Life Without Religion

“Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents. Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil.” ― Eric Hoffer,

Many people, especially North Americans, pride themselves in their non-religious beliefs. Too many of us believe that religion has caused more social damage than good, therefore it cannot have had, is having, or will have a positive influence on human relationships.

Nothing could be farther from the truth!

A superficial glance at religion, both present-day and ancient, they appear superstitious and practices that defy reason … that is until we apply the initial purpose of ritual to many religious practices.

Since I profess to be a practicing Christian, I’ll use Biblical and Christian-oriented examples in my reasoning. However, they can equally be used in any religious practice to understand the reason behind the ritual.

The ritual of Christian baptism is one example. Without going into the deeper meaning behind the ritual of baptism, there is no magic in the ritual itself, other than it denotes the person being baptized is now a member of that specific religious belief, and is expected to follow its rules, and appreciate its many benefits like receiving guidance from the Holy Spirit, special study groups to help one become more spiritual, strength in group prayer, and more.

Liken it unto a person joining a co-op grocery store. The initial fee could represent the baptism: becoming a member, and the ‘baptism’ would include a briefing, or explaining—and involve the member’s acceptance — the rules governing his new membership. Upon accepting the regulations governing The Co-op, the recent member would now have access to the benefits of special bargains, unique products, and other savings. Like discounts on travel or hotel lodgings.

Another advantage of belonging to a religious group is the power in numbers that it can influence on our society at large. However, this power is a two-edged sword: it can literally benefit the community at large, or it can be a detriment, and this is where the great debate comes in—and probably the biggest reason so many people renounce any belief in God—and sadly, are missing out on wonderful opportunities that conscientious religious organizations can offer a person.

The history of religion is old, its roots forming some time when we, Homo sapiens, first established their superiority over the rest of the Homo crowd. And, yes, many wars and much cruelty has been committed in the name of religion. But, one reason we even rose to the top of the food chain is, that “Tolerance is not a Sapiens trademark.”[i] In short, most times, we fought our way to the top, so violence is in our basic nature—and this is where religion comes in: it can help us become more spiritual, more compassionate, and more loving to each other. Here are a few examples. But, remember, it’s your choice. We can accept the spiritual aspects of religious benefit into our lives, or we can revert to our ancestral ways of getting what we want through violence. Don’t blame religion. Blame our genes!

One last point before deciding about accepting religion. Don’t pay any attention to all the negative stories you hear about religion. Think of any institute in our society: the police, our school system, our legal system. Do any of them have a hundred percent flawless record? No person is perfect—and even then, what is the definition of perfect? Criticism isn’t a positive way to view society. It’s actually a copout, an excuse for some to do nothing. Here are a few positive points to help you get started.

  • Helps in spiritual growth. You’ve heard the expression, “I’m a spiritual person, not a religious person.” Well, here’s your chance to become both spiritual and religious.
  • Accepting good morals can improve honesty.
  • Strengthens family ties.
  • Faith reduces fear and promotes mental health.
  • Improves creative skills. Art has its roots in religion.
  • Helps you become more compassionate.

A great article in Philosophy Talk, titled “How Can Smart People Still Believe in God?[ii] written by Kenneth Taylor can be an excellent start to becoming a more religious person and put meaning into your life. You’ll be glad you read it!

[i] Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari, p.19

[ii] How Can Smart People Still Believe in God?”  https://www.philosophytalk.org/blog/how-can-smart-people-still-believe-god

If You Know You Are Right …

If you know you’re right, it really doesn’t matter what others think? Note, I’ve emphasized the word, ‘know.’ I’ll give you a simple example of the difference between knowing something to be right and believing something to be right.

You came home from the office a short while ago, a bit tired, but you remembered your routine before you can call it a. day: taking out the garbage. You fulfill that task in your usual, efficient way, then return to the comfort of your living, anticipating a quiet, restful evening. As you settle into your easy chair, your wife calls out to you from the kitchen, “honey, don’t forget, it’s your job to take out the garbage!”

