Posted in Origin, Philosophy, Science

Our origin, perception and existence

I was reading this article “Where did the universe come from?” just now that explores the origin of the universe from a biocentric point of view. The writer proposed that there is no absolute beginning or end for the universe – it is self-existing, just as we and all other living things are also self-existing. He concluded that “we are the origin… time and space don’t exist without us”. I thought that is an interesting food for thought.

“There is no invisible matrix out there that explains our origin. Rather, for each life there is a universe, its own universe. According to biocentrism, each of us generates our own sphere of reality. We carry space and time around us like turtles with shells. The Universe is comprised of billions of spheres of reality, a mélange whose scope is breathtaking.

Think of the universe like one of those globes you see in the classroom – it’s merely a tool that represents everything that’s theoretically possible to experience. But like a CD, the music only leaps into reality when you play one of the songs. Instead of the Universe having an absolute beginning, imagine, instead, that existence is like a recording. Depending on where the needle is placed you hear a certain song. This is the present; the music, before and after is the past and future. All songs exist simultaneously, although we only experience them piece by piece.” – Robert Lanza

I find this part of the article intriguing too:

“Nothing,” said John Wheeler, the great physicist “exists until it is observed.”

It reminds me of a classic philosophical question that I came across some time ago: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

According to some scientists, the answer is yes, it makes a sound, because we learn about sound waves that are caused by vibrations in the air when an object makes an impact. But according to other scientists, the answer is no, because “sound is the sensation excited in the ear when the air or other medium is set in motion…. If there be no ears to hear, there will be no sound.”

I think this illustration goes to show that something only becomes real when a person perceives or experiences or is aware of it in one’s consciousness. If a person is not aware of something (whether it is an object or an event), it is as good as non-existent to that person. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind”.

Similarly, the stars, planets, and countless other things have been existing in the universe, and it is only recently that science has developed the technology, such as powerful telescopes, to see them. Before the invention of technology, humans in the past were not aware of their existence and assumed they did not exist. Now with the aid of technology, humans can see them and therefore become conscious of their presence, and acknowledge their existence.

Hence, my conclusion for now is that we (you, me and the rest of the universe) are all along self-existing. We all need not wait until science and technology develop more powerful devices or machines to make us aware of our self-existing nature.

Related links:

If a tree falls in a forest

PLEASE EXPLAIN: if a tree falls and no one is there to hear it….?

Posted in Identity

Sin doesn’t exist in reality

If there is a God, who is perfect, it is only reasonable to conclude that God creates perfect beings. The concept of sin only exists in the religious framework of those who have a separation mindset, such as the jews, because they were under the law which they imposed on themselves. For the law-minded, they thought they had to do in order to become something. As long as they have that performance-based mentality, they will always think they fall short of the mark. They are living an illusion.

But the truth of the gospel is we are already made in God’s image, perfect, complete and beautiful. There is no need for us to do in order to become. We already are perfect and complete. Therefore, there is no falling short and there is no sin issue outside of the religious framework and the performance-based mentality. Where there is no law, there is no imputation of sin. Grace is the reality we live in. The reality is that we are originally innocent, whole and complete, flawless and blameless – this is who we really are.

I think there is much truth in what the psychologists, motivational speakers and self-help books are telling people about believing in themselves and feeling good about themselves because we are created beautiful and successful. Our bodies are designed to function optimally when we align our thoughts with the universe, the divine, and we will rise above any thought of low self-esteem and self-hate that religion and society has imposed in the past.

I like this inspired poem that says, “Awake to your innocence and remember who you are… You are a workmanship created in Love.”

Posted in Religious fundamentalism

Top ten signs of a fundamentalist christian

I think the post on the top ten signs of a fundamentalist christian is well written and spot on.

Top Ten Signs You’re a Fundamentalist Christian

10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.

… 9 – You feel insulted and “dehumanized” when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.

8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.

7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the “atrocities” attributed to Allah, but you don’t even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in “Exodus” and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in “Joshua” including women, children, and trees!

6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.

5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.

4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs — though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most “tolerant” and “loving.”

3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in “tongues” may be all the evidence you need to “prove” Christianity.

2 – You define 0.01% as a “high success rate” when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.

1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history – but still call yourself a Christian.

