Soul Survivor

Spirit. That which animates the animal is spirit and without it the animal is dead. As animals we create spirits that in turn animate us. We are the animal host for spirit. When the animal is gone, what then of its spirit? We are familiar with spiritual expressions that we share and have in common. Emotions are an obvious expression of the spirit we host. We have all known anger, grief, happiness, contentment, want, frustration etc. The spirit we choose reinforces itself emotionally, behaviourally, mindfully and we develop a personal psychology by which we are a known identity. We can and do choose the spiritual signature by which we are known. I believe that spirit is the creative force that is the life our animal knows. I believe it is life. Having said that, much of the spiritual experience we enjoy, I believe, is of a temporal nature and knows no durable quality.

I believe it is easy to make ourself, entirely, a temporal being of no durable quality and I consider that to be ownership. The notion that by any means we can deserve, or earn something. We can not. There is another way to consider ourself that does not include ownership; allowing the absolute quality of spirit, time and space. Life as the animal knows it, gifted to absolute-spirit, by the animal host. In Christianity, the culture I have been born into, we are taught that only a God can do this and we are taught that one man, and only one man, was also God. To be blunt, or as I believe Jesus would himself say, that is a lie. In Christian doctrine it is made clear that we should not even look for the truth but instead to accept it on faith. Faith being the only way the truth could be known and your faith must follow what you are told is true without question. Of course you are allowed to question within the parameters of the established faith; that is farce. Please accept my apology, I know it sounds rude to be so blunt, direct and honest. I have added these considerations up, as my lifetime, and have found my consideration, as written here, to be what seems to me to be true.

The story of Christ is meaningless if Jesus is God. Its only value is if it tells us of our human condition. Of who we are. A woman gave him birth, there is no mystery in that. If we can just be honest about that we begin to find our way. So what would Jesus do and does it matter?

I can accept what the New Testament alludes to as being true but not the testament itself. I know the history of the testament as well as the claims made about it and I can not accept the claims as true. As to what Jesus would do, I think he would do what I am doing, see for himself. Look, listen, question. Place all of his confidence in what is true, what is absolute, what is God, to have faith only in that and not what others claim about it. To accept that things can only be as they are and that a person committed to that discovery will find what makes an example and demonstration of itself, the truth. It needs no advocate and no one can take possession of it, yet, a person can make their self available to it by ridding their self of what displaces it. That is the message, the promise of Christ, that ordinary people do ordinary things even if it is unusual.

So what then of spirit, can we choose a spirit that is true? Did spirit create us or do we create spirit, and does it matter?

If there is a true spirit I think it would be the soul, a soul that can not be saved, but rather, is itself salvation. It does not belong to you, you belong to it. It created you and enjoys you, no matter what you do. You are forgiven and forgiveness is the narrow gate on the narrow path. The key to this gate is compassion. There is no compassion without forgiveness and compassion is an absolute because it knows only a single measure and can not be exhausted. Should a person truly be compassionate, and maintain forgiveness, they will also know, or be acquainted with, the truth, because the truth is absolute and all absolutes are of the same single measure. Certainly God is absolute, whatever God might be.

What of this forgiveness, this narrow path and gate? Who is it for? I can only forgive myself. When I have done that forgiveness exists in this world and anyone in need of it can find some measure of it in me. We are all the same, as likely to be one way as another and this is why forgiveness for the one, for the self, is forgiveness for the other. You remember, “There but for the grace of God go I”.

So then there is the spirit of forgiveness which is the gate by which compassion and its spirit is known. It is a narrow path and easy to fall from forgiveness. In the struggle to remain on the path we are taught how, what and who to forgive. Eventually we reach the gate.

Michael, The Mystic Tourist ©2014

God Is Not A Mystery

God

Secular Mysticism; Faithless Confidence in God.

When I write that I am without faith, I am being specific. I am without religious faith. My faith is of a secular nature and is a confidence entirely and only in God. I believe in God. My life is dominated by God. I trust no dogma concerning God. No God I would care to know needs an intermediary and those who claim God does, implied or otherwise, are undeserving of my trust in this regard.

This God, whom I claim is my singular devotion, who is this God? I consider that God is inescapable. Even if God is naught, then that is the God that can not be escaped. It is not possible to remove yourself from the experience that is God and so I think God would know each of us personally. Directly, without intermediary, so I know God. We all do.

Like all people, influence runs roughshod over my life experience. I consider the influence that fills my life to be born of Providence, that is to say, it is directed by God, and through my devotion to God, this is how it has shaped me.  I am a Taoist, not because I have studied it but because that is the nature of my life. I live that way. I was raised a Christian under the auspices of Catholicism. I believe Jesus was as I am because that is the only Jesus that makes sense to me. Time alone, is what separates me from Jesus and so we are the same. He made an example of how any person might live. That was his purpose, his example and expectation of me. I do not believe the words, of others, who tell me who and how he is. I am confident that whatever he did, the same might be expected of any of us and so I live as if it is.

Did God create me? I believe God gave me permission to create myself and there is expectation in that gift, an obligation, or appointment to be kept. Only in keeping my appointment do I stand with God. I have not always been keen on keeping my appointment but I am making the effort again. I think that what each of us is capable of is largely ignored, and I, have a history of taking that as a personal insult, of being angry. The world we live in, the way things seem, we create. We are imbued with creative authority. We each use this authority, collectively for the most part, pretending all the while that we do not. This would be our primary, or original sin, ignorance, and the message Jesus endeavored to teach us. We are as he was and that is made clear because a woman gave him birth. There is no mystery in that.

What do I think of the stories that tell us Jesus performed miracles? I think they are stories. I do not believe in miracles. I believe if Jesus did, what people call miracles, that it was an example of our true nature. An example to emulate. Something that he considered ordinary, something anyone might do and so he did. He set aside his ignorance and the denial it creates. With that out-of-the-way he behaved as anyone else might, or, it is just a story. Fiction. The truth concerning this can be known, not as an exercise of sophistication, but rather as a matter of acquaintance. Knowledge, in matters spiritual, absolute truth and the like, is always by acquaintance and never by sophistication. The Tree of Knowledge is known for its sinful fruit, usually referred to as good and evil, but I have come to understand the fruit of this poisonous tree to be right and wrong. Right implies ownership which always corrupts the true nature of knowledge which is always, as a matter of truth, merely acquaintance. Right also creates wrong, it must because it does not exist without it. That is the nature of the Tree of Knowledge whose seed is ignorance. You can also read of the Tree of Knowledge in the Book of Genesis. I would not recommend it but as a reference I mention it.

It has been some time since I have added to my blog, not that I have not been busy, I write daily. Writing is a tool for my personal growth. It is always personal and at times unsuitable for publication. Of late that has been the nature of my writing, unsuitable for publication. I seem to have been taking a spiritual inventory that can serve only me. I hope to be back to The Mystic Tourist and wherever it leads now that I have made this contribution. We shall see. For a blog post this one is considerably longer than I prefer and so I will leave you with an apology for that and my hope to make regular, yet brief, contributions as we go forward.

Micheal, The Mystic Tourist ©2014

The Psychology of Faith

The comfort of religion is born of faith. It stills the turmoil of question and wonder, giving it a reservoir where it can be kept safe and not trouble us. We turn to faith when life’s difficulties give rise to doubt. We make it our resolve and forgo the question, taking comfort in an answer that is faith. It is a path to confidence that frees a person from all sorts of troubling details. A person of faith, will form the rational supporting their faith, into a structure that protects faith, isolating faith from challenge. A fortress in which faith is fortified and faith also has a community. The faith-based community is a source of strength and support providing exclusive opportunity. Displaying the symbols of faith sends easily recognizable signals and opportunity falls in your lap. Faith gives us psychological tools by which we defend and promote our self. These tools plug us into a larger web of supportive cultural psychology. All of this lends a person resolve and confidence.

Faith is as a shortcut to confidence. Confidence does not need it but faith is useless without confidence.

Does faith help? Is it good? I think it depends on the individual, pretty much like everything else. When a person is rigid in their belief, I think that their faith has injured them. Blinded them. When the person of faith is flexible, that individual taps into something much deeper. Something true. It is not their faith so much that they value but the tenants of it that allow flexibility and accommodation. To be accepting without judgement, a truly supportive person. Each person, whether they have faith, or not, chooses the tenants of their character and I think faith is as valuable a resource for building a respectable and admirable character as any other choice. After all, good people are needed in the faith-based community, just as they are needed everywhere else and you will find them there.

Some of the most remarkable people I have ever known draw their strength from their faith. These are people who are admired by nearly everyone they know. People who are as an anchor, giving community a bearing of durable value. Of course the opposite is as true. The empty drum does make the loudest noise and some people of faith, just aren’t very nice. Judgmental, pious, self-righteous but you do not need faith to be an ass and faith really has little to do with it. Poor behavior, by a person making a show of their faith, gives the faith-based community a black eye, but it shouldn’t. Behavior is particular to the individual.

Me, I have no faith. I just believe things to be as they are. Things can only be as they are, there is no other possibility. Everything is self-evident and can be observed. To me that is God. I am aware, I am a cognizant sentient being and I do not believe that cognition, sentience or awareness depend on physiology to exist. I think they exist with or without it and that we create reality. Creation is a constant and we have creative authority.

Michael, The Mystic Tourist ©2013

The Salvation of Jesus

Writing as the Mystic Tourist I have altered my presence in the collective mind. Of the people who have known me and been my community, none knew the Mystic Tourist, until I created him and gave him a blog. Of course I am the Tourist and I am as I was before. The difference is that I have let anyone who can find my work, know. Additionally I have done what I can to make myself available so any who know me personally might also know, The Mystic Tourist. It creates a different consideration of my self.

My concerns are spiritual. I know of no other way to consider anything, even as I am distracted. I am happy to share my view of current social-political concerns. The way I think we ought to behave as a society. I enjoy letting people know where I think we have fallen down and how I think we might best stand ourselves up. These are distractions. It is what I do as filler. Something, anything to do with my mind and the small measure of time apportioned to it for it to spend. There is always something that I might otherwise do. A different way to spend myself. I think we can do a lot to improve the condition of life here on earth and to create a future more to our liking. I also think that we do all of that as spiritual persons. That it is the spiritual part of our being that is power and authority. The bridge that is creation.

My concerns are spiritual and I while my time to bring spiritual living into animal form. I did this first by creating a spiritual place for myself. A place to discover something true about my experience as a spiritual person. That was very powerful. Step two has been to shine a light on that, to let people know of the rich spiritual experience I have known. Step three is a shared experience. To end the mystery of spiritual life by living it in the open, not as an act of  ‘faith’ but as a fact of life. To demonstrate our spiritual form, not as a philosophy, not as an interpretation of theology or scripture, but as my life. The purpose of my life can not be to die and go to heaven. To imagine that as the answer to life, as its purpose, is to be dishonest. If I can only know after I am dead and gone, why I am here, I have told myself a lie. This is the place, this is the form, this is the person to know the answer and now is the time or I am lying to myself.

In the Christian tradition we are all waiting for Jesus to return and when he does he will bring a harsh judgement, except of course, for the few. The chosen few. Mind you this is the Jesus who reportedly, in his last agonizing moment, sought the forgiveness of those who humiliated him, tortured him and brutally murdered him. Such a man could have no part of a judgement so harsh that it landed almost all of us in hell. Not just any hell mind you, but a hell so unbearable that it never ends.

The story of  Jesus is meaningless if Jesus is God. Its only possible value is if it is our story. The story of our human nature and of how and who we are. That is the message and it is not a message of how to be after we are dead. It is how we must be now. If you would know Jesus then know yourself. He is the same as you are. The story of his return is your story, it is my story. If Jesus or anyone else could live the life that he did, then surely, someone else will do it as well.

There is no reason to believe that Jesus founded a church. Others did that in his name. They assembled a book and then claimed that the words therein were God’s words. It is not true. You must have faith to believe that. I have no faith, but I do have confidence, all of it rests with God. Fear of God? I have no fear, certainly not of God. I fear those who claim to speak for God, who claim they own God by some book, written words. I fear those who claim to speak for God and threaten me with hell. Forgiveness, that is what it is about. It is the narrow gate. To deal with those who make false claims of God, for and about God, forgive them, by acting out the truth concerning God. Let God be God and make no claim on Gods behalf.

Michael, The Mystic Tourist ©2013

Freedom From Faith

Inviting my divine existence to explain life is the reason I write. I imagine that by making my private space public I will have no place to hide and some underlying truth will be revealed. I look to understand the condition that is experience. In writing I share my interpretation and explanation of life. Instead of looking to others to explain my experience, to comfort me, I believe that my experience is intended to be that explanation. I look no other place and seek no other authority. I can not imagine that being aware that I exist does not also come with understanding that existence. I feel that is what I have to do, replace the question of existence with its understanding. I see no other activity worth my effort.

