SIN AND EVIL

I was introduced to the concept of sin when I went to Sunday school at an Episcopal church; and have been exposed to those who preach to us sinners. A sin is an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law. And, I do not see myself as a sinner. I don’t believe in divine law and so I don’t transgress against divine law.  I guess I could say that I am a good person who has done some bad things that are minor. I have not stolen from others, other than an occasional grape from the grocery store or the miscalculated change. I have never physically hurt anyone. In fist fights in junior high school, I was mostly on the receiving end. I have never abused anyone. I don’t think that I have ever really been mean. That does not mean that I have not unintentionally hurt someone’s feelings and or that I am some saint. It just means that I have lived life as a good guy.

Now that being said, on reading the above, it seems pretty sanctimonious. I have hurt people. I have made them mad and hurt feelings. Most the time by having judgments about what they do, not about who they are. My son is a good example. As a father and someone who cares about him I  want him to lead a happy life, and when I judge that he is not doing things in his interest, I have made it known. And, that has really pissed him off at times. And there have been other people in my life to whom I have voiced judgements who have been hurt and upset. If there is anyone reading this who thinks I need to make amends, let me know.

I asked a Catholic colleague of mine one time when she last sinned. And she said very recently. She stated that she had sinful thoughts. Wow, isn’t that something. The Church indoctrinates people to feel guilty about their thoughts as well as their actions. Yep. Better not look at an attractive woman or man with some imagination or you will go to hell. That’s one of the ten commandments, right.  What an ingenious way to exert power and control over others. You have to come to us to confess to your very thoughts.

How about evil?  In the movie Judgement at Nuremberg, two prosecutors are talking and one states that the root of evil is the lack of empathy. That really struck me. In what way am I evil? Do I lack empathy? Of course I do. And there are acts of omission and acts of commission. Taking action to do harm is evil. Failing to act? Perhaps that is just cowardice.

And I can’t absolutely say that I am incapable of evil. Too many normal people have done evil. I recently read a survey that 70% of people have thought about murdering someone at one time in their lives.

So are you a sinner?

Have you ever been evil or personally known anyone who is evil?

Do you need to make amends?

SUMMARY

As an introduction to my summary of the last 12 blogs, here is a video which represents a simple present moment; the love and connection between Judith and me. Our connection to nature, to the flow of life, the wind, water, and the sailing technology a thousand years in the making.  We come together through the permutations of our respective lives and the lives of our ancestors and the history of the universe. It is a testament to our having lived lives that are qualitatively and materially better that most humans. With these blessings we are brought together in a simple sublime moment. And, the present moment is superior to and transcends all speculation.

Now with that, I am going to speculate.

I have no idea where or why the universe exists. My life and the universe are a staggering mystery. My place in the universe is so small, it is not a place. My place in time is so short, it is no time. The universe is impersonal. Without life, it is without meaning or consciousness. With the complexity of life, the Universe becomes conscious and meaningful. My cosmic vocation is to give meaning to the Universe for me. 

Facts and evidence along with rationality are important. Evolution and climate change are proven. Anti-GMO and Anti-Vax is batty. It is useful to examine false premises and to be willing to drop them. The sun rises and sets and yet paradoxically, the earth goes around the sun. The motions of the planets do not influence the affairs of humans.

The Bible is a book that is written by men not by God. Good Bible stories and precepts cause good things. Bad Bible stories and precepts have caused death and destruction of millions. A current example is that pressure from some religious leaders has resulted in the banning of a number of anti-AIDS campaigns, including condom promotion in Africa. This may have caused the deaths of thousands of men and women and children; perhaps more.

The false premise that we began examining is.. A rationalistic scientific way of thinking is the only way to the truth of reality.  This is because my bias is empiricism and rationalism. Science can only explain reality.

I explored consciousness. Consciousness is a mystery to scientists. It is difficult to scientifically research subjective experience, although it is being done with some credibility. Non duality is an “experience“ of consciousness where the subjective sense of oneness and connection with everything is a real phenomenon, although a relative few have experienced it.  Some non dualists think that the world only exists in our consciousness and is revealed to us by observation. So, the moon did not exist before mankind. This, in my view, is nuts. This is almost like creationists who declare that nothing existed before a few thousand years ago.

In looking at Psi phenomenon, I found little of it credible. I am trying to keep an open mind; however, it is difficult because so many charlatans pollute the landscape. Kinda like televangelists and faith healers.

I then looked at Christian dogma and declared most of it as invalid for me. I do adhere to Christian values, of tolerance, love, and compassion. These values are expressed in many other religions.  What you believe is up to you. Just don’t try to convert or control me and I will do the same for you.

And as far as death is concerned, I, like you, will have to face it. Although there are thousands of stories and beliefs of life after death, there is no credible evidence for this. It is a mystery. And what the hell, I have known my entire life that I will die in the midst of the mystery.

