Spritzophrenia

humour, music, life, sociology. friendly agnostic.

Somewhere, Over The Rainbow

Posted by spritzophrenia on July 28, 2010

Do I want there to be a God? Do I want g0d to exist? Or perhaps another kind of spiritual reality, like Nirvana? Yes, today I think I do.

I’m inhaling the scent from the flowers a dear friend gave me. I’m looking at the sun shining through the trees outside my window, and thinking it would be nice if there was something more than the mere material world. Maybe God. A nice g0d, of course. That would be kinda cool. I’m not claiming my desire for the numinous is evidence g0d exists, although some have argued that.

I can hear my imaginary friend say “Aha! How can you possibly search for meaning without utterly passionless detachment? You’re biased.” To which I smile, “Of course I’m biased. Show me someone who isn’t”.

As Iain writes, there are dangers of wish fulfilment in religion. No-one is completely objective but I think commitment to a position is perfectly ok. It doesn’t preclude the ability to reason well. Philosopher Roger Trigg says scientists are committed to an intellectual position when they work, but this doesn’t invalidate their research.

Dancing in the sunlit forest

Sikh religion ascribes importance to the sanscrit word sat. It means “truth” ¹ and is used in many ways: satsangi (follower of truth), satguru (conveyor of truth), satsang (speaking of truth), and more. I’m committed to truth, as well as to my desires. As Trigg concludes:

It is fashionable to fix one’s attention of the fact of commitment. This is understandable. If our commitment determines what we regard as true, all that matters is whether a commitment is sincere. … As we have seen, however, commitments involve claims to truth which are logically prior to the commitment. It follows that what ought to be of fundamental interest is whether the claims are true and the commitments justifiable. ²

Here’s an example of commitment to an opposite point of view, respected atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel writes about not wanting God to exist:

I am talking of … the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true… It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God: I don’t want the universe to be like that. … I am curious whether there is anyone who is genuinely indifferent as to whether there is a God – anyone who, whatever his actual belief about the matter, doesn’t particularly want either one of the answers to be correct.” ³

The obscenities inflicted upon us by religious zealots revolt me.

However, would I like there to be a g0d? Today at least, I say yes. How about you?

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Notes
1. Sat means more than the English word “truth”, but we’re keeping things simple here. Thanks to Brian at Church of the Churchless for introducing me to the word.
2. Roger Trigg, Reason and Commitment (Cambridge University Press, 1973).
3. Thomas Nagel, The Last Word (Oxford University Press, 1997) page 130 – quoted in Timothy Keller, The Reason for God.

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97 Responses to “Somewhere, Over The Rainbow”

  1. SugarPop said

    This morning I was at a kindergarten preparing for some research into the development of social skills in pre-school children. Later this same morning I was discussing how to best leverage technology to better support the government’s investment in the provision of tertiary education in New Zealand. And this afternoon I have the happy task of writing some material describing the purpose of correctional services in the New Zealand justice sector. I have discovered how many people are employed in delivering these services, as well as how large the inmate muster of our prisons are – both numbers horrify me. Then I’m struck by the potential links between these three different areas of activity – social skills development, education, and the enforcement of sentences and orders of the criminal courts.

    I am overwhelmed.

    I’m not sure if there is a God – the *evidence* is hard to come by. I do wish for more compassion in the world, and greater attention to creating a safe environment with positive emotional and social conditions for our children so that their chances of ending up as clients of the correctional system are minimised (speaking from a Western perspective). And yes, I am assuming a correlation without providing evidence at this juncture. Kinda like how I *believe* in God.

    • I agree, the evidence for God can seem hard to come by. I think we can all agree that more compassion in the world, and more care for our children is a good thing.

      Thanks 🙂

  2. Hi Jonathan,

    You said “I’m inhaling the scent from the flowers a dear friend gave me. I’m looking at the sun shining through the trees outside my window…”
    When I’m feeling wistful, usually this is enough for me, and I can let my mind wander, without resorting to wishing there were a god.

    I have no desire for there to be a god at all. I sort-of agree that that’s not how I want the world to be. Conversely I would be more than happy to know that there are alien civilizations somewhere out in space, that would make me immensely happy.

    Anyway… Off to job #2!

    • Thanks Marty,

      I find it fascinating how different people view life the universe and everything. Aliens… now that’s a great topic… I remain agnostic on that one.

      🙂

  3. Iain said

    I’m not sure whether I WANT there to be a god. I kind of feel that there is a matter of fact about it and, if I can sufficiently determine that matter of fact then I will respond accordingly.

    Hence, if I determine that evidence does not bear up the proposition that god exists, then I will enjoy this life. Love others. Centre my life around learning about this world and my relationships with people.

    If I determine that God does in fact exist, then I will centre my life on her, find out her purposes for me, and attempt to communicate her reality and the vast implications of her existence to those around me. I suppose I will also love and cherish her creation, in much the same way as I would already be doing as described above.

    In both cases I would want to value others and to improve their lot in this life, whether or not there is another. It would sadden me if I were truly convinced that the existence of a God entailed a loss in the value of these earthly moments (i should add, I don’t think it needs to).

