Wednesday, September 7, 2011

On Getting, And Missing, The Message

Sorry for the gap in the posting; just haven't felt much like writing lately. But finally, here is this:

I mentioned a couple posts ago that I'd written an essay on atheism that I might post in the future. I've decided not to. In it I basically describe my total lack of belief in a theistic god, such as is laid out in the Bible, the kind that is a disembodied "person" somewhere, that loves and watches over us. I was going to use it as a sort of example of coming to one's own senses when the echoes die. It was in fact the main reason I started thinking about these echoes; I'd had the notion about the echoes before, but this really prompted it in my mind again, helped me really sort the ideas out.

See, when I was hiking along one day I realized, almost with a shock, that I guess I really don't believe in God, that it wasn't some mere intellectualization but a more deeply felt personal truth. I'd just climbed several thousand feet, had a good rhythm going and felt relaxed and cleansed by my exertions and sweat and the cool clean air. I was looking out over the stunning view of California's snowcapped San Jacinto Mountains when it hit me. I'd just mentioned to my hiking partner, walking just ahead of me, that his pace was perfect, and was marvelling to myself that I was able to climb so steadily, given my heart condition; I was just steaming right along. And it occurred to me then that though in the past I might have prayed for strength or endurance, to do so was foolish. In actuallity, I either keep hiking, or I sit down and die. I'm out there and I have to keep going. It's survival instinct; or at the least, it's that my urge for my goal is stronger than my fatigue (since to return to the town we'd left that morning was in truth all downhill). A simple instance, but that was how it hit me just then. I've never had any experience of God granting me anything, it's been my own will all along, given that even when things go wrong, we either deal with it, or kill ourselves-- we may not even deal with it well, we may gripe and fight the situation all the way, but because time invariably passes, we get through even the worst times so long as we don't die. Anyway, it became crystal clear that I had no basis whatsoever for a belief in god, no experience of my own, just words from others.

This was before my dad's accident, which only served to lay some strong and admittedly confused emotions on that realization. I realized then that on some level I'm angry as hell at a God I don't believe in, and have been for years. Later, in the hospital, I found myself wanting to pray for my dad to be healed, while at the same time realizing I'd be praying to nothing. Which is an example of why I feel robbed of my mind: so surrounded am I by the forms of belief that I think in those forms against my own belief or will. Is this proof of a natural inclination towards god, or is it proof of indoctrination, ideas foisted upon me from without?

So though I still stand by what I wrote in the essay, the truth is, all of this that I've been going on about has so far been but a partial examination. The real issue is what I mentioned before, that I feel I've been robbed of my mind. I was given a language with definite boundaries (words) and rules (grammar), raised up with ideologies and indoctrination, namely, that of Western Culture (specifically, American Culture) and, though it didn't quite take, Roman Catholicism. Therefore, even to think about this issue as I have been is an exercise in confusion. The issue is framed in the way it is because I approach it with this corrupted mind; the discussion occurs within parameters I haven't set and can hardly even see.

The only way out of this morass is satori of some sort, somehow seeing through all the bullshit, to break through somehow to something pure and basic. I felt I had such a satori in the mountains, that day, and others, when I'd look at the mountains and see simple rock: not evidence for a Creator, nor even for a billion year geologic history: after all, history exists nowhere but in the mind. The mountains, as I said before, are simply themselves, they stand for nothing, they are just piles of rock. But, because since birth all my experiences have been understood and interpreted through ideas, forms and patterns that were surimposed upon me by the people and the media around me, how do I really even know what "rock" is, what "mountains" are?

Truly those mountains-- standing for nothing, simply themselves-- are a goddamn mystery. My materialist viewpoint isn't somehow a reality just because I've seen through one set of illusions; that viewpoint has been given to me as well, and I'm still not really seeing the mountain. Mother Culture educates us so well, does it not? So my concern is, how can I know or be able to trust in satori? The message may be recieved, but if all our lives we've been taught how to interpret it according to certain forms and patterns, then how can the message be experienced at all? As soon as we percieve it we distort it.

When truth knocks, how can you even know it's truth?


  1. I was wondering where you were, not that I've felt much like writing either. Maybe it's the time of the year.

    "When truth knocks, how can you even know it's truth?"

    Probably when you stop asking or doubting. Some Taoist meditation deals with this, I think, by peeling away all those cultural/physical impositions.

  2. Actually, RT's latest "line-by-line" post is a good response to your question:

    Line by Line - Verse 41, Line 19

    And after I made the remark above, I wanted to clarify that I did not mean people who "accept the Lord" and are "born again" and all that (although it may work for them); there is some delusion there.

  3. How does a person know the truth when it presents itself? You don't. I believe that there is no way to "know" what is real and what is not.

    The clarity you found in the mountains existed because it is beyond knowing. One of the points Scott Bradley makes again and again is that experiencing life is far more important than consciously understanding it.

    Our minds play tricks on us all the time. A lot of that comes from the social conditioning you reference in this post.

    It is when we go beyond mind, thinking, comprehension and analysis that truth can speak to us. We can try to share it with others, but communication is no replacement for experiencing it on a personal level.

  4. I guess it pretty well comes back, again and again, to being in the Now, the present moment, truly experiencing things. That much is certain; yet I have issues with that, which I'll discuss soon if I can get my thoughts together.