And Know They Love You

Many positive states of mind, such as ecstasy, are ethically neutral. Which is to say that it really matters what you think the feeling of ecstasy means. If you think it means that the Creator of the Universe is rewarding you for having purged your village of Christians, you are ISIS material. Other bearded young men go to Burning Man, find themselves surrounded by naked women in Day-Glo body paint, and experience a similar state of mind. - Sam Harris

I happened across this author today and found that he's written a book called Waking Up - a guide to spirituality without religion. I think a central problem I've been trying to work on , in whatever spare time I have had in the last year or so - and having had a near death experience in January - is the fact that faith, and God - can touch lives other than my own and that there really is a benefit to the world to have some kind of institution or rule and guide for best practices that helps us all to become closer to God. I should define terms here. God is normally a cultural thing - so I'm not talking about Christian God, or Hindu God, or Muslim God or Mormon God - I'm talking about. Just. God. The God that atheists worship , like a positron defined as a hole in a sea of electrons. The God that a mosquito worships, fat with the blood of a person ... sitting quietly and praying he is not discovered by a bird. The God of all of us.

I really think we should all closely understand exactly what is going on with this definition, and that mosquito prayer. Some might say it's laughable a mosquito would pray. I can see how you might believe that. But what leads me to this conclusion is a simple observation... prayer is ubiquitous and it happens across all stated belief and organisms and it has a direct effect on the organism. Hospitals that help people to pray, will see less people dying. Sailors stranded at sea who never went to church in their life and would call themselves atheist until their very last breath .. will look up from their raft, floating in the vast ocean - and have clear and distinct conversation of prayer.

To those who say these conversations and calls to a higher power are hallucinatory - I would argue the illusion is not that these people, animals, insects - but simply the concept that we all live our lives without fighting for our very existence at a fundamental level. If I am stranded at sea, I fight for my life in a very real fashion. I must develop a still that transforms undrinkable sea water into fresh water. I must catch fish and eat them , raw or otherwise - or I will starve. I have at most seven days without food but I will have very few days without water. A good film to watch is "All is Lost" by Robert Redford. It shows this fight in clear detail and it really is part of who we are. Not every has a life in which disaster strikes and you can reveal this part of yourself... and certainly some will live their entire lives up to the point at which that part of yourself must be revealed. My realization came early in life that the sheer statistical weight of what can go wrong in life will bring us all to that point, and I decided it's better to be ready .. prepared. To accept that I am a part of some consciousness or some living fabric of being that does not necessarily play by the rules that my own powers of logic and human reason can fathom. But that is a self realization, and there will be others who draw strength from an apposite sense of non-preparedness. That is a lesson I learned from Golf. Grip the club tighter, swing harder, throw your arm at the ball and you won't necessarily get a better path of flight. Sometimes you have to realize that not caring or not being a part of a game is the best way to be prepared... to grab the club as if you would a wounded bird... just enough pressure to keep the club from flying away. The muscles being able to swing harder and faster. And so I admire atheists, and I respect their opinions - and certainly , as Dawkins has stated there is a God delusion and there is a price to be paid for it. But it is not an hallucination. Dawkins correctly asserted that we acknowledge God as an end result of active thinking and that God is a conclusion and not simply a perception. While he then will argue at length, that the conclusion reached is not based on any evidence.. there doesn't have to be any evidence. Francious Ouimet can defeat Harry Vardon. A butterfly can flap its wings in the Amazon and change the weather of the world.

This leads me to something that I can share, I hope - with those who are of faith and those who are not. Much is written about God, and prayer - and about how we build our lives around faith .. and much is written about Godlessness, and delusion, and how much easier it is to build our lives without faith but instead reason. But the truth that shines through all of this is not one of individual life but life of an entire, living organism. Our planet.