    As it is, I think my current task is to learn, relate, love, and flourish with the best of my strength and ability.

    • I like your take on this, Iain. I’ve heard some people suggest that a focus on some kind of other world makes one neglect the value of this one. I don’t think it needs be necessarily so, but is a danger worth steering clear of.

      I’d argue that for some people, a belief in a higher power motivates them to do more in this world to love others and seek justice. When I was considering nihilism, I felt like the most sensible thing for me to do was to live selfishly, “screw the rest of the world, I’m only gonna be here for a few more years.”

      You write well.

  4. I really don’t know if I should comment here because I never saw God as having a personality: being vengeful or rescuing etc. Obviously, the ideology that affirms it’s ok to crash into buildings needs to be dissolved…

    • Comments are always welcome Romy 🙂 Given that these can be personal and controversial topics maybe I should write some kind of “play nice, children” comment policy, what do you think?

      The “what kind of g0d?” question is an interesting one, and one that I think will have to be asked in a future post, don’t you think?

    • Out of curiosity, did you see God as having parts of personality like will or making choices?

  5. Anne said

    First, Happy Birthday, Jonathan! A day late, but I’m here on the Oregon coast and didn’t have wi-fi till today. Hope you had lots of well wishes, and here’s to a great year for you. Do I want there to be a God? Interesting, I never phrased it that way before. I believe that we all need some sense of order in our lives, and when I think of there not being some over-arching Being or other thing that my human mind can’t conceptualize, I think of chaos. Maybe it’s my fear speaking, but I’m not at all comfortable with the idea that there is no order, no interlocking of systems, no reason for our being here. It’s more than fear, I’m convinced of that. It is a “knowing,” it’s the fact that I feel connected to others and to nature, that tells me I am meant to be here and therefore, Someone or thing, or maybe at the least, a conglomeration of souls including mine, put me here. So, yes, I want there to be a God. But what kind of God, that’s another question. (And if you blog on that, I’ll tell you : D )

    • What kind of God? Like I said, I want a *nice* g0d, not a nasty capricious one. Given one or two other comments, i think this will have to be a future blog topic. (I have soooo many things in the queue!) What do you think? 🙂

  6. Anne said

    Meant to add: Nice photo. Is that you? Looks like a lake back there.

    • No, it’s not me. It’s a photo of a young woman dancing at a party in the forest sun, something I love experiencing. Outdoor parties with awesome music are the best! 🙂

  7. leesis said

    Excellent post Jon. SO many thoughts, my mind twisting this way and that way.

    Oh yes I want there to be a god but that feels so odd saying it that way.

    I am deeply aware of the part of me that begs please please let there be a consciousness more evolved than us. But this part of me is akin to hoping desperately that someone else understands any subject better than I and therefore I can share their wisdom hence growing myself.

    For the sake of full self-disclosure, because of my turbulent younger years, I admit the concept that there was a move ‘evolved’ consciousness than the human being has always given me great psychological comfort. I knew a lot of adult beasties. But I have never been gullible. I’m sure I have the ability to reason for a reason!

    But equally I believe that to examine any area with “passionless detachment” is to deny fifty percent of our own being and capabilities.

    Using only the left brain to assess any information is out of wack. I would refer you to a book by Dr Iain McGilchrist, eminent English psychiatrist called ‘The Master and his Emissary: the divided brain and the reshaping of Western civilization.’ He puts this with greater smarts than I.

    Jon I wonder if the ‘wish-fulfilment’ comes in after the ‘fact’ of god.

    i.e., there is a god, but now what is this god? What does this god look like? What has this god to do with me? Does it love me? Does it love me more than others, less than…?

    Hence we create heavens, Gods, etc, that reflect our greatest wish-fulfilments.

    If I had to describe my own journey it started with ‘is there a god and if so what does it have to do with me.

    As I travelled through different man made definitions and rejected most, I found it became a sense of ‘there is an undefinable something that is definitely there, but most people put their own wish fulfilment on what that thing is.

    And I think that’s okay as long as its acknowledged for what it is…which is the problem…cause us humans so like to box define and then fight over (said with an emotion of fond exasperation) our particular box.

    If one considers the history of theology, mythology etc across the globe it is clear that “indifference as to whether there is a god” is not a human trait.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post…Cheers Leesa

    Ps…Jon I don’t know if its poor form but as we write on the same topic can I pug my most recent post? I won’t do it again if it’s rude. I’m new to this blogging world! http://leesis.wordpress.com/2010/07/28/are-you-there-god-2/

    • Lots of good thoughts there Leesa. You make a good point here: “If one considers the history of theology, mythology etc across the globe it is clear that “indifference as to whether there is a god” is not a human trait. ”

      Yes, you’re welcome to link to yours. Here’s my take on the ethics of the blogging world: I think anyone who asks politely, and has actually taken time to engage with the topic is allowed to post relevant links, as long as they don’t do it too often. This is what marks a real person from spam. I’ve occasionally had real people pop in and just dump a link saying “check my site”. I usually delete those unless they are really relevant to the topic.

