Belief (Part 3 of 3): The Simplicity of The Ancients

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It has been said that God makes sages out of fools, that the intelligence of the intelligentsia will become their own stupidity; the simplicity of the fool will become his path to true wisdom.

 

While pondering these words I couldn’t help but compare ourselves, living in the age of over-abundant skepticism, to our more straightforward precursors.

 

Think of the times of the Romans and the barbaric clans who surrounded the refined Roman borders. Or of the ancient Jews who were a seemingly insignificant people in the ancient historical records. Or of the ancient pagan civilizations of the Middle East, Indian, Mesopotamia, Egypt etc.

 

Perhaps you have no experience of these cultures? Allow me to entertain you with a few ideas of these times.

 

The people in Old Testament biblical times were pretty straight forward about their gods. You worship the god you need to worship in order to avoid being fried from the earth. Simple. If some passer-by could introduce to you another god who visibly and tangibly displayed his power, then by all means you were forced to believe in this new god.

 

There was a certain poetic practicality to their believing: believe and worship the right god, get all the good stuff, avoid destruction.

 

Though not perfect, I can admire this mentality. Where they have one up on us, is that they actually looked for signs of the power of another god, they even had recorded competitions between their gods.

 

These people, through not experiencing the delusion that they had mastered the world via modern science, still understood their powerlessness. They still understood themselves within the most awesome perspective of mystery and wonder.

 

This reality has not died, but man in his limited scientific success has deemed himself deity of the world. It may come as a surprise that curing illness does not grant man supernatural power, like creating something from nothing.

 

Likewise, none of our technologies, bound by the laws of the universe, are capable of anything beyond the predictable reality of the universe.

 

We cannot even create one speck, one atom, one iota of the most fundamental part of every person’s, every animal’s, and ever living thing’s existence: life.

 

Admittedly we may borrow the faculties which have been given us to create life via the known methods of procreation, but even then we only take the seed and the egg which have already been given us. No man or woman has ever truly, from nothing, produced life.

 

I digress: Do you know why science is often very exhausting? Because some prune has the audacity to claim that he has mastered some field of the universe! When he truly is nothing more than a careful observer.

 

Yes, I know that many a scientist exclaim regularly about the great realities and mysteries of things like quantum physics and black holes and relativity. Yes they say these things, but something like atheism would never exist if they didn’t believe in their hearts at a deep fundamental level that everything left unknown is just more stuff to be discovered; like finding more species at the bottom of the ocean. Even when considering the awesome possibilities of worm holes or parallel universes, you can’t help but get the impression they are just describing an ultra-complicated jigsaw puzzle that has a simple, materialistic explanation after all.

 

Fairy tales are not interesting because they present impossible realities for the fancies of children. If that were true no adult would love a good sci-fi or fantasy novel. We love fairy tales because they resound with the mystery which resides daily in our hearts.

 

No scientist, philosopher, or everyday thinker should ever claim to understand the universe, or to be at the verge of understanding it, or something so inane as that science is about to break the boundaries and understand all things.

 

Nothing could be less scientific.

 

One man once said to me that ‘science was on the verge of proving that God does not exist’.

 

I could say in reply, “It is fairly definitive that your curiosity does not exist.”

 

It should be remembered that without curiosity, a hunger into knowing the unknown, a field like science would never exist.

 

In knowing our boundaries we discover mystery, and in knowing mystery we begin to open our eyes to the places and parts of the universe which cannot be found in telescopes, microscopes, or in the tired fancies of egoists.

 

Everyone who’s ever read a good fairy tale knows that the things that cannot be seen contain the greatest powers and are integral parts of every great adventure. What would happen if we all had a little more simplicity like our ancient brethren and awoke our eyes to see beyond the veil of being “masters of our universe”?

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Belief (Part 2 of 3): Belief and Happiness

The questions begs asking: Why can’t people just believe whatever makes them happy?
 

We live in a time where the notion of truth is treated like a fancy. Some like it, others do not, who really cares?
 

There is something wholly silly about not believing what is true simply because I fancy to believe in something different. Perhaps this view can be forgiven, for knowing what is true is not always simple and straightforward.
 

The question remains, if you knew what was true, beyond a doubt, would you not be inclined to believe it no matter how contrary to your own current beliefs it was?
 

If your answer to that question is no, I would find that profoundly curious. If your answer is yes, this bodes well, for this discussion may continue.
 

We are all forced to believe in the existence of a table we’ve just walked into.
 

The person who claims that the table does not exist will only walk into it again, causing no small discomfort.
 

Each person may believe that the table exists or not: why couldn’t they hold this belief so long as they are happy? I cannot help but suggest: who cares what people want to believe, we can all recognize that the table does exist.
 

It is plain that fact is not a matter of opinion. It never has been and it never will be.
 

No amount of forceful mental exertion will ever alter a fact.
 

I will also go one full step further and say that knowing truth is fundamentally a profound and joyful experience, and likewise knowing lies is tragic.
 

The reason people cannot just believe what they want so long as it makes them happy is that the truth sets us free, and lies do not.
 

JOHN

In order to believe that all people firm in their beliefs are happy requires that we never dig any deeper than the surface level of things.
 

