Posts Tagged ‘Spirituality’

This blog like my mind is all over the place. Since 2014 the only connection between my posts is their randomness. I never considered if this was a good thing or not, and battled with my format several times. In the end I need to stay true to my mind and keep the randomness intact. Looking through my stats my most read posts involve Taoism and my interpretation of the verses, this is nothing new, although the theologian in me finds this rather intriguing. 

It’s been ages since I wrote my last post about the Tao Te Ching, in fact it has been ages since I have actively studied and put into practice the teachings of the Tao. As a result it is no surprise how unmanageable my life has become. 

Whether this is a direct coorilation or simply a coincidence is yet to be known. It’s been over a year since my mind has failed me leaving me broken and scattered. Perhaps returning to the teachings of the Tao things will begin to look a bit brighter as I become more centered. Now whether I actually wipe the dust from these ancient teachings remains to be seen. 

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“If there is a God, the phrase that must disgust him is – holy war.”
Steve Allen

Would a Holy War really disgust God, or would he smile in approval? I suppose this may depend upon which God you believe in. I know with certainty that Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism would never teach nor condone a Holy War of any sort. This does not mean they have never known war, because the east has known many, but none of these wars to my knowledge were based off the notion their religious beliefs dictated them to go to such a war. I think this is a bit different when it comes to Christianity or the Muslim faiths.

I was talking religion with my dad awhile back, and the topic of the Quran came up, and he went on and on about how the Quran promotes violence and the killing of infidels. I immediately disagreed with him. I told him the Quran teaches peace, it is just misread by the extremists. We went back and forth on this topic and finally I told him I would read the Quran and prove him wrong. I have read various different religious texts but for some reason I have never given the Quran a detailed look. I figured this would be a great learning experience for me. I think I may have bitten off a little more than I could chew!

I kept putting this chore off because I was a bit intimidated by this daunting task I had just committed to. When I had a free minute here or there I would pick it up and skim through it. Although I must admit I couldn’t really get into it all that much. The reading was rather dry, kind of like the Old Testament. I could not put my full attention into the reading. Through the brief reading I did, I must say I found some evidence of the Quran promoting violence. These scriptures are not that vague, as to be completely misunderstood, in fact they are rather to the point.

 “Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward.” Quran 4:74

“I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them” Quran 8:12

 “If thou comest on them in the war, deal with them so as to strike fear in those who are behind them, that haply they may remember.”Quran 8:57

“O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness.” Quran 9:123

In my research I had found a total of 109 verses in the Quran calling Muslims to war against non-believers. I am certain if you read these verses and considered them in the historical context of the writings, these verses may mean something completely different. This however is not the point, what matters is how current day Muslims would consider these, and many other verses, would apply today. This then got me thinking about Christians and their stance on war against non-believers. The Bible is just as guilty as the Quran, as it promotes violence against those who believe differently. I included some verses I have come across in the Bible. I know Trey (The Rambling Taoist) could offer many other examples.

“The LORD said to Moses, “Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites. After that, you will be gathered to your people.”  So Moses said to the people, “Arm some of your men to go to war against the Midianites and to carry out the LORD’s vengeance on them.” Numbers Chapter 31 Verse 1-3

“The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name.” Exodus 15:3

“I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence. Luke 19:26-27 **Note this was Jesus speaking**

Also, in Deuteronomy Chapter 13 verses 6-16, God is instructing his believers to go out on a murdering spree killing all those who worship any one but him. The verse is rather long, so if you are interested I encourage you to check it out. I think within these few verses you get the feeling that both the Bible and the Quran do not always teach peace. Both God and Allah are jealous and vengeful towards those who believe differently. In the wrong hands these few verses can and do lead to “justifiable” Holy Wars. I am not sure I believe the God of the Quran or the God of the Bible would be disgusted with a Holy War, possibly they would encourage one if it meant that in the end the survivors believed in Him and Him alone.

 

Sorry for the repost

I enjoy philosophical riddles, and I spend far too less time working on them. The reasons do not matter. I am confronted with one riddle in particular day in and day out… Why have I not or cannot kill myself?