      I look forward to checking your post out.

      • Iain said

        I enjoy it when interesting people leave relevant links to their blogs. It’s how, through Jon, I meet others on the blog-o-sphere who are interesting. It’s always good to expand my reading and eSocial(?) horizons

  8. joshilan said

    Does it really matter who is God?

    Surely it matters more who are you or who am I or we?

    Perhaps the entire conundrum is about who we are
    So to know thyself is to know God

    The rest is speculation and hypocrisy

    Intellect can never know anything really of any substance, only shadows of reality, know that which IS which is yourself and all knowledge of beginnings and ends and gods and dream merchants pale into the insignificance they hold so dear.

    • I guess who g0d is matters to me, at least. But you’re right, developing ourselves in this world is very important.

      I really “get” the revulsion at religions sometimes. I think of Sepultura’s lyrics: “Religious domain is all I see; suffocating scum of mediocrity”. The “speculation and hypocrisy” you mention is disgusting.

      I both agree and disagree that our intellect can only know shadows of reality. Lately, in thinking about whether I’m a rationalist I’ve become more comfortable with the idea of “belief” as opposed to “knowledge”, which surprises me. Up til now the idea that our life is made up of beliefs would have revolted me.

      What do you think?

      • leesis said

        It seems to me that speculation is the road to discovery.

        Without speculating what things may be about there would be no discovery. Imagine Galileo staring at the moon, following its path, speculating its motion and then seeking to define it…contrary to what his faith (RCC) demanded of him.

        For me to speculate as to whether there is a non-organic consciousness is a natural consequence of being organic.

        The hypocrisy I think comes about because of what people ‘want’ to believe, their need to be ‘right’ and another ‘wrong’ and our conditioning. Institutional hypocrisy such as religions are just an exaggeration of this, i.e. lots of folk coming together wanting to be right.

        And absolutely yes to knowing thyself! Defining god is a lot like defining the human mind. Interesting that!?

        Cheers Leesa

        • By the way, interesting book “Numbers and 24 other [atheist] scholars debunk 25 falsehoods about science and religion. The most familiar—that the church imprisoned and tortured Galileo, that medieval Islam was hostile to science, that medieval Christians thought the earth was flat, that the church fought against anesthesia—have long been discredited … ”

          I’d like to read this.

        • leesis said

          me too want to read! A lovely book re Galileo is ‘Galileo’s Daughter’ by Dava Sobel and includes many of the 124 surviving letters from daughter to father.

        • Have heard of this, so much to read so little time. Maybe in the next life? 😉

    • Iain said

      “Know thyself”, and, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Both ideas I appreciate. Thanks, Ancient Greeks!

      • “The unexamined life is not worth living”: I once had someone say “Bollocks to that! Life is more fun without examining it”, or words to that effect.

  9. Anne said

    I think where I drew the line at belonging to a religion is when I figured out that for me it’s the mystery that is the spiritual.

    • I’m not sure if you also mean “mystical” by mystery, but I often find that path attractive. I’m a bit worried that my writing is getting over-intellectual at the moment, and will put people off.

      • Anne said

        Yes, I like the mystical, also. Good thought, would like to know more about what you mean by that. No, I don’t think you’re too over on the side of intellectual here. I think you’re very aware of balancing the intellect with both humor and the personal, and that’s one reason you’re building such great discussion (as a blogger, I’m impressed!).

        But back to the mystery: For me, it’s the “not knowing” the details or even what is true (you’ve blogged some on that). If I have a belief, I may believe that it’s true but I don’t know it as a fact. Even beyond that, I have a personal belief that there is intelligence/ awareness/ existence greater than the human mind can fathom (maybe we glimpse it at times)and I like that. I wonder what “God” means and I like to hear others’ beliefs or nonbeliefs and to participate in the discussion. It helps me feel alive. But I like to think that She or It is bigger than I need to define. The mystery of it keeps me striving for connection to the spiritual realm.

        • I’m not entirely sure what i mean by that, but I’m sure we’ll find out one day 🙂

          Mysticism is a topic I have in my ever-increasing list of things to write about.

          I identify with much of your last paragraph, thanks. There’s stuff coming up on “belief” verses “knowledge” if I ever get to writing it. Right now, I’m much more comfortable with the idea of “belief” than I used to be.

        • Anne said

          I’m looking forward to hearing more from you on belief vs. knowledge! Yes, there are so many directions to go with this…

  10. joshilan said

    Atheists that believe there is no God are fooling themselves as much as believers who believe there is, perhaps more so.

    It is all speculation until it is knowledge, all intellectual ramification is purely an exercise in futile imaginings

    Words at best are honest lies, no one can verify whether there is a God or not, the only one who can verify any truth to be real or to be true is the one who witnesses it directly, and such realization cannot be encapsulated by another nor applauded or revealed by anyone or to others. It is purely personal, subjective if you will, yet subjective realization is more real than the illusion of material metamorphosis from death to life or its opposite.

