Here we are in the Age of Aquarius.: the Age of Understanding and enlightenment. It’s a digitized world where unlimited knowledge flows through a portal available to anyone with a device. Never before have our senses been so enticed by the material world around us. As a result we have droves of people intellectualizing spiritual concepts with very few people looking within to find the answers. The spirituality of the day seems to be based on the Spirit of the Universe. Universal laws and half-truths.
Of course, religious history doesn’t exactly give the average student the warm and fuzzies either. I mean, who came blame people for feeling this way. Organizations have a strange system of loving our neighbors as we love ourselves these days. Fanatics with God Hates Fags scribbled across their shirts wave a book full of tolerance and love in the faces of gays. Jihadists strap bombs to school children and send them into streets crowded with Jews. Hindu militants storming the homes of Christians at prayer and beating their victims into the floor. It’s now wonder why agnostics and atheists alike avoid us all like the ignorant, close-minded plague reasoning minds paint us out to be. We certainly aren’t helping our own causes when we close down around other peoples beliefs and shut them out. I mean if we can’t even agree to disagree how can we possibly bring others to salvation as we understand it?
It has been argued that religion has slowed down progress by thousands of years and hindered the creativity of the human spirit. One only needs to note the word spirit being used to grasp the sort of backwards logic at work here. We often forget how integrated spiritual concepts are in our seemingly secular society. Every time we crack jokes about how a particular action may condemn our souls to hell what we are really saying is we believe we are eternal beings capable of landing in such a place.
Belief is a funny thing. The word itself is derived from the German word belieben which translates into, “to value or hold dear or pledge allegiance to through service.” This would imply that our beliefs are obviously very important and help shape our psyches, yet are somehow still subjective. We can see this reality by taking note of all the various cultural beliefs across the globe.
Scientific rationale may paint belief out to be merely our mental acceptance of facts but that tends to downplay how our beliefs respond the material world we live in. I feel that by restricting ourselves to this black and white thinking of either or we are failing to allow ourselves to grow. If we cling to sets of ironclad rules, ignoring anything that challenges our beliefs then we might as well consider religion and science as nothing more than social conditioning. How often do we pray for patience and use the same mouth to curse the traffic jam we’re forced into as a result? This sort of neurotic behavior begs one of those cute little quips we spout to slap us in the face: careful what you wish for.
WHY MYSTICISM FITS
Mystical experience doesn’t seem to translate well because the realizations tend to contradict our senses. A perfect example is the idea that atoms are comprised almost entirely of empty space, yet I still don’t want to bounce my head off of concrete. Couple this with the fact it’s almost impossible to write about the experiences we have in a way that accurately depicts their significance. The intellect over analyzes our newfound inner peace and language is a bad medium to share it.
Mysticism becomes somewhat like a game of telephone being played G-D and us. Often times, mystical experience just doesn’t translate at all. It’s as if our minds are locked into patterns of thinking that hinder our ability to comprehend the Divine. As a result we’ve accumulated countless abstract quotes that convey beautiful ideals in the most paradoxical way imaginable. We can wrestle with their seemingly vague meanings until we’re blue in the face or we can set out on spiritual journeys of our own.
As one of those travellers I have come to enjoy mystics of all faiths and have had so many delightful conversations on the divine nature of reality it’s almost impossible to recant them all. Philosophers talking of life neither needing rhyme nor reason to have meaning. From Muslims who teach submitting to the will of Allah to Rabbis who deepened my understanding of the Sefer Yetzirah I have found guidance and Wisdom. Of course there is an organization that greatly influenced my thinking; Alcoholics Anonymous.
When I first started fighting to get sober all those years ago I stumbled into a meeting. I was angry with G-D and didn’t want to hear any of that fire and brimstone nonsense big in the South. Miss me with the suicide bombers and the monks who hide in caves while the world crumbles. I almost walked out when the topic of the ‘G-D of my understanding” came up. Luckily I toughed it out long enough to hear what these drunks had to say. What unfolded was a myriad of answers to a singular question. As the question danced around the room I was amazed at how many of the feelings I myself had were being shared through the lips of others. This room of seemingly agnostic people had found a way to express their spirituality and develop working relationships with G-D that weren’t based on any preconceived religious connotations. It was a truly remarkable experience.
Now I’d love to tell you that I have stayed sober since that first meeting and that my life has been all sunshine and rainbows but that simply isn’t the case. Two prison stretches and a trip to a rehab lie in-between the me of today and the one then. However, that is a story for another time. Suffice it say that this was the exact moment where the mystical seed was planted in my mind. It would take years of neglect followed by nurture and care to come into fruition as it has today.
Look, all I’m really saying is our beliefs are our own and if they help us to be better people then there isn’t any harm in them. That’s all I got.