I have gone through my fair share of suffering, and for most of my life battled with the will and desire to no longer be alive. I have many times and still want to die. I do not want to exist. So why at this moment with how I feel and have felt I must ask myself. Why am I breathing and writing this?

This has been a philosophical puzzle that has plagued and tortured me. I have come up with many theories, reasons, and excuses for why I have not.

No point in running the list. What I came up with and I feel so blind for not figuring this out. Its our primal directive to survive. Its ingrained within us and drives everything. This directive is so powerful that I cannot overcome or find the courage to end my suffering.

To me logic and reason would dictate that ending suffering is the only thing that makes sense. Every other theory I have ever had about why I am still alive stems from this roadblock.

How can this override clear logic and reason of not wanting to suffer? How can this seed allow us to self deceive ourselves against the logical course of action. How and at what point can this will be broken down?

48 days ago I was going to commit suicide, yet here I am. I have been in deep self-reflection questioning and wondering why I am still alive. Six years ago was the last time I had an identical plan, preparations, suicide note and the intent to end my life, yet here I am. The suicide note I wrote six years ago resulted in a published book of poems, so I again ask myself what if anything will result from this intervention. I question and wonder was it divine intervention, or chaos theory which caused the series of events thwarting my plan to end my pain and leave this world behind.

The dark part of my mental illness comes with battling suicidal ideologies. The want and need to no longer be is always lingering; internally the battle rages on between selfishness and selflessness, feelings of hopelessness and hopefulness. Do I continue living in pain to spare the pain my death would cause to those who love me, or do I finally obtain peace and nothingness? There have only been three times in my life where selfishness had truly won, and I was at peace with my decision. I was more prepared and 100% ready to get the fuck out of here. I was no longer able to function with the pain. I started working on the details of the finality of my life about a month before I planned to carry it out, but before my much anticipated release, chaos erupts and in the blink of an eye everything turns to shit… or does it?

The story on how I ended up making my final decision is long and complicated, some of it I have written about, much of it went unwritten. I feel it would be therapeutic and helpful for me to go back and fill in the gaps between the post I wrote about moving out of the house and starting the divorce process through today. I know taking ownership and facing the reality of the roles I played in all of this will be difficult, but it needs to be done. With that being said the path I was on started with moving out and separating from my wife, and ended with me moving back home, everything in-between felt like a dream I couldn’t wake up from. So how and why did I get from there to here?

Six days prior to my date with nothingness, I discovered tangible proof of some disturbing shit involving my roommate and my daughter. My roommate and my daughter became a key component for my motivation and drive to end it all. I knew if I was no longer alive than she would have no choice but to move out of that house; I knew my blindness and denial was destroying her, but it was the shattering of this denial which caused me to flip out.

I was on the phone with my uncle and after a month of planning and silence I go on a rant about what I just found out about my roommate, I reveal my original plan and introduce the new addition to my plan. My uncle calls my sister; my sister calls the cops, and the cops show up beginning a series of events that led me here. This still doesn’t answer my question as to why I am still alive. With all of this added chaos and bullshit it should have been easier to keep my date with destiny, yet here I am.

Why… the only conclusion I can come to is I have been given a second chance. A second chance at making right all the wrongs in my marriage and with my children. My final safety net keeping me from offing myself has always been the impact it would have on my family, my safety net was gone. I had lost my family, but when my daughter and I moved back home that night I was filled with so many conflicting emotions; none of which involved suicide.

I am still lost in the forest of darkness and despair, the cause and effects of that night has actually caused greater stress and worry, yet here I am. My hopelessness has been replaced with hopefulness. This may be delusional thinking, but I feel I have hit the reset button on life giving me a clean slate at becoming a better husband and father. Is this why I am still here, to be a better husband and father? Is this divine intervention or chaos theory? Will this hopefulness last, or will hopelessness return?

