I’ll tell you what I want out of life

I attended a Zen service Sunday. The temple is nearby, and I had long been curious about it though discouraged by the requirement that new people arrive at 8:00 a.m. for orientation. This Sunday I was up anyway because Peggy had to work, and I’ve become motivated by more than curiosity about Buddhism because of the pain that is ever with me.

I sat in a chair (most people were on cushions) in the geezers’ row, and was completely lost despite the orientation. We would sit, then stand, then bow from the waist, then sit, then stand, then bow with our faces to the floor. Meanwhile, there was a gong banging outside, bells ringing up front, bells ringing in the back, various hollow objects being struck, chanting in English, and chanting in Japanese. I had a chant book, but everyone else knew the chants by heart, and I had no idea where to find them. I was finally able to locate one of the Japanese ones for all the good it did me. I couldn’t talk fast enough to say the strange words, and there wasn’t even a translation with which I might console myself.

After everything else was completed, we sat perfectly still for forty minutes with our chairs (me) or cushions (most of them) facing the wall. The other thirty people were barefoot, but it was 50º F (10º C) outside, the room was unheated, and a window was open. Everyone else knew enough to wear jackets, but I was in short sleeves and would have gone home before I would have gone sockless.

When the bell rang to end the sitting meditation, about a third of us filed out while the remainder did a walking meditation. We were supposed to reassemble afterwards for a dharma talk by the resident priest. During the whole time I had been there, I had been cold, lost, and ignored by everyone but the lady who showed me around. None of this inspired me to want to know more, and hanging around to see whether the whole shebang was as bad as what I had already experienced just didn’t seem like enough of a reason to stay. It was only 10:15, so I went over to First Christian for its second Sunday school. There, I found a warm room, friendly people, comfortable furniture, pastries, and coffee.

I’ve been asked why I go to church when I don’t believe in Jesus. I’ve addressed this at some length, but the bottom line is that I value a shared spiritual dimension to my life, and I enjoy studying the Bible. I had actually rather go someplace other than a church, someplace where I could fully belong, but there simply are no such places. For several months (this was ten years ago), I attended the Self-Realization Fellowship, and liked it very well, but the more people accepted me, the more they talked about different things that their leader (Paramahansa Yogananda) was doing for them. Since he was DEAD, this weirded me out a little. Sure, a lot of people at First Christian believe that Jesus is present in their lives, but they don’t usually claim that he takes care of such minutiae as arranging bus faire to California.

There is also a Bahá’í group here. I visited it years ago and might go again someday, but in all candor I don’t fit in there either. The main difference between Bahá’í and Christianity is that most Christians believe God has already said pretty much everything he wants us to know (despite the fact that we’re killing one another because he failed to make it clear), whereas Bahá’ís think he’s still saying it. I differ from both in that I don’t believe God can help us out with our little problems because God doesn’t even know we exist. There are no perks to worshipping the god of pantheism aside from the worship itself.

I’ve also been to Sufi and Hare Krishna groups. You might say I’ve gone to damn near everything I was ever close enough to go to. Even when I lived in Mississippi, I attended fifty Christian denominations and a synagogue (the synagogue and the rabbi's home had been firebombed by the Klan a few years previously). To my surprise and delight, the people at Beth Israel just thought I was another Jew.

My lily-white Buddhist orienteer said that the priest had renamed her Yoetsu (pronounced Yo-Et-Sue). I thought it sounded like a sexual reference in Spanglish, but concluded that it probably had something to do with cranes or lotus blossoms. I used to tell myself, “Snow, you’ve got to start honoring this diversity crap,” but I never did. I look at it this way. When people take on foreign names, use foreign words, eat foreign foods, and wear foreign clothes as part of their religion; they can talk all they want about openness and inclusiveness, but are you going to believe their words or their actions? If you believe their actions, their goal is the rejection of their own culture in favor of someone else’s culture that is presumably more spiritual. They are, as it were, pointing their middle finger at the rest of us poor schmucks who don’t even know enough to pretend we’re from the Orient.

Sunday’s Buddhist group wasn’t that extreme. They had their funny names, and they dressed in clothes the color of leaf mold (this distinguishes them from Tibetan Buddhists who wear bright colors—god forbid you should get the two mixed up). These things separated them from most of America somewhat, but they were also separated within their own group by the black bibs that hung around the necks of the more advanced. Bigot that I am, I interpret such advertisements as plain old run-of-the-mill pride. There were other things too. For example, one man seemed infatuated with a piece of white cloth that he solemnly laid atop his head for awhile, but I had no idea what it meant. Again, bigot that I am, I just thought he looked rather stupid standing in the middle of the floor worshipping a handkerchief.