For the person who dares to venture deeper into the hearts, the wounds, the psyche of the everyday person, they will find great sorrow and confusion mixed alongside joys and love. After a little further experience they will discover that some have far more pain than joy, and others far more love than confusion.
 

If you go into an intense discussion with someone like a neo-Nazi who still believes that the non-Aryans are to be exterminated, you will find great hatred being the source of this lie. This person will no doubt claim they have the truth and that this truth has set them free. It is simple to recognize that they have been sold a lie and that this lie has poisoned their reason.
 

As a direct result his joy will be diminished, his love decrepit, and everything that could hold meaning will be lost to him.
 

That is an extreme example but one important reality cannot be ignored:
In as much as our beliefs are based on lies we will discover pain and confusion.
In as much as our beliefs are based on truths, we will discover, inevitably, peace and joy.
 

So you can see, it is always in our best interest to embrace truth and not lies.
 

Why then has our culture, or society, abandoned truth and chosen personal whim instead?
 

Here is a complicated question that is not easy to answer.
 

I argue that we all still truly want truth, we’ve just become jaded to the multiplicity of claims in the world.
 

Which one of us has not been deceived at one time or another?
 

This is a painful experience which makes us more hesitant to trust again. It seems a universal mistrust in anything not proven in a laboratory has overcome our ability for clear thinking.
 

Some may argue that this is just fine, but I argue that those who ignore all truth not discovered within the scientific method will inevitably miss the most profound, joyful, enlightening, and meaningful moments life has to offer.
 

They are free to encourage their own willful ignorance of all else there is to know, but I strongly recommend a different course of action.

Belief (Part 1 of 3): Something More

Someone once said to me, “There has to be more out of life…”

 

What is this more?

 

I have walked to the brink of despair, and said these very words: “there has to be more out of life…”

 

Is it more video games? More ice cream? More sex? More late nights watching movies? More work? More entertainment? More time spent with friends?

 

What is this more!?

 

This question burns in the hearts of so many searching souls.

 

For some this question turns into a lifelong pursuit, for others it means only a temporary interlude until they return to the same rat race as before which lead to the despair in the first place.

 

One thing is clear: there is a more!

 

It’s not more stuff, more notoriety, more friends, or more money. It’s not more recognition, more power, more wealth, or more sexual freedom.

 

This more is something beyond the senses, beyond the happenstance of our lives.

 

Lately there is a rising notion that the more we search for is in the literal sense of the word: extra, surplus, addition, enlarged.

 

The height of this illusion is expressed most fully by a billboard I saw advertising for a beauty clinic, “A woman should only ever be two things, who and what she wants.”

 

Unless technology has surpassed my awareness, since when did we get the ability to change who we are like a character in a video game? It is simply not possible. Further, coming from a place which alters surface appearances to make a woman more “beautiful”, that’s a desperately shallow statement. They might as well say, “Change your exterior, that’s all you really are anyways!”

 

Here is the more they are ignoring: A woman’s beauty is intrinsically tied with her actions, her thoughts, her love, her compassion, her womanhood, her motherhood, her strength, her choices, her beliefs, and her resolution. It is a shameful lie to suggest that exterior appearance changes who a woman is, or a man for that matter.

 

Yet this is the more that we are being offered everyday. “Be who you want to be!” “Choose and customize everything you like!” “Choose your expression, your identity, and your existence!”

 

Except all these customizations are just surface level clutter. Your cell phone cover does not identify you anymore than having knockoff corn flakes in your pantry does. Having a maple tree in your yard does not increase your worth as a human being anymore than having a Ferrari.

 

The more we are being offered involves zero personal change and expects everyone around us to bend to our will. “If they don’t love you at your worst, then they don’t deserve you at your best.” This is the motto of the stubborn, the loveless, the selfish.

 

There is a more but it requires change, and not superficial change. We must be honest, great good only ever comes from real change! You can’t change the cell phone covers of every rotten politician and expect the world to be a better place. Likewise, giving an extreme makeover to every hate filled extremist will do nothing for the good of human beings.

 

Minds and hearts need to be formed by something that is greater!

 

This formation takes the external appearance of conformity, which is treated like death by North Americans. Conformity happens in thousands of different ways. For example, feminists expect people to conform to the idea of equal wages for both sexes. This is a good thing, a form of conformity which is directed towards the good. Thus, not all conformity is bad.

 

Conforming because I’m too lazy or apathetic to search for answers myself is definitely a bad thing, but lets stick with the good for now.

 

The greatest possible thing that could ever happen in the universe today is that every human person should allow themselves to be formed by universal and perfect love. Goes without saying. It is easy to agree about this.

 

Problem is, this formation requires self sacrifice! This conformity requires us to acknowledge that some forms of what we call “individual freedom” are actually acts of hatred towards others, towards life itself.

 

This is a great problem indeed, because now its no longer the world of me.

 

What a blessing is the fact that the world is not centered on me, or you, or any one of us.

 

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The expression of self gift is exceptionally more satisfying than any number of hours spent playing video games. The
expression of my love is a million times more fulfilling, even if its painful, than a lifetime of relaxation and indulgence. Yet if the world is centered on me, then playing video games and relaxing is the only priority I will have.

 

It is time to start living for others.

 

There is more; there is more that we can give and receive. Until this becomes a reality the burning questions surrounding the statement “there must be more in life…” will plague us until the sun ceases to burn.