What We Learn From Failed Relationships

Posted: May 27, 2014 in Absolute Truth, Abuse, Anxiety, Arguments, Blog, Blogging, Change, Childhood, Children, Coping, Crisis, Culture, Dating, Debates, Depression, Diary, Dilemma, Divorce, Dreams, Emotional Abuse, Ethics, Evil, Faith, Family, Fatherhood, Fear, Forgiveness, Freedom, Fun, Greed, Grief, Growing up in abusive homes, Health, Humor, Inside My Mind, Journal, Kids, Learning, Lies and broken promises, Life, Lists, Living Your Dream, Logic, Love, Lust, Marriage, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Misc, miscellaneous, Moral Theories, Morals, Motivation, Mourning, NA, Opinion, Pain, Parent, Parenting, Personal, Philosophy, Poems, Poetry, Published Author, Quotes, Random, Random Thoughts, Rants, Rejection, Relationship Issues, Relationships, Sadness, Self-esteem, Self-Help, Self-image, Social Anxiety, Social Debates, Society, Sorrow, Spirituality, Stress, Suffering, The Invention of Lying, The Philosophy of Lyrics, The Philosophy of Quotes, Things That Give Me Anxiety, Thoughts, Top Ten Lists, Uncategorized, Unity, Verbal Abuse, Writing
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I would first like to start off by thanking all of my readers and subscribers. I learned today; I have readers from 61 different countries. I think that’s pretty bad ass. I am aware that my readership grew from the topics of philosophy, theology, and madness. So bear with me as I stray a bit from those topics. Today I would like to release that which has been permeating in my mind. I would like ponder for a moment the importance of learning from our mistakes in a failed relationship. Through all of this I am trying to maintain a positive attitude and outlook. So here we go.

The one thing I can say with out a doubt is I am far from sainthood. I have made my more than my fair share of mistakes, and bad decisions which played a role in the overall destruction of my marriage. I am ashamed and consumed with intense guilt because of this. This combined with my wife’s lies, and infidelity has allowed me to see the light. I am sure I could write a 200 page paper on this topic, but I will try to keep this short and sweet.

There are 10 main things I have learned in my failed marriage. Now mind you there are far more than 10, but as I said this is not a 200 page dissertation on my failed marriage. I will do my best to not place blame, because it doesn’t do anyone any good. Some things on this list will undoubtedly overlap, even though this is the case I feel each one deserves to be mentioned. Without further ado here is my list of 10 things I learned from my failed marriage.

