our own guru

(Science and the sages agree about most of what follows.)

Can a person who doesn’t believe in a god or gods have a spiritual life? Yes, I think so. So, where does a person look for spiritual comfort and release?

The ancient sages assure us we are fully equipped to function as our own guru. All we need is valid information and then following it. 

Where is the information which might help us understand and find the most direct path to commune with the universe? Our beings have the complete set of senses we identities use to exist and to run our lives. We owe everything to our bodies: the human animal whose intelligence we desire to claim as our personal product.

The being’s able brain created our identity

(Our “I” is a pattern in the brain which responds to its adopted name and thinks itself real. It is real, it’s a real pattern in the brain running on energy supplied by our human animal. It’s highly probable the identity doesn’t take up space just as thoughts don’t take up space and some thoughts like “My name is _______ .” live on as patterns, as memory.)

to fit in with other humans, and while very young, we become hardwired into language because it was the best tool around we didn’t already have.

Our beings are usually trapped in language for decades before some of us begin to look for a better way to experience life via a personal spiritual dimension or a “church” with only one member. The sages assure us…

Meditation is the best tool to use to aid in controlling the habitual language use by one’s brain. Meditation is capable of giving one the feeling of all of a sudden looking over the edge of the Grand Canyon for the first time.

Change is accomplished by not fearing the loss of total control by allowing periods of no-thought to happen daily.

Resting the mind, eating for health, and exercising daily eventually sets our body’s chemical structure on its best setting, which is to say, one has less stress and may be able to lay waste to old prejudices with fresh points of view jumping up out of nowhere.

Meditation over time keeps one’s identity and one’s being moving in a positive and fulfilling direction. After meditation is an everyday thing, it can become an all-day thing and with it a warm feeling of belonging extending to edge of the universe.

Nothing is separate? Doing is everything?

Is the battle in life which counts the most the battle with our own selves? “I’m so busy, it’ll be OK to skip meditation because tomorrow I’ll be back on track.”

How does one stop battling?
By not attempting
to be perfect?
It’s OK
to
live a
day without
meditating! Do we promote the
perfection ideal
because
it’s able to
keep the ID alive
and existing in a language world?

something physical

When I go out into nature and notice the life around me, I see trees, blades of grass, animals, insects, other humans, friends, and sometimes I remember the innumerable creatures living in the topsoil and in my gut.

We know all of the diverse life on earth has DNA as its sole architect and builder. We humans are all cousins and are related to everything living on and in the earth, and in a sense, the earth is our mother and the universe our father. We all belong and are not separate. We are bound with unbreakable ties to each other and to all existence.

My body’s source is recorded in my DNA. But…what about me, the identity, the one responding to the name Marvin? What’s my source? The human animal? Who or what else could have created me? Where do I exist? Am I a very useful electrical pattern in my body’s brain and don’t actually exist as something physical?

If so, does this mean I will not be punished after my body’s death for my misdeeds during life because I will cease to exist without my innocent body’s support? Is there no magical judge in the sky or are there thousands?

getting to silence

Knowing how to meditate allows us to rest our thinking to the point of having no thoughts for periods of time.

Some folks claim all types of weird and fantastical things one can experience by meditating.

Magical thinking is passe, yet many because of their heritage cling to it. It really is a great comfort to believe there will be an eternity of bliss for the faithful. When it doesn’t take place, he or she will never know it. It’s a win/win situation…specially for the hell-fire-and-brimstone preachers.

Meditation is good for undoing stress, and meditation is also a way to commune with one’s being (one’s body and steed).  This communion happens during the silent periods of meditation. Meditation allows us to become more positive.

Imagine what a relief it would be for the language going on in our brains all of our waking moments to gradually become still, silent. Meditation gives the body and brain small vacations.

Getting to silence is not easy because we are hooked on language because it’s the best tool available. 

So, we use words – listen to words – or produce thoughts constantly. This is why music and good stories are so restful because they can take us away from ourselves for a while.

Meditation is
the dimension of silence,
and it’s free and open to all humans.

Classical meditation:

We sit or lay down and get comfortable and begin to relax our body parts one at a time from the top of the head to the bottoms of our feet or the other way around.

Then to slow down our thinking, we put attention on our breath by noticing the air going in and its coming out again and again. There are tiny hairs at the openings of our nostrils which are affected by the flowing air of our breath which can be sensed if noticed and can capture our attention.

