What way is the safest way to search for our personal connection with “what our deepest heart longs for”?… That seemingly lost connection to something bigger than ourselves …. it seems so strange that it is even there, yet we feel its absence so very acutely……..
Shall we find it listening to our birth “DNA” parents? Shall we find it in a book written several thousand years ago? Shall we find it through science?…. in fact, it seems far more “personal” of a connection than might be found by something empirical like science…. so we usually try to find it in the same way we establish a relationship with our parents….. and this method is likely as functional or dysfunctional as our family environment……..
My DNA parents (being a Protestant church minister and his wife) pointed me in the direction of the Christian scriptures…… and when the advent of my “sense of emptiness, or something missing inside” happened, I dug into those scriptures voraciously.
But fairly early in my life, it became clear that trusting in any religious book written by men was a dangerous road, and that we all need to “find our own connection” to “our divine parent” through our own inner connection to “it”, and not by some book, or some thing, or some person outside ourselves …. in the end, I chose zazen as my “tool”….. and here is a bit of the search which made that happen.
I know that the response by folks who believe in scriptures as some “eternal truth”… they would say that these scriptures were written by men who were “inspired” by God, and that this special connection those men or women had, somehow allowed those mortals to write divine eternal truth, and not just the words of men…..
Yet, the scriptures themselves have numerous writings and interpretations…. and they seem to have errors and changes, which need excuses to be made up for why they are there…. so really, it JUST DIDN’T STAND UP IN COURT… so to speak.
And it also seemed strange to me, that someone like “the Son of God”, Jesus and others like him, didn’t leave us ONE WORD WRITTEN BY THEIR OWN HAND, while they themselves had the opportunity, while they were personally in the flesh on this earth. (The excuse that he didn’t know how to write doesn’t hold up with the scriptures themselves, and doesn’t really give a person much of a trust factor in that person either!)
If you think about it, it seems clear that the written word was not the important thing to them…… Jesus simply said “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free… (and I don’t see very many followers of Jesus who seem to have found that type of freedom)…. Buddha called it “direct transmission” of truth from a teacher to a student…… but even that can lead to error, as humans have the unfortunate urge to idolize their teachers, gurus and heroes, and provide them with supernatural abilities like writing “the word of God”, or turning them into gods themselves. It all seemed to only be believable if I turned my mind off……. and if i turned my mind off… where would that leave me in my search?
So, here are some thoughts……..
i learned two very important guidelines for searching when i was young.
1.) The first was something which my own father taught me. He said that as soon as we begin to think we personally “know” something that other folks don’t, it is very simple to fall into error, and cultic thinking. I agree wholeheartedly. Many examples of this in history, and some disastrous results that are still with us today…. so we must have a method where our mind does not take us into some dark corner…
2.) The second guideline came from a Zen master, who said, “The mind will play games with you until the cows come home” (literally forever :))
A typical Zen story would be about a student who came running to his teacher at dokusan, and began telling him about the wondrous things he had seen while sitting meditation. When the student is done, the teacher asks “what is it you were doing?” the student replies “I was counting my breath” (or something similar)…. and the teacher replies with great wisdom…. : “So, go back and continue what you were supposed to be doing”
Pretty much all “visions” and “spectacular happenings” are seen as the mind playing games with us…………..
This is wise teaching…… don’t lose track of the point of it all : resolving the cause of our personal suffering.
But this still begs the question: if our own mind can play tricks on us, how can we trust it to help us excavate the truth we need?
So then what? Where can we turn?
We need a solid, trustable method with which to search. Something like scientific tools…..
So next we turn to Science and and with it, materialism….
For those who believe that “what you see is what you get”, that what we can see, hear, smell, taste or feel is the extent of reality……. there is no answer other than “We are self-aware mammals, and we are born, and then die, and there is no other purpose or hope”……. cold hard facts, as they call them. period. Case closed.
But how does this help us resolve this “inner angst” of emptiness, and that nameless thing which seems to be telling us that there IS something “out there” which can fill that “angst cavity” inside us? In reality, it seems to be this angst which we experience as human suffering in our daily lives…….
