by: Robert F vonBriesen
This is a short essay that I submitted to "The Way of the Spiritual Warrior" meet-up group on May 3.
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It seems that humans have a need to believe in something; a thing that is invisible, unknowable and possessing ultimate power over life and death. Rather than just accepting ' IT is what IT what is', we most know what is it, why is it and how can I attain knowledge of it. Perhaps it is this need that has motivated humanity to form societies, civilizations and religions.
We are all familiar with what the major religions teach: each one has a concept of God that claims it is unique to that group and that it's teachings are superior to all others. In our culture, Christianity stands out as one that believes its God is the only God, is superior to all others (but isn't it the 'only' one) and that it knows all and has a plan for each and every individual. That concept is rejected and challenged by several other points of view. I will briefly discuss three of them: Spirituality / Atheism / Agnosticism. Of course there are many other conflicting belief systems but I am not attempting to write a book on comparative belief systems here.
SPIRITUALISM: The belief that there is an unseen realm or dimension inhabited by entities who, although without form, have a consciousness, intelligence and individuality. These 'spirit' entities may communicate with humans under certain conditions but only if the human has prepared himself / herself to receive this communication. The preparation is accomplished by practicing various rituals, attending ceremonies where the spirits are honored and filling their environment with symbolic representations of the spirit forces.
Primitive societies believed that these spiritual entities controlled the weather so they offered sacrifices to appease and please the Gods that controlled specific weather phenomena. Modern spiritualists have become much more sophisticated and knowledgeable about the science of nature but they still offer personal prayers and other offerings to the Spirits.
ATHEISM: Atheists believe that life is really a simple matter of biology in action; all life has natural causes, goes through a natural life cycle based on the laws of nature and no higher form of entity is required to make all of this happen.
They consider all concepts of God to be products of human imagination and an indication that we live in fear of the things we do not understand. Religion is the result of ignorance seeking a structure which includes power over the thinking of others.
Atheists also consider that they are as moral as any true-believer; morality is not based on a fear of punishment from a god, it is based on the instinctive knowledge of what is good or evil in relationships with others. Therefore, the claim that atheists are immoral because they are "Godless" is not a valid accusation.
AGNOSTICISM: Agnostics do not deny that there might be a higher form of entity existing in the universe but their reaction to that is "So What?". This Higher Form (called 'God' for the rest of this discussion) is involved in acts of creation and the maintaining of the balance of cosmic forces. It is not a super-human entity with feelings, emotions or desires for any particular species. God does not get angry, does not rejoice, does not have a plan for each and every one of us and does not control the events in out lives.
We are on our own to make the best of an environment that is often hostile and punishing. All other animal species have evolved with built-in means of survival: keen senses of hearing, taste, smell, relative speed, weapons as part of their physiology (claws, teeth, etc) an outer covering that protects them for the elements and a fully developed set of instincts that makes 'book-learning' unnecessary. Humans have none of these things. All we have is our imagination and manual dexterity.
Agnostics do not pray to a higher entity for help when in a difficult situation because they believe that the Gods do not really care about what happens to them. So they are forced to become self-reliant and concentrate on developing their intellectual and intuitive abilities to assist them when times are tough.
Agnostics also believe that whatever is in the realm of the Spiritual will remain there; they will find out what all the mysteries are about when they cross over to that domain. In the meantime, they focus on the task at hand: to achieve the highest level of development in this realm; to be 'all that we can be' as a physical being.
So, you might wonder: "Why am I writing about this topic?" Good Question. As a rational, logical individual, I am constantly challenging my set of beliefs to determine if I am merely accepting what I read and am told by others because that is easier than discovering my own truths, or do I really believe in my set of values based on my own experience and observations?
I must admit that I have been going through a period of flux for the past few months and am now realizing that my perspective has changed somewhat as various answers unfold for me. I am not going to offer any of my current conclusions as everything is subject to change as new information is received. However, I do solicit your response as to where you are in your belief system.
Are you satisfied that you have found some 'right' answers, that you are on the right path to learn whatever else you need to learn, and that your journey is taking you to where you want to go?
Have your say...
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