  1. Never Lie: I did a lot of research after I found out about what my wife did. I learned that in humans our first response when we know we have done something wrong, that will ultimately lead to a negative outcome our immediate response is to lie. We do this for two reasons one we want to avoid conflict, and two we don’t want to get in trouble. Since I am a proponent of the tabula rasa theory (mind being born as a blank slate.) I feel this is a trait we learn as children, which carries over into adulthood. Lying to your partner no matter how small is a terrible idea. We can overcome this childish trait, by knowing our partner as well as ourselves, focus on understanding and know that mistakes are actually learning opportunities.
  2. Never Cheat: I think this one doesn’t need further explanation. It’s a painful and shitty thing to do to those we love. Even if (insert some attractive famous person) wanted to be with you, nothing is worth hurting the one you love.
  3. Trust: it should go without saying that if the two things listed above are followed then trust shouldn’t be an issue. Unfortunately we all carry the baggage of past hurt, what we need to realize is who ever we are with now is not the person who caused us hurt in the past. I would imagine it would be a good idea to be open and honest about these past hurts. A relationship that is not built on trust is like trying to build a house of cards on a windy day, neither of these two examples will be successful. The perfect advice one can give in fostering trust in a relationship is this; if you would not say or do something if your partner was there with you, then you definitely shouldn’t do it.
  4. Accept and Love Each Other For All Their Good Qualities, As Well As Their Flaws: let’s admit it people, no one is perfect, and those who claim to be are probably the most screwed up of them all. Initially I am sure that we all fall in love with our mates good qualities. During the “courting” or “honeymoon” phase of a relationship, it is kind of like interviewing for a job, you really are not being completely honest your just trying to get the “job.” As the relationship progresses and begins to become serious is usually when we start to notice each others flaws. The important thing is that we learn to love that person regardless of their flaws. In fact I believe our flaws can become the most exciting part of a relationship. When you love the good qualities along with the flaws you know you have found true love; when everything seems to fit like a glove.
  5. Never Put Your Partner Down and Break Their Will: this topic has a lot to do with item number four. There are just two things I would like to add. The first is from an article by John Gottman, PhD in an article titled “4 Signs of A Troubled Marriage” Here is the link.http://affiliatedpsychologicalservices.com/4-signs-of-a-troubled-marriage/ Gottman talks about “The Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse” which are clear signs you are headed for a divorce. The first two he brings up is “Criticism” and “Contempt.” If anyone out there grew up in an abusive home where as a child you were faced with these two horsemen, having to deal with such things in a marriage is a key ingredient in a divorce. If you tell someone something negative about them enough times, with the right amount of nastiness it is only natural the other party will believe what they are being told, and inevitable this is who they will see when they look into the mirror. I don’t think people are aware of how serious the long term damage can be. My second point comes from a line from the song “Weight of The World” by Blue October. “Don’t bother changing things that won’t give into changing.” It is one thing to help your partner grow and become the best person they can be, but in the process don’t try to change who they are inside. If you are hell bent on trying to force someone to change, there is always medication. If this is your goal please take to heart one of my quotes “Medication is to fix the people we don’t like.” If you feel you need to medicate your partner, it’s time to call it quits.
  6. Freedom: As your relationship grows, it is imperative that you do not take away your partners freedom. When I say freedom I am not referring to allowing your partner to go out all the time neglecting the relationship, and engaging in behaviors which fall into the first three categories I listed. When I say freedom, I say that it is clearly healthy to share and be with each other, but it is also healthy to have a respectful life outside of the relationship. I have made this deadly mistake in one of my relationships, and I have now been on the receiving end of how damaging smothering and isolating your partner can be. If your relationship is built on a strong foundation of trust and respect this should be something you encourage each other to do. I have always admired the relationship between my best friend of 26 years and his lovely wife. I will not mention names, but I truly hope one day I can figure out whatever their secret is, and apply it to my future relationships. I am going to encourage them to write a book.
  7. Support Their Dreams: There is nothing more precious and sacred than some ones hopes and dreams. For some our dreams appear to us when we are young, others do not fully realize their dreams until they discover who they are. When I was young I had the normal boyhood dreams to become a professional football or baseball player, unfortunately like normal boys those dreams were not meant to be. Beyond those two options, I really didn’t have anything else that drove or inspired me, until the 5th grade. Long story short I ended up doing many writing assignments and I remember my teacher signing my year book, saying she could one day see something I have written being published. I was not a very well behaved child, so positive reinforcement from the teachers I tormented was rare, but from that moment my dream changed. I wanted to become a professional writer. As I grew older I held onto this dream, and wrote in private. I never thought anything I would write would be read let alone published. Again long story short one of my poetry books was published, I started this blog, wrote two children’s books, and two other poetry books. Needless to say this was the greatest I had ever felt about myself, because I accomplished something I never thought I could… my dream. I did not receive support from my partner, and in fact was highly put down and discouraged from continuing to write, until finally I had no option but to stop writing. The details behind this are not important at this moment.
  8. Open & Honest Communication: You would think this is a no brainier, but for my marriage and I would imagine many others this proved to be too challenging to overcome and sowed the seeds to our divorce. I feel if you have all seven of these things listed above then number eight would be a given, but if you take out one or two of the above it makes communication a challenge. I avoided and ran away from open and honest communication. I could make a laundry list for why, but this is already becoming too long of a post. Mainly I was afraid to honestly look in the mirror, I was scared I was going to receive an unhealthy dose of items four and five. Regardless of those reasons it is on me for failing in this aspect of our marriage. I need to take ownership for this, and like everything listed learn to not make the same mistakes. It is very difficult and challenging for me to be social, and communicate even with those closest to me. I know this is something I need to work on, but what always ends up playing over and over in my mind is the Pink Floyd lyrics from the song “The Final Cut” which I will add at the end.
  9. Be A Selfless Lover: This is actually one area where I have and feel the most accomplished. I felt I needed to add this, because in my experience men in general put their intimacy needs, or the final “outcome” before their partners. I will not go into detail in case my mom is reading this, but as men our primary focus and goal when it comes to being intimate is placing our partners needs before ourselves. Any man can do his business and be on his way, but this is a man who has failed. When it comes to intimacy your only goal and desire should be the feelings and ultimate “outcome” of your partners needs. Everything else should be secondary.
  10. Find Your Genuine Light: Tomorrow I am going to post a quick poem describing the meaning behind this comment. I do not believe in soul mates. I do not believe there is only one true love for everyone. I believe for everyone, there exists many individuals who could be considered your genuine light. I believe they are rare, but they are out there. My advice is if you feel you are holding your genuine light, don’t let them slip away because you cannot be certain another one will come around to light up your life.