And that is where my insight into God came from. I slowly began to realize that the mosquito, in its little , lazy prayer - full of blood - just moments before my hand smashes his body into seventeen pieces and my own blood marks red on my hand - is tracing through the complexity of his own organism - a quantum complexity that can in the smallest wavelengths allow him to experience a form of hyper sensitivity to his own surroundings. He feels the rush of my hand coming down on his wings. But he does not escape. And his death is not meaningless. Maybe this is a Buddhist way of seeing things. Maybe not. But the moments that all living beings experience weave into the moment of all other beings and in that we create a soul. Walk your dog. For one brief, shining moment - you can be the person he thinks you really are. Take that moment. And you will find he gives that moment. If tomorrow you are hit by a truck, the memory of that walk will live on - clouded and hazed by thoughts of bacon and chasing cats - through the mind of that dog - and also in his muscles, and on the scratch his claw left on the pavement and everything you and he did in that day . And that will in some way change the way things are. That is who you were.

I cannot fathom my own mother or father dying. I love them both, differently. I've always seen one as cold, the other warm - and tried to reconcile them in their own sphere. But I realize they have left an imprint on me and long after their departure a part will live on ... I believe - in my own world, by faith - that living a good life is the best way I can remember them. But I know that if I were in another configuration I could just as easily live my life any other way - spiritus mundi. And so for me, that is where religion can always unravel. It is a simple path to walk to see that all organizations based on mysticism will at one point or another request you volunteer your faculty of reason. The challenge, I believe, for us all - is to push the limits of our knowledge until what we see and feel and understand feels like mysticism. I think that's where God wants us all to be. I could be wrong.

But there is nothing wrong with an institution that seeks to broaden faith and to explore its limits. All we need to know about religion, I feel - is that it is a volunteer organization whose mission is to rescue the sinners and equip saints and try its best and like all organizations , corporations, and political parties - it works only as well as you operate it. (any political party who invokes a higher power in its political platforms should be suspect.. political parties should exist only to execute the will of the people.. but that's another story)

The Priest Gregor Mendel - was likely a strange man who spent time looking at that which grows in his garden in a kind of wonderment. It's easy to hate mosquitoes. It's easy to ignore peas and to simply scoop them all up in a spoon and cook them into some kind of dish and then drink a glass of wine and be done with it. Staring at the ones that are wrinkled... wondering which plant produced them... this was the way Priest Mendel found his expression of faith. He called them his children. I can call the mosquitoes that sometimes find their way into my workshop vampires. I take time away from writing, studying or developing software - to kill them. But I wonder about each one, just as Mendel did. A part of their way is that they are difficult they are to see and I challenge myself to see them .. fighting a change in my vision that brings my eyesight now back to 20/10. Like Mendel, I understand the discipline of forcing myself to do something that really should just be a distraction. And I am aware that most people do not read this far, and being unable to hold thought in their mind - they simply scan for words they recognize - try to figure out which side of the argument I am on - and then just swat the rest of what I am trying to say with a quick gesture of their hand.

When Mendel discovered the science of Genetics he did it merely for love and for a sense of his 'children' as he called them. As any father would love a child. Seeing how they twist and turn and fight each day to live likely grounded him in ways we could all learn from... maybe not all of us can see little pea plants as our children, but to those who can. Mazletov!

I should conclude with something that make sense - that life is easily seen to be a web - and that we should not forget its life or death struggle. It holds secret lessons for us in our comfortable lives.

Set the controls for the heart of the sun. The last thought through the mind of a dying organism might be something like watching the sun explode. The fact that it doesn't may be the result of a living organism at work.

Not by some kind of mystical or pseudo political exercise in the boundary of faith, religion and politics ... but by the very existence of twisted, chaotic - seemingly unsolvable lines of electromagnetic force that convolute and twist themselves into incredible display of force and power and could be balanced by the least, nonlinear effect.

And yes, our planet probably exists in its orbit because there really are that many planets out there that could find an orbit just far enough away so that these strange lines of force, pulling on a cloud of ice , dust, and embedded living material - could spiral cometary fragments into its surface at just the right period of evolutionary delay to let us all carry the genetic hiss of memory of Lucifer's hammer.. and just short enough to remind us that we cannot stay here, where we are - and survive. We must continue to evolve. We must find a way.

Because it will come again. Pulled toward us by the sun. Where , likely, God does 97% of his work. Don't bother praying for a good parking space or a new piece of legislation. Instead, teach your children to survive - take the time to love your dog - do the things you have to do when you need to do them and someday you will do the things you want to do , when you want to do them.