Posted in Unity and harmony

Dialogue builds trust

“How can I enter into a dialogue if I always project ignorance onto others and never perceive my own… if I consider myself a member of the in-group of ‘pure’ [persons], the owners of truth and knowledge, for whom all non-members are ‘those people’ or ‘the great unwashed’? … Founding itself upon love, humility and faith, dialogue is a horizontal relationship of which mutual trust between participants is the logical consequence.” ~~Paulo Friere~~

That’s true – dialogue that establishes a horizontal relationship among people and builds trust is founded on love, humility and faith. It reminds me of the interfaith dialogue website. I think such dialogue encourages sharing of diverse views and beliefs in a peaceful, fruitful and harmonious way.

On the other hand, religious fundamentalism discourages dialogue and instead majors on monologue and debate, which is founded on hate, pride and “certainty”. Such a mindset creates exclusive “in” groups and causes division among people over differences in beliefs. This harms relationships among people.

I believe most people do not want harm in our society. We want harmony. I believe harmony is possible when people awake and remember who they are, and remain grounded in love, humility and faith, like what the quote says.

I admire how Dalai Lama seeks to engage in dialogues with people of different faiths and he would start each workshop by reminding everyone we are all human beings regardless of our different cultures, backgrounds and belief systems. This peaceful atmosphere not only allows him to share his insights but also learns insights from others, including scientists, and as a result, not only others are enriched by his knowledge, he himself is enriched by others’ knowledge. As a result, people as a whole become more enlightened and are better equipped and more inclined to help and support one another.

Posted in Identity

Evolution and life’s grey areas

In continuation from my last post “Our identity and belief system“, I would like to expand on the reflection about our evolution as spiritual beings on a human journey.

If an alien were to visit earth from outer space and see three human beings, and among the three, one professes to be a christian, one to be a muslim, one to be a buddhist, what would the alien actually see? A christian, a muslim and a buddhist? No, the alien would see only human beings because they all share a common humanity, regardless of their belief systems.

Suppose if we are really serious about defining our identity based on our belief system, and many of us have been serious about it to some extent, going by the sheer number of denominations within one religion alone, such as in the case of christianity, we would want to sit down and carefully enumerate the fine details of our individual belief system and try to categorise ourselves based on what we believe in.

Let’s say we decide to define ourselves as a christian because we decide to embrace a certain set of beliefs about God and ourselves. Ok, that is the first step to attempt to differentiate ourselves from other people. We can now call ourselves “christians” and other people “non-christians”.

But wait a minute? What exactly makes a christian? A follower of Jesus? A keeper of the ten commandments? A believer of certain church creeds or belief statements?

In our attempts to answer the above questions, we have amassed a huge array of answers, which resulted in an equally huge mass (or can we call it “mess”?) of different christian denominations, with broad categories (such as baptists, anglicans, methodists, presbyterians, charismatics, preterists, universalists, etc) and sub-categories (such as southern baptists, conservative baptists, fundamentalist baptists, etc), and even hybrid categories (such as preterist charismatics, etc).

All that is fine, until someone wants to know which is the “correct” belief system or denomination. We can easily see that this is a futile question – challenging at best, impossible at worst – to yield any satisfactory answer because each denomination (or sub-denomination) is likely to claim they have the “correct” set of belief system about God and ourselves.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg because even within each denomination or sub-denomination of a religion, there are also minute differences in beliefs and opinions held by each individual believer about God and ourselves. Is each individual believer going to have to lose their sleep and pull their hair out in trying to see exactly where they fit in whenever they revise their belief system based on each new revelation about God and ourselves, or based on changing circumstances, or based on the latest scientific discovery or theory or philosophy of the day, or based on who believes in what and who disbelieves in what and whether we should follow their footsteps?

My conclusion for now: Religion and/or spirituality is subjective. Each of us is constantly evolving in our mindsets or belief systems, but our common identity as human beings remains unchanged. May more people awake to who we really are and set aside our differences and embrace our unity in diversity as we continue to progress in the age of reason, peace and enlightenment.

Posted in Identity

Our identity and belief system

This post is a long one, so hold on to your seat and take a deep breath. 🙂

Is our true identity defined by our belief system?

My take on the issue of “christianity versus atheism” especially in the West is that the kind of christianity propagated by the instititional church systems tends to be the legalistic kind that heaps guilt and fear upon people. It is no wonder many people are shunning the christian religion and embracing atheism, thinking that atheism is the epitome of life, or the panacea to all the problems that are perceived to have been caused by the fundamentalist christian beliefs. Yet atheism in the West tends to take another extreme form, in that it is seen as a platform to actively oppose christianity. So this becomes an “us” versus “them” mentality for both the fundamentalist christian camps and the atheist camps.