I will continue to explore these ideas and others in future blogs. Meantime I have an invitation for you. If you want to talk about this stuff on Zoom webcam, email me. I love to be in conversation.

Here is a compilation of all the blogs written so far.Bruce’s Reflections Blog 2018

DEATH

I died on January 11, 2000. My heart stopped and my lungs quit functioning. There was no heartbeat and no air going into and out of my lungs. There was no time; no past, no present, and no future. I was not aware that I existed. I was gone.

Twenty-five minutes later my heart was restarted and my lungs inflated. And, I was taken off of a heart/lung bypass machine. Three hours later I became conscious and a breathing tube was taken out of my throat. I had been unconscious for five hours while undergoing open heart surgery to repair the mitral valve in my heart. I was totally unaware and I only knew that I was alive when I woke up.

This has happened again in 2013 when I had a five hour operation to rebuild my broken arm from a bike accident. At stage 4 anesthesia there is no awareness. A total blank. This is unlike sleep where one dreams and there are at times some sense of awareness.

Based on my personal experience, my belief is that when I die, it will like going into a deep sleep and not waking up.  My body will be gone. I will no longer cast a shadow. I will no longer exist. So, there is really no need to be afraid of being dead. I just won’t exist. Just like my parents, Frances and Lee, my brother Gordon, and my son Brian, no longer exist; and my deceased friends and billions of other humans in the past.

Being born is waking up having not gone to sleep. I will be in the same place as I was in March 1941 prior to my conception. No place. And of course, there is the mystery. Who knows if there is life after death? No one knows and if someone professes to know, they are coming from their own personal subjective experience.  

Now how about the process of dying. That I fear. I used to joke that some idiot is  going to whisper in my ear on my deathbed “This is going to be a growth experience.” I now know that it is. Some die quickly almost instantaneously like my son Brian who was killed in an auto accident. But many die slowly. And for those who do, it can be a transcendent experience. 

I have been reading Grace in Dying by  Kathleen D Singh. She was with hundreds of individuals who were dying and found that almost all of them  moved through phases of chaos, acceptance and then surrender leading to peace and transcendence. I hope to do that and to rise above the suffering when I am dying.

I know that as one approaches death, material things fall away and relationships and connection with others emerge to be the most important. I do believe that we are born to love, and that love is perhaps all that ultimately matters to us.

What is your take on dying?

Life after death? Continued consciousness?

 

BELIEFS

The Apostles Creed.

   I believe in God, the Father almighty,
   creator of heaven and earth.
   I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
   who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
   born of the Virgin Mary,
   suffered under Pontius Pilate,
   was crucified, died, and was buried;
   he descended to the dead.
   On the third day he rose again;
   he ascended into heaven,
   he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
   and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
   I believe in the Holy Spirit,
   the holy catholic Church,
   the communion of saints,
   the forgiveness of sins,
   the resurrection of the body,
   and the life everlasting. Amen.

As a boy, I was an acolyte in the Episcopal church. The apostle’s creed was recited out loud at every service. When I was about 15, I realized that I was an acolyte to please my grandmother. By 20, I was a pain-in-the-ass atheist, asking people whether an all-powerful God could strike a match on a wet piece of soap. I came to understand the Holy Communion as a cannibalistic ritual taken from pagan times and that passages in the bible caused the deaths of millions of people.

And now, I do not believe in anything in the Apostles creed; the immaculate conception, the virgin birth, the resurrection, judgment, saints, and the rest. It is a hell of a story, but it is not true. So am I a Christian?  I say yes.

Many years ago I read The Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus. I “got” Jesus. The message is simple: Love, Tolerance and Compassion. That is it. Everything else can be ignored including sin, hell, redemption, and all that other dogmatic stuff.  And “Christians” who are not loving to all, tolerant of all, and compassionate for all, are not following the teachings of Christ.

I have changed to a secular value system, which I think is the trend. As Europe has become more secular in the last 50 years, has it become less moral? It has not. There can be a moral value system based in culture and humanistic values without religion. In fact, many think that religion has a negative net value. YouTube debates on whether religion does more harm than good are fascinating. The anti-religion side usually wins.

While I am not religious associated with dogma,  I am still a seeker of the transcendent and continue to try to seek truth beyond the logical and physical.

And, I am deeply respectful of others’ personal experience and their connection to their personal God or whatever brings them awareness of that which is greater. I remember seeing a Hindu woman turn and leave a shrine of a Goddess and the peaceful expression on her face was the same as those leaving the altar from the Eucharist. You won’t find me arguing with you about your internal experience.  And of course, don’t discount mine either.

So, what are your beliefs? Do they match mine or is there something you want to add?