Thu 24 Apr, 2008 04:01 pm
I wrote this fairly recently and thought I'd share and open it up for comments. I fear it might border on the ranting prohibited by the forum rules (so, apologies in advance, but I'm hoping it's ok and provokes thought and/or discussion).
Tides and Ebbs
At such times - these emotional episodes - I am struck with a sensation of hopeful peace followed by a sort of despair. The possibility of eternal continuance brings with it the hope of peace while the cold reality screams otherwise. Through this sensation, I think I can I know the allure of religiosity - I understand the draw and no longer boggle at the endless procession of silliness people have come up with over the millennia to validate their hope, to adorn them with garb that somehow makes it seem more legitimate. Don't get me wrong, hope is a good thing - but our intellect must differentiate between hope and truth - between knowledge and belief. Or should it?
Where I am at, right now, I believe that I know the truth and nothing I tell myself; no lame, disingenuous attempt at deceiving my own thoughts can take that away. Pascal, with his wager, would have those like me don the cloak of deceit and "act" like we believed. I can scarcely think of nothing more insulting to myself, my species, my mind, my self-respect or the church I waltzed into. I'm guessing he himself didn't believe in god, because were it otherwise, he'd must have thought god to be an abject moron who rewarded lies and deceit. In any case, I wish it could be honestly so for me - how I'd love to bask in warm lapping waves of blissful ignorant belief. But don't misunderstand: I hold belief to be good thing when honest and true; and had I truly bought in, played the role and not endeavored to enlighten myself to the true nature of existence, I'd have not fallen into this predicament.
Yes, there is undoubtedly a contradiction here. But perhaps my contradictory words are only an echo of the un-winnable spiritual predicament we all face, and so I believe this to be; which is that we admire and aspire to truth, yet the terror deep inside at the prospect of a purely-mortal condition makes us vulnerable (either at a conscious or sub-conscious level) to the peaceful draw that mysticism and religiosity promise.
So in the end equation, which is preferable? Truth and despair or Ignorance and Peace? This sounds to me like a rather silly question - who would endure perpetual despair just for knowing something that I believe we all probably know deep down inside anyway? And even if it were not so, that perhaps we don't all know it deep down, then what might this truth provide practically? It doesn't pay our bills, doesn't make neighbors embrace each other, doesn't quell the fear the pursued feels of the gang behind her, it doesn't save lives or take out the trash. Truth for all its extolled embellishment, has no intrinsic worth. This sad fact is made the worse by the ironic fact that most of the worlds' people are religious (in some form or another); making any a-religious enlightenment not only worthless on a practical level, but not recognized by virtually anyone.
I can only answer for me; and that is that I wanted to understand what I already knew. I believe enlightenment (to the extent to which I'm qualified to use this term) to be more of a process of discovering what one believes (and eventual comprehension of how it fits anew once brought to light in the conscious mind) than learning anything really 'new'. Even amongst us puny creatures, there is no grand end-reward for having "figured it out". For my part, I had to know - and this to me was important above all; to face my reality head on without any opiate. Well... congratulations, now I get to live with it.
Life is but a long string of experiences; moments lapping one into the next. Each moment is not only a precious, fading commodity, its another opportunity to delve deeper into understanding what you are, where you're going and what your place is in this world. Don't squander your time - grab it and live it. Let those moments of emotional actualization sweep you away - to whatever ends are dearest to your heart.
It sounds good until paragraph four, where the logic starts getting a little jumbled. It seems at this point that you are trying to say too much with one breath. But overall, the underlying premise seems promising.
Honestly, and not to be mean, but give an honest and respectful critique, the paper has less to do with the thesis, which I take to be the dichotomy of knowledge and belief, but more the self satisfaction that you are enlightened enough to realize how awesome your own cognition is.
Remember the Bacon... "Man doth like an ape that the higher he climbs, the more he shows of his a$$."
Yea... I think this sort of thing belched forth from me more from the heart than the head. If I worked at it (and somehow became more focused) I believe I have a lot to say and write that could be of worth. As of now it's more an exercise self-catharsis than anything else.
Thank you for your thoughts.