I’ll tell you what I want out of life. It’s simple. I want to be completely present. That’s it. How hard could that be? Well, I find it a little like trying to maintain good posture. Peggy sometimes tells me that I need to straighten up, so, I straighten up—for about two minutes. Then I forget about it, and I slouch again. Sometimes, I think that what I really need to do is to devote my every waking hour simply to staying straight until it becomes second nature.

Being present is like staying straight only a lot harder, because there’s nothing about good posture that precludes steely self-absorption, whereas being present means being truly open to what’s inside and what’s outside, and this requires that I relax my defensiveness. If I were less defensive, maybe I would feel compassion rather than contempt for the more outlandish religious groups I’ve visited.

After my surgery in March, I went through a period of feeling terribly hurt that people hadn’t been there for me in the way I thought they should be. Then, for some reason that I don’t remember, my heart opened. If you’ve ever taken the drug ecstasy, you know how I felt. It was like the lightness I used to feel as a boy when I set someone down after carrying them piggy-back for a few minutes—like I was walking on the moon. I didn’t think I had arrived exactly, but that I had made a quantum leap in that direction. I actually thought the feeling might last, or that I could at least remember my way back to it. Then, poof, it was gone. Again, it was like the drug ecstasy; you think you can hold onto your new enlightenment, but you can’t.

When I’m with people, I feel tense. It’s not that I anticipate them disliking me. It’s that I anticipate them (a) not really listening to anything I have to say, and (b) not really caring if I live or die. At best, I anticipate them seeing me as a rather uninteresting diversion. I also anticipate being annoyed by them, because I feel bored by most people. You might say that I feel about them the exact same way that I don’t want them to feel about me, but think they will.

I try to counter this by facing them full-on, looking into their eyes, and listening to what they’re saying instead of waiting for my turn to talk. None of this works very well though, and it’s not even that rewarding when it does. Like with good posture, I don’t really have it; I’m just faking it in the hope that someday I will really have it. But I lack the discipline to even be a good fake, and I’m not sure that discipline is the answer anyway. I suspect that what I need is a change in attitude rather than a change in resolve, but I’m at point A, and my new-and-improved attitude is at point B, and point B might as well be on the top of Mt. Everest.

Oh well, the good news is that I’ll die before too many more decades and won’t have to worry about all this anymore. And you thought I was a pessimist. Silly you.

42 comments:

Matawheeze said...

I'm laughing Snow, because I've "been there, done that" and you said it pretty darned well. My trip to this spot took a different route but here we are at Faking It and hoping to Get It. Some pronounce pessimist as realist.

Pat - Arkansas said...

I'll try again with a comment. For some reason, your ISP has REJECTED, I repeat, REJECTED and returned to me, undelivered so far as I can tell, the comments I have previously posted here. Or, If I wish to be paranoid today, perhaps it is YOU who are rejecting my comments, in which case I will admit to being a bit miffed. :) Ah, well!

I read with interest your various explorations of religious beliefs and practices. I regret that you have not (yet) found anywhere what you seek. I am firmly aligned and committed to a Christian denomination, and to the multitude of beliefs that are part and parcel of it. However, (hoping not to be entirely contradictory) I also try to maintain an open mind about things spiritual and will not argue that my chosen spiritual path is the be-all, end-all. Only God knows.

I leave it to you to decide if I'm mixed up.

BTW, this comment should satisfy #1 on the nice things first list of your previous post.

Regarding your comment on my first day at school post. You'll have to read the evaporated milk story to get your answer. You're warm, though.:)

Gaston Studio said...

You know Snow,you have made me think more about religion than anyone I have ever met and that includes southern Baptist preachers!

Your post today has affirmed for me that what and how I believe and the way I 'pray' is right for me.

I don't attend any church, yet I believe in God. I believe God listens to prayers even when they're made infrequently and not just from a church. I don't 'worship' God, but respect him/her/it. I also don't believe everything I read in the Bible.

I don't look to God to solve everyday problems in my life or the lives of others. But I do believe in the 'power' of prayer.

Some would say I'm not a religious person but that's all in definition and for me, I'm definitely a religious person, just different.

