Finally, the final post of a three-post series of serious posts on religion. And this time, it’s Personal.
Religion is a personal thing. and what follows is more or less my personal religion, the tenets which I have chosen to follow. As one would expect, they are most heavily influenced by things that have come into my sphere of reference and meshed with me in some way – christianity, taosim, druidic belief in the sanctity of nature, and belief in the power of love.
The Yin-yang, the classic Taoist symbol of balance – of good and evil, fire and water, Kenny vs. Spenny, and all things inside of each other. The cross – obvi. I mean its funny how a ‘standard Roman public torture/execution device’ has become The symbol of self-sacrifice and eternal love for a global religion, but hey – just goes to show you gotta be careful who you crucify. (lol) The third one is the druidic “gate sigil,” the sign of the ‘Open Gate Between our Worlds’. Similar to the ‘holy trinity’ of Christianity, the druids were all about threes (which probably explains why St Patrick coined the Holy Trinity while converting the Irish). The three spirals represent Land, Sky and Sea, or the three worlds of earth, the realm of the Gods, and the realm of Death. (Note: the Nordic system has, like, 9, including several separate hells). But the Druidic Tri-Force Gate is also still powered by the underlying paradox of water mixed with fire, as if they’d thrown a little yin-yang at the bottom 😉
But first, if anyone hasn’t read my previous post, below is the same link from the end of the last one – wherein College Humour beautifully sums up what I am doing here:
Haha oh College Humour, you really get me.
The Gospel of Mike
What is God?
The word “God” – along with “Yaweh,” “Allah,” and “Jehova,” represent a concept that humanity – myself included – can barely handle. Religious or not, how can we handle the idea of the giant, immeasurable and tumultuous energy of this universe?
To me, in addition to the usual types of energy – electrical, kinetic, heat, biological – there is another form, which we have barely begun to understand: the energy of consciousness. The life-force of the universe (yes, that relates to Starwars) is made of the same energy of consciousness, the same “Spirit Energy” that is created when other forms of energy – usually including a mandatory bio-energy component – is converted into something with awareness. This spirit-energy we each have is what I would classify as the soul.
God, to me, is the awareness of the universe. God is the galactic glue that holds the universe together, a creative force that guided the splitting of the cosmic soup into mass and energy, that guided the blast and rearranging of matter in the big bang, that guided the polymers of fatty acid molecules into the first cellular membrane. If ‘Mother Earth’ *(only lets take out the gender binary, its 2016 for Christsake – if ‘Parent and/or Guardian Earth’) embodies and represents the biological and elemental energy that flourishes on this planet (the physical, chemical and cellular energies) than Yaweh refers to the cosmic spirit of “fate” (aka “random chance”) and consciousness that permeates creation.
God has many names … the ancient Egyptians called it Ra, the energy of life that comes from the sun. They named other aspects of nature and humanity – from Set the desert storm, to Isis the life-giving fertile Nile – as Ra’s children.
Gender, shape and even names – from Hades to Zeus, from the hard working Thor inside all of us to the creative and mischievous Loki inside of us – all are names and concepts for different aspects of the energy of life and consciousness.
Some choose to call this Random Chance, suggesting there is no link but the laws of energy and matter. Others choose to believe that there is a “Ghost in the machine” of the laws of matter – and that consciousness is represented by God. Yaweh, or Allah – I personally love “Allah,” it really rolls off the tongue to me – is The Way, or the Tao – the way of the universe. The Ghost in the galactic machine.
Is there good and evil? There is destruction, and there is creation – both are neither, both are both. Good and evil are human concepts: they are a value judgement, and any value judgement is in our heads.
The other day my son and I drove by someone picking his nose. We laughed, and then the boy said “Imagine if everyone just picked their noses, like, all the time.” We laughed about this even more – could anything be more ridiculous and gross? But here’s the thing – if its something we all did, people probably wouldn’t care – we’d be used to it. The idea that ‘picking your nose is gross’ is a value judgement. True, its rooted in fact – it can spread bacteria. But for most of us it is a gut reaction of “Ew” based on our experiences with it, and also growing up to be taught that its a gross thing.
For myself, morality has been deeply influenced by Jeremy Bentham’s utilitarianism – that is, that actions should cause pleasure to others and pain to none. However I shy away from his focus on the consequences and the end result – that which, for example, makes the sacrificing of children to die for the common good a natural conclusion. For me it is more important – from a moral perspective – to look at from whence the action comes as opposed to just the result. And for myself, the action should be taught to come from that basic tenet that I see as the highest form of human awareness: Love.