    • leesis said

      “all intellectual ramification is purely an exercise in futile imaginings”

      Yet to me those questions, wonderings, ponderings and the sharing of the same is the pure joy of life (as long as I use my whole self not just my computational part).

      I have this potential to imagine, to create to design. I teach my son that the most important thing is to ask questions and that growth is in the asking of better questions. And personally I get excited by each new question!

      Personally I think the futility comes in when one thinks they have all the answers…or perhaps the final answer for then the lid is closed. What cha think?

  11. joshilan said

    imagination towards contemplation which leads to realization is the power of mind and creation

    to know thyself is to know the silence within the stillness

    this is where I or God resides

    where scientists or atheists fear to tread is the actual laboratory of realizable discovery, the periphery of externalized conceptual (intellectual) inaccuracies cannot uncover the kernel of reality.

    Knowledge is not a whisper or a figment of a cross bred word but the rushing force of energetic sound of the amalgamation of soul with itself, and it can only occur in solitude and silence never in the outward cacophony of the confused white noise of academic mayhem.

    • Iain said

      lol you are starting to sound like a continental philosopher. 🙂 I’m pretty sure no scientist fears to tread in “the actual laboratory of realizable discovery”, in fact I think that’s their job.

      This is only my potentially rude advice, so I apologise if I cause offense, but if you want to come across more clearly then I would suggest more direct statements and less poetic and lyrical statements (since the lack of clarity allows errors and illogic to more easily creep in).

      Can I also presume that your last sentence was a polemic against “intellectualism”? I’ve always felt that the best way to find truth on a matter is to ask an expert of that discipline (or become one), so it would seem self-defeating to eschew academia.

  12. joshilan said

    academia, nor conceptual reasoning can offer anyone any vague understanding of what truth or reality is, or deduce that which we are.

    only to realize reality is to know it, to talk of it is an abject dismal fictitious lie.

  13. joshilan said

    dunno Derrida, other mens metaphysics or methodology don’t mean squat to oneself

    only possible positive potentiality is to pop ones own presupposed bubble – splat!

    • Iain said

      Granted, you don’t have to take anything that anyone else says as true. However, sometimes it can be good to scrutinise their metaphysics and theories for yourself. It’s hard to invent all knowledge in and of your own thinking.

  14. joshilan said

    they can only pinpoint the way to a discovery they may have made themselves, their truth is only true once you have tasted it yourself. Second hand knowledge is not knowledge but information devoid of substance.

    Just like the debate about whether God exists or not, is superfluous, if you exist that is all that counts, your realization of who you in fact are, God may or may not have something to do with it, but ultimately your discovery of your own potential perfection is all that matters within the scheme of your existence within space or matter (physical body) or time.

  15. GREAT discussion. If I may; Iain…man, haven’t thought about Derrida in a while. Thank you. Foucault, Calvino, Echo…I adore semiotics. Joshilan, I have an academic background but it doesn’t define me – it adds to me. The data from science is always interpreted by humans and so it is in flux. I often use the example of Pluto which isn’t considered a planet anymore. Ieesis – questioning is soooo good. Good for you!
    I strongly believe in feeling, but first we need to understand ideology so that we don’t dump it into the wrong place. I think that Jonathan is credibly sorting out the weeds. I am so blessed to be here.

    • Iain said

      Yes, Jonathan certainly has a way with blogging.

      What is your academic background, Romy? I totally resonate with what you say there, “it doesn’t define me – it adds to me.” Nice.

    • I believe in the value of feeling too, and agree we understanding alongside it. Well said.

      Thanks for the vote of confidence, I feared coming back to my blog after a couple of days to find all hell had broken loose and I’d disappointed everyone. I will try to keep “sorting the weeds”, I like that term 🙂

  16. Hi Iain,

    My ‘uh-oh’ blurb…

    Romy Shiller is a pop culture critic and holds a PhD in Drama from the University of Toronto. Her academic areas of concentration include film, gender performance, camp and critical thought. She lives in Montreal where she continues her writing. (http://romyshiller.com/- sorry Jonathan)

    What’s your background?

    • Iain said

      What does “camp” mean in the context of “gender performance, camp and critical thought”, I don’t think I understand.

      I’ve done a Bachelor in Science (Psychology), a Bachelor in… let’s just call it “Theology”, studied some computer science (most of a degree lol), and a Postgrad diploma of Science in Philosophy which I’m currently extending to a Masters in Science (Philosophy).

      Oh dear, I think i’ve spent too long in a classroom 😀

      But I did actually leave a campus at one stage to work full time for a while there, in the psychiatric care service, so I think I still remember what the sun looks like.

  17. Camp was my thesis so I could go on…for me gender-roles are not fixed. I use ‘camp’ as a context where one can play with gender-roles. Far cry from theology, eh?

    Where are you from? I’m Canadian.

    • Iain said

      I wouldn’t worry about anything being a far cry from theology, I find that sometimes its a good indicator of a subject being interesting 🙂

      I’m from New Zealand, same as Jonathan. Currently living in Christchurch (largest city the South Island) but I was born in Auckland (largest city in the North Island).