So thanks, Snow, for my personal affirmation!

Jane

Michelle said...

Snort!

I dunno Snow, that we ever find that illusory unconditional acceptance we seek in another's eyes. It is, however, nice to see it in the mirror sometimes.

Perhaps that's the point.

Love to you

xxx

rhymeswithplague said...

There's so much in this post that makes my head swim, so I will ignore those parts and comment instead on the one section that jumped out and grabbed me as I read it:

"I don't believe God can help us out with our little problems because God doesn't even know we exist. There are no perks to worshipping the god of pantheism aside from the worship itself."

So are you a pantheist? Is pantheism the view that God is everything or the view that God is in everything? It's my opinion that both views are wrong, that is to say, insufficient. I view God as the Creator of everything, but separate and apart from His creation, except when He chooses otherwise, which He can do whenever He likes. I suppose He could be in everything, but He would be in a human thought process it would be in a different way than He would be in an ocean wave or a tree. This is really too deep for me to comprehend with my little mind.

But in my view, God wouldn't be God if He didn't know I exist, That is, by the term "God" I mean an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, supreme being, capable of every human emotion and far more. How can something or someone without consciousness be supreme? Or by the term "God" do you mean something else, like "something that doesn't require anything at all of me but allows me to have warm, fuzzy feelings about myself"?

I must say you have confused me thoroughly, but the conversation is nonetheless interesting. To have a meaningful conversation, though, we must first agree on the meaning of terms.

Natalie said...

Could it be that you are just being completely honest, and that your perceptions of the people you meet are in fact valid, and your view realistic, as Matawheeze said?
Could it be that you are profoundly intelligent and that laymen would indeed bore you to tears? It seems to me that you are, and just need to connect with like-minded others, who could offer you some stimulation.For e.g. their take on the universe.

I recommend a book to you called HOW TO KNOW GOD by Deepak Chopra. I remember it being a particularly helpful book to me years ago. Unfortunately, mine was lost in the Newcastle floods and I have not read it recently.
Sending love and healing even though you wish I wouldn't.xx :D

Bella said...

I live in what they call "The Bible Belt" and my great grandfather was a hardshell Baptist preacher. I was semi-raised in a Baptist Church, and if you're not a believer you are going to burn in hell...plain and simple. Looks like I'll be taking a trip there, but not before, like you, trying other organized religious groups, only to be disappointed. Organized 'christian' religion is not for me.

~Babs said...

No one could ever say you haven't done your homework.
That gives you a leg up on those that bash spirituality, God, Jesus, Budda, etc. without actually knowing much/anything about it/them.
I hope your search leads you to where you need and or want to be.

Snowbrush said...

Matawheeze "Some pronounce pessimist as realist."

Did you know that pessimists ARE more realistic than optimists, at least in laboratory tests that require the appraisal of one's abilities? Optimists consistently over-rate theirs, while pessimists are dead-on.

Pat "your ISP has REJECTED, I repeat, REJECTED and returned to me, undelivered so far as I can tell"

You're not the first, and I've gone over my "settings" time and time again, but can find no reason for the rejections. I have noticed that people sometimes get the message that they've been rejected, and they've not. If you want to send me your email address (I won't publish it), I will send you mine for you to use whenever this occurs. I really don't know what else to do.

Pat "I also try to maintain an open mind about things spiritual and will not argue that my chosen spiritual path is the be-all, end-all."

I find this a lot among liberal Christians, and it enables me to get along well with them.

Jane "you have made me think more about religion than anyone I have ever met"

Thank you so much, Jane.

Jane "I believe God listens to prayers"

Would you say then that God sometimes does things that he would not have otherwise done (heal sick people, for example) if no one had prayed?

Michelle "I dunno Snow, that we ever find that illusory unconditional acceptance we seek in another's eyes."

I should think not unless, perhaps, the person who accepts us has no real emotional ties to us (a professional counselor, for example). The closer we get to another person, the harder acceptance becomes, yet the more we might value it.

Rhymes "are you a pantheist? Is pantheism the view that God is everything or the view that God is in everything?"

I would say that I am a pantheist for want of a better term. Pantheists hold both of the views you have mentioned. I would accept the former because the latter implies that God is more than everything (by which term I assume you mean the universe). I believe in an immanent God, and you believe in a transcendent God.

"To have a meaningful conversation, though, we must first agree on the meaning of terms."