You explode. “I’ve already taken out the damn garbage! Now leave me alone!”

What made you lose your composure?

It relates back to your insecurity.

According to an article in Psychology Today, “The 3 Most Common Causes of Insecurity and How to Beat Them,” insecurity appears to be at the heart of our auto-instinct to flare up and defend yourself, often at the slightest provocation.

            The first, and possibly the main cause of insecurity is a feeling of failure or rejection. Did you loose last night at the poker game, and now you’ll be a bit short on your monthly grocery allowance, and you’re afraid your wife will find out?

            You self-punish: how stupid of me gamble away our grocery money! Why don’t I have more self-control? I’m just a failure! … and so on.

            A second reason for an angry flareup can be social rejection. Did your boss give that envied contract to another employee and that has put you into a rejective social slump?

            That damn Bill, he’s always suck-holing up to the boss! My idea was far better than Bills! Even Dolly, our secretary, said that I was more qualified!

            The third cause of insecurity mentioned in the article is, are you a perfectionist? In that burst of anger, you feel that your partner should know you take out the garbage at exactly eight o’clock right after you get home from work! Why is she questioning your efficiency?

            Our security/insecurity is something few of us try to analyse. Yet, if we took the time to do so, we could save ourselves a lot of grief. In this present era of our evolution, everything is in rapid change. Look at the violence and distrust that’s present everywhere, and to think that a lot—no! I’d say most of that is generated through people’s lack of faith in themselves, and lack of, or unwillingness to understand of what is actually happening in the world.

            But that doesn’t mean you have no choice but be trapped in this nightmarish world and have to accept whatever is thrown at you.

            You’ve heard the expression, “solid as a rock,” or the familiar hymn, “Rock of Ages.” A rock is a symbol of stability: solidness; surety. Does it care about what the environment thinks about it?

            Another example is the weather and the weatherman. Does the weather really care what the weatherman thinks about its—the weather’s everchanging nature?

            If we wish to survive in all this insanity, we have to become ‘as solid as a rock,’ yet as versatile to change as the weather.

            A rock is! That’s a fact. The weather is! And that’s a fact. You are! That’s another fact! Practice mindfulness. Be present in all that you do. Do your due-diligent research and be informed, not opinionated.

            Like the Universal Consciousness itself—God, if you will, be as solid as a rock, and as flexible to change as the weather: secure in your knowing, and it won’t matter what anyone else thinks or believes of you!

The Power of One

I’ll pick on politics as a starter to my column to help me explain my point of argument, because politics is one of my favorite subjects to talk about—although the main message here, as you will see, can apply equally well to any situation.

As long as we continue to believe that we are only one in person and essence, and powerless in a world where money, armies and entrenched customs dominate, we can be assured of being ruled—not governed—ruled—by dictators, be they politicians or dominating company CEOs.

Can we ever free ourselves from this subjugated, submissiveness to an authority role we seem doomed to play a ll our life?

All holy scriptures, both ancient and present-day, proclaim that God made us in His image: gods, He made us—so, at the very least, we should consider ourselves to be princes and princesses in a limitless universe. The question, now, is, if we have such a royal heritage, what happened that caused us to lose our ability to rule ourselves?

Well, the reasons for giving up our power of free will and give domination of ourselves to others can be numerous. Mental weakness and general laziness come to mind as two reasons. But in spite of this quite common fault, society has produced many great minds and achievers that have truly reflected God’s desire for the lofty aspirations for His offspring. Terry Fox, Viola Desmond and Gord Downie are three Canadian heroes that immediately come to mind, and if we turn our search for heroes internationally, the list becomes almost endless. So, we see, it’s not God’s fault that we are weak: He created us as royal citizens of the universe, remember? His plan for us as a loving Father is to see us aspire to—and even surpass—His own lofty heights of creative achievement! So, what went wrong?