 

“And if I show you my dark side
Will you still hold me tonight?
And if I open my heart to you
And show you my weak side
What would you do?
Would you sell your story to Rolling Stone?
Would you take the children away
And leave me alone?
And smile in reassurance
As you whisper down the phone?
Would you send me packing?
Or would you take me home?”

Pink Floyd

These lyrics describe perfectly why it is so difficult for me to open up to people, which hinders my ability to effectively communicate.

“Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.”
Napoleon Bonaparte

I sometimes try to think about what our lives would be like if we had no religion. Would chaos and anarchy rule supreme without some spiritual moral compass to guide us? Would we as a civilization just instinctively know how to treat our fellow man, or do we require a “reward” in exchange for our good behavior. This is a hard question to answer since the concept of religion is engrained in every man, woman, and child in existence. This will continue to be the case till end times, so we are for better or worse stuck with religion.

I often times write and speculate as to why religion was created in the first place. I have two theories which I feel answer this age old question. The first being the fear of the unknown and unexplainable and the second being social control. I personally think religion was first created to subdue early mans fears, but then when the slightly more intelligent man realized how much influence it had on the masses he transformed it into a form of social control. Since this discovery; generations of generations of people have fallen victim to the soothing swan song of religion.

I have always wanted to write several books on the topic of religion, and one such idea is building a religious timeline; starting from the very first religion all the way up to where we are today. I would track the origins and expansion of said religions. I figured I wouldn’t get too detailed I would just provide the basics of each religion. One detail I would touch on is the impact the featured religion had on the civilization. There were about eight other things I would cover, but are not pertinent to this post. I started this project last year, but when I was faced with the grand scope of the project I decided to shelve it until/if my “Dylan Thomas” books took off.

I really cannot think of one thing other than religion which has had a bigger impact on human existence. Religion although sold as a ticket to salvation and as a guide on how to properly treat your fellow man, it has also been a tool to control the masses. The rulers of old used religion as a tool to give the masses some spiritual guidelines. These guidelines were necessary to keep order, and the people who were being ruled feared for their life hereafter, so they fell in line with their spiritual leaders. We can look out in the world today and still see religion being used by political leaders.

In reference to this specific quote I think we need to look at civilizations through history. I wrote about such a time period a year ago when I touched on the alliance between Rome and the Catholic Church. This was a time when there were two classes the rich and the poor. The rich Romans during this time had the power and influence of the Catholic Church on their side. They parlayed this influence to socially control the people. They fed the fear of hell into each and every one of them, so the thought of standing up against their repressors equaled eternal suicide into a lake of fire. I am not too familiar with Napoleon time period but I would be willing to bet it resembled the time period I wrote about. I think I may just have to read up on this a bit.

The poor will only stand so long being the class which is shit on for so long before the people realize they out number the rich and decide to take over. Religion is the perfect tool to keep social order amidst such repression. I think this point is illustrated even in today by studying some of the countries in the Middle East. In America religion is still a dominate force, but I do not know the extent of social control it has today. I suppose it keeps the religious nuts focused on salvation instead of murdering and having sex with small little woodland creatures. I suppose in this case religion is doing something worthwhile.