I do think there can be a balance, which can be achieved by not subscribing to any form of label or outward identity to ourselves or others based on what we believe. After all, “atheism” and “christianity” are only different schools of thought, just like hinduism, taoism, buddhism and so on.

To be attached to a label can cause us to be tossed to and fro because our belief systems change every now and then – we are all constantly evolving over time as and when new revelations or circumstances pop up, and we keep revising our belief systems. So I think it is probably best to see ourselves and others as human beings, regardless of belief system.

When I look at a newborn baby for example, I don’t find myself trying to find out whether the baby is an atheist or a christian or a buddhist. We all want to hug and care for the baby simply because a baby is a baby who needs love and care. A baby doesn’t know whether he/she is an atheist or christian too, because a baby only knows how to just be a baby. Similarly, when we grow up, even though we may develop some schools of thought along the way, we remain a “baby”, so to speak – or more accurately, we remain a “human being”. I think this identity as a human being is something that does not change over time, even as our thinking changes and evolves.

This is something that the poem “Awake” below touches on too. It helps people awaken and remember who we really are – we are not defined by our beliefs (or lack of beliefs) – we are simply who we are by birth and by our original design.

Awake, Awake, Awake, to the Music in You
To the Poet in You
To the Love in You
To the Power in You
To the Artist in You
To the Greatness in You.

Awake to your Innocence
And remember who You are.
You are the Music
You are the Song
You are the Melody
You are a Workmanship, created in Love.

An imaginary conversation about “Who Am I?”

What happens when we try to define ourselves not based on our original design and blueprint but based on our belief system? We may find ourselves proclaiming we are christians one day, and then atheists another day, and then buddhists some other day, and so on.

Some of us may describe ourselves like this: “Once I was a buddhist when I was young, then I grew up and became a christian. But after some time, I decided to become an atheist. I call myself an ex-christian and ex-buddhist. Now I am thinking of embracing mysticism or agapethism (or fill-in-the-blanks).”

Even for those of us who subscribe to a mainstream belief system, we can see or imagine a conversation that goes something like this (if we are willing to be intellectually honest and courageous to examine our own beliefs and mental conditionings):

A: I decided to become a christian when I attended a church camp in my teenage years.

B: Really? So what denomination are you?

A: Well, I started off as a conservative baptist christian. I believed the Bible is inerrant (nevermind the translation errors) and Jesus will return literally.

B: Interesting. What happened after that?

A: Then, some guest minister came and preached about the baptism of the holy spirit. I thought it was cool, so I decided to become a charismatic christian and I spoke in tongues regularly.

B: Cool. And then what happened?

A: Then later, some human rights activists were decrying the spiritual abuse and condemnation caused by organised religion. It got me thinking about the church creed, and I questioned about the doctrines of hell. I came to the conclusion there is no literal hell. So I became a universalist christian.

B: Ooo — wouldn’t the calvinist and armenian christians and all those evangelical christians call you a heretic then?

A: You bet. It is not easy being a universalist christian. Then again, it is better than to live a life wondering about the kind of God evangelical christians believe in — one who is a mean, vengeful egomaniac.

B: So, are you still a universalist christian then?

A: Well, you know, even universalist christians don’t always believe the same things. Some believe all are reconciled to God already. Some believe one day all will be reconciled to God. Also, sometimes life is hard. Sometimes I don’t feel like God answers my prayers. Some of my friends are good at rationalising away things in life, dismissing religion and spirituality as myths and fairy tales. I am contemplating to become an atheist.

B: Oh, do you think God will be angry if you become an atheist?

A: Well, not really, because I come to understand God as love and only love. I’m sure God understands. Besides, we are already one with God, and God already knows what we are talking about even at this present moment — He is probably smiling and nodding in understanding. I believe the so-called “wrath of God” is simply something that the ancient people imagined in their mind because they felt separated from God and Jesus had to come to tell everyone the kingdom of God is within each of us.

B: So will you be an atheist?

A: Maybe, maybe not. I still believe there is God. But sometimes, I am not so sure. Maybe it is safer to call myself an agnostic. I know of people who call themselves atheist agnostics.

B: What a mouthful — atheist agnostics.

