I don’t believe in God. I don’t believe in a higher being. I don’t believe in True Nature, The Absolute or any of the other mystical names atributed to God-like capacities. I don’t believe Jesus was the son of God any more than you or I might have been, should God have existed in the first place. I don’t believe that when we die we somehow float off and merge with The Mystery. I don’t believe there is a white light we move off to when we die and that should we move off towards that white light, we will come face to face with the loved ones in our lives who have already died. They are dead. We had our chance when they were alive and that chance is no longer. I don’t believe there are angels or spirit babies watching over me or over any of us. I don’t believe there is a heaven with or without mansions, streets of gold or pearly gates. I don’t believe there is a hell with untold eternal suffering. I don’t believe in Tarot, astrology, palmistry, numerology or any other system which seeks to bring explanation and predictability to our otherwise non-predetermined life. I don’t believe in the Buddhist concept of karma except that which we subconsciously manifest within this lifetime. There is no literal cycle of death and rebirth. There is no coming back again as another life form or reincarnation as a human being to learn the lessons that we were unable to learn in our previous lives. There are no past lives. There are no future lives. There is this life alone. When we die, we are dead. End of story. Our bodies and all of it’s organs cease to function. There is no more capacity to experience, to reflect. We have had our chance and then it is over.
After 7 years on a specific spiritual path, the diamond approach; after having spent 8 years singing to god in a gospel choir on Sunday morning, sometimes with tears streaming down my face; after having meditated at countless buddhist gatherings and listened to and read the teachings of many buddhist, christian, jewish, vedanta and other teachers, this truth is simply what I am left with.
I realize that I may be wrong. I don’t claim to be the ultimate arbiter of what is true and what is not. But the more and more I allow my “knowing” to appear, the more and more I allow my “truth” to simply arise within me, without somehow merging my beliefs and understandings with those of others, the more I simply know what I know. And what I know is that this is it. This life is what we get.
The beauty of this however is in it’s liberation. There is not a hint of anything depressing to me in any of this. There is joy in liberation and this liberation comes from having and speaking the truth, my truth, no capital “T” required. None of this is to say that spirituality can’t or doesn’t exist, but to me, even the word spirituality is laden with too many semantic predispositions in our minds. I believe we can transcend, but that transcendence is one of overcoming our individual sense of our own limitation and coming to recognize the spectacular beauty and miracle (another word to use very cautiously) of life, and specifically in this case, the human life. I am fully in love with being alive, in all of the struggles and glories it brings. I am not living a certain way to help ensure an afterlife. I am living a certain way because I think it is the right thing to do. The manner in which I strive to live, the decisions I hope to make, the interactions which I strive to have, the actions which I strive to take all result from an upwelling of a sense of what is true within me. We don’t need a higher power or God to have a meaningful or spiritual life. What we need is access to our hearts, to our intelligence, to our kindness, to our compassion, to our goodness, to our joy, to our love, to our strength, to our capacity, to our determination, to our openness, to our ground of knowing. I feel blessed from the spiritual paths in my life, for they have taught me and helped me to gain access to these qualities of myself. These qualities, however, don’t require something greater than ourselves to imbue them with power or validation. Quite to the contrary, they exist naturally in our human form. It is also true to me that transcending our egoic mind and recognizing the thoughts we have as arising out of past experience rather than out of the present moment is hugely valuable in getting closer to the truth of our experience which is actually happening now. What exists beyond our everyday mind however doesn’t have to be explained by anything mystical. It is simply the beauty and purity of this moment and our natural perfection within it.
This declaration is very important to me. I am simply speaking my truth. In no way am I hoping or intending through this writing to get anyone to change their perspective or to see things my way. I am simply speaking my truth, and not “the” truth, as clearly as I know it to be. I have felt a little shaky today because this is much larger than simply a statement of belief. It is tinged with what feels a bit like an act of defiance. It feels like I am standing up for what I believe, for my own voice in a world where I’ve often lost touch with my own voice.
I also feel a bit alone, but that aloneness is truly what happens when we step further and further out onto our own path, without the familiarity and security of others alongside. Not only are others not necessarily alongside, but there is no comfort of something greater than me holding me and providing for the greater benefit of the universe and myself within it. There is very little choice remaining for me any longer as to whether or not I will live and speak my truth and this recognition brings with it some relief. It may be a more lonely place, but it will be a place that feels true, real, and honest.