And we don't. I would almost certainly qualify as an atheist by your definition of God. I could define God in different ways, for example, love; virtue; literary or artistic achievement; the undeniable impulse to worship; inexpressible wonder in the face of existence; and so forth. These wouldn't qualify as God for you.

I will readily admit that the difference between myself and an atheist doesn't necessarily involve anything other than how we think of ourselves and define our terms. Carl Sagan, for example, was an atheist, yet his writing approaches the sublime, and I see God in it (or what I would call God), but he didn't. and so be it. I certainly wouldn't argue the matter with him.

Natalie "ending love and healing even though you wish I wouldn't."

How dare you, you dreadful person! Bah-humbug on healing, and a double bah-humbug on love. (Here my head spins round and round, and green puke hits the opposite wall.)

Bella "I live in what they call "The Bible Belt"

And here I am in what has always been the least religious part of the country, the NW, although I heard recently that New England has beaten us out of the title. I guess you know that I lived for a long, long time in Mississippi, so I DO understand what it is like down there.

Snowbrush said...

Babs, I didn't mean to overlook you. It's just that you were writing while I was writing, so I didn't see your post.

Babs "I hope your search leads you to where you need and or want to be."

Well, you know, I've just kind of accepted the notion that I will always search but probably never find. This in itself is worship.

Renee said...

Seriously I don't even know what to say except that I love this post and I love you for writing it.

So much of it rings true for me too.

So much of it is true for me too.

You are a very evolved person and I admire you and the way you think.

It really is an honour to know you and to be able to read what you write.

When you die, that will never ever be good news.

I wish the world had more people like you, I really do.

Oh and by the way, I would never be bored of you.

Love Renee xoxoxo

KC said...

Snow, I admire your knowledge of religions and your willingness to search out and experience so many of them. I was born into a Mormon culture but did not feel the need to embrace their beliefs or to search out any other organized religion. It is interesting to me how religion has such a presence in some people's lives and others of us do not give it much thought.

You have mentioned before that you are easily bored with people. Just the reason I don't comment very often.....I'm afraid of being boring but thought I would risk it this time. Karen

Snowbrush said...

Renee " I would never be bored of you."

Even if I sat around drinking beer and watching football each night while scratching my crotch and cursing the referees? Obviously, we were meant to be. (P.S.I don't really do any of these things...well, other than scratch my crotch.)

KC "I was born into a Mormon culture but did not feel the need to embrace their beliefs or to search out any other organized religion."

Peggy is the same way except that she grew up Baptist. Religion is of zero interest to her.

Strayer said...

I think I would have started giggling, Snow, at that Buddhist thing. To each his own, but I probably would have started giggling.

There was this former meth head brains flat scan dead whom I knew, when in the mental health system. He said he'd help me fix my car once. I went out to his place. He was started hitting me with a hand held Tazer, told me he was a Buddhist and currently living only on bread and water. He liked to whip himself which I guess is done at some Buddhist meetings or whatever you call them. He had a pot of water on the stove which suddenly began putting out noxious horrible fumes. Turns out, he had added antifreeze. I grabbed his cat, covered my face and got the hell out. Brain gone Buddhist nutcase. Glad I survived his insanity. I fixed my own car later using instructions off the internet.

But when I hear anything about Buddhists, that's the story that comes to mind.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Snow, Woooo--what a post. It's no wonder your readers have so much to say to you....

Sounds like you are still searching for the 'meaning of life'--and not finding it. I guess in many ways, most of us imperfect humans are always searching for something. We are ALL so imperfect--no matter which religion we practice (if we practice any)... For the most part, we're pretty happy when things go well. But--we can be pretty miserable when things don't go so well. And when we are miserable--we are looking for excuses for this misery. We love to BLAME whatever is wrong on whoever we can, or whatever we can.

I truly believe in God. There has to be a higher being to help us through the tough times. We need someone whom we think is bigger and stronger than any human---who is 'there' for us. We may not SEE or KNOw that this 'being' is there ---but we can FEEL the presence deep inside of us if we open ourselves to this. That is the warm, comforting feeling that we cannot always explain.

I have a great life now--but I didn't always. I was sexually abused by an older brother. Life was not always easy for me. BUT--alot comes from ATTITUDE and the willingness to fight on--fight the good fight.

Besides attitude, life is about CHOICES. We take many different roads--and sometimes we make good choices and sometimes not. BUT-we have to live with our decisions and make the best of them. Again--attitude!