“Even God cannot change the past.”
Agathon

As you may all know in my writings I consistently challenge/question the existence of God. There are times I commit downright blasphemy, yet there are times I show a small crack for God to come into my life. This is the conundrum I find myself in all the time. I do not believe in the existence of God, yet I philosophize on the possibility of the existence of a God. I think with some of the stances or comments I make in a post people misconstrue my stance between believing and non-believing. With my most recent intense anxiety and panic over my own mortality, I have tried to revisit this age old question in hopes of achieving serenity. Armed with this intense fear I have begun to deceive my logic into believing in the prospect of God existing. With that being said I want to confront this statement, and touch on a few other questions.

God is supposed to be all powerful, and nothing is beyond His realm of possibility, or is it. Does God possess the power to go into the past and change the course of history? If he had this power he could undo some of the most horrific events we humans have committed. Now in this question and statement I am challenging the power and as a result the existence of such a God. I can already tell you what the faithful will say to this, they will preach that God does not interfere in our lives because he gave us freewill. With this freewill we ultimately are responsible for our own actions and we have the freedom to define what we become. But hold on for a moment the Bible speaks of many situations in which God interfered with man’s freewill. Why has he chosen to be an absent father and let the world enter into chaos?

If the case is and God has just recently over the last couple thousands of years decided to no longer interfere with humans because we have freewill; I would ask the faithful to explain natural disasters such as the earthquake and tsunami that just hit Japan. Man has no control over nature, but the Bible clearly has stories illustrating that God is capable of such things. God had the ability to either cause or cease this natural disaster, so this means that he either chose to cause this disaster Himself, or knew this would happen and chose to let it happen resulting in the deaths of thousands of people and causing massive amounts of damage to Japan. Man as a result of his freewill had nothing to do with this, so if God existed then He as a result had everything to do with it. What was his purpose for killing so many people? 

I think this argument of freewill is an easy out for the faithful because it wraps everything up in a tidy little bow, and it places blame on man for all the horrors which have happened and continue to happen till this day. Some of the questions I ask myself are where is the divine intervention portrayed in the Old and New Testament? It seems in almost all stories God is very much involved with his most precious creation. We all know how much God hates gay people, so why has he not eliminated them as he did in Sodom and Gomorrah? For that matter why even create gay people to begin with. If homosexuality is a sin, why create people who are born to commit crimes which He hates to his very core? If God’s primary goal is to have all of His creations return to Him in heaven, then why create people who are doomed to hell from day one? This is not just limited to homosexuals we can include in there murderers, rapist, and thieves. I also ask this where was God during the holocaust. The Jews are supposed to be His chosen people, and when they were enslaved in Egypt God sent Moses to save His people. The Jews were in a worse situation during the holocaust then they were in Egypt, so where was the Moses of our time?

The absence of divine intervention in our time is one thing I point to when I am thinking about converting to Christianity. I do not understand how God can be so predominantly involved thousands of years ago, but we have not heard so much as a peep out of him since. Why show such an interest with man back then, but show such a disinterest in us now. Did God just throw his hands in the air and say “fuck it this is pointless! Perhaps I should have thought out the whole freewill thing.” I also point to the existence of natural disasters with no known lesson from God behind the punishment, such as he did with Sodom and Gomorrah or Noah and the great flood. God had no problem telling His people why he was creating such horrible disasters back then, but we have not heard a thing from him with all the natural disasters dating back hundreds of years. Even if there was not a lesson to be learned; why even allow natural disasters in the first place?

In my mind these are good questions I must ask myself to further along my internal struggle behind the existence or non-existence of God. In this case the answer I come to is the non-existence of God. Making a statement of “even God cannot change the past” is the same as saying God does not exist. God is all-powerful and if God existed he should be able to bend and alter the fabric of time, after all this is the man who created the entire universe. The fact that he hasn’t altered the past is yet another notch on the “I am not a believer” column. But hold on for a minute. God may have already altered the past, and if he did we would be none the wiser; since we only know what we know. If God went back in time and murdered your husbands’ fetus for being a douche, you would never know because you would have never met him. God does not have time to kill your cheating husband because he is to busy eating popcorn and watching the destruction caused by natural disasters, and reveling in revenge over the rapid deterioration of the human race.