Hatred is a desire against something, and I believe that – while aversion and even hatred can be useful in some survival situations – they also take their toll on our souls, as they are based on negativity. The answer to Hatred is Love: love that drives us to preserve nature, to enjoy things in life, and above all to love other humans. Hate divides, love brings together. Perhaps it is linked to a biological desire to see our species survive: perhaps it is given to us by the energy of conciousness. It can be selfless, like the actions of Jesus, or selfish – like the enjoyment of a good wine.
(Have I mentioned that I am including self-love in this category? No seriously, beyond my own narcissism – I find it hugely important to love oneself. And that doesn’t mean giving into yourself and following your id – that means spending time to get to know who you are, what you need, what you like, what you are good at and bad at and what you want to change. Getting to know yourself, and then loving yourself unconditionally – accepting flaws as areas to improve, but not reasons you shouldn’t love yourself – is a need I would put above all accept the basic biological.)
Love is what I believe in as the reason for our existence.
And What of the Law?
Some laws are functional in nature – like traffic laws. These are based less in morality, and more in standardization of certain sets of action so the system can run smoothly as a whole – obviously these are important.
But in morality, I see law as the poor substitute of love. Where people cannot love, it must be enforced: but where people can be taught to love, law becomes secondary, eventually even redundant. Laws provide rigid lines – but those lines are often too rigid to fit every situation. This is why Mediation, and other more healing-based forms of discipline (like the Native Americans practised long ago and to this day) are more robust, and bend to fit every situation to give it exactly what it needs, creating healing instead of punishment: and this is a far superior form of law.
Unfortunately, the rule of law is still necessary – but as our society (hopefully) continues to evolve, I do hope to see the world move towards being ruled by love and punished with healing, not ruled by law and punished by hate.
“Justice isn’t about fixing the past; it’s about healing the past’s future.”
― Jackson Burnett
Let us begin with the coldest and hardest of facts: Jesus was a man – of that there is no doubt, a man whose impact on the history of the world has gone well beyond legendary.
Was he the son of God? Did Allah come down and impregnate Mary, like Zeus coming down to take mortal lovers in the form of various animals in the days of yore? Perhaps. Perhaps the spirit of consciousness pulled itself down in such concentration as to enact a biological miracle – hey, this is the creative force of the universe, why not?
(Personally, I’m at a “probably” on this one – but I also see it as a “Why” not a how, and therefore entirely based on choice.)
I believe that he was – by holy birth, or by happen stance- a man imbued with a greater connection to that spiritual life force. So great that when he spoke, people listened, and when he turned water into wine, he turned water into wine. History and the world as we know it has been changed deeply and drastically by his message of love – a message so strong and unifiying that millions of people have been manipulated by other humans, both for good and evil, under it’s cohesive force. Jesus to history was a rockstar and a game changer, and to me, this is proof of his divinity – in function, as well as in birth if you so choose.
But more important, to me, is what he symbolizes. Jesus symbolizes – embodies, even – love.
Love for people all around us, love and thankfulness for everything we have, love for others, love even for ourselves. Love of nature, and the creation spirit that runs through every plant and every animal [Edit: there are those that have used Christianity as justification to take what we want from a subservient natural world. My gospel sees this as perversion – Christianity is an edict to love our natural world. After all, ‘nature’ is the world that sustains us and that we are a part of – no matter how much we try to remove ourselves through cellphones and city walls.]
The Jesus I believe in loves me, loves the LGBT(PQRS…) community, loves the poor and the prostitutes and the heroin addicts – everybody. To me, he is still there – hangin out in the stream of consciousness that binds humanity – to bring and symbolize love and self-forgiveness to our oft neglected souls.
The Jesus I believe in is the spirit of a man so full of the power of consciousness – through immaculate conception or through random chance of having lots of “The Force” – that his spirit lives on in the hearts of people who believe his message, who picture their version of his face when acting selflessly, and who call to their version of his love when they are in need.
When I pray to God,
it is expressing my emotions to what I perceive as the creative force of the universe, with whom I have built – in my own head or reality, what does it matter? – a deep and meaningful relationship. When I pray to Jesus, it is to confide in an old friend that has walked with me since childhood, and embodies the ability I see in those around me – in all humans – to love.
This, then, is the crux of Easter – Christianity, even: that Jesus, man or demiGod, gave his life for what he perceived as saving humanity, crying prayers to his God for the salvation of the very people who tortured him to death. A sacrifice so public and so profound, so full of selfless love, that even if you don’t believe that it released humanity from eternal damnation, you gotta admit that history and the entire world were never the same. Perhaps his message of love – even for all the sins committed in its name, and coca cola products consumed because of Saint Nicholas – has had such a profound effect on humanity that it really did save the world, just in its effect on us. Let alone in trading the life of a demigod for the sins of mortal men and women.