Going back to our heroes, the idea of thinking “I’m only one person,” so “what can I do?” isn’t even a consideration in their mind which is obvious by their action and achievements! These heroes know they’ve been created free and are in bondage to no one! So, if they did great things, why can’t the rest of us do likewise?

Free-spirited people are still in the minority. Why do we, the majority, still feel powerless and consider ourselves a failure—or at best, not as good as our successful associates? The reasons are legion: probably as many reasons as there are individuals who feel that they are inferior. Mac Davidson, former therapist, consultant and entrepreneur, may have at least one answer when he stated in Quora: “The fear of making mistakes.” In other words, we hesitate because we are afraid … afraid of what? We’re afraid of making a fool of ourselves in front of others, afraid of people looking down on us if we make a mistake, feeling inferior to associates … where do we pick up such negative ideas? We’re certainly not born with the idea of failure or fear. Watch a child at play and the last thing a child is, is afraid to act out his emotion or desire.

Who knows where its origin? Maybe it began in our primitive days when we were cave dwellers and had to fear the ever-present hungry carnivore who stalked us in order to survive. Since then, we’ve customized our fear to fit our present-day environment, but still kept one basic survival skill: observing and adopting ideas from others in our group.

 The nice thing is, once we become aware of our fears, we can—if we wish to—change. But change is not easy. We’re creatures of habit. The road out of failure can be filled with frustration and failure itself, so here are a few “helps” to help you on your way:

 One very good start is to join a yoga meditation club. You’ll get lots of support from other members there, and positive support is something you’ll need to help cancel out the life-long negative thoughts engrained in us.

Next, copy down some positive quotes and pin them on your bathroom mirror where you’ll see and reflect on them every time you visit the bathroom. Here are a few for starters:

“Your best teacher is your last mistake.”

“The only man who never made a mistake is the man who never did anything.”

“Mistakes help build your knowledge base.”

“Mistakes are proof that you’re trying.”

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”

Meditating on such quotes can strengthen our resolve to overcome our weaknesses by learning that mistakes can actually be your friend and teacher.

One final quote to help you. You may have heard this one before—most successful people have. Just make sure to apply it with determination: Aim for the stars! You may only reach the moon on your first try, but that’s better than where you were. And, once you reach the moon, it will be that much easier to reach the stars. Just don’t give up!

Promote yourself from “Can’t Do,” to “Can Do,” and from that direction, look up … way up!  You’re now on your road to boldly go where, before, as a lesser god you feared to tread!

A Sunday Chat with Myself—”Stay in School!”

“If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.”  –Albert Einstein

-o0o-
(I like the above quote by Einstein. I hope I know my topic well enough so that not only six-year-olds, but also my other, mature readers can understand what I’m trying to say)

-o0o-

Suicide is so prevalent in our society that it’s become a real issue. I believe the reason is because society—and in particular, we here in a socially developed country—have completely lost our way, morally, and have abandoned the positive attributes that have once allowed previous societies in historical times to flourish. We’ve become so preoccupied with our “freedom to be ourselves,” that we’ve totally forgotten that freedom—and it’s true, humans are the only creatures on our planet who have been given the ability to understand and exercise total freedom—but freedom carries with it an equal amount of responsibility, and that responsibility is relevant to the freedom we express, and I feel that our society has completely forgotten, or ignored this important fact.

To quote science, “every action has its opposite and equal reaction.” In short, if I’m careless and create only a small cut my finger, a simple band aid could easily repair the reaction to my cut finger. However, if I suddenly have a feel “liberated—feeling free to do as I please,” moment, and have a few drinks of alcohol, then get behind the wheel of a car and have an accident and seriously injure myself, the reaction to my cause can be much more serious, even life threatening. In other words, as Einstein would say, “It’s all relative.” Action and reaction. These are the two universal laws that I feel our Western society has completely ignored, and is, beyond doubt, at the root of our problems. We’ve abandoned the common sense that allowed our ancestors not only to survive, but to thrive in an often-hostile environment.

