Countless evenings were spent drinking countless cups of coffee discussing many things. I was in my prime. I was learning new things, about new things. I was taking it all in and spitting it back out in conversations and classrooms. There was a fire inside me that wanted to understand a way, only to compare it to the way that I had chosen.
My college days were filled with new people, new ideas, and a feeling that everything mattered. Later I became enthralled in being an adult, working quite a bit, but still somehow engaged with those that attended the local university. I fancied myself an educated man. While I still admired those with more knowledge, it was easy to think that somehow I could “hang” in a conversation about intellectual thought.
Secretly, those conversations did nothing but bolster my confidence, that I knew what I knew, and very little mattered other than that simple fact. Though I professed to be open to other ways of thinking, other ways of thinking seemed wrong. My whole life, my whole way of living, and the way I approached the world, even as my mind changed, was correct, to me. I enjoyed a tale of tragedy as much as I enjoyed a tale of triumph.
While I have learned some things over the years, I understand there are other things to learn. While I have continued to study other traditions, viewpoints, and authors (mostly through audio presentations), there is an overwhelming knowing that there is little to be known. Little, that is, to be known fully. My mind has become a playground for imagination and what some might call the thoughts of a heretic. We are all, I suppose, heretics to someone.
I am most certainly a heretic. I am not an infidel. I am most certainly not a part of any tradition. I am a product of many traditions. There is nothing I would love more than to consider myself a mystic, but mystics have an understanding that I may never possess. I would love to say I am on this or that team with regard to religion, but I am suited to practice none. There is no way for me to describe my feelings about God and there is no real need for me to describe my feelings about God.
What I understand, in this moment, which may change tomorrow, is that it never made sense to me that one might say a thing like, “when I meet my Creator”, while at the same time professing a belief that they are one with the Creator. It never made sense that one might proclaim the glories of heaven, which to me meant God and God only, and profess a belief that God is everywhere. It never made sense also, that one might determine that others are doomed to Hell, while preaching that God is love.
If I am a product of religion, it is only that I am a product of religion because of my disbelief in what has been done in the name of religion. If I am a believer in some sort of Divine presence, it is only because of the imprint that Divine presence has left on me. I do not walk around with my head in the clouds, but I am careful to be aware of what rivers I allow my mind to cross, what ditches I allow my mind to lay in, and what visions (television, movies, music, teachings) I allow my mind to see and hear.
I have picked up some habits. I have picked up some addictions that I cannot, or choose not to, put down. I have decided to enjoy what is good in life rather than worry over the troubles that I have little desire or influence to change. I try, and at times I succeed, to be a positive voice, rather than what could be called, simply, a drag. I have seen hard times. I have seen better times. While not wanting to sound like a Chumbawamba song from the 1990’s, “I get knocked down, but I get up again”. I suppose the better way would be not to get knocked down in the first place.
Is there anything I have learned? I believe so. It is this. We, you and I, are created from the greatness that is the source of all that is. You and I are finding our own way in the world, whether we claim to be a part of bigger team or that we are traveling solo. What matters is not the destination or the journey. What matters is also not the path we choose. What matters is now. Right now, in our minds, we may imagine for ourselves, and the world, a bright future or an epic fail. Whichever we choose makes a difference in the lives of those around us and in the lives we live.
When we are open to love, love is what we will receive. If we experience something that is not love, we should consider it a mistake. We should know that it was not meant for us. We should smile, nod, and even giggle, and continue to be open to love. The world has enough sorrow. The world has enough trouble. There is no need to drag it back up in conversations and considerations pretending all that while that it “helps to get it out” or that it makes us informed in some way.
This is not the time to choose sides. This is not the time to have opinions of others. This is not the time even for creating one more entity tasked with solving the world’s problems. What then, is it time for? Perhaps just to smile in the face of our worries. Perhaps to smile in the face of those that will never smile back. And if we create one small kindness in the world, this is at least one more kindness in the world.
The world does not need fifty missionaries or Buddhist monks to spread mountains of love. The world needs seven billion people to act in small ways to acknowledge that what is done to another is done to them also. We can easily pay missionaries or feed Buddhist monks to spread mountains of love, but it seems like such a monumental task to ask people to treat others with kindness. We do not need another path. We need to pause on the path we are on and enjoy the scenery and those that are traveling with us.
It may be naive and it may seem simple minded, but what the world needs is a collective deep breath and the wisdom of those that have gone before us. We need to make the case that goodness triumphs every time. We need to face the day with an appreciation for the morning and not worry for the coming of night. In the words of Bob Dylan, “how much do I know, to talk out of turn”? Admittedly, not much. I have spent the majority of my time as of late trying to unlearn what I thought I knew. This remains. The pulse of creation screaming out that you are meant for better things, that love is all there is, and that we are all brothers and sisters, made from a mystery we may never understand.
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