We all die, and none of us know what happens after – scary stuff, isn’t it? I totally get humanity and religions (plural) obsessing over that. The idea of just Not Existing anymore is Terrifying – and what does that mean for our current existence? Does it make us meaningless – an immaterial blink of the galactic eye – or does it make our brief spark of interacting-with-other-elements all the more worthwhile?
My dearest Atheist Frosty finds his belief in a lack of afterlife supremely comforting. “It’s all about now,” he will say, “with no focus or worry about the after-life, or after anything. What you do matters to your life now, and to those who your life influences – and that’s it. Its Freedom.”
Others find the idea to stop existing horrible and shattering. To be honest, part of the reason I got into acting was a desire to leave video evidence to generations of the future that Yes, I did exist – like a youtube version of the giant monuments to ancient rulers that built piles of rocks or arches and statues with the blood and tears of their slaves and subjects. (Fortunately, one can generally youtube with a minimal amount of blood and slavery.) I want to say that I do not fear death – whatever’s after will come either way – but damn, this ‘living’ stuff is fun, and I don’t want to stop – and if I can live on in the annals of the internet, that sounds like a great way to go.
But all of this is still circumventing the main issue: What is After Death? Do our souls carry on, and fly their way – wearing robes of white – to a magical dimension where souls wait in purgatory to be seen by St. Peter before being sentenced for an eternity of either torture or joy? Or does everything just stop, the candle goes out, and a tiny puff of spirit-smoke wafts into the air to disperse our essence into a series of atoms?
My assumption going in is that there is more to each human than pure biology: there is a spirit-being, consisting of the energy of consciousness, the ghost in the machine of our neurons firing. Does it end when its biological inputs end? I am inclined to think not – energy, after all, only changes form, and I am inclined to believe that energy of consciousness – being so aware and self-perpetuating – carries on in some form. Many are the tales I have heard of family friends hearing or seeing remnants of loved ones, sometimes long after their death – and so many, too visceral and unexpected for me to deny. I suppose I could believe that there is a spirit plain to which these residual energies ascend, presided over by the energy of consciousness – and if so, I think I could buy in to the idea that who we were in life, our influence on the consciousness of others, could colour the existence of our residue like a self created heaven or hell. Could this take forms like a Bearded Gatekeeper and a pearly gate? I suppose. Alternately, perhaps our being join with the eternal consciousness to be spat back out as the spirits of new biological entities, like the Hindu ideas on reincarnation. I do not know which I believe – only that some form of the energy of our consciousness goes on in some way, guided by that which we call God – the stream of consciousness of the universe.
Does Jesus hang out with us after we die? Funny thing is, I’ve heard stories – you know, of people who ‘die for a few minutes then came back’ – even of a devout muslim woman who and said she saw a figure who surprised her by saying he was Jesus. These stories are all over the place.
Personally, I plan on seeing his face in the cosmic energy I join into. Because every ghost story I’ve heard, the amount of energy it takes for pure-consciousness to manifest itself into a physical form… is huge. Can only be derived from a powerful emotional-energy power source. And occasionally that energy source is sadness, or even anger (those are the scary ones.) But 8 stories out of 10, the emotion is love. Love so strong that it allows a spirit, like a cosmic adrenaline rush, the ability to pull power from the fabric of the universe and push it’s face or intention, in a recognizable way, into the awareness of the physical plain. Like Obi-Wan speaking with Luke from beyond the grave – or like a family friend of mine, who heard his ex-wife’s voice in his ear a split second before he felt a push on his back that propelled him towards a wall – just as their little girl fell off that wall, landing – as if by magic – into his hands.
Love, I would postulate, is the strongest of all motivating forces on consciousness: and Jesus is, for me, the face of that love – a face made up of many faces of all those I love, smiling at them, becoming them, smiling at me, becoming me.
We see what we choose to: this is what I have chosen to see.
Then again, I’m still young – if my deepest, most unshakable views on life, death and humanity do undergo any serious changes, I’ll be sure to keep you updated via another blog post.
So Ends “The Gospel According to Michael Masurkevitch.”
I finish with a final word on the holiday that started it [as in ‘this series of blog posts’] all:
Easter was, ofcourse, originally the festival of a Babylonian fertility goddess named Ishtar. It was a time of babies and rebirth – of sex, bunnies (which have a lot of sex), planting seeds (literally and metaphorically) and spring time.
What I really want is to be walking by a club some Easter weekend and see some bro-type dude shaking his fist to the heavens and crying, “Ishtar, Why haven’t I gotten laid in the last 6 months?? Why???
