Sunday, 16 April 2017

Happy Easter!

You didn't really expect a traditional Easter greeting from me did you?

Many of you are used to my "attacks" on Christianity, and I often post stuff explaining my reasons, but my "audience" has slowly shifted, friends have come and gone (although I still manage to keep quite a few traditional christians in my friends list).

So why do I keep digging away at the christian faith?
Why can't I just get on with life and leave people to believe whatever they want?

Glad you asked!!

Basically, everyone is free to believe whatever they want. Why shouldn't we? Our personal beliefs are our business. Of course, the one defining condition is how do those beliefs affect others, and how do they really affect us?

There are countless types of religious and spiritual belief systems, Christianity being one of the major players. But even the major ones have endless official and unofficial variations, often at complete loggerheads with each other - to the point of hatred, war and even genocide.

What does this tell us?

People spend their entire lives justifying their beliefs in an effort to claim they have the truth. There are a lot of psychological reasons why this happens, but whatever the reasons, humans love to be right about whatever they believe. We love to feel special and better than others.

All this clearly tells us that there is no "one truth" - no one true religion. No one is "right".

When we have the guts to step back from our beliefs and see how all religions and beliefs are nothing more than subjective opinions we can see them for what they are - the damage they can do - the good they can do - and how irrelevant they are in the end.

I will continue to dismantle traditional Christianity. Not because I have an axe to grind, but because the only way forward for humanity is to grow out of our need for this type of religion, to grow up as it were, into being creatures responsible for each other and our own lives. Religions by their very nature, create division, separate humanity into "us and them".

I'm not attacking people, just challenging what they believe and why, with the hope that we can all move past the need for this type of religion and grow into understanding reality, love and life together.

Happy Easter!!

Thursday, 6 April 2017

The Psychological Legacy

If you've read my book "It's Life Jim..." you'll be familiar with how my mental state was affected by my life of battling sexuality with religion and the constant fight with depression and suicide ideation.

When my wife died it all came to a head and I had a "meltdown" or whatever you want to call it. The symptoms were a relentless combination of heavy depression (like walking around covered in a wet dark blanket, unable to think beyond the pain and confusion that keeps pounding your head), Intense anxiety attacks (that created a physical gnawing in the gut, confusion, a strange disassociation from my environment and a feeling that I was about to burst into tears), and an escalation of ADHD symptoms (lack of focus, restlessness, confusion, thought's racing etc).  The suicide ideation thankfully went!

This lead to counselling and medication and living on the benefit. There was no way I could hold down a job!

Nearly six years later I'm doing pretty good, but there's the legacy that I just have to live with despite my best efforts. All of these symptoms are still around. Yes, I get days where the depression hits (although nothing like it was) and I still get anxiety attacks, and the ADHD symptoms are the bane of my life.

I've learnt the triggers (mostly) and how to handle it all. I can sense better when I might take a nosedive, and I know how to "roll" with it and not be fearful.

But it's still there. This is the legacy of a life ruled by religious control, cognitive dissonance, self loathing and emotional abuse. Will it ever go away? I'd like to think so, but I'm not holding my breath.

It's like this for countless others. We are presumed to be over it and "all better now". Sure, we've moved on and even enjoy life in ways we never dreamed of. My life is fantastic and fulfilling. But the legacy quietly lives on, reminding us daily.

Be gentle with yourself.
Learn your weaknesses and accept them.
Roll with them, don't fight them.
Find the best way through it - socialise or retreat - talk to people or hide in your cave... there's no right or wrong, just whatever enables you to move through it safely.
Get help if needed, any time, don't be a martyr.

Life is good, no matter what the past has done to us. Life is rich and full of wonder and love.
Live it!!

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The Windowless World of Religion

I see christians (and other religious followers) argueing over doctrines and the fine points of theology...
I see all the countless hours of study into hermeneutics, exegesis, eschatology, etc...
I see the endless debates of literalism, fundamentalism, liberalism, universalism, preterism and all the other isms...
I see the authority structures built around this, the biblical roles and ministries...
The endless stream of books, articles, blogs, opinions, sermons, videos...
Centuries of bloody conflict - physical and psychological - abuse at every level...

The christian religion (as with all others) is a juggernaut that lives and moves under it's own momentum. It has created it's own world, governed by it's own god and it's own special scriptures. It has it's own world view and unique paradigms, all maintaining the relentless motion of this vast behemoth.

