What do you Believe?

ktadmin Post in A Zen Thing, Quotes,

Meditation Point #125

It is true that a little philosophy inclineth Man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion. For while the mind of Man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no farther; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity. …

The fool hath thought in his heart; so as he rather saith it by rote to himself, as that he would have, than that he can thoroughly believe it, or be persuaded of it; for none deny there is a God, but those whom interest it serve that there were no God. It appeareth in nothing more, that atheism is rather in the lip than in the heart of man, than by this, that atheists will ever be talking of that their opinion, as if fainted in themselves, and would be glad to be strengthened by the consent of others. Nay, more you shall have atheists strive to get disciples, as it fareth with other sects. And, which is most of all, you shall have of them that will suffer for atheism, and not recant; whereas, if they did truly think that there were no such thing as God, why would they trouble themselves? …

The causes of atheism are, divisions in religion, if there be many; another is, scandal of priests, …; a third is, a custom of profane scoffing in holy matters, which doth by little and little deface the reverence of religion; and lastly, learned times, especially with peace and prosperity; for troubles and adversity do more bow men’s minds to religion.

They that deny a God destroy Man’s nobility, for certainly Man is of kin to the beasts by his body; and if he be not of kin to God by his spirit, he is a base and ignoble creature. It destroys likewise magnanimity, and the raising of human nature. For take an example of a dog, and mark what a generosity and courage he will put on when he finds himself maintained by a man, who to him is instead of a God, or melior natura; which courage is manifestly such as that creature, