Saturday, 12 March 2011

The Holy Bible and other horror stories

What I’m going to do is shed some proper light on all the religious guff we’ve been fed since children and show that, if we strip away all the obscurity, the deity (e.g. the bearded man in the sky) and the metaphors, what we’re actually presented with is the truth, and a way of living our lives that will GENUINELY make us happy.

Stick with me, keep reading. I’m going to make sense of something for you – this could make a big difference to your life.

I think, for some reason, we’re given the bearded-man-in-the-sky stories to “help” us to understand something, to keep us on the right track and to make us scared of going against the common good. But unfortunately, it simply doesn’t work for most of us because it’s so exaggerated and shrouded in so much bullshit that it doesn’t make any sense and so we disregard it as nonsense. Well, I know I always have.

So, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and here’s what I’m realising:

We all came from the same stuff.

We didn’t just land on the planet ready-made, did we? We came from something, probably after the big bang, there was this bacterium that then multiplied and then all these different bacteria mutated into all the living beings on the planet, changing bit by bit, over the years, to fit into their different environments. It makes perfect sense if you think about it, doesn’t it? So, going WAY WAY back, you and me, we’re related! Oh, and we’re related to next door’s dog and your mum’s cat and those goldfish in the tank in the dentist’s waiting room. Yes we are; we’re family, innit! So let’s treat each other as such! And no, I don’t mean arguing about the washing up; you know what I mean.

We’re all just big children trying to be happy.

In order to be happy, we need to look outwards. This means being good to others and not just to our friends and family but EVERYONE and all living beings (see above about us being family): colleagues, neighbours, strangers in the street, people on the bus, next door’s dog, your mum’s cat, the dentist’s goldfish and all those gazillions of beings living all over the world. Being good only to ourselves makes us selfish – think about a world where it’s every man for himself: we push to the front of the bus queue, we barge our way through doorways first, someone loses their wallet and we find it, thinking how lucky we are – is this really the way to live happily and in harmony? Course not. Now imagine a world where everyone is kind to each other… take a moment to think about it. The last time someone in front of you in the check-out queue let you go first because you’ve only got one item and they’ve got a massive trolley-full – how did you feel? Aww, that’s a nice feeling, isn’t it? Did you say to yourself that it’s restored your faith in human nature? I bet you did. That time you saw someone in the street crying and stopped to check that they’re OK – how did you feel? Better? Warmer? Kinder? More connected? Happier? It touched your soul, didn’t it?

What are our excuses for when we’re being selfish?

I’m in a hurry. To go where?

Strangers are not kind to me, why should I be kind to them? Be the change we want to see in the world – be a good example, it’s contagious.

If someone found MY lost wallet I bet I wouldn’t get it back. So we’ll be selfish, so other people will be selfish, and so the cycle continues. Let’s break the cycle.

Material possessions mean nothing.

Imagine the world blew up and, after the explosion, you’re left roaming around for days, alone in the rubble of houses and buildings, mucky hands and face, tatty clothes. What would you hope to find… An iPad? A pair of Kurt Geigers? A plasma TV? A Rolex? A Bentley? “Don’t be daft, Lisa!” I hear you cry, “After food and shelter needed for basic survival, I’d hope to find a fellow human being for companionship, to share my experiences of the explosion, to help me make sense of what’s happened!” Damn right! Would you fight this person and see them as competition, or would you be glad of the friendship of this stranger and share your food and shelter and hope they’d do the same for you? So, what’s the difference in our world of plenty? Why are we fighting and grabbing for more for ourselves instead of caring and sharing? Does the grabbing (working all hours to earn more money) make us feel satisfied and content or do we just run faster on the hamster wheel, filling our homes with more and more crap..?

Attachment is the root of our problems.

What’s attachment? It’s the unhealthy way we fasten ourselves to thinking that we “need” something and, it’s so unhealthy that, if things don’t go our way, if we don’t get what we want, it makes us truly miserable! But it’s not not getting what we want that makes us miserable, it’s our minds telling us that we’ll be unhappy if we don’t get it. For example, you want a bigger house. You see this beautiful house, in the street of your dreams, you put in an offer and it’s turned down. Oh, the misery! Boohoo, poor me! But really, it’s just a house. Becoming detached does NOT mean you don’t care about anything, what it means is that you’re flexible to the outcome, that’s all; that you don’t rest your worth or happiness on external factors.

So, who is God and how will following him make me happy?

Well, this is what gave me my Eureka moment this morning while I took breakfast on the balcony. God is simply love. There’s no bearded man (like you imagined for a minute that there actually was – I credit you with WAY more sense than that). Let me explain. If we let it, love can be the guiding factor in our lives. When we struggle to know what is the right thing to do, if we turn our focus outwards (instead of worrying about our own selfish needs – or attachment), if we show love to everyone around us, if we treat others with kindness and compassion, then THIS is what will help us to see the right way, and will make us happy because it makes us ALL happy. Do you get it? Read it again ‘til you do because it’s important.

And what about this eternal damnation; burning in hell??

Oh crikey, it’s no wonder we don’t like religion if we worry that if we put a foot wrong, we’ll burn in hell! What I believe this refers to is the loneliness, emptiness and mental torture we’ll endure if we behave as though we’re independent, cut ourselves off from the outside world, are greedy and selfish, and treat others with contempt. There may be more to it, something to do with karma, but this is as far as I’ve got. It’s enough for now.

And redemption?

Well, we’re none of us perfect, are we? But if we realise where we’ve been going wrong and we stop being led by greed (attachment) and look outwards and treat all other sentient beings with love, kindness and compassion, our loneliness, emptiness and mental torture will cease.

It’s quite straightforward, really, isn’t it? We don’t need a big fat book of convoluted horror stories. If we stop being greedy and grabbing and starting from now begin treating absolutely everyone with love, kindness and compassion, we’ll receive the one thing we all strive for each and every day of our lives – happiness. :o)