So, I thought I would just get up this morning and start writing, and stop trying to anticipate where I need the story to go. My brain is full of chemicals, and this is preventing me from remembering my dreams. I spent yesterday in a state of discomfort because I couldn’t bring myself to fall asleep completely, so that I might have something interesting to report to you.
The Internet was down this morning, and the cable service was as unhelpful as usual about how to fix it. I am writing on a straight up text editor–my computer has for the most part become nothing more than a typewriter.
You might expect that I’ve been hopelessly lonely over the past couple of years. The longer I’ve lived apart from any pretense of making connections with the people in my community, the more I’ve come to accept that I was meant to live mostly in solitude.
I don’t mind solitude. I’ve learned that it can be a gift when you are trying to sort things out in your head. I am just afraid that I’m not really getting to experience my true nature of being at my best: stimulated by other people who share creative ideas and make my own ideas better.
I’ve spent a number of years thinking about my identity and what it means. Am I anything more than just my name, body, occupation and brief biography and headshot? Does it matter that I often found myself thinking I could have just as easily been almost anyone else on this earth, and I probably would have ended up just like them, given the same combination of genetics and environmental circumstances? In other words, I struggle with discovering a core identity who you would have clearly identified as being me, my very soul, whether I was born into a tribe in sub-Saharan Africa or born into a wealthy family living in uptown Manhattan.
I’ve also considered that the DNA of my very soul contributed to the angels deciding that I would be born into the particular family that I was born into.
I am not averse to considering all possibilities–I have weighed the notion of reincarnation alongside a brutally materialistic conception of who I am as well as the Christian interpretation of who or what my soul is.
It’s better that I remain anonymous, and use fictional names when retelling stories of things that happened to me, because I don’t want my identity reduced to being merely my name and nothing more.
If you, the reader, have made up your mind completely about what you know to be the absolute truth in matters of the soul, true identity, and where we go after we die, then I suppose my musings won’t be of much use to you. I can’t offer any evidence for what I believe, other than explain that I’ve had experiences with the higher plane of existence that lead me to believe it does exist. None of those experiences gave me any more insight into life after death, except to say that I am certain we are more than our physical selves, and that the true reality of the universe consists of a kind of Mind or series of Higher Dimensions that live inside, outside, above, below us. Because we are so completely enmeshed in our 3D+Time reality, we are like fish who would be asked to posit the existence of a world outside of the one in which they swim.
I decided to put my faith and trust in the Lord Jesus, because I had moments of complete and utter doubt as to the veracity of my own being while alone late at night and pondering that perhaps Descartes may have been onto something when he considered that his own collective series of memories that formed his identity were nothing more than illusion propagated by a demon. I felt the entire foundation that held up my conscious self fall out from under me, and suddenly cried out for Jesus to come to my aid.
I became certain that I could not escape the Christian paradigm, which had been installed in me at a very early age and remained embedded in me like those sectors on a hard drive which the defrag utility cannot move. No matter how much I wanted to believe in another religion or believe in no God at all, I came back to the fact that only one man who’d walked the earth claiming to be a deity had created the notion of having absolute power over your enemies by loving them.
All other great prophets and wise teachers and would-be deities have claimed a tit-for-tat type of model for gaining access to more power and control over one’s enemies, with the possible exception of the Buddha. Before Jesus came along, the Jewish faith had some mention of a forgiving Lord in its texts, but more often than not, you would see a wrathful God exacting vengeance upon the enemies of the Jewish king, and sometimes even collaborating with the Devil himself in the case of Job. The breakthrough of Jesus, the notion of ultimate strength through utter humility and total faith, was a turning point in the history of mankind.
Confucius, Mohammed, Vedic texts, and many other philosophies described codes of conduct to prevent people from waging total, anarchic war on each other at all times, but Jesus offered a kind of strength that completely turned tribal notions of masculinity on their head. Of course, most of Jesus’ followers have not practiced even slightly the concept of turning the other cheek and offering the man who robbed you of your coat your cloak as well. We have consistently left beams in our eyes to pick at the motes of our friends, family and neighbors.
The powerful part of Jesus’ message, the part that makes it so much more potent than any other ass-kicking, superhero god-as-man or divine prophet’s message, is the hidden one that only a handful of monks, priests and peaceful anonymous people have practiced. The conquistadors who were the first Christians to come to America in large numbers were bent on pursuing mammon. Their actions were completely out of line with the message of Christ, and it would be unrealistic to think that many Native Americans would have converted. Some priests and traveling aristocrats who observed the practice of the conquistadors commented unfavorably on the treatment of the Native Americans, but they were largely ignored.
There is a story in the Decameron, a book written in Italy about the time all this was taking place, that tells of a Jewish man who visits Rome and witnesses the widespread corruption taking place there. He returns a converted Christian, and he’s asked why he converted after seeing how badly Christians behaved. His response was that the message of Jesus must be a powerful one indeed to have persisted IN SPITE of the Catholic church.
That, in a nutshell, sums up how I approach the text and my faith. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a faith worth practicing. For many years, I didn’t want to call myself a Christian, because it always seemed like the most glib, smartass people who were bent on taking advantage of others turned out to be the ones professing Christianity the loudest. I must confess I am not especially enamored of the church I currently attend. I don’t particularly care for the fact that it seems to be social hour for most of these people, who probably would act and talk no differently at bingo night.
I wasn’t really expecting to write so much about religion, though. I was hoping to start the flow of writing, and get into the groove where insights seem to come as a matter of course while I write. Lately, I’ve noticed that these have dropped off with the re-introduction of some chemicals to help me not lose my temper so much throughout the day. Also, my drive to get something done before my son arrives has dropped off. It’s a scary sort of trade-off. I can be active, productive and creative, but I am also constantly teetering on the edge of losing my temper over some petty thing. Or, I can move through the day with this gorgeous mind that doesn’t seem to ever be affected much by anything, and takes it all in evenly, but I have little creativity to speak of.
I will start by saying a prayer. I pray, oh Lord, that you will forgive me of my sins, as I forgive those who have sinned against me. Please heal me of the things inside me that keep me sinning. Please erect a structure within me that holds me up to be a virtuous, decent man, who can provide for his family and speak up when your people are being abused. I want to speak your Truth, oh Lord, and not the truth of my particular culture and its time and place. I want to know your Truth intimately in such a way that words may not adequately express what I know, and yet this Truth is every bit as firm and complete as my dwelling, nay, more so.
Dear Heavenly Father, I do not have much to offer in the way of gifts. I realize now that I am a simple man with simple needs. I spent too many years of my life aiming for things that are higher than what I am prepared to receive. I have yet to put myself into a state of true humility, one where I am not looking over my shoulder to see if the righteous are watching me. I recognize that I haven’t yet begun to walk enough by faith and not by sight, and this is why my sight has yet to be restored.
I can’t expect miracles to happen in a world where I’ve removed with my reason and science all possibility of miracles. I must test the spirits and practice discernment, to be for sure, because I never want to become caught up in the false ways of a fake healer. But, I must remain open to the possibility that miracles can happen, and rejoice accordingly when they do occur.
I recognize that my words are mostly just that. That I have yet to absorb them more deeply so that they become my truth when I am faced with situations in life that could potentially anger me and set me off course.
I recognize that you have given me many gifts that are great, but I call them average, and they might seem average to most people. To be able to draw analogies between the tactile experience I have with this world and my spiritual development is a great and powerful insight.