Friday, May 21, 2010

Atheist Underachiever

I guess I am not very good at being an atheist or an underachiever. I see so many on message boards, etc who are so full of conviction about it, so unperturbed by the lack of a deity.
Not me. I wish there were some divine person out there who could give me the extra edge to go on surviving in this upside-down world. Upside-down, back-assward world.
I reflect on my time as a Christian, how faith gradually turned into "Where the hell are You when I need You?" I was so certain that there was a god out there: whether he was good, bad or indifferent.
Mostly indifferent, it seems.
There seemed to be evidence but I think a lot of it was my emotions and perceptions leaning towards what I wanted to see.
I feel very depressed as I write this.
I guess I can just keep putting one foot in front of the other, taking action when I can and employing wu wei when the path is uncertain.
Once in awhile, I do pray "in case you are out there."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Reducing Suffering Through Understanding

I am in a Buddhist frame of mind today. Sometimes other people inflict suffering upon us through their actions. We cannot control other people so how do we reduce our suffering at their hands?
In seeking to understand the other person, his motives, maybe even his frustrations, I can view him with tolerance and equanimity.
In this case that I am describing, I am talking about minor irritations...perhaps someone is cruel or manipulative. I am not talking about situations involving abuse.
Understanding leads to less suffering in my life...and perhaps less suffering for others as well.

Buddhism and Two Poles

The reason this blog is called "View From Two Poles" is because I have bipolar disorder. So I see things from the high of (hypo)mania and the low of deep depression.
Perhaps this is the reason I am attracted to Buddhist thought.
Buddhism describes the ideal way of thought as the middle path. The middle path is neutral, unbiased(see below for reference link).
I am alternately irritable and pessimistic or overly bright. The middle ground does not come naturally to me.
I must school myself into right thinking by applying the principles of Buddhism. I must avoid extremes. As exhibited by my disorder, extremes are not good.
Eastern thought has much to recommend it, including the tools for a healthier way of thinking and being.

This article explains what I mention above, among other things.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Spiritual Manifestations

I don't know (I've mentioned this several times already) if I could truly be called an atheist and I may be closer to an agnostic.
Could there be a positive force or energy in the universe? Could Christ and others such as Buddha be physical manifestations of this energy? Of course, none of this can be proven scientifically. My ideas are purely speculation based on (possibly faulty) observation.
I was a Christian for twenty years or so and I still find myself wondering about Jesus. Who was he? I believe that he was a real, historical figure but I wonder at the rest of it...the miracles and the peak of his career: crucifixion. The "earthly" reason he was crucified was because it was ordered as a punishment by the powers that be.
Let's say that Jesus is a manifestation of all that is good and holy in the universe. What of his teachings about sin and his sacrifice on the cross(according to Christianity)? Has a mythology been built around Christ over the centuries? Has he been misquoted to support this mythology? Does he still a part of the good energy?
Now that I am not a Christian, I find the whole thing confusing. I used to have faith that "God" would not steer us wrong by allowing falsehoods and mistakes in the Bible but since I don't believe in a god anymore, the Bible's inerrant nature is open to speculation.

More Wu Wei

I was trying to read Spong's book but my focus changed which it does a lot so I tossed it aside and I am now slowly reading through a great book: The Tao of Pooh.
The Pooh book explains Taoism in a very friendly funny way and is an enjoyable book to read. Let's face it: a lot of books on spiritual matters are very concerned with their own importance and weightiness.
Ok, onward to wu wei and its practical applications in my life. Wu wei can be simply termed as "go with the flow." You have heard of taking positive action? I see wu wei as positive inaction. When I struggle against the way things are unfolding, I create imbalance or a lack of harmony in my life and I become unhappy. I am taking action in a way that goes against the nature of things.
For example, I am living in someone elses home. I'm crashing in their living room, as a matter of fact...flopping here until I can get my own place.
So, someone elses home...things are done their way. Their way is not bad, just different from my way and I like to do things my way! So I find myself going against the nature of things by trying to get things done my way. This creates unhappiness for me because it just doesn't work out. There is conflict.
Applying the principle of wu wei, I cease the struggle, the uphill battle of forcing change. I just go with the flow...doing things or leaving things undone according to the "style" of the household. And guess what? Things happen as they should and I feel more peaceful because I have ceased the exhausting effort of trying to force things into a shape that is pleasing to me.
This seems to dovetail with the Buddhist concept of becoming ego-less. Branching into another thought system, that of the 12 Step Program, we could call this acceptance which brings to mind the serenity prayer. I don't pray but the serenity prayer is a good thing to contemplate, nevertheless.
If anyone is actually reading this blog and feeling a lack of peace, I encourage you to examine your expectations in life and embrace the concept of wu wei.

*update: I have edited my links to more generalized sites that I enjoy. Life is about balance.