A: Haha, that’s nothing compared to some of the fancy terms some christians call themselves — such as the so-called “apostolic, Bible-believing, devil-chasing, tongue-talking, spirit-filled fundamentalist reformed evangelical protestant christian”. It’s as if it sounds very impressive to other people, eh?

B: You bet. I know of people who give themselves impressive-sounding titles like “Most Holy and Reverend Emeritus Professor of Theological and Theosophical Bible College and Seminary with Doctorates in this and that thesis” — you get the picture, yea. I’m half-exaggerating to make a point.

A: Yea, I know. Sometimes I wonder if it is all just in the mind. You know, these preachers talk about love but they don’t really demonstrate love in their life.

B: Oh yea?

A: Yea, some are like celebrity preachers and hardly mingle with the congregation.

B: So their teachings are just good-sounding doctrines, eh?

A: That’s right. They also are not very kind to their own peers who belong to other denominations. They will say “Well, I believe the Bible says X, Y and Z, but you believe the Bible says A, B and C. So I am now officially disfellowshipping with you and your church because you are a heretic and misled by the devil. Farewell.”

B: That’s serious, man.

A: You bet. And so Preacher A calls Preacher B a heretic, and Preacher B calls Preacher A a legalist. And so on and so forth.

B: Wow, whatever happens to love and unity?

A: That’s why I don’t want to associate myself with mainstream christianity anymore, you see. I don’t want to be a hypocrite, or look like one to others. Sometimes a secular humanist is better at human relationships and seeks to champion or promote social justice better than an average evangelical or mainstream christian minister.

B: You are not judging people, are you?

A: Not really — it is more like stating an observation. There are good and caring ministers everywhere, no doubt, regardless of whether they are in the christian or muslim or buddhist or whatever spiritual or religious circles.

B: So where are you at now, spiritually speaking?

A: I don’t know. I am constantly evolving in my belief systems. Maybe it is better not to label myself based on my belief system. It can be tough trying to revise the terminology to fit in my ever expanding and ever growing understanding of the divine, of the world, of life in general. Any label would be restrictive and may even impede my spiritual progress or development, so to speak.

B: I suppose many people wouldn’t agree with you. They like to fit you in a particular category in their conversations for ease and convenience of reference.

A: Yea, I understand, but life isn’t always so clear-cut. There are always grey areas. For example, at which point do I consider myself to belong to a particular belief system that has a label without contradicting myself at some other point in time when my belief system evolves to another level of understanding? I think man-made labels like “christian”, “calvinist”, “lutheran” etc are best taken with a pinch of salt, if they are worth any salt to begin with.

B: That’s true. Talking about salt, aren’t you already the salt of the earth, metaphorically speaking?

A: That’s a good analogy. Thank you. So are you. You are the light of the world.

B: Thank you. I gotta get going. I wish you a pleasant day.

A: You too. Namaste.

Related post

Evolution and life’s grey areas

Posted in Freedom

Freedom from religious manipulation

I came across a very interesting article “How to control people“. Isn’t that what pastors do all the time? I must say pastors are quite good at controlling and manipulating people as I wasn’t even aware of it most of the time when I was attending church services in the past. There were a few times I felt or thought they were kinda controlling and I told myself maybe I was being overly sensitive. Upon looking back though, I think pastors are conditioned to use these tactics to control and manipulate the congregation because they want to keep people co-dependent on them.

Yes, like what the article noted, most of the time they are using the subtle art of controlling people without them knowing it – hence, we see supposedly highly educated high fliers like doctors, lawyers and business people coming back sunday after sunday to listen to the pastors and give their offerings to the institutional church. Nowadays, I am learning not to buy into the pastors’ words anymore. And yes, those pastors who use the name of God to threaten people to tithe or get their lives right, etc, only look silly to me.

On another note, I remember that at the last care group meeting, I was present during the worship session, and I decided not to sing the hymn “There is a fountain” while others were singing it because I don’t agree with the lyrics anymore. So when they were singing “And there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sins away”, I kept silent and was thinking to myself, “No way. I don’t need the blood sacrifice. And no, I was not vile. I was created beautiful and perfect. Nope, I won’t sing this song.” In the middle of the song, someone shouted “Hallelujah, hallelujah.” I just smiled to myself. Maybe two years ago, I might feel like chipping in with “Praise the Lord.” But nowadays, no, my mindset has changed.