“Wise people learn when then can. Fools learn when they must.” —Duke of Wellington

The problems we face in life—and why we have problems—have, for a long time been a puzzle and a mystery to me, until it was explained to me this way: life is a school!

At one time, in our very far distant past—long before we even came here to Earth—our “Parents” sat down with us and discussed our future growth. I believe that our “Parents” loved us very much and wanted only the best possible “education” that they and the Universe could provide for us. In searching the Cosmos for the “best school,” they finally found a special school for us, in our case—Earth—and “hired” a special Teacher that had all the qualifications: the wisdom and ability to guide and direct us to the ultimate fulfillment of our souls.

In my case, the Teacher’s name they “hired” was called “Jesus.” For you, it may have been “Mohammed,” or the “Dalai Lama,” or any one of the many other great philosophers/masters that were cosmically available—and fully qualified to educate us. Some “Teachers” had different methods, but the ultimate goal was the same for all of us: for us to reach spiritual perfection.

All the schools were uniformly, cosmically designed and based on the principal of cause and effect, broken down into “right” versus “wrong,” or “good” versus “evil,” or “love” versus “hate.”

When we were in “Grade One” in this “Earthly School,” our assignments were simple: to learn the basics of life; love brings better results than hate; honesty is better than distrust, and so on.

In “Grade Two” we might have learned that if we do a kind deed to someone, we make friends. Besides, learning to be kind also made us feel happier than if we were cruel to another person.

In Grade Three” we might have learned compassion and to start thinking about walking a “Ministering” path ourselves because of the love we are starting to develop for our fellow feeling of compassion to man.

Unfortunately, like the person contemplating suicide, when we lose our directive as to why we’re here. Escape seems like a logical solution to our overwhelming problem. That is why it is so vital to our own survival—and the survival of all of us—that, if you have matured enough to have “graduated” in life to at least “Grade Three,” or beyond, to gently put our protective arms around such a “lost” person and gently help them back “into the classroom.”

A suicide is not just a failure on the part of one person—one soul—it is a failure and a blemish on all of society! From “Grade Three” and beyond in our “Earth-School,” we learn that we are all one family: we are responsible for each other! No “Sin” is too small or too great that communal love and empathy can’t help heal!

One Day, or Day One. It’s your decision.” –Anon

 

 

A Sunday Chat with Myself—Craftsmanship

“Craftsmanship names an enduring, basic human impulse, the desire to do a job well for its own sake.”   — Richard Sennet

There is an ancient story about a craftsman who was assigned a job to finishing some detail carpentry work located behind and out of sight place of a very ornate alter in a medieval Christian chapel.  At best, it would be seen only in dim light. A “quickie job” by normal standards. But the craftsman  laboured painstakingly for several days, concentrating on even the closest measurement and finest detail until it met his high standard of perfection.

A passerby, watching the craftsman and the attention he was paying to his work was puzzled, and finally commented, “Kind sir, why do you take such pains with something that will be hidden and won’t even be seen by the public?

The craftsman paused from his work and looked up at the passerby. “You are correct, sir. No public person may see my work that I do here—but God will see it—and I will know that I have done the very best job that I am capable of doing.”

I’m sure that this craftsman’s standards, and hundreds like him, is the reason why so many ancient medieval architectural marvels still stand today, even after hundreds of years of natural weathering, plus the abuse they must have suffered during the first and second World Wars.

Part of my time in the military was spent overseas in Germany just after the second World War. We were stationed near a small, very medieval town called Soest. During my free time I loved walking along its cobblestoned, narrow, winding streets and marvel at its antiquity. No one knew exactly how old the town was. Some of its chapels even predated Christianity, and I was told that Julius Caesar once stood with his mighty army at its stone-fortressed wall, parts of which are still standing to this day.