It’s normal for us to eventually begin to use words while meditating, and when we do, don’t worry about it because it’s natural for the mind to reestablish its normal activity, and we’ll eventually notice the thoughts, and without a sense of failing, we’ll go back to noticing our breath again or we’ll begin using a mantra again: Ommmmmmmmm…Ommmmmmmm again and again until we notice our thinking and will return to noticing our breath or a mantra again. 30 to 45  minutes daily will put us on firm path. We can break this amount of time into 10 or 15 periods or have a single period of meditation.

Daily meditation is best because its affect becomes greater and greater, yet any amount of meditation is good for us.

comfort and hope

What are the classical religions? Are they very old and compelling traditions based on beliefs and promises passed on by the living to the next generation? Memes.

What is religion’s purpose? Is it to capture (save) large numbers of humans by giving them comfort and hope based on the promise of having a wonderful and never ending existence after death? Who can’t see the opportunity in that?

Organized religion is one of the greatest tools for herding humans. Nothing is wrong with this unless the power is abused by leaders. History is full of horrific examples of organized religion being used to abuse human beings.

Religion is the territory of belief and faith which makes for an interesting game of comfort and hope. But…

The odds are very high there is no afterlife, and if true, evildoers will not get their promised eternity of suffering, and the odds are exactly the same for believers to not receive their eternal rewards.

Is living not being able to know for sure what’s going to happen in the future the best way to live? Is it because the odds of an omnipotent, warlike, and vengeful god calling all the shots are so small, the god might as well be nonexistent.

Did the idea of a god existing come about to explain good and bad events as many have suggested and then did leaders pounce on the power of belief?

Spinoza (taken from Wikipedia)

The remaining twenty-one years of his life established Spinoza as the most dangerous man in Europe, read secretly everywhere in spite of the official prohibition of his few texts.

The most explosive of those published in his lifetime was the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus of 1670, a tract which portrayed God as the immanent cause of the natural world, and nothing more.

Employing his training as a Hebraist, Spinoza pointed out the startling coincidence between biblical authors and the ideas about God and law that they put forth.

Undertaking an extensive investigation of the motivations of each author, he showed that what generations had taken to be the deep truths of Scripture were really just the result of various authorial perspectives, and often ignorant ones at that.

Not understanding nature, and desiring the universe to be shaped according to their own personal natures, these authors called ordinary events miraculous and ventured absurd and self-serving notions of how God worked in the universe.

Pressing the point further, in the notorious Chapter VI, Spinoza argued against the reality of miracles, stating that they were either ordinary events viewed by people unschooled in the workings of nature or fits of imagination bleeding over into reality.

The God of Spinoza does not act in the world, does not have emotions, does not support one people over another, does not wish for things, and does not ask for worship. He is, rather, the substance underlying the universe, a completely indifferent source of natural law to whom prayers and sacrifice are nothing whatsoever.

This view of God, one who could not be bribed or pleased, and who offered neither punishment nor advice, was a trident in the heart of standard theology.

While theologians argued over aspects of God and definitions of good and evil, Spinoza offered the sober reality that, if even the authors of the Bible couldn’t clear away their local historical prejudices in interpreting God’s nature, a man coming thousands of years later, with an incomplete knowledge of the base languages involved and a totally different historical context, had no chance of saying anything except the pre-existing content of his own religious fancy.

Good and evil are just what we call things that are useful and appealing to us or not, but nature makes no such distinction. Tragedy is inflicted upon the innocent as often as triumph is meted out to the villainous, all following rigidly mechanical laws emanating from the structure of the universe, and there’s nothing to be done about any of it.

He would expand these ideas in his posthumous masterwork, the Ethics, which had to be smuggled out of his house in an unmarked crate lest it fall into the wrong hands and be destroyed in manuscript. It is a towering work which attempted to display Spinoza’s complete system with geometric precision, the philosophical counterpart of Euclid’s Elements. It was his final statement of belief, and if written in a more sober tone than the Tractatus, was even more radical in its content.

Since God is essentially just a nom de guerre for nature, and nature is governed entirely by mechanistic cause and effect, there can be no such thing as free will in any meaningful sense. Rather, there are just people, striving to actualize their personal natures to the fullest extent possible, and forming societies to do so.

When such people come across something that meets their needs, they have a natural tendency to think it was made specifically for them, and so they craft notions of Providence from crude matter, and when they are foiled in their ambitions, they seek an outer source to propitiate, and thus are born superstition and the power of priests.