“He hoped and prayed there wasn’t an afterlife. Then he realized there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped there wasn’t an afterlife.”
Douglas Adams

Is there such thing as an afterlife? Do we live on as energy, or is there a magical place we go when we die? If the answer to these questions is “no” then this means we simply just cease to exist. We burn out like a candle in the wind all but being forgotten years down the line. Questions such as these are what have been fueling my desire to find some form of divine power and intervention. For the first time in fifteen years I need my life to hold some meaning even though I know it doesn’t. I need unequivocal proof that a God exists and there are better things waiting for us when we pass. If I am not able to get this proof I desire I will continue to live my life in fear and panic over what will happen to me when I die. I will worry so much that I will forget to appreciate and cherish the present. Next thing you know death will be at my doorstep and I will be met with regret over the time I have wasted worrying.

This newfound need to enter the realm of the illogical has been plaguing me ever since my friend died. I have been haunted with the stark reality that he may no longer exist in any form. This breaks my heart, but this also stirred up a buried internal fear of no longer existing. Wait scratch that the knowledge that someday I will be void of thought scares me much more. This is freaking me out, so what do I do to try and find peace? I turn to my archenemy; religion. This once perceived almighty evil is infiltrating my life, and filling it with passed down stories of better things to come. I can no longer rely on my logical atheist ways. I have caved, but do I turn to the mightiest of faiths, or do I stay with Taoism or Buddhism?

I hope to find an answer which I feel comfortable with, because the constant anxiety and panic is overwhelming me. Here is the problem though; if I pick a religion will I ever “really” believe the teachings or will reason and logic keep me from fully committing? Will I get so desperate I just try to live a lie, and constantly need to trick myself to stay on faiths path? I remember Trey calling me a “disillusioned Christian” awhile back, but I would consider myself more as a “desperate atheist needing reassurance that my life has meaning and I will be able to continue to think until the end of time” type of person.

The thing I do not get with this quote is why anyone would want to hope there isn’t an afterlife? Isn’t it ingrained in our DNA to survive? If this is the case than our brains would be hardwired to at least hope our existence lives on. Perhaps this hardwiring in our brains and instincts is the foundation of religion. I know by experience that atheists do not believe in an afterlife, but I wonder if deep down inside part of them is at least hoping they are wrong; I know I am. I must be completely honest I sincerely admire those who are truly in acceptance with the fact that one day they will just cease to exist. As for myself I am going to sit here and hope and pray there IS an afterlife.

Verse 25

There was something formless and perfect.

Born before heaven and earth

In the silence and the void.

It is serene. Empty.

Solitary. Unchanging.

Infinite. Eternally present.

It is the mother of the universe

I do not know its name

Call it Tao.

For lack of a better word, I call it great

Being great, it flows.

It flows far away

Having gone far, it returns

Therefore, the Way is great,

Heaven is great,

Earth is great,

People are great.

Thus, to know humanity,

Understand earth.

To know earth

Understand heaven,

To know heaven,

Understand the Way.

To know the Way,

Understand the great within yourself.

Lao-Tzu

According to scholars the twenty-fifth verse of the Tao Te Ching is considered to be one of the most significant lessons in the entire manuscript. I do not necessarily look at this verse as a significant lesson; instead I look at it as a creation story. The Tao Te Ching was written by Lao-tzu over twenty-five centuries ago. I interpret the first ten lines as describing the big bang. Considering how long ago it was written I think Lao-tzu nailed a concept that would not be known for centuries later. I was honestly wondering when a creation concept would be brought up, so I was relieved when I read this verse. I love the way he describes existence prior to the big bang when the Tao gave birth to the universe.

Lao-tzu says “there was something formless and perfect.” Whatever was before the universe was created will always be a mystery, but Lao-tzu says whatever it was it was perfect. I am a firm believer that the Tao created heaven, but in doing this he also gave birth to Gods. I believe the Gods we know today were created by the Tao.