Here, in Canada, we consider a residential home over 50 years of age to be old with many owners considering tearing it down and building a new one. Yet in Europe where many of these magnificent shops and homes have stood as comfortable, useful dwellings and businesses, they still stand as solid as the day they were built.

What is the difference between these majestic old structures that seem eternal, and our modern buildings that hardly last a person’s lifetime?

“Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort.”  — John Ruskin

I recently did a small screen printing job for a firm in town. I’m a screen printer and sign painter—retired—by trade. Because of its complexity, it took more than the usual allotted time to complete, and only charged a few dollars for my efforts. I was asked, “Shouldn’t I be charging according to time spent, rather than the value of the piece?” The concern was, how did I expect to make a decent wage if I didn’t charge according to time spent on a job?

The job wasn’t for a new client who might not have reordered again. This was a long-time customer who had been using my services for over 30 years, and I gambled that he’d be back another day with an order that would be profitable for me; or maybe just present him with a small thank you invoice for the many years of service I had received from this client. Loyalty and an assurance of reliable, quality of service was at play here. It was something like me going to Home Hardware to buy a screw. The shop owner has to take the time to find the screw, place it in a bag, then print out a receipt of purchase. His time and material value for this transaction would hardly compensate for the fifty cents that I ended up paying for the screw.

“Real craftsmanship, regardless of the skill involved, reflects real caring, and real caring reflects our attitude about ourselves, about our fellowmen, and about life.”                            — Spencer W. Kimball

A Sunday Chat with Myself—25 February, 2018

“The Greatest Problem in the world today is intolerance. Everyone is so intolerant of each other.” — Princess Diana

Image may contain: outdoor

In Stony Plain Alberta, a shop owner that makes wooden signs and things had a brilliant idea. In an effort to promote reading in the community the owner decided to create a small weatherproof, but easily accessible box, containing books that are free to anyone who wished to take one—or exchange it with one of their own from her “Little Library.”

The project worked great for about 3 years, then a neighbor complained to the city about the Little Library, demanding that this “offencive??” item be removed! The push was on. Should the owner of the Little Library resist the crabby, short-sighted grumblings of the complainant, or should she just shrug indifferently and concede—give in—remove the Little Library—and move on with life? After all, it didn’t seem really all that important to warrant any kind of altercation—or was it a very important issue?

At first blush, all this seems so insignificant. For the newsmedia, nothing newsworthy here; just another minor happening, not worth sharing with the busy minds of Alberta, especially when there are more interesting, dramatic, hate and fear-promoting negative stuff out there to feed the public mind—like the latest  shooting in the Florida school that killed 17 students; or, we can take a pick from the almost 1.9 million police-reported Criminal Code incidents (excluding traffic) reported by police in 2015—an approximate increase of 70,000 over crime in  2014. Ask any news anchor worthy of their advertising customers, those are newsworthy items—but in reality, I feel that the Stony Plain incident is more important than the most of the dramatic “dis-information” appearing on the evening news.

Intolerance: unwillingness or refusal to respect other opinions or beliefs

Intolerance. A small, seemingly harmless action, like, I remember the time when I was shopping in Lethbridge at one of the stripmall markets and needed to use their washroom. Unfortunately, the washroom wasn’t functional at the time. Some bored person with mscief on his mind had taken a bunch of paper towels and completely blocked the toilet with them. Then flushed the toilet, allowing the water from the tank, mixed with his excrement, to overflow and make a mess all over the floor. Yes, I was inconvenienced and somewhat irritated that  I couldn’t use their washroom and had to, instead, leave the store and go across the street to the Costco store and use their washroom. On the way over to Costco, I couldn’t help but think, why? Why would a person do such a thing?  Did he have an anti-social problem, or was he seeking revenge against the store for a perceived or real grievance he had with the store, and this was the best way that he could get even?

But, what really bothered me was thinking of that poor store clerk who now had to take time out of his busy schedule and go into that stinky washroom and clean up that disgusting mess so that it was respectable again for future customer.