Related link:

Glossy Eyed Spirituality – The Free Believers Network Podcast

Posted in Gratitude

Take three deep breaths

Note to self: “Take three deep breaths joyfully, mindfully and regularly, giving thanks for the miracle of the present moment.”

Today, my nugget of encouragement as recorded in my handphone calendar happens to be: “Thanksgiving reminds us of the miracles continually around and in us!” I was thinking to myself earlier this morning when I read that – Amazing, how could it be that this nugget happens to be on thanksgiving day when I was typing this a few months ago? I was only following the empty slots in the calendar on my handphone when entering the messages, and this message happens to appear at the right time, it seems. Then again, why not since in Him we live and move and have our being? 🙂 The Divine is in each of us all the while. Besides, every day can be a thanksgiving day.

Little Bird You Are Perfect

⋮ ⋰
⋯ ◯ ⋯
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ`.¸¸♥´¯) ¸.☆´¯)(¸☆´
(¸.♥´´¯`•.¸¸.ღƸ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ SMILE often ♥ LAUGH even more ♥ Practice random giggling ♥ Shake your tail feathers! Your JOY is GRATITUDE in motion ♥
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Related links:
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Posted in Hypocrisy

Much ado about christians celebrating Christmas

Someone rightly noted:

Apparently, God gets hurt when Christians celebrate Christmas. How come he doesn’t get hurt about the 3 million starving kids around the world? How come he doesn’t get hurt for the children who live in food-insecure households? How come he doesn’t get hurt for those children in America live below the poverty line? We all know that, poor nutrition affects school performance, brain development & overall health. Wherever you live, there are children within 25 miles who haven’t eaten today. How come he doesn’t get hurt for these problems but he gets hurt for people celebrating holidays, and having good times?

Christians assert that God is busy focusing on minutia things (like Christmas) than refugee camps, starving people, famine and drought, etc.

Does that make sense to you?

Indeed it is ridiculous of self-professed christians to gripe and moan about people celebrating holidays like Christmas and thinking God is displeased with that instead of focusing on alleviating the sufferings of those in need. It only reflects on their small, puny minds, and their religious and self-righteous sensibilities, and their sin-consciousness.

It might not have occurred to these religious fundamentalists that God who created a vast, expanding and infinite universe would have more important things to do than sitting somewhere in the sky wringing His hands, shaking His head and frowning at the “audacity” of people on a tiny planet in a far-flung corner of the universe who dare to celebrate Christmas. I think this is nothing more than a mental projection of their sanctimonious attitude onto God. Such is the sheer absurdity and ridiculousness of the religious christian mindset.

Remembering Jesus’ words to the Pharisees to address their hypocrisy and religiosity:

“Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! …. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:24-28)

Posted in Psychology

Creativity, intelligence and madness

Today’s nugget for my personal meditation happens to be a quote by Carl Jung.

“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awake.” – Carl Jung

It is interesting to know that Carl Jung, a highly intelligent psychologist, once feared that he was descending into madness. I learnt that studies have shown close correlation between creativity, intelligence and “madness” (which I think can be subjective). One of my university lecturers once remarked that mad people are also the most creative people.

I also learnt that highly intelligent people and deep thinkers, artists and philosophers have had their moments of depression at some points in their lives. Maybe there is something about the neurological function of their brilliant and creative mind that makes them more susceptible to depression? The following websites have some interesting observations.

” One needs only to look at the lives of artists such as Vincent Van Gogh and Mark Rothko, or to mathematician John Nash (pictured)—whose battle with paranoid schizophrenia was made famous in the film A Beautiful Mind—as examples of the thin line between brilliance and insanity.” http://talentdevelop.com/3423/madness-and-creativity-do-we-need-to-be-crazy/

“Dr Storr picked a recent study to prove his point. Among 47 award-winning writers and artists it was found that 30 per cent had signs of mental illness while half of the poets studied appeared in dire need of psychiatric treatment. Storr opines that the most inventive among us are at odds with themselves, as with the world.” http://www.medindia.net/news/lifestyleandwellness/Madness-and-Creativity-41861-2.htm#ixzz1eUfJgrN2

My take is that creativity and intelligence is a gift to be appreciated and harnessed, and while deep thinking and analysis about things may lead to depression, it needs not be necessarily a bad or negative thing – it just means that highly intelligent and creative people tend to be misunderstood by the society at large who may not able to appreciate or relate to the depth and profundity of their expression of thoughts.