Lao-tzu could not find the words to describe the Tao; all he could come up with is the word “great.” This greatness is responsible for everything that has and will be.  He says “being great, it flows. It flows far away. Having gone far, it returns.” I am sure this could be interpreted in many ways. I look at it as the process of dying and the journey of our shen. When we die we go to the center where the universe was born. This center is formless and perfect, and is where we all return. Having gone far to the center; we return. This comforts my fears of death and calms my anxiety over it. The atheist in me comes out from time to time to trample my visions of salvation, so I lack faith. I wonder if my lack in faith is the reason I cannot live the lessons of the Tao on a consistent basis? If this is the case then my journey should be that of faith. Once I find faith perhaps I will find understanding.

This verse touches on things being great. It starts with the Way all the way down to people. This is a tough yet great message for me. I do not see myself as great; therefore I can never realize greatness. If I dwell in my negative emotions then I will attract negative things. This concept is brought up in the last eight verses. Lao-tzu says to truly know the way you need to understand the greatness within you. Since everything stems from the Tao is great therefore I to should be great because I am a product of perfection. This is a great lesson to learn.

“I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn’t work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.”

This to me is so funny, yet unfortunately so true. There are two things going on in this quote. First is the concept and power of prayers the second is the belief we can sin all we want then just ask for forgiveness. I challenge both these concepts to be false.

It is no surprise that prayers go unanswered. If each and every prayer were to be answered I think chaos would consume this world. The question is why God chooses to grant some prayers over others. I can understand God not granting this individual a material possession such as a bike, which is what I think this quote is implying. I get it; we really do not need material possessions and Jesus taught against this “When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Luke 18:22. I interpret this as Jesus trying to diminish the importance of material possessions.

If we have just established that God does not grant material items, and we can assume he does not respond to every trivial request, I wonder why God does not grant prayers of healing and cries out for peace. Now I think many believers will say that God has his reasons but I cannot just buy into this, nor can I buy into the answer that God works in mysterious ways. If prayers were not meant to be answered then why does the Bible say “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.” Mark 11:23. This concept is also brought up in Matthew chapter seven, where it says “ask and you shall receive.”

The Bible is telling us if we just believe then anything will be given to us. I do not believe this to be true. When I was young I believed and I prayed for my dad to see me, and take me away from the turmoil I was in. I prayed, I believed, and nothing happened. I also question faithful believers who have been inflicted with cancer. Why are they not healed? I would challenge anyone who says they truly believe to actually ask God to cast a mountain into the sea. We could go through every believer of this faith and each one could ask, and I guarantee you this mountain will not budge. Is this where the author of this quote believes this is not how God works?

The other part of this quote is the concept of stealing and then just going to church and asking for forgiveness, and everything will then just be alright. Things are great you got your bike and are now forgiven. One of the things which bothers me about Christianity is the concept that you can sin six days then pray for forgiveness on the seventh day and all will be good. I am no expert by any means, but I do not think God works this way. Jesus said “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21 I don’t know if Christians know about this, or choose to pick other verses to discount this statement. Before Jesus was Jesus he was the Word, and if you choose to follow the Bible you cannot pick and choose what you will believe and what you won’t.

I had a brief conversation with one of my readers on the concept of being saved by faith and faith alone. I had to ask for clarification so I apologize if I am still not on the right path here, but I believe one of two things are happening. Either the Bible is contradicting itself or the believer is picking and choosing which parts of the Bible they choose to follow. If the Bible is the Word of God then it can possibly not contradict itself, because if it were it would prove to be fallible and the belief would then crumble under its own fallibility.

If the Bible is indeed the Word of God then man has chosen to change the Word to fit their own needs. This happens ever so gradually through the countless translation of the Word. With each new change the Word needs to be changed in order to gain new copyrights. This greed to make money off the Word is a perversion against the religion. This is a key theme I am working on in my book idea “Deceived.”

“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Timothy 4:3

To follow up on the Matthew chapter seven verse I used I would like to include the remainder.

22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

“Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” John 3:4

I am sure there are millions of faithful followers who not only have faith, but also follow God’s laws. It is those who follow both I admire the most. With that being said; when looked at through these few verses I do not believe God has any patience for those who do evil, and then one day a week ask for forgiveness. So is this a contradiction or is man bending the word to his own liking???