If I may take a moment to address the perpetrator that blocked that toilet, I’d like to assure you that, no, it was not funny nor was it a joke! It was not a ‘small’ act: it was a very big, inconsiderate and mean act, and if you wanted revenge against the store, I doubt that management was even made aware of your meaningless act!

“Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.” 
― Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Another intolerant act that really annoys me is when I pull into a parking lot and see some vehicle straddling two stalls, meaning I have to go farther down the line to find an open spot. What causes people to be so inconsiderate of others? Psychology Wiki tells me, “Selfishness [intolerant] is usually associated with a deliberate act. For example, a selfish person deliberately focuses on their own agenda, rather than that of others.” I think that certainly would apply to the person that blocked the shopping mall toilet: he was thinking of pacifying his own feelings—whatever they might have been—with no thought of the inconvenience he was causing others.

Psychology Wiki goes on to say, ‘The act of being selfish can also be unconscious or accidental.” This particular idea can easily apply to the person that parked his vehicle to straddle two parking stalls. Maybe s/he had a deeply troubled mind at the time—keeping an appointment with a divorce lawyer or some similar high-tense meeting. I could easily forgive the person in such a case. But, since I’ll never know why s/he decided to take two parking spaces, I’ll never really know the reason: was he preoccupied with troubled thoughts, or didn’t he just give a damn?

Hate, ignorance and intolerance is what killed the Jews during the Nazi era, not their targeted, mis-informed delusions imposed by a political regime of seeming righteousness

Intolerance is a complex social issue, both for individuals and groups in general. Throughout history, intolerance certainly has been a troubling issue that has plagued mankind since—well, since man learned to be intolerant! There is a time to take a stand against intolerance, and there’s a time—usually in individual cases—when it’s wisest to talk to the person and try to find out why they are so troubled and angry. I wish the Little Library in Stony Plain the very best, and may your issue soon be resolved. Above all, don’t leave the issue in limbo. Reading—the act of gaining knowledge and improving humanity’s intelligence—is not a small matter: it’s a big issue!

“Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. ― Kofi Annan

 

A Sunday Chat with Myself — 14 January, 2018

Health is not valued until sickness comes. 

For a good many years of my life I’ve had an interest in sound–body healing sound, that is. I believe that sound is what created our universe; sound is energy, and energy is sound. Our earth has a vibrational frequency–7.82 herz, our bodies each have their own unique vibration, and to complicate things even more, all our organs within our body each vibrate at their own frequency!

” You can look at disease as a form of disharmony. And there’s no organ system in the body that’s not affected by sound and music and vibration.” — Mitchell Gaynor, M.D., Sounds of Healing 

I have absolutely no issue with doctors, or visiting a doctor’s office when necessary, but I also believe that God gave me a body and part of my responsibility during my stay here on earth is to care and look after it. In other words, if I get sick, my first thought is to see if I can find a cure for what ails me. If the sickness, or injury, is beyond my capability, then will I seek professional medical help.

During my many years of searching for self-cures, I found that, by using proper frequencies of sound, coupled with a healthy diet, I’ve confirmed that I can do a pretty good job of healing most of my minor ailments.

“It is more Important to be of pure intention than of perfect action.”  ― Ilyas Kassam 

The problem with many MP3 soundtracks that I open, or download to use in my meditation and healing ceremonies is that, although they may be perfectly presented, they lack one major ingredient: Intent! Plainly stated, did the artist of that music intend to create a perfect piece of music, or was his intent to touch my soul with his musical creation? It may come as a surprise to many, but with music, as with any great work of art, you leave your signature–your soul–your meaning–your intent in your finished piece. You may have noticed this yourself when listening to music. The same song, played by two different artists: one falls flat, the other, you purchase the record. It is no different in the art world. Same scene, two different artists. One artist can’t give his work away, the other artist becomes famous for his work.

Intent plays an important role in how we present ourselves to the world.

I wonder. What was God’s intention when He created the world through sound?