Transcendence, or maybe not
(NOTE: Religion is a touchy thingy in many societies, but I feel that does not mean we can't talk about it. Still, to save on getting maimed by unsighted landmines, I just want to say the following is the musings of a simple Agnostic/Atheist. I am neither religious scholar, philosophist, hec, I'm not even tall enough for academia, so please take a pinch of salt and go easy if you're going swipe - kindly keep those claws sheathed. Also, please check your OB markers, or other personal restriction zones, and if you're going to get difficult or feel uncomfortable about it, please read no further. Thank you.) Following my thoughts on the newsbreak about the discovery of the so-called 'Gospel of Judas', a friend forwarded the link to The Lost Teachings of Jesus: Volume 1, which says:
"In Volume 1 the Prophets show that many of Jesus' original teachings were lost. Some were removed from the Gospels. Others were suppressed or kept secret. And those that were included in the Bible were tampered with by editors and copyists. In this landmark series, the Prophets reconstruct the essence of Jesus' message and give the Master's advice for people living in these complex times. And they answer questions that have puzzled readers of the Bible for centuries. Includes effective techniques to tap the creative power of your Higher Self."I'm not trying to promote this publication, but the fact that it exists show the complexities of religion, whatever its form, and its evangelism and spread. These complexities, more often than not, are a direct result of human participation, interpretation, and adaptation of the WORD. To this agnosatheist, a question often surfaces: What is the WORD? Is the WORD still the WORD when its essence is no longer in it's original shrink-wrapped package, but has gone through additional processing, and has been moulded through the ministrations of other people, whether intentionally or no? I am clueless, but in a moment of pique, I typed in the keyword "Atheist", and the search engine spewed a ton of links. I was not prepared to wade through the whole list, but even a scan through the first pages resulted in a list of interesting sites and webpages I would want to explore further: - Ethical Atheist * Of especial interesting is the Ethical Atheist - Questions for God - Am I An Atheist or an Agnostic? by noted mathematician, philosopher, and logician, Bertrand Russell * Source: Some Writings by Bertrand Russell - Was Shakespeare An Atheist? - The Antichrist Atheist Network - My Pilgrimage from Atheist to Theist: An Exclusive Interview With Former British Atheist Professor Antony Flew (this is a pdf file, click here for the free acrobat reader) I don't think I'm ready to search "Agnostic" yet. But I'd really like to meet the dyslexic agnostic and get a ringside seat to his viewpoint. Anyway, the strangest thing about religion, to me, is the ordinance that non-believers will suffer the consequences in the afterlife. Given the exclusivity of this ordinance, it seems every single person will suffer, big time. Talk about paradox. Leaving that gloomy doomy thinky aside, let's look at this religion business from another angle. The same friend sent another interesting reference:
"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly."
"I have never talked to a Jesuit priest in my life and I am astonished by the audacity to tell such lies about me. From the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest I am, of course, and have always been an atheist." "The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description" Albert Einstein
Messr Einstein's contributions to modern science is irrefutable. Given his background of being a Jew and a German, I think his viewpoint is intriguing, to say the least. The most striking point about Messr Einstein's brillance, to me, is how analogous his Theory of Relativity is to the Buddhist concept of the Middle Path or Middle Way. Personally, I view Buddhism as a philosophy, a belief system, basically "a theory underlying or regarding a sphere of activity or thought." It is a logical, rational philosophy on a way of living, and it embodies compassion and the minimalisation of the ills that plague human society. In Christianity parlance: the Seven Sins, if you will. Now, let's focus, and not split hairs here, and leave the philosophy vs religion celebrity death match for another time. The Eightfold Path is the Buddhist answer to these (to me) human fallacies. Buddhism also employs a tool, observance of the Eight Precepts, to counter the growth of what I'd like to call these inherent "seeds of evil of humanity". One of the high points about Buddhism, to me, is this: the Buddha does not claim divinity, only his surmounting of human fallacies, and the resulting freedom from the shackles and yoke of rebirth and karma. Thus, the Budhha does not require worship, because he is not a deity. But, it is interesting to note his deification in the countries where his philosophy has spread. In China, especially, the Buddhist teachings were subsumed into the indigenous religion of Taoism/Confucianism. I'll pull myself back before I go over the truly deep end. But, I just want to share this search engine list of Famous Atheists/Agnostics links that was dredged up in another moment of pique.
Ultimately, what I want to say is, if being "pagan" means the very heathenly acceptance of a polytheist outlook, as in the acknowledgement and respect of people to choose their religion and beliefs, then colour me paganist by all means. I believe in tolerance, inclusivity, empathy and equanmity, and an environmental way of life. After all, even if I burn/freeze in hell(s) in the afterlife, I will be in exalted company indeed.