Spinoza exhorts us to turn away from anything that demands the sacrifice of our reason, or the freedom to investigate the workings of nature. Any government or church that claims power over minds or knowledge of God’s thoughts is unworthy of its authority.

Each person must employ the full power of his or her reason to understand his nature, work against self-defeating desires, and pursue the needs of his particular self in joint purpose with his fellow human beings.

Because the universe is fully determined, along with our actions in it, there is no need to feel envy for those who happen to have done better, nor to feel superior to those who have had a rougher lot in life.

Instead, we are to approach other humans with compassion and understanding, realizing that their conception of good might not be our own, and that there is no way to judge one person’s path as objectively better than another’s.

In a Europe still finding its feet after the destruction wrought by the Thirty Years’ War, Spinoza’s call to relinquish self-satisfied superiority in favor of a broad-based sympathy was strikingly original, and formed the positive ethical core of modern humanism.

By combining scriptural critique with an uncompromising materialism, and welding both of those onto a new secular ethics of inclusivity, Spinoza produced the foundation of not only the Enlightenment, but the basic vocabulary of present humanism.

Throughout his life, Spinoza’s motto was caution. He kept the sensibilities of his Christian audience in mind, seeking to wean them of their dependence on Jesus Christ by degrees, focusing on the Old Testament and letting the implications trickle through to the New.

For all his caution, however, the consequences of his philosophy were plain to all, and Spinoza watched friend after friend turn vehemently upon him, upbraiding him for his arrogance in supposing that he, and he alone, knew better than thousands of years of religious experts.

He was called the most vile, foul, and dangerous human being in the history of religion. His friends, the Koerbagh brothers, were put on trial for espousing atheistic doctrines.

Van den Enden traveled to France to foment his beloved Normandy rebellion and was hung for his troubles. Leibniz, the greatest mind in Europe, eagerly sought him out in private, and condemned him vehemently in public.

And yet, his life went on, supported by a handful of true friends and a growing army of those attracted to his views but too afraid to be seen publicly defending him. He was never arrested, never driven from his home country, and lived, to all appearances, precisely the life he desired, a simple life of the mind.

When he died, it was suddenly, without warning, though his health had always been precarious. Within a year, his Ethics was published, along with some of the secret correspondence that had flown between his humble rented rooms and the rest of Europe.

Spinozism became synonymous with atheism, and his philosophical system proved fresh for generations of intellectual outsiders.

His comments about the consequences of linguistic degradation for religious exegesis found their way into Herder’s revolutionary linguistic theory, while his observations about humans crafting gods in their own image inspired Feuerbach’s dialectic critique of Christianity.

From being the outcast’s outcast, he has become the philosopher’s philosopher.

Thank you Wikipedia!

brainwashed

I remember my mother telling this story to her friends.

“When Marvin was very young, I didn’t cut his hair, and it got long, curly, and blond, and when we would ride the bus, many times we had to stand in the aisle.

“That put Marvin close to a sitting passenger, and occasionally, a person would smile at him and say ‘Little girl, where did you get such beautiful blue eyes?’ And Marvin would answer slowly ’God gave ‘um to me.’”

I didn’t know it at that time that I didn’t have a chance to choose what I thought was truth: I was already brainwashed. It seemed adults were right about everything.

Children believe what adults tell them as being true, specially when their care givers are faithful to what they believe is true.

I loved my dear mother and how she cared for me. I was lucky to be her child.

In the early 1990s, a good friend, who lived in Australia, out of the blue, recommended I read The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design by Richard Dawkins.

I read it and relaxed because it gave me more than enough reasons to ignore the magical idea of original sin and gave me the reasons why there was no need for a creator-God.

Understanding why a God was not needed to create the earth and its inhabitants sets us free from magical characters full of magical ideas and happenings.

All that was needed was a Big Bang and a lot of time.

Richard Dawkins, thank you.

Also, The Blind Watchmaker makes it easy to conclude this life is the only life we’re going to have. It’s up to all of the plants and creatures to figure out ways to enjoy it.

Was there a God responsible for the Big Bang? Anyone has a fifty percent chance of being right when answering this yes or no question.

I feel the odds of a supreme God being real as depicted in the Bible wishful thinking. Yet, I can’t know for sure, so I’ll go with the odds real magic doesn’t exist and put my faith in nature and science.