Talking to a brick wall...

Rants & Raves

Rants & Raves

The Art of Believing

—[4-1-00] I think to myself, sometimes… it would be so nice to know that however short each of our lives are, each of us is in some way eternal. I guess really I'm talking here about the idea, so prominent in Eastern cultures, that life can't just simply disappear. The idea that when we die, who we are is not permanently gone. Reincarnation, as seen in Hinduism and Buddhism, is really just one specific expression of that idea, but the idea may be more universal, and it is very comforting. Now if only I could believe in it.

I was raised in a basic Christian household, and taught that we are eternal… but not in the same way. In a Christian worldview, we are ourselves only outside of life here on earth. The body is a one-time incarnation-a juvenile stage of our development-and once our soul escapes it we are who we always were meant to be. It gives a sense of eternity, perhaps, but this life on earth is the only one we've got. That certainly doesn't give me much comfort for my mistakes here. But, then, in this view, our life on Earth is not really very important at all.
    By contrast, eastern ideas point to this life being the important one. Most of who we are is in each life, even if both main Eastern 'religions' also hold that the best thing we can do is escape from the cycle of living that we're trapped in. You see, it's not the religion that I'm getting after here so much as the idea of how the world works that comes below it.

I've long since abandoned a particular faith to any one religion, after concluding that they were all so similar in some respects that no one of them could be the right one. I will always, however, think at least at some level in terms of the way that I was taught the world worked: We are born with an eternal soul, live our lives on earth, and then our soul does something afterward (what it does is based on our lives) forever. Here it sounds pretty ridiculous, no? That's a lot of why I decided to abandon that view.
    Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to give me the power to adopt some other one. How could I ever know which is right? Or, if I simply decided on one, would that possible self-deception be worse than actually saying that one was right simply because I was raised with it?

From my standpoint, at least partially away from most worldviews, I have looked at them, and seen the pieces and parts of each that I wish were true. If I were to change my background, I know what it would be. That doesn't help though; wishing something seldom makes it so. >>

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