I happen to believe that there is something bigger and better --after this life on earth. I yearn for that--and hopefully, IF I live the best life I can now, maybe I'll experience that Panocia someday...

Life is too darn short to second guess everything. My advice is simple: Relax, Get out in nature, Quit fretting about it, and quit questioning things that none of us know the answers to!!!!

Betsy

crone51 said...

You sound like a Unitarian Universalist to me. I am a lapsed UU myself and folks tell me that's about as lapsed as one can be. I would consider going back but there are a really nice group of people at the local off leash dog park on Sunday Mornings and I can bring my dogs (obviously, it being a dog park and all) . So I remain lapsed.
UUism is nice in that they allow atheists to hang out with them. The dog park people are nice too and never ask me about religion. And did I mention that I can bring my dogs?

Snowbrush said...

Betsy "Sounds like you are still searching for the 'meaning of life'--and not finding it."

I don't think that life has a meaning beyond what we give it. I have trouble accepting this (probably due to my upbringing), but I believe it to be true.

Betsy "There has to be a higher being to help us through the tough times."

I don't mean to be argumentative when I say that I don't follow this. To me, it sounds the same as saying there HAS to be a dentist present when we have a toothache. I think of all the people, children among them, and all the animals who have suffered and are suffering terribly, and I see NO reason to think they found comfort.

Betsy "Get out in nature"

One of the sad facts of my life at the moment is that I am unable to camp. Peggy and I still drive to the woods for the day sometimes, but it isn't the same. Maybe later in the summer, I will get past all this pain, and the need for ice, sleeping pills, and narcotics, and can again pass an occasional night without my CPAP.

Crone "You sound like a Unitarian Universalist to me. I am a lapsed UU myself"

Oh, my god, a backsliding sister. I was a UU in Minneapolis where the preacher and pretty much the whole congregation were atheists. John Dietrich, one of the pioneers of humanism, was a former preacher at that church. Then I returned to Eugene. The UU here was Wicca one week and Buddhism the next, a regular smorgasbord of religions. I neither cared for that nor for the preacher.

The Quakers here also have atheists among their membership. I fit somewhat well in any of the more liberal groups, although few--other than the UU and the Quakers--would accept me into membership. That's okay though. I've belonged to four churches already, so I'm not in a frenzy to join a fifth. In fact, it would take a lot to get me to join a fifth.

"did I mention that I can bring my dogs?"

NO! To a dog park? I am so letdown. Where have all the standards gone? Long time passing.

Suzy said...

I forgot to mention that I felt the same way after my surgery. Only my heart didn't open up about it right away. I WAS ANGRY!

Pantheist Mom said...

I'm yet another backsliding UU. The concept of it was perfect for me. I grew up Methodist and very religious. When I evolved into an atheist/pantheist in my 20s, however, I found I very much missed the community and the ritual of a church. I found a UU congregation several years ago and was happy there for a while. Pretty soon, though, it started to feel quite elitist and much to inward-focused (not really much community service to speak of). They pissed me off when I devoted two years of my life to being the youth advisor without so much as an utterance of the words "thank you." I didn't do it for the recognition, of course, but I felt very taken advantage of. So we quite going and now I enjoy my Sunday mornings to sleep late very much.

Sorry Snow, I've made this comment all about me. It is interesting, though, that the need for belonging to a religion span well beyond simply religious. It is so comforting to feel welcomed and to feel a sense of belonging and familiarity each week.

I'm sorry you're feeling so frustrated. I would too. And your description of the Zen service did make me laugh....

Jen

Cori G. said...

Hey Snow,
It sounds like you had quite the adventure. We have a Tibetan Monastery around the corner and I've seen the monks in both Marigold and Meatloaf. I always wondered why so "Thanks" for answering that question for me. And thanks for stopping by my blog.

Have a great rest of the weekend!

Cori

C Woods said...

I understand what you mean by being present, open to what is inside and outside. I understand it, but feel no need to think a great deal about it. I know myself pretty well but don't obsess about it and I am reasonably open to what is outside, but I don't set the bar so high that I can't get there.