I believe exploring my experience publicly will bring that understanding forward. That eventually I will no longer be in a position to avoid the issue and the truth about my experience will be obvious. Inescapable. I think that my experience is the same as everyone else’s. We are all the same and that is the value in understanding our experience. Are we spiritual beings? Do we have a spirit that animates us, something independent of  animal life? More durable. If we do surely it is something that can be understood and experienced. It must be something that does not require faith. There is no faith needed to understand things as they are. Faith helps us find confidence when we are unwilling or unable to build it from our own experience. I decided to abandon faith long ago settling on the strength of confidence without faith.

I think it is possible that we have the freedom to choose our spirit. Obviously we are animated and spirited. Emotion is the spirit that moves us and it has many forms. Certainly we can control our emotions, the spirits that animate us. I think some spirits are so familiar that they have form and just like you or I, a person. It is a spiritual form and some people see these spirits. I do. The question then is what do I see and what causes it. Imagination? Perhaps. While I can not rule that out it seems unlikely. I see these kind of spirits as born of our own creativity. We created them some time ago or perhaps we continue to do so. That is my interpretation and I offer no proof. It is an empirical observation. I see other spirits as well and they seem to be of a different nature. I consider them to be Angels and Ascendant Beings.

Let’s consider ascendant beings. Some people, it seems to me, escape the cycle of incarnation and ascend while others repeat it. Generally these are people who have a spirit, in this life, that makes ascension seem reasonable. Although I have seen exception. It leaves me thinking we are a creation that can know our creator, if we choose. I refer to that creator as a soul. It is not ours and we are independent of it unless we surrender our identity to it. Surrender the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, ownership, and become who we are instead of the how we created. We can choose to be the creator instead of the creation. We just have to give up possession, the notion that we own anything. It is not necessarily a vow of poverty. It can be but abundance is the law and that is what gives a vow of poverty its value. There is no poverty. That is also what makes the pervasiveness of poverty such a crime. If my view of this is true then poverty is something we have created for our amusement.

I do believe that a person can live in both worlds at the same time. To invite the creator to be the creation. An immersion in both realities, divine living. Actually I think it is expected of us. It is easy to have such an experience privately, at least for me it is. Divine living is not a private thing and I have yet to see a way to do that. I remain convinced that it is something I can do, and therefore, what I am expected to do. I am uncomfortable in that role. I think the difficulty I have boils down to my spiritual state.  The emotion that is generated by my discomfort, my spirit-state, prevents success. Any measure of success requires an honest appraisal of  what is possible and acceptance that my consideration of all of this may well be in error is a must. This is not to be confused with doubt but rather it is the foundation for confidence.

Michael, The Mystic Tourist ©2013

Death of a Seminarian

I continue to maintain resentment that spiritual wisdom is my only interest. I first chose resentment by virtue my eighth grade epiphany that women are considered less than men. I had long thought that I would graduate eighth grade, go on to seminary and eventually be ordained a Catholic priest. By the time I reached eighth grade I realized that the church was teaching that if a man took a wife, that condition would so defame him so as to make the man unfit as a priest. Was this a rule I was taught? No, but it implication is unmistakable. The silly rules I knew of and that were imposed on women, by the church, took on a new meaning and a new urgency to make sense of it all troubled me.

There were rules designed for women only. Women could not be priests. They had to cover their head in church, men could not. What is that supposed to mean? At the time the church taught that it was a sin for women to wear pants. It was also a sin for a woman to use a tampon. I think the list was a bit longer, but being a man I am ignorant, these rules did not apply to me. It was not hard to notice that women did not make these rules, men did. I could not abide by this shaming of women. It made no sense to me and I began to question my expectation to become a Catholic priest. I never went to seminary and I resented the lies I had been told by the church. If I could not trust the church, how do I reconcile my life with God? This was when I first realized that I would have to find my own way. That men did not speak for God.

