The truth is alway upside-down and backwards to what appears. We appear to be separate individuals. But how often do we see ourselves in others? How is it that we can empathize or even communicate with each other? Why do we feel another’s pain, his life, her joy?
I live in you, and you live in me. We are not separate, you and I. We live in each other. What I know, you know; what you know, I know. We know it together. We share the same mind. Our brains breathe it, as Huston Smith says, like our lungs breathe air.
The differences are superficial – variations on a theme. But our bones are the same. Our psychic structure is the same. Our hearts are the same. When thinking stops, when the brain is still and the mind is awake and filled with awe, then we are alive. And that life is the same in me as it is in you.
When we share a moment of aliveness, an intensity of silence, we are bonded forever. Life sometimes gives us that opportunity – war, laughter, sex, music – these dissolve the apparent differences between us and make us one, make us realize that we were never apart.
Religion and Laughter
It’s easy to believe that we create things like laughter, that they are epiphenomenal to the human experience. But it is an impoverishment of the soul to think that way. Laughter may seem to be a spasm of the diaphragm, a quirk of the brain, a violation of logic that thrills the synapses and makes them pop. But laughter is there before we see it. Laughter is the mind catching up with itself. Laughter is our natural state; it is what happens when we stop trying to make the world conform to our ideas about it.
Our sense of the world is absurd, and laughter is the delight we feel when we see through that absurdity. Laughter is our response to reality – it breaks the tension of our beliefs the way a diver’s hands break the surface of the water. It helps us adapt and makes our encounters with the real less jarring.
Religion without laughter is dead. It is dead, because there is nothing real in it. A religion without laughter is a religion that worships the mind. It’s a religion that places more value on ideas than it does on the movement of life. It is life-less.
Religion and Ideas
Ideas are only spiritually valid when they invoke a movement of the spirit, when they provide an opening to the real. Ideas are supposed to lead us to an experience, after which the idea can be discarded.
The same can be said about religion.
It’s not that religion isn’t helpful or even necessary at times. But when a religion takes itself too seriously, when it thinks that it is the goal and not the means to the goal, it becomes the worst kind of impediment to spiritual growth. It would be better to have no religion at all and have faith only in oneself than to destroy faith by doggedly adhering to a dead doctrine. Unless a religion can lead us to an experience of life, it is merely a conglomeration of ideas. And ideas without life are dead.
Why worship dead ideas?
Religion and the Body
When we discover that life transcends the forms that give shape to it, faith begins. Then we see that it is life itself that fashions the forms for its own pleasure, and discards them when it outgrows them. It is when we identify with the life and not the form that we are truly alive.
If we can come to see that life was here before the forms and that we are that life, then we can experience eternal life. Because this is what eternal life is. It is not an idea.
Life builds the body, and the body gives expression to the life. Of course, there are many different kinds of bodies. There are bodies of thought. A body of thought gives expression to life on the level of thought. A body of feeling gives expression to life on the level of feelings. A body of experiences gives expression to life on the level of soul. Body is the aperture and the lens of life’s expression.
Religion and Evil
Unless religion serves life, it denies life. If anything could be called evil, it would be that. But life will not be denied. Any form that tries to restrict life will be broken and discarded. When we hang onto a form and ignore the life the form is supposed to serve, we will experience pain when that form is dissolved.
Form always sees change as death.
Life always sees change as resurrection.
Resurrection is life changing forms.
What we call evil is anything that does not appear to be constructive. But anyone who has ever remodeled a kitchen knows that you have to destroy the old before you can bring in the new.
Why worship the old form? Why not worship the life that is ever-changing and evolving? Solve an equation, and it ends. Life can never end, because it is always introducing change.
Truly a loving gift. Thank you, Michael.
“Ideas are only spiritually valid when they invoke a movement of the spirit, when they provide an opening to the real.” I love this. This is the essence, to me.
The more I live, the deeper I perceive the chasm between religion and spirituality. No man is an island, and it is human nature to seek connection. The more I live, the more I realize true spiritual connection is not easily found.