I kind of think it is like my neighbor's lawn ornaments. They have every kitschy item possible in their yard: wishing well, wind mill, wagon wheel, wheel barrow and wagon planters, gnomes, ducks, geese, rabbits, flamingos, owls, kissing Dutch boy and girl ---and more. They are perfectly free to put those in their yard, so I am open to their tastes. But I sure as hell don't want all of that in my yard, so I would draw the line at their putting their lawn decor on my property or annoying me by trying to convince me I needed them to make my yard look better. And I would certainly rally against a proposed regulation that all citizens had to have flamingos in their yards. When she shows me a new item her husband has made, I smile and say how nice it is ---and in most cases it really is nice, just not so nice crammed between thirty other ornaments on a postage stamp-sized lawn ---in my opinion.

Yeah, I'm somewhat, but privately, contemptuous, like I am about religion, but I play nice until my toes are being stepped upon. I also realize fully that she is probably contemptuous of my plain, boring yard, but I'm OK with that.

I guess I didn't get the spiritual gene. I seem to have no need of religion nor do I feel the need for spirituality ---nor three dozen lawn ornaments. I accept that many do, but deep inside, I don't understand why.

Life at Star's Rest said...

I understand the need for a community of spirit and I haven't found it either; but it also hasn't been a search of great importance to me. I've had too many inexplicable experiences to not believe in something greater than myself. Do I call that greater thing God? Not usually. Too many 'paternal' connotations. ;)

I think sometimes we get too addicted to seeking out those ecstasy-like moments and forget about living wide awake during the spaces in between them. That's where it all really happens you know, those long stretches of quiet between the expansions and contractions.

Are you a curious person? It seems to me that you are and you could use that curiosity to probe out something interesting about every person you are in conversation with. Everyone has some little thing about themselves or their history that is fascinating. Being interested makes you infinitely interesting.

Carmon

JOE TODD said...

I hvae read and been told it is the journey that is important not the destination. Today I believe that to be true. For most of my life I was in a big hurry to get somewhere (can't remember where it was I was wanting to get to now) As you said the journey in this life won't go on forever and in the over all scheme of things how important is "IT" anyway. I go to a lot of meetings where we talk about spirituality and that has been a big help to me. Thanks Snow

julie mitchell said...

Hi,
You certainly make me laugh out loud...you're funny. And touching. There is just too much here for my tired brain to come up with a succinct post. I think, I'll try later...thanks for sharing your hanging out with the Buddhists experience...funny stuff.

Snowbrush said...

Suzy " I WAS ANGRY!"

I can relate. Of my two best friends, I talked about my feelings of abandonment with one of them, and the relationship is back on track. The other abandoned me so completely that I haven't even seen or heard from him in months, so there is really nothing left to repair. I had felt him moving away from me for sometime, but had wrongly assumed that he would come through in a crisis. He was my best friend since 1987. How sad.

Pantheist Mom "Sorry Snow, I've made this comment all about me."

Oh, please, never apologize for that! I enjoyed learning more about you. I'm really sorry you worked hard for your church, and no one thought to appreciate you. I suppose this is THE major reason for burn-out in volunteer groups. I've observed it myself. Help a person, and they usually thank you. Help a group, and no one feels lucky to have you.

Pantheist Mom "It is so comforting to feel welcomed and to feel a sense of belonging and familiarity each week."

For sure.

Cori, I'm glad I could enlighten you (ha) somewhat about why Tibetan Buddhists dress as they do. I think I had rather see THEM walking around my neighborhood than the leaf-mold-color type that I visited. It's like the second group isn't even there.

C Woods "I seem to have no need of religion nor do I feel the need for spirituality."

I enjoyed your lawn ornament story. I like them quite well, but I would never have them in my own yard. My wife, Peggy, is like you about religion, and she never speaks of any need for spirituality either, although I know she gets it, that is if you consider a keen sensitivity to beauty in like music, nature, and art to equate with spirituality.

Joe Todd "I've had too many inexplicable experiences to not believe in something greater than myself."

I would say that just the opposite is true for me. I have never had any experience that couldn't be explained more easily--and more probably--in ways that seemed simpler and therefore more likely.

Julie "You certainly make me laugh out loud...you're funny. And touching."

Thank you, Julie. People "get" the sensitivity part of me pretty well, but I worry about whether they get the humor. You and others mentioned it this time, and I feel good about that.

Snowbrush said...

Carmon, my response to Joe was meant for you.

Joe "I hvae read and been told it is the journey that is important not the destination. Today I believe that to be true."

Me too, Joe. Having lost faith that there IS a destination, it just follows that the journey is everything.

rhymeswithplague said...