      In Lord of the Rings geography, I live just east of Rohan and I used to live an hour north of Hobbiton. Oh, and Jonathan lives slavering outside the gates of Helms Deep; I think that explains a few things.

  18. Ha! I love NZ and once almost applied to teach at a University there – I think Wellington. Are you on Twitter? If so, I’m RomyShiller.

  19. Joshilan said

    who’s Jonathan, the seagull?

    Academics can give one some kind of handle by which to grasp inquiry but it don’t necessarily give you any answers, in fact more often the opposite, just far more questions of meaningless trivia.

    An individuals quest for knowing truth or reality is far more poignant than simply opening up a thesis on chemical transference of matter from one state to another, or episodes of distant realms in a far off galaxy of conceptual imaginary machinations of non evolved consciousness.

    Real awakened understanding is tuning into the silent void of quietude and whispering the sounds of silence, in harmony with the resilient strains of creative thunderous rapture, alone, all alone is the secret to the universe within universes.

    • I’m Jonathan ( = Spritzophrenia) 🙂 Should I read that book?

      While I don’t agree that academia is useless, I can certainly understand feeling frustrated with it. At times I certainly feel like intellectual stuff does raise more questions than answers. There’s a quote I like by Isaac Newton that says the same thing.

      I’m not yet certain that experience alone is more helpful, but I do like your poetic language – if there is a spiritual realm it’s probably more like poetry than logic. Your “tuning into the silence” sounds attractive in a mystical sort of way.

      Thanks Joshilan 🙂

    • SugarPop said

      It had to happen sometime – a Richard Bach reference 🙂 Nice to meet you Joshilan

  20. leesis said

    Through questions, both emotional and reasonable I have made discoveries. By listening to others I have shared their discoveries and add to my own as I wish. Academia taught me different tools to discern information accurately. Academics taught me by their own actions how not to constrain myself with apparent answers presented as if complete.

    But my whole career and indeed life has taught me the value of hearing others stories and reflecting upon the same. In whatever format they be offered.

    ‘Second hand stories’ are the story of our human journey, of human perception and human interpretation. They are a reminder that ones own perception is tiny indeed and that there is more…much more.

    • Iain said

      Yes, I agree with you, Leesis (your name is … Leesa, was it?), and I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree with our poetic friend again.

      No discipline within the academy EVER promises to give you final answers. All knowledge claims are tentative, open to re-evaluation, and offer a potential way to falsify themselves. It is only dogma that does otherwise. When you mention that academia leads you to more questions you are not highlighting a weakness, this is a strength of higher education. Academic study hones you mind so that you ask the right questions, learn how to avoid irrelevant factors, and what you find is that every time to plug an answer into a gap you end up with two more gaps (either side of the answer). If you think that asking more questions is bad, then you are missing the point of what it means to learn about reality.

      I’m afraid I can’t really address you last sentence as the essence of your meaning is unclear, but I will just offer the warning that our own minds are not infallible sources of data and you cannot find all truth, reliably, by introspection alone.

    • Iain said

      When I say, “You”, I’m talking to Joshilan. Sorry for the confusion.

      • leesis said

        yes Iain I’m Leesa :). It does get confusing doesn’t it. Iain I tried to post some questions re your own blog but it ended in telling me it it had failed and sorry. Any hints because I was very interested in your article.

        • Iain said

          All I can suggest is that you totally close your browser programme (not just the tab or window) and go back and try again. One thing I try when things like that fail is go to the comment section and wait for the page to fully load before typing or clicking anything as sometimes when you click it interrupts the loading leaving errors in the source html that is only partially loaded.

          Other than that, make sure you enter the word verification etc, but I’m sure you did that.

          Let me know what happens, I’d be keen to hear your thoughts, Leesa.

        • leesis said

          oh dear tried again snd time failed through wp log in so wnet through google log in third time and it said to big and failed (it wasnt that big :)). sigh 😦
          p.s.

        • leesis said

          oops spelling indicating frustration 🙂

        • Iain said

          I can see a post there. One of them worked. Next time, before you click publish you might want to copy your reply into the clipboard so you can reload, paste, and try again.

        • I occasionally have trouble with blogger comments too, it seems to be something to do with needing Javascript enabled or other technical stuff.

          good luck 🙂

    • “questions, both emotional and reasonable”. I like that 🙂

  21. Joshilan said

    seems we missed the heart of the matter
    mind is all that controls life
    our understanding is the sum total of impressions stored in mind
    to know self is to uncover mind, transcend mind
    to be led by intellect is to know no thing, to assume much
    to realize truth is to still mind and pierce intellect
    academics go around in circles never reaching the end
    cut the illusion and discover reality
    knowing is not reserved for the educated, it is open to all
    whether you have a wiki browser or access to libraries of information
    the only knowledge worth knowing is to know thyself, and none other.

