"Melanie, you are always talking about what you don't believe, what you don't do, but you never say what you do believe in. You are critical of the beliefs of others, but you never talk about yours. This is sheer cowardice."
I dithered. I procrastinated. I balked.
I'll write about anything, and I'm not a particularly private person, but I didn't want to write this one. Unlike some people who declare their beliefs, loud and proud. I mean, you know the ones.
But I caved in. After too many assumptions and misrepresentations, I'm going to talk about my beliefs.
I believe in love. I do not believe in sentimentality. Sentimentality is needy. Love is not needy. Love gives. I believe in kindness.
I believe in humankind. We have many faults, but they are overwhelmed by the incredible feats of selfless love we show over and over.
I believe in going with the flow, which some consider a "weak" approach to life. But I consider it a sensible one. Saves a lot of angst.
I believe in peace. In calmness, in tolerance, in give and take, live and let live.
There you go.
You wanted more? So, what more is there?
Oh stop rolling your eyes.
Yes, I know. Let's face the elephant.
It's no secret that I'm Pagan, by all current definitions, and it's also no secret that I don't follow any "tradition", such as Wicca or anything that has a name. I have no need for actual religion.
Ah, they say, but a collection of beliefs IS a religion. Well, if you insist. I have no book, no deity, no prayers, no ritual, and no statement of faith. Not much of a religion really is it?
Oh Melanie, you are cheating again. We're talking about spirituality.
Are you? Really? Because the last conversation I had with a devoutly religious person was about the homosexual "issue" and there wasn't much spitituality in it. And the last nice thing a devoutly religious person that I know did, was donate money to Nepal. And that was about as non-spiritual as it gets.
So many bits to the whole topic, aren't there?
Let's tackle this one HEAD ON.
When I'm asked if I believe in God I never know what to say. Usually the person asking is Christian, and therefore what they are asking me is if I believe in THEIR God. The answer is no.
But if I say no to that question, it gives the impression that I'm an atheist. Which I'm not. So there. I just don't subscribe to the Abrahamic belief systems. They fascinate me, I study them, but I treat them as I do any other mythologies. The difference being, believers in Odin or Jupiter are not trying to run the bloody country...or tell me what to do.
I am not Buddhist, either, despite what some people assume. But I think I possibly approach the concept of God rather like Buddhists do. Or possibly not.
Which is to say I acknowledge something greater than the sum of the parts in the Universe. But not outside it. Or separate from it.
Or is a bit more Hindu? It's certainly Pantheistic. Whatever it is, it's everywhere. No, not IN everything, that's PanENtheism, (look it up) and it has limits. Pantheism has no limits.
What this means is that I totally oppose the idea of a Creator being separate from the Creation. For me it's the same thing. That means God didn't make the bunny rabbits, God IS the bunny rabbits.
Don't think I haven't explored this concept fully either. It's not a new idea, it's not new to me, and it's not.......new.
Or I am I totally deluded and this is all in my head? Who knows? Nobody knows. NOBODY. For that reason I'm also a dedicated agnostic. It's not that I don't know.....it's that I categorically insist it cannot be known. And I rather like that.
So, you either believe it or you don't, based on nothing more than feelings. No proof, no dogma, no nothing. Take it or leave it.
Works for me, and I don't expect anyone else to share it.
Seems to me the reason many people cling to religious beliefs is that they fear death. I do not fear death. I fear dying. It can be slow, or painful, or both. It means you miss out on stuff you were looking forward to. But afterwards? Well, no problem then. Whether death is oblivion or something else, makes no difference, it will be whatever it is, nothing I can do about it, so I don't bother myself with it. Far worse than death is not living. I enjoy life. I believe the purpose of life is to live.
Do I believe in an afterlife? No idea frankly. This is where my strict agnosticism plays a key role. I don't know what happens after death and neither does anyone else, so I'll tackle that when the time comes.
Do I believe in hell? No. The idea is ridiculous, see my previous post.
Do I believe in heaven? As decribed by Christians etc, no. And if such a place exists, COUNT ME OUT. I don't want to go there. Eternal bliss? What is the point of that? How boring! Give me some excitement, puleeeze. Give me challenges, give me things to learn. Give me experience. Otherwise, forget it. Summerland? Yeah, if that's available, it sounds good. So long as there is plenty to do.......
Therefore if I get a choice, I'll take Box 3 thank you Bob. Reincarnation, another crack at life. That would work for me. Probably. If I'm as lucky next time around (got lucky this time).
I think I might enjoy being some sort of helpful spirit too, at least they have a job.
But none of this matters NOW. Now is for living. Now is for experience. Now is for love, and music, and people, and flowers, and cats, and butterflies. And hopefully I don't do any harm while I'm here. I try not to. On that topic.....
I contend that it's not connected to religion. Nope.
There are people who do better, morally, when under threat from religion, but that's quite another matter. That just shows they have no bloody self-discipline.
But the fact is, that if you studied every human on Earth and graded his morality, and counted it all up by religion, I guarantee you'd find that it makes no difference whether a person is religious, a bit, or a lot, or not at all as to how "good" they are. Priests and imams can be very, very bad. Atheists can be very, very good.
Not only that, the very definition of morality is wobbly and is often daft. A sin to show your hair? What bollocks is that?
No. If there's no harm, then there's no harm.
(Refer to my forthcoming book "Behave Yourself" for more details..)
In fact, a lot of things defined as "religious" in the area of "right and wrong and what happens next" is actually superstition, and I've discussed this before too so I won't repeat myself. I'm not interested in such nonsense. I have a high IQ and I use it.
The best quote I've EVER seen on this topic is as follows:
"Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but...will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones."
And now you know. That's where I'm coming from. Lots of shrugging, lots of dismissal of silly things, but yes, I'll still continue to argue over fine points of theology with anyone, the moment I see anybody being harmed by religion. You can count on that.