If there is no destination, why is a journey even necessary?

Even Moses believed that. He said, "Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord."

I'm being semi-facetious.

Becky said...

Thanks for the kind words you left on my blog! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your most recent blog on religions, as I am a seeker myself and could identify with so much of what you wrote about! It was good to know that I'm not the only one who is searching... and finds disappointment more often than not! Someday, I will no doubt discover that the peace I am seeking is right in my own backyard... my heart/center.
Love & Light to you~
Becky (a.k.a. OM girl)

All Consuming said...

I find churches great places for thinking and feel very at peace within them, a feeling which is lost once they fill up with people and the ceremonies begin.
I don't feel a 'need' for a religious path to follow. In my twenties I looked into Bhuddism briefly, (I liked the not eating animals part methinks), but other than that I'm content in the knowledge I do my utmost to be what I consider a kind, caring individual who doesn't have to carry around a whole sack of guilt because she isn't following someone else's rules which are set down in a book. As you know, I also fin the bible very interesting.Man am I tired. Take care x

b said...

I loved this post...but I also loved that you would have written it if absolutely not one person came to read.

Thank you.

b (for Barbara...simply because I got tired of writing my name.)

p.s. you "pet blogging peeves" resonated with me. Trust me I will not annoy you if I can help it!

Carol and Chris said...

Hmmmm, I'm not sure how I missed this post but miss it I did...till now!!

I don't believe in God, Jesus or any other supreme being so I don't know if this will help or not but....I pick and choose aspects of religions that fit in with my own philosophy. Just because I don't believe doesn't mean I don't want good guidelines by which to live my life.

C x

CreekHiker said...

I believe in God...but I have a great disdain for all religion. Still, I do enjoy checking out different services from time to time.

I think that's why I feel so at home in my creek...it's the most PRESENT I am all day.

Ribbon said...

Hello... I have very much enjoyed what you have written here.

Could it be that God is an imaginary friend for grown ups?

It's wise to explore....but possibly could you be looking to confirm your doubts too?

there's a lot that could be said... but most of all Great Post!

best wishes
Ribbon

swan said...

"When people take on foreign names, use foreign words, eat foreign foods, and wear foreign clothes as part of their religion; they can talk all they want about openness and inclusiveness, but are you going to believe their words or their actions? If you believe their actions, their goal is the rejection of their own culture in favor of someone else’s culture that is presumably more spiritual. They are, as it were, pointing their middle finger at the rest of us poor schmucks who don’t even know enough to pretend we’re from the Orient." I have had similar thoughts to these as well. I really enjoyed this post you have an incredible sense of humor while making very stong points come across. I like your style.

rhymeswithplague said...

Off-topic for this post, but I thought about you when I just heard a TV spot about people who had had a pump after shoulder surgery with resulting permanent cartilage damage being eligible, possibly, for a monetary award. I might have been a lawyer's ad and it might have been some sort of class action suit against the pump people.

Were you aware of this? Did you have a pump? You might want to check this out.

It's really none of my business, I guess, but I want to see you out of pain....

Chrisy said...

Enjoyed this post very much...could relate to your 'religious' stories...been there...love your wit...and your writing style...and I have to say, of all the blogs that I read worldwide, there are less than a handful that I know will always be insightful and yours is one...

Snowbrush said...

First, I want to say that I feel badly for not visiting other people's blogs lately. I've been out and about, plus I've really been wanting to get some reading done. I literally have ten or more books awaiting me.

Becky "Someday, I will no doubt discover that the peace I am seeking is right in my own backyard... my heart/center."

Many teach this, but I'm not sure what it entails, or why the teachers are so confident that they can show us how to find that which we already possess but have somehow misplaced. One reader of my last post (a woman who has well survived a severe trauma) wrote that she would be miserable if not for her belief in God and immortality. Certainly, in her case, it's not only what's inside her that's gotten her by, but also her belief in things that are outside, namely a loving deity and a rosy afterlife.

AllCon "I find churches great places for thinking and feel very at peace within them, a feeling which is lost once they fill up with people"

I agree that churches are much nicer until the people show up. Of course, if I were to sit in an empty church for several hours, I might be eager for the people to show up. Quiet reflection would appear to be better done in small does in my case. Well, come to think of it, I can sit at a computer and reflect for hours, writing being my most effective means of reflecting. Writing gives me focus; otherwise, my mind wanders. This would mean that writing is a crutch, perhaps.