Like most Pagan holidays, it was co-opted by Christianity. Early Christian organizers were like, “When should we celebrate this Jesus’ death-and-rebirth thing? … Well, these Babylonian types already celebrate re-birth, along with fertility, every spring…” (And love, sexuality and war, of which Ishtar was also the goddess of in some places – man this babe got around.) So, ever opportunistic, the early Christians were like “Hey – why don’t we get Ishtar in on this Jesus-game?” And a modern holiday was born.
Since then, Easter has become a part of our culture, secular and non-secular. Lets compare it to Christmas, which went from being about Jesus’ birth (and the pagan holidays of midwinter/ Saturnalia) to buying gifts and spending money – but can also be viewed as an expression of generosity, of the light in the darkness, humanity huddling together and taking care of each other and overcoming differences with love during the chilly depths of winter.
Why not do the same with Easter?
Originally the Pagan Spring-time holidays of general rebirth and new life after a cold winter, and lots of bunnies and sex. Currently, more of an ‘Ode to Nestle’… Now, I’m not gonna bash the whole consumeristic Chocolate-rush: after all, kids in springtime would go find real eggs to cook up as treats, so using chocolate eggs instead has probably saved many wild bird species.
But adding Jesus to the mix has added something else to the holiday: an underlying expression of human passion, self-sacrifice, struggle and rebirth. This is why Good Friday affected me so: the darker side of love – the pain, the sacrifice – often leads to the expressions of humanity that are the most beautiful and passionate. The dad who goes to his shitty day job every day to provide for his kid, the kid who gives his deadbeat dad a second chance. The mom who gives up on a dream to care for her daughter, or who gets a second chance at her dreams when her daughter leaves for university.
Forgiveness, rebirth, sacrifice, and love.
So Easter next year (I missed the boat on this one lol) I plan to spend lent giving up
something that will make me better – like cutting my energy usage to show myself how I don’t need that much, or putting my phone down more or something. And then on Easter, I want to focus on finding my passion – both for projects and for people in my life, and cutting some of the chaffe (like facebook time 😛 ) to spend time with the people I love, and on the goals that get me going. And for me, it will be in the name of Jesus, and his sacrifice and rebirth (as well as Ishtar and baby bunnies.)
*And in the name of Coffee with Baileys in it, which is the ultimate decadence and I can’t live without it.
This Lent, I “gave up” (read: “cut down on”) both booze and coffee. The event was so traumatic that I ended up uploading several youtube videos on the subject (more or less whenever I had a coffee.)
So, while my son enjoyed gorged on chocolate like it was the spoils of a Viking Raid, Daddy’s Easter morning consisted of equally aggressive amounts of Baileys and Coffee. It was a good day.
I finish with another quote from Drizzt Do’Urden on the worship of the ‘spirit that represents the unity of nature and being one with the natural world,’ Mielikki:
“On this road, though, I was alone only in body. In my mind I carried a name, the embodiment of my valued principles. [Montsio] had called Mielikki a goddess: to me, she was a way of life.”
Keep falling in love, my friends.
Druidic “sign of the Gate” : https://www.adf.org/articles/working/sigils.html
Greek Gods: http://www.proprofs.com/quiz-school/story.php?title=which-greek-god-goddess-are-you
Thor and Loki: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/336503403378474575/
Earth and Moon: http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=3704
Nose picking: http://andsomeguysblog.blogspot.ca/2009/11/no-nose-picking.html
Utilitarian Train: http://premierdebatetoday.com/2014/12/26/debate-for-all-an-intro-to-utilitarianism-debate/
Healing Circle: http://www.med.uottawa.ca/sim/data/Aboriginal_Medicine_e.htm
Native Woman “Healing” : http://traditionalnativehealing.com/page/11
Water into wine: http://dailychristiangh.com/water-into-wine-part-1-daniel-kolenda/
Jesus is Love: http://www.dreamstime.com/photos-images/jesus-love.html
Gay Jesus Facepalm: http://www.memes.com/img/334595
Father, forgive them : http://saints365.blogspot.ca/2015/04/father-forgive-them.html
Bunny Sex: http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/formula-1/kimi-raikkonen-joins-ferrari-lotus-2266975
King Wenceslas: https://www.pascoeandcompany.com/blog/collecting-royal-doulton/good-king-wenceslas-by-royal-doulton
Easter Bunnies: http://welovewines.com/closed-sunday-the-27th-for-easter/
Nature Goddess: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/298011700313480369/
Bear Grylls : http://www.cinemablend.com/television/Discovery-Channel-Axes-Man-Wild-Host-Bear-Grylls-40400.html