truths I have discovered along this all too brief journey is that I still harbour anger toward the offices of organised religion. This surprises me. I thought that emotion had long gone. But angry with God? No. There is no deity, therefore, to be angry with God I would have to be insane for only a madman rages with a thing that does not exist.

My anger with religion in recent times is, in part I suspect, following the rise of Islamic Fundamentalists but also the reciprocal reaction seen growing across the Atlantic. To my mind, neither of these religious persuasions are what they claim to be - bodies of people with faith. Both are faithless. I would if I could surgically remove their presence from this planet. That is, of course, wrong. I know this and yet still I fear those reactionary forces. I fear a future when Western ideology confronts Middle-Eastern. The clash will be horrendous. I fear that is what Daesh want but also Fundamentalist Evangelical Christians. It has all the makings of a New Crusade.

"What causes war – religious, political or economic? Obviously belief, either in nationalism, in an ideology, or in a particular dogma. If we had no belief but goodwill, love and consideration between us, then there would be no wars. But we are fed on beliefs, ideas and dogmas and therefore, we breed discontent. The present crisis is of an exceptional nature and we, as human beings, must either pursue the path of constant conflict and continuous wars, which are the result of our everyday action, or else see the causes of war and turn our back upon them." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

I found that science is not the enemy of faith but a tool by which we can all learn the secrets of things as yet unknown to us. It can be a cold mistress, a chill calculus at times with its desire to impress its logic upon us, to stamp its authority over our spirituality claiming such a thing is merely cerebral. I owe my life to science. Without discovering insulin, I would not be alive and three of my four children would have most likely died as all were premature births. I found that no biblical miracle is anyway as miraculous as that of birth or death. That science shows us each day an increasing range of ever growing miracles which both amaze and stagger me.

"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."  
-  Albert Einstein's final letter on the subject of religion prior to his death.

I do not accept that religion is the cause of all wars even if it has played a significant part. Obviously, there are other factors but those are even more beyond our powers of control than theological factions. At least, with religion, we can take a stand, make that change by changing ourselves, from having faith without the need of layers of authority controlling our individual beliefs. Science is part of faith in that it, like the very best of faiths, seeks the truth. It is only religion which seeks to pervert the truth. Organised and authoritative.

The more you research religion and faith the more you encounter that they all have differences. The one thing I found is that so many religions share one conceit - God is made in their image.

 "Actually, what is religion? First of all to find out what is religion we must negate what it is not. What it is not; then it is. It's like seeing what is not love. Love is not hate, love is not jealousy, love is not ambition, love is not violence. When you negate all that, the other is, which is compassion. In the same way if you negate what is not religion then you find out what is true religion; that is, what is the truly religious mind. Belief is not religion, and the authority which the churches, the organized religions assume, is not religion. In that there is all the sense of obedience, conformity, acceptance, the hierarchical approach to life. The division between the Protestant, the Catholic, the Hindu, the Moslem, that's not religion. When you negate all that, which means you are no longer a Hindu, no longer a Catholic, no longer belonging to any sectarian outlook, then your mind questions, asks what is true religion? This is free from their ritual, without their masters, without their Saviour; all that is not religion. When the mind discards that, intelligently, because it has seen that it's not religion, then it can ask what is religion. Religion is not what I think, but religion is the sense of comprehension of the totality of existence, in which there is no division between you and me. Then if there is that quality of goodness which is virtue, real virtue not the phony virtue of society, but real virtue, then the mind can go beyond and find out, through meditation, through a deep, quiet silence, if there is such a thing as reality. Therefore a religious mind is a mind that is constantly aware, sensitive, attentive, so that it goes beyond itself into a dimension where there is no time at all." -  Jiddu Krishnamurti

In this chapter, I quote Jiddu Krishnamurti a lot. I make no apologies for that. He spoke great wisdom. Another man, a Christian, who I also hold in high regard is Bishop John Spong. His love of his perceived God is captivating and almost contagious. I say also because I am not a Christian and have no intention of becoming one. What I like about Bishop Spong is his constant search for the truth. It is this that he shares with Jiddu Krishnamurti. Both are open to that which is greater than them. Both wish to love their fellow humans. Both compassionate.