But it is, none the less, just one entity. It exists within millennia of other religious paradigms - other beliefs that take on a life of their own.

There are greater forces that unite us more than ANY religion, or spiritual practices. The way forward as a species is to be willing to mature beyond the needs that these beliefs meet - to let go of the insecurity and fear and embrace what is right in front of us. We already know what to do, how to live, how to love. We already ARE enough, and don't need the things that religions offer.

It's time to step out of the windowless dark buildings of religion, no matter how good they seem from the inside.

Love IS, embrace it, live it.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Religion, Spirituality and enlightenment

This is the first in a series of blogs that I'll be posting on this subject as I explore the quagmire of religion, spirituality and enlightenment.

The never ending need to experience and understand something bigger than ourselves, something beyond our flesh and blood lives is an obsessive human endeavor.

As a result, there are countless disciplines, religious movements, cults, you name it, that have come and gone since man first became self aware.

Each venture into the non-physical world through millennia of questioning and exploring reveals aspects of our makeup and our needs. We see primitive religions creating external deities to provide answers. We see mystical disciplines that look inwards and endless variations and combinations of the two.

The road to "enlightenment" (whether it be with an external deity or internal exploration) is complicated and twisted, winding in and around our incredibly complex nature.

Every form of spiritual endeavor has disciplines, theologies, doctrines and sacrifices that each one embraces to achieve it's goal. But without exception every "road" requires a devotion to it's beliefs and practices, study in it's principles and applications, teachers and disciples, structure and leadership.

What if all of this could be simplified?
In fact what if the utter simplicity of it all has always been staring us in the face?
Perhaps we like the idea of achieving some unique skill that elevates us above the mundane and the ignorant and the "glory" that goes with it (ego perhaps).

But the true value of any spiritual path has to be in its universality - it must be simple, doable, and desirable for every single human without the need for years of intense study and discipline.

I look at christianity and it fails in this regard from the ground up. In fact all religions fail in this regard as they claim exclusive truth, demanding adherence to their doctrines to achieve "enlightenment" or "salvation" etc.

I look at Buddhism and all it's variations, and all the eastern mystical beliefs, and although they are based on more realistic premises than theistic beliefs (such as christianity) they still require years of discipline and devotion to reach their goal.

What if there is a simple universal truth that every human can embrace right now?
What if we can adopt it and simply grow with it ourselves, using what's already in our heart?
What if the only thing required of us to walk this road is honesty and integrity?

What if this thing is nothing more or less than love?

Ponder this and it's implications. Examine your own ideas and assumptions about the nature of "love". Look inside and ask if yourself if you've ever experienced unconditional love. Perhaps even ponder what unconditional love looks like!

More to come....

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Observe. Listen. Communicate.

There's a huge difference between seeing and observing, hearing and listening.

Random pic cos I couldn't find anything related to the topic
In some ways its obvious, when we consider our daily lives - things wizz past our eyes and ears and we simply can't stop to take in and evaluate everything, and we can eventually become numb with sensory overload, affecting our ability to observe and listen to the most basic (and often important) things, and our ability to successfully communicate.

It takes a conscious effort - a shift in our focus - to observe and listen without judging or reacting.

As we move through our day, we begin to look up/out from our inner chatter. I even find the physical exercise of straightening up and making myself look around with the intention of shifting focus makes a difference.

When we bring this into communication, we don't just see and hear someone, we observe and listen to them without judging. This is the essence of communication.

It's all about shifting our focus from the never ending inner rambling of the mind and taking in the bigger reality around us, extending into our focussed interactions. When we communicate with someone we shift from trying to talk to them, to hearing them without judgement.

So much of our communication is reactionary, rather than responsive - meaning that we have only heard and seen things in a way that triggers a reaction in us, rather than listened and observed with empathy and the goal of understanding, leading to a response that empowers, challenges and respects the value of the other.

It takes effort though, and often we are so caught up in our own reactions that we aren't even aware of what we are doing - or not doing. I often get into trouble, especially online, when I don't make the effort. And I see it so often in others, when try as I may to communicate clearly, they are too busy reacting from their inner dialogue and eagerness to judge and justify.

Lets all try to listen. Ask questions, draw out the real issues. Bypass the rhetoric and clich├ęs. Challenge biases and paradigms, but most of all, hear each others hearts.

And here's the BIG one: don't be afraid of being wrong!