I would like to trust the church. I could have made a career out of that. How about the sense of community, of belonging? None of that for me. If you are a part of a church you are part of a network that enriches life in many ways. The God Club supplies support in countless ways. It can be a powerful tool for wealth. People in turn claim that their prosperity, and good fortune, is due to their faith in God. Without the church, a like-minded support group, I think things might be a little different. There is a vested interest in seeing the members of your church succeed. The success can be pointed to and the claim made that it is due to God. What about the network of support, could that have anything to do with it? You need to raise funds for a charitable enterprise and you turn to your church. It is not hard to see that it is the network of like-minded people gathered together for a common purpose that deserves the credit given to God. Churches do wonderful things and it is good to have support but the notion that God favors one above the other is insulting. Not to God of course. What insult could God possibly suffer? It is an insult to ourselves.

Reading that last paragraph it is easy to see that the vein of resentment, my resentment, runs deep. Before sitting to write this post I had long believed resentment of my spiritual drive was rooted in my high school years. I had always thought of this eighth grade epiphany as a turning point but never as the onset of my spiritual resentment. I have learned a great deal by finding my own path. My determination that no man, no book, reveals God has left me to trust God. I believe that wherever I am God makes God available. Providence. I do not seek the false shelter of religion to shepherd God.

I like to think that my pursuit of God, on Gods terms, reveals a secret that is itself success. Well that is a nice thought, maybe it does. And there is that resentment jumping out like the boogeyman. I am writing about this to unravel the physical sensation that is caused by this resentment. I can feel it and it is uncomfortable. In looking to understand what it is, this is what I find. The words I am writing.

One of the things I have long associated my spiritual resentment to is the belief that I would have to make public my spiritual curiosity and its product. That was a realization I became aware of in high school. Now that I am actively doing that it has forced me to deal with the resentment and so this post. I need to find a way not to feel this way about it, to grow past it. My curiosity is a good thing as is whatever it reveals.

Thanks for reading.

Michael, The Mystic Tourist ©2013

Faith No More

My process of enlightenment involves a purity of experience presumed to be possible by reliance only on providence. I expect experience to be guided by providence and to be my teacher. I expect that anything that has been written, concerning matters of enlightenment, can be understood by providence, by experience. To expect that some great truth is scribbled in a book seems a stretch to me. If it is not available to each and every one of us, simply because we are curious, it does not exist and so book-reading has never been very high on my list of priorities. A curious mind is all that is needed and I am curious. Faith, I believe, is harmful to curiosity and so I abandoned it long ago. Religion, I have found it to be useless in my pursuit of enlightenment. I long for community and a sense of belonging but for me religion is an empty bag. My search is for a broader community than it seems religion could hope to provide. I have no faith. To me, faith is an impostor, it pretends to be confidence but confidence has no use for faith. I have confidence. I believe that things are as they are and that can not be disputed. I believe that knowledge of that is the fact of existence. This is not a knowledge of intellect, of sophistication,  it is the simple knowledge that is acquaintance. Providence. Providence, I think, is the inexhaustible reservoir that assures that whatever we pursue, consequence is certain.

All of this I have observed in my life and as I live it proves its validity errorlessly. This is because I believe in providence, I expect a great deal from it and live my life by it.

I do concern myself with enlightenment and expect that providence assembles what does prod me along a true path. Whatever path I choose, providence assures that consequence is immediate. Should I choose a career, education, whatever, providence works the same way. When we are not right, not at ease or comfortable with our self, that is providence. It knows what we are in need of and tirelessly works to bring that to our attention. Distraction from what we are given, by providence to do, is perhaps more obvious than providence. There are many good and worthy pursuits and when we choose one we walk with providence and it calms us with contentment. For my pursuit of enlightenment I have learned to use divination as my primary tool. Others might use a book or find a wise teacher but I have found the divining rod is well suited to my person.

Trial and error. This is an excellent way to determine the way things actually are. I have found it helpful to assume no knowledge, other than the knowledge that is acquaintance. Knowledge, in matters of enlightenment, is acquaintance. There is no sophistication of intellect that can purchase enlightenment. The moment a person thinks they have earned enlightenment, by any kind of merit, intelligence, God’s favor, whatever, it is lost.

In my experience providence never fails. Whatever our true pursuit is providence assures success. For some of us providence makes certain that we can not avoid a very narrow path. Any error is met with low tolerance. I have reduced my life to that state a number of times but sometimes people arrive here in such a condition or conditions evolve that are very tough. When I consider the reality that we share and the extraordinary hardships that abound I am driven to enlightenment. Enlightenment is a realization, I am confident is just lying around waiting for discovery. It is not to be accomplished and some people have discovered it.

Michael, The Mystic Tourist ©2013