Whenever I have watched any of Bishop Spong's debates, with his enthusiastic passion that is forever loving, I catch a whiff of how I think of Jesus; someone loving yet fearless, someone who carries integrity like an unfurled banner. John Spong has that Godly yet earthy presence. He is of the soil, he is grounded in reality but has his hands extend to heaven (metaphorically speaking). I have seen him debating with an Evangelist who's approach to God was to trap HIM in a butterfly net before presenting his spirit as being manlike. The evangelist, who huffed and puffed a lot as 'Jack' Spong elaborated upon how he saw and thought of God, was a thing of nervous energy. It was as if his totalitarian manifestation of God might just slip away at any given moment to reveal itself as being precisely how Bishop Spong envisaged his God as being. In my eyes, Spong won the debate and not by default but by his singular knowledge of the scriptures, by his calm and boyish (he is an elderly gentleman) ebullience and by his generosity of heart. If I believed, as he does, in a personal God then it his church I would attend.

You see, both John Spong and the other man, the Evangelist, are learned, men. By that I mean they are well educated and know the Bible. However, John Spong not only knows the Bible, all the scriptures, he also knows and is still learning, all the subtleties of the historicity of the subject. He appreciates that what was written 5,000 years ago was in a language very different to ours. People of those ancient times used metaphor and symbolism in ways unlike we would today. Without fully appreciating this fact reading the Bible can only lead, as it did/does me, to one of two conclusions - It is either vile or it seeks blind obedience.

Those two men, Spong and Krishnamurti, share much. It may not seem so at first with Bishop Spong devout in his faith of the Holy Trinity and Jiddu Krishnamurti (long dead) his individual compassion. Both are/were seekers of the truth. Both saw that God could not be condensed into convenient, often primitive forms, without understanding first how God through the ages has been perceived. Both men advocated love as being supreme.  Bishop Spong would not thank me for saying this but the more I listen to him the more his path seems to join with that of Jiddu  Krishnamurti's.

Will I now cease to challenge religious authority? No. We do not need a governing body to tell us how to think or believe. Faith is individual.Will I be more tolerant of those who knowingly seek to take literally what was patently never meant as such and then inflict it on me? No. A fascist is a fascist. Be they right wing Evangelists, Zionists or extreme Islam. Extremists must be faced, their obnoxious dictates challenged. We must persuade, cajole and insist that Monotheistic religions modify their Holy Books accordingly or begin the process of re-educating their congregations of the inherent symbolisms used to inform their doctrines, that the symbols therein are not to be taken literally.

Will I stop advocating for a secular society? No. Faith schools are an abuse of children. Foremost in any education system is the teaching of facts. Faith is philosophy and as such a subject which can be learnt along with history and biology. 

Will I seek a spiritual life? I have no idea what that is. If spirituality equals moral values then yes, I shall but if it is some vague notion of something mystical then no. By suggesting leading a spiritual life what do we mean? Freedom of choice? The pursuit of happiness? Freedom from fear? Freedom from all the conditioning imposed on us by religion? To be free of all that, free from the huge weight of others perception of what spirituality is that is spirituality.

Will I continue to seek God? No. God will find me as long as I love, remain compassionate and remember The Golden Rule. 

I shall almost certainly be accused of being a mystic, or a supporter of such. Fine. I don't think I am. I might also be said to be advancing toward Pantheism. Perhaps. Others might suggest Theosophy, another maybe as far as I am concerned. What I am not is of any particular faith apart from my own. I have no idea of its name any more than I do what God really looks like. In that, I find some relief. Maybe Romain Rolland, the French dramatist, essayists, novelist and art historian was right when he wrote to Sigmund Freund suggesting..."By religious feeling, what I mean—altogether independently of any dogma, any Credo, any organization of the Church, any Holy Scripture, any hope for personal salvation, etc.—the simple and direct fact of a feeling of 'the eternal' (which may very well not be eternal, but simply without perceptible limits, and as if oceanic). This feeling is in truth subjective in nature. It is a contact." Or maybe Blakemore and Jennet had it right when they said: "Mysticism is frequently defined as an experience of direct communion with God, or union with the Absolute."

"There's a temple on an island
I think of all the Gods and what they feel
You can only find them in the deepest silence
I got to get off of this big wheel"
- George Harrison 

A truly religious person has no religion, has no temples, has no faith; a  religious person is one who upholds truth and who is compassionate, someone who has no country, who recognises no borders and who sees the world as his nation. That is a religious person, that is the person who I want to be. By pursuing this path, I will find spirituality without seeking it.  
At the end of the day, all I have is the words of others or my own instincts. Words meanings, as we have seen, can change subtly with the passage of time and my own instincts are fallible. For me, the only words that stand the test of time with any authority are these...

"Don't do to others that which you wouldn't like done to yourself."

Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

No comments:

Follow by Email



A Utility Fish Shed Blog

A Utility Fish Shed Blog