B: "I loved this post...but I also loved that you would have written it if absolutely not one person came to read"

How did you know?! I would have, of course, but I'm surprised by your insight.

Carol and Chris "Just because I don't believe doesn't mean I don't want good guidelines by which to live my life."

Funny that religious people often think that they're the only ones who give a damn about things like right and wrong, and therefore have to exclude non-believers from the Boy Scouts and other fraternal groups. I think that, if anything, religion is an obstacle toward ethical behavior, because the emphasis shifts from what's good for people and the planet to what will please some imaginary deity who has, in the case of Judeo-Christian belief, often acted in appallingly cruel and immoral ways.

Creek Hiker "I have a great disdain for all religion."

I assume you mean organized groups, but there are so many of them, and they are so different one from another, that I'm lost as to what exactly you are objecting to. Could you say more?

Ribbon "It's wise to explore....but possibly could you be looking to confirm your doubts too?"

Absolutely. As long as I can say, "I am not certain," I leave open other possibilities, yet most of them seem pretty unlikely to me.

Swan " I have had similar thoughts to these as well."

I have had the happy experience a few times lately of expressing ideas that I've never heard expressed, and finding that others feel the same way.

Plague, I had a pump that sent cold water through a sleeve--is that what you mean? I would love to know more. I saw the doc this week, and a second surgery on the same arm is still a possibility. This time, he would replace the joint.

Plague "If there is no destination, why is a journey even necessary?"

Necessary to whom and for what, my semi-facetious friend?

Chrisy " of all the blogs that I read worldwide, there are less than a handful that I know will always be insightful and yours is one..."

If I were to build something akin to a blog resume and include in it my nicest compliments, this one would sure be in the top ten.

Marion said...

Snow, before I was even old enough to know better (25), I labeled myself a "seeker" and a seeker I remain. It should be a bonafide religion, in my humble opinion along with "The Church of Poetry". I love Zen, and, like you, I've been to Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Pentecostal and every other demonination of church. I study the Tao, which is awesome (there are dozens of great free translations online) and Zen mostly lately, although I dearly love the Psalms, Proverbs & Song of Solomon and read them often in the Bible. We have no Zen temples here in bumfuck, Looziana, but I don't know if I'd be able to sit for long with my bad back. I prefer to study my Zen in my lawn chair in the shade of my Willow tree.

Here's a book you may enjoy: "The Little Zen Companion" by David Schiller. It's nothing but a zillion quotes by everyone from Henry Miller to Jesus and Buddha and Rumi. I have it so dog-eared and coffee-stained that I seriously need a new copy.

Blessings to you and I hope you feel better soon. I know what it's like to not be able to sleep and it's a royal pain in the ass. Hugs!!

nollyposh said...

i think that the general idea is that you are out there actively ~Living~ (so many people aren't) and personally i find you very interesting X:-) Have you ever tried the Spiritualist church? They are fun and more interactive, kind of X:-/

Lille Diane said...

I am a seeker. I always have been. I seek bits and pieces of God, Universe, Spirit or Truth and try to "peace" together a formula that works for me. It is ever changing, evolving. I ask too many questions to ministers, teachers or others in charge of leading their sheep. Questioning is good. I will keep on seeking until the day I die. I like the mongrel-mix of religions I've become.

soulbrush said...

and i say 'amen' i just can't tolerate people like i used to when younger, don't suffer fools gladly, can't stand self opinionated bores and mostly see right through what people are saying..hypocrisy, falseness,...grr....at last, after 60years, someone who feels the same way...where have you been all my life???

Snowbrush said...

Marion, thanks for sharing some of your journey. We appear to be "fellow travelers' as Joe McCarthy would have put it. I'll look up The Little Zen Companion."

Nollyposh "Have you ever tried the Spiritualist church? They are fun and more interactive.."

I wouldn't mind visiting if there was one around as I'm sure they're everything that you say. The problem is that I don't believe in ghosts. I would love to, but I don't, and the idea that my dead mother could speak to me through a paid medium but not to me directly seems bizarre.

Lille Diane "I am a seeker"

Yes, you are! You, me, and Marion. We're all in good company, no?

Soulbrush "just can't tolerate people like i used to when younger"

I suppose age might play a factor for me as well.

Soulbrush "where have you been all my life???"

Well, I do tend to hog the bathroom, so I was probably in there.