    • Anne said

      Joshilian, I like much of what you say here. I agree that it’s important to be able to come from a place of self-understanding, although I don’t put academics in a box (or, circle). One person may respond on an intellectual level but say something very similar to someone who responds from the heart or from self. I tend to offer my perspectives from a personal place; I also enjoy the perspectives of philosophers who’ve gone before us, and to mythology, which offers stories that help explain and transcend. Each perspective has something to offer, and I think when I try to meet the writer where they “live” they’re more open to hearing me. I appreciate your poetic expression and I think it adds something, expecially when balanced with plain talk.

  22. No Jonathan, I do not attribute ‘choice’ to God. My feeling is that human-beings are responsible for their actions. Many people I know do not believe in God because of the Holocaust. See, I don’t think God had anything to do with any of the Holocausts around the world – this puts me at odds. I do not believe that God can absolve us or diminish our responsibility for heinous or any acts. To me God is a loving energy.
    I’m in the middle of watching ‘The Rapture’. Will discuss later.

    • Iain said

      >I do not attribute ‘choice’ to God. My feeling is that human-beings are responsible for their actions.

      I definitely agree with you there. Whatever we are, whatever god is, I believe that the responsibility for our life and our world is our own (collectively, as humanity).

      On a more abstract level, I do have some theological problems with the consistency of a benevolent God permitting a system that allows for evil, BUT I don’t blame for FOR that evil per se. Humanity’s evil belongs to humanity.

      >I’m in the middle of watching ‘The Rapture’. Will discuss later.

      Great 🙂 I look forward to hearing your opinions, Romy.

    • I hope I haven’t misled people, must check my post to ensure it warns the Rapture isn’t an “easy” movie.

  23. Hi Iain,
    Things like ‘evil’, ‘good’, ‘benevolent’ etc. are subjective and change. Certainly a moral compass is good but to me that’s up to the individual not God. To me, God steps out of our way.

    Hi Jon,
    I’m not misled at all. I never bought into the systems it describes. I can imagine that it’s disturbing to those that have.

  24. Joshilan said

    God has nothing to do with human repercussions like holocausts and eye for eye, tooth for tooth reactions.

    Depending which God one would like to attach responsibilities to such occurrences, same with Tsunami’s or meteor impact activity, avalanches and earthquakes.

    In a world of duality where action begets reaction and cause begets effect, the forces of nature and equilibrium mete out the natural responses to the course of events. Human minds are incapable of realizing the extent and depth to the source of our existence.

    We are left with the idea that if there is at all any sense to this human or physical or earthly experience it would be to determine and decipher our origin, in essence to seek out our self, to transcend our human physical limitations and discover our real infinite personality.

    Suffering is part and parcel of the creative experience, it is all suffering in this realm of tears. There is absolutely no permanence nor tranquility in a realm where life subsists on life to exist, all are in a state of survival or decay.

    Love is the force which propels the self or soul towards union of purpose, it is essentially love that is the entire purpose of the entire expression of God, from the big bang till the dissolution of all matter back into the black hole from whence it came.

  25. leesis said

    Joshilan…great contributions. Just some thoughts/questions.

    Can we truly say with certainty that “mind is all that controls life” and even if we can, it seems to me that we can’t draw further conclusions from that anyway because the term mind is as loaded and as ‘undefined’ as the term ‘god’?

    “to be led by intellect is to know no thing” yet isn’t the intellect as an essential part of the mind like the liver to the body? As such it seems we ignore it at our peril akin to those who minimize the importance of emotion.

    “cut the illusion and discover reality”; then first I must be convinced there is true distinction between the two (illusion and reality) and secondly surely I must activate all of my potentials…i.e. heart, intellect, intuition and others…or hat I call my ‘psyche’ to discern ‘truth’?

    “Human minds are incapable of realizing the extent and depth to the source of our existence.” Hmmm? No intellectual words here, just hmmm…A feeling (?) of mine that where there are questions there are answers. I wonder though if this may be a twist in my psychology for I noted my reaction to Annes’ comfort at mystery being “but I want answers even if those answers are simply better questions!?

    Suffering is part and parcel of the creative experience, it is all suffering in this realm of tears. There is absolutely no permanence nor tranquility in a realm where life subsists on life to exist, all are in a state of survival or decay.
    I agree that some suffering seems inescapable in organic reality. But is it not only our perception that suffers or that comes up with lines like ‘realm of tears’. I also have trouble with the Buddhist idea of delusion/suffering akin to these lines of yours or similarly the way the Catholics put it being life is suffering and later will be heavenly reward?

  26. Joshilan said

    neither Buddhist nor Taoist nor Sikh nor Jain nor Muslim nor Christian nor Jew nor Greek

    who are all these pigeons in a box?

    who are you?

    fly on the wall, pigeon in a hole, rat on a Ferris wheel, snake in a basket, monkey in a cage, chimp in the zoo?

    who am I?

    where have I been?

    where am I going to?

    what is my purpose?

    is this breath all there is?

    seek and ye shall find, knock and the door it shall be opened unto you, be still and know that ‘I’ am ‘God’.