Side Note: i find it a bit amusing, when i hear of folks say that they don’t believe in a God, yet have started to hope for aliens to come and show them where we came from……. how is that type of thinking any more helpful than believing in scriptures? They are still hungering to know “where am I from, and what happens after I die?” Now they are just hoping that some aliens will show up and explain that…… I honestly don’t get that…… still looking for an outside answer to an inner problem…… so willing to listen to a little green man rather than admit there is a deep awareness from which we arise.
Anyways, it seems that this type of positivist, materialist science is itself being blown apart at the seams….. where those folks tried to sell us on cold hard materialism, which at its root they felt, was totally chaotic, there seems to be more and more evidence of an “awareness” of some sort at the base of everything. It may take a few more years before science can make any sense of it, but in the end, may wise folks instincts are telling them, that it IS the realm of some higher essence at work.
Science has BIG PROBLEMS with that previous statement. Part of this is due (with good reason) to the historical struggle of western religious organizations and science. With many years of church history quashing new ideas, it isn’t very surprising that a bias towards atheism exists in the materialistic scientific community. Science is very VERY leary about opening the door to some sort of “intelligent design” folks, who then push themselves through the door with their “God as Creator” claims.
But on the other hand, having ANY bias for or against any hypothesis, solely based on historical struggles is not “clean” scientific method.
So, it seems, even Science has its issues with finding an equilibrium to work from, in investigating something as delicate as an answer to our inner emptiness. And quite frankly, it is not within the realm of science to speak to this issue.
The question arises, “are we actually looking for un-biased reality? Or are we looking for something to soothe us?” This is a very real and very honest question….. Was Marx right with his bias of religion being the opiate of the people? Was Jesus right? Was Moses right? Was Mohamed right? The list goes on and on…….
Well, i am of the mind that irregardless of what answers we MIGHT find, our own mind is the best tool for finding an answer to our own personal suffering.
There either IS, or there ISN’T a larger awareness from which our individual awareness arises. But one thing seems clear……
“Humans are participants in this reality.”
So, it seems to me, that the next place to look for “How do we find our connection, is to look for a proven method which human beings have been using, as a tool for “my personal self-research project”.
So, if one begins simply with these self-research project assumptions:
1.) Humans are participants in this reality, and therefore must have some tools to excavate and investigate that reality.
2.) There must be some methods which other human beings have utilized to investigate that reality.
Besides….. if there turns out to be no larger reality, then we still haven’t wasted our time, as we will have come to a better understanding of “who am I”, at the very least.
So my starting point is this:
1.) a trustable investigation tool,
2.) a goal – “finding out if we have some sort of deeper connection to our surroundings than just being made of the same “dust” as other animals.
So here we go…………….
First, if we can temporarily assume that the many faces of religion are in part, a response to the human struggle with emptiness and how to resolve it, we can see that there seems to be a similar theme behind those responses….. and if we can temporarily assume that there IS something to be found, we can investigate HOW to find out if it exists or not.
So, while respecting all faces the “All” presents itself to humans with (thru our interpretation of what humans have experienced), I remember meeting a Mormon when i was a teenager, and I wanted to see if he REALLY believed what he was saying…. and when i looked in his eyes and listened to him talking, it was evident that he truly believed what he was saying….
And in fact it was that very situation what gave me pause…… if we are all being born into a set of circumstances, and due to that set of circumstances, we ended up believing a certain way, how would simply believing as I was raised going to get me anywhere closer to the ACTUAL reality of “WHAT IS”? I could very easily be wrong in the selection of my beliefs by assuming that what I was taught was correct. In a way, we need to build a doubt into our searching, which can help us to not “pull the wool over our own eyes”.
In the end, i chose a “self-research” program, to find “my own “potential” individual connection to reality”, not through any book, not through some teaching, not through some existing set of accepted beliefs, but by searching my own consciousness or awareness ……. i stand by that reasoning to this day….
In fact, it is only when we treat “one human being”, like Jesus or Buddha (or others) to be special…. to have some “supernatural” powers, that we can treat the books written by them, or by their disciples to be “supernatural or eternal truth”.
Yet, if we cannot trust our own deepest instincts on this, then, including Moses etc, we would all be lost sheep…….
So, we must find a trustable method of research, keep a reasonable doubt in place