[First I will say this, if you haven't read this blog then you are most definintly missing out. I read it every. single. day. and on days she doesn't post, I read several from her archives. This is who I hope to be one day as a mother, wife, and woman in general. Specifically check out this post which inspired my thoughts today.]
A lot of people ask me what I believe in, especially since I move from Buddhist to Agnostic to sometimes Athiest depending on the day or hour or minute. People have a hard time wrapping their minds around the possibility of having a fulfilling life and not being attached to one specific dogma. I want to be clear. I am writing to get my thoughts out, for my own benefit, and not really to please or defend and especially not to offend. I think that there is a common thread, common good if you will, that we sometimes miss because we are so focused on following one specific path. There are many paths, and each of these paths leads us to exactly where we need to be.
Yesterday I was in the car with a client and his mother. She was talking about how Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and how they needed canned foods and maybe even a turkey. I asked if she had called the food bank and she said that she had, but that they no longer allow people to come directly to them to get the food but rather assign them to certain churches that are closer to them. She stated that her assigned church does not pass out meat products... and although I'm not sure if I believe her, I kind of get the sense that she could possibly be telling the truth. So then I ask if she's talked to any of the other churches around her, since there are at least 3 in walking distance from their house. Get this, their food is for members only. I have a problem with that, because it sounds to me like they are trying to get their numbers up - higher numbers equals more money. I hate money, and I hate money more when it gets mixed in with religion. If a person is hungry, they should be allowed to eat --
I was raised in a Southern Baptist home. We went to church every Sunday and every Wednesday and sometimes I even went to a bible study during the week just to get my Jesus Fix. My mom eventually became a pastor, and shortly after that I realized that I was cought in a whirwind of bible camps and contemporary hymns and I began to judge people and that's when it scared me. It became a not so nice club, where if you don't believe exactly as we believe, you're on your own and you're going to hell with our backs turned. The final straw was watching a group of three and four year olds singing about Jesus hanging on a cross - the experience was so twisted and so disturbing that I ran as quickly as I could and haven't returned for almost 2 years.
I started trying to find something to fill this God Shaped Hole [great book, by the way] and quickly became intrigued by a Buddhist Temple down the road from my loft in the city. I sat and meditated for 2 hours, twice a week, and even some mornings before work at a shrine I set up in the lower level of my loft. It felt taboo and exciting. I especially liked the chanting and the incense which burned as I sat with my legs folded peeking through my half closed eyes at a painting of Buddha and the Wheel of Knowledge. I loved sitting through the pain as my legs fell asleep and really feeling it - learning from it. I read books about Buddhism on my lunch break and began to feel for the very first time that I was connected to the world around me and found comfort that trees and rivers and grass and the sunshine were all telling their own stories and teaching me about oneness and calmness and living life with only the bare essentials. But I stopped going seven or eight months later when the fire burned out and I admitted to myself that I don't really believe those teachings in their entirety. They weren't enough to keep me committed.
My family mocked me and continues to mock me ever since I left the church, and despite their efforts it has only made me more passionate to stay away. Friends that I have grown up with have looked at me with question and asked where I think I will end up after I die, and have been offended when I tell them that not only do I not know, but I am at peace with this unknowing and more alive than ever living with the mystery of what may or may not happen once I take my final breath. If I have realized one thing it is this: people get upset when you force them to think about or question things that they aren't ready to face. So I shrug off their attempts, keep my mouth shut, and keep quiet about my joy in the lack of needing to commit to one thing. Even more so, the joy in knowing I will not go to hell for it. Because I make my own destiny.
I think, or rather I suppose, that when we die our bodies decompose and nurture and feed life into the soil. The soil nurtures and feeds life into the grass and the trees, which in turn nurture and feed life into the humans animals who eat them, which in turn nurture and feed life into the humans and animals that eat them, and so on. In this way, we are not only all connected - but we are one. There is no I or You or She or He or They. And because we are all made up of 99% of the same matter that the rest of the universe and everything inside of it is made up of, I cannot help but believe that we are the universe as well.
“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. The atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing i know about physics: you are all stardust. you couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements; the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution and for life; weren’t created at the beginning of time. they were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way for them to get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode. So, forget Jesus. the stars died so that you could be here today.”
That is what I believe. And also that when our bodies die our spirits find themselves in new bodies and this cycle continues until we learn whatever it is that we are supposed to. That when you talk to trees, they really listen. That we can learn so much from animals; they are much wiser than we give them credit. That in a past life I could've been walking the tightrope in the cirucs, or an artist, or a shrub in a magical forest with faeries and gnomes and imps. That I am connected to water and the moon for a reason. That astronomy isn't entirely bullshit, that magic can exist.
Mostly I believe that everything exists because of love. Without love, we have nothing.