  27. wow joshilan. just wow.

    • Iain said

      We must work differently, the poetry answers really aren’t doing it for me.

      I’m a bit of a word-smith. I enjoy words and writing, I can produce poetry fairly easily, but I also sympathise with Wittgenstein and Ayer when they point out that the problem of language (the choice of using indirect or imprecise words) when discussing philosophy or metaphysics: it allows for meaninglessness to creep in and be hidden by the lack of clarity.

  28. Joshilan said

    we are taught that in the beginning was omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent light and sound, before mind there was only energetic light and sound.

    the orb of light sought to manifest of itself to itself and to separate from itself in order to be in love unto itself, and so it breathed forth its initial breath and ‘bang’ creation came into being.

    before manifested creation there was no form, through mind form originated and soul became enshrined in form separate and apart from itself, sheathed in the cloak of form soul entered the journey from the formless into form

    mind is the vehicle within realms of existence, causal, ethereal, astral and physical where light and sound mechanizes with and through its lower forms

    mind is the vehicle which sustains life through creation in the realms of the opposites, in the worlds of duality, mind is king

    from subtle to denser realms the ‘God I’ descended, from purity to grosser levels of existence, until resting here at the densest realm of all, physical gross material illusion, where death is the gateway to life and suffering is the status quotient of survival.

    mind is the captain of this ship, control mind and control the opposites, still and control mind and emancipate soul from the grip of suffering (sin – karma) to the freedom of elevated union with the origin of being, the light and sound of who we are.

    • Iain said

      Joshilan, if you click the “reply” link on the text-box of the person you are replying to, it will slot your reply into the conversation. It’s harder to see the conversation thread if you just type your reply into the bottom of the page.

  29. Joshilan said

    thanks Romy, hope you well, pls excuse the sermon

  30. Joshilan said

    then you obviously have a block to clarity, its that dumb debilitating ego ridden intellect again which is stuffing your perception in the eye.

    try remove your block or else continue worshiping false idols of false self idolizing perception, poor debilitated intellect is as blind as a dead end rat on a treadmill going nowhere in a hurry.

    I got the picture of how questions supposed to beget answers, but better it is to follow the yellow brick road to conclusion, why follow anything when its clarity of vision that is what is called for.

    • Iain said

      We’re communicating by language. Meaning is important. Ad hominems don’t seem called for. I admit I don’t have all the answers, I just think that clarity is important in communication. That was my only point.

    • “then you obviously …”
      “try remove your block…”

      I try to be careful about assuming I know where others are coming from and what they need to do to fix it, especially when all I have is text on a page. We’re all trying to understand here, and we have different ways of coming to that, Insh’allah.

      Spritzophrenia’s comment guidelines. 🙂

  31. Joshilan said

    you your own savior just as Socrates tried telling those with ears to hear with almost 2.5 millenniums ago

    knowledge is most certainly not information, knowledge is that which stealthily creeps up on you in the silence of the night when there’s no one near to hear it, not this dumb white noise that the arrogant ego thrashes around out here in cyberspace where philosophies and righteousness is trumped out as a feather in ones well read silvery spoon fed educated cap.

    to find truth is no small matter, some or most have been thrashing around creation from one specie to the next wondering where home is, like snakes and ladders slithering from pillar to post and back down again, if anyone is sincere and certain its truth they are after then they go about seeking it, or else God or Nature pulls the strings and destiny makes hay while suns shine on other distant horizons.

  32. leesis said

    Umm guys…I love poetry and abstract concepts, I love academic rigour…and considering both of your angles is soooo inspiring. That said, am I rude to say…but what about my questions because I truly am seeking!

    Specifically Josh you seem to one moment reject all seeking of knowledge eg by completely disregarding intellect and dogma, doctrine, others input etc but on the other hand you say things like “we are taught that in the beginning was omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent light and sound, before mind there was only energetic light and sound.the orb of light sought to manifest of itself to itself and to separate from itself in order to be in love unto itself, and so it breathed forth its initial breath and ‘bang’ creation came into being.” which is full of dogma from theology and mythology?

    And I’d love a response to my question re your perception of suffering.

    with absolute regard for all our differences being how we balance out our own egocentric bias…cheers Leesa

    • Iain said

      Some good points, Leesa. Apologies to Josh if I came across badly. I’ll make sure I phrase myself more carefully. I enjoy the discussion here as much as I enjoy Jon’s content. I hope we can all have a good journey together.

    • Joshilan said

      Leesa (if thats your name) you a breath of pure humble wholesome truth seeking air

      I’m going to ramble on here a little bit, hope you got the patience to wallow in it a little

      yes life is a journey, that didn’t start with this birth and won’t end at this death

      the ultimate questions are those I asked somewhere above, who am I, where have I been, where am I going, what is my purpose?

      Am I this body, if not, am I this mind, if not that either then who am I?

      How can one intellect satisfy the yearning questioning of another? I doubt it possible. Intellect is a tool of mind, a feature or an aspect of it, an attribute of a far greater medium of in depth capacity and being predominantly useful in the human realm of discernment and rationalization or discrimination between one quality or desire and another.

      My understanding of our inherent nature is that we are a complexity of layers upon layers of psychological planes from pure unfettered spiritual (non conditional) realization and capacity, to the lower spheres of gross conditioned sensory instinct. Such is our hereditary affiliation to our innermost nature, our DNA of impressions, our hidden latent conditions brought to bear on our impacted mental hard drives by programs of impressions from one experience to the next. The Hindus call these Samskaras, simply translated as impressions of the mind.

      Intellect is this tool we utilizing now, deciphering, rationalizing, discriminating, considering likes vs dislikes, truths vs falsities, yet is any of it per se ‘real’?

      Reality is not a comprehension of concepts, nor is it a string of well thought or uttered or written words, or a feasible philosophy of possibilities. Reality IS the experience within a state of equilibrium that is caught within stillness where the agitation of the complex faculties of mind have been tuned, tamed and trained to hearken to the strains of celestial harmony of the nature of that being which is unconditional, unencumbered and free from attachment to likes, dislikes, concepts and conditions.

      Humans like or need to comprehend of a father figurehead of creative control who manages and manipulates nature and creation to our purposeful ends. We cannot comprehend the beginnings nor the end of this Godhead, this being of absoluteness and magnitude who IS all and in all and without all.

      So who are we?

      Are we in fact latent God’s ourselves, caught within the fetters of our conditioning through the impressions we have become slaves to via mind in all its faculties and attributes and senses?

      Can we emancipate that identity of purity from this state of conditioning and propel it back to the realm of awakening we may have long last rescinded our freedom to our captor, Mind and its senses?

      Mind is a magnificent creation, some even confuse Mind with God, below the causal realm of creation Mind in fact is God, the supreme realm of unconditioned unfettered reality has to extent bestowed the entire workings and function of creation unto the cause and effects of the nature of Universal Mind. All of the opposites and dualities, all the comings and goings, laws of creation, the births and deaths of universes, causes and effects, are controlled and managed by Universal Mind.

      So as far as religions are concerned Mind is God, nearly all earthly religions in fact prayer to Mind, thinking they are praying to a Godhead or Supreme benevolent benefactor.

      So you ask who am I and who or what is Mind?

      Mind is the vehicle of soul with which soul experiences its sojourn in and through matter (body), sensory perception, intellect, conditioning, aspiration, fear, love, hate, elation, bliss, pain, suffering, etc.

      So mind is in control of all life below that sphere or realm or condition where soul has not transcended its lease of dominion. Within the three worlds of duality, Causal, Astral and Physical, Mind is King.

      Dunno if any of that makes any sense to anyone, if not then it weren’t meant to.

      Apologies.

      • Iain said

        Interesting, Josh. How did you come to these conclusions about life? I’m just wondering about your interests in philosophy or religion and what may have influenced your thoughts here.

      • Joshilan said

        and the Buddha was right, everything caught in the realm of mind and senses are living in a state of suffering, the relativity of pleasure to pain is so exacting, equilibrium between the opposites so fleeting, that all experiencing this realm or vale of tears is subject to transient impermanence, through birth, sustenance, and decay and to death, there is relatively little joy or peace, and much suffering by mind and spirit in the survival and subsistence within this existence in illusory dense sense controlled matter.

        • Iain said

          I quite like some of what I have read from the Buddha. I’ve been reading about Taoism recently, too.

          My favourite quote from Siddhārtha Gautama (“the Buddha”) is this,

          Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

        • Joshilan said

          its getting late here, lets just say man proposes, God disposes

          or else whoever thinks or conceives themselves to have free will don’t know the beginning of the term

          no such thing as freedom of will when conditioning is all that there is everywhere within and without

          a slave has no concept of freedom

          best we can do is hold out our hands in anticipation for the feast, when food is put on your plate and in your lap, then eat, if you given the hunger and the desire to eat, then enjoy the meal, else without the hunger or the food where is the freedom to partake of it?

        • Joshilan said

          yes truth is not spoken nor written nor transferred by way of mentoring or teaching

          truth like love is not taught, but caught, it is an experience which is captured by soul in privacy and silence and cannot be conferred by anyone to another

          to know truth is to know love, no other lesson is required of humanity

  33. Be your own light! ~ Buddha

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  36. meryl333 said

    “That which is impenetrable to us really exists. Behind the secrets of natureremains something subtle, intangible, and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.” – Albert Einstein

  37. FatCatOnTheHill (Karen) said

    Do I want there to be a God? YES I would very much like there to be a God or some kind of other spiritual reality !! I grew up in a non-religious family and strongly feel that there ‘is something missing’. I have attended churches and studied different religions, but I have never been able to commit to anything in particular. There is just too much doubt. I see no evidence of a God (or other entity) at work in this world. It makes me sad to think this is all there is. I keep telling myself that just because we cannot see, hear or smell something, that does not mean it is not there … so what do you do with that thought? I am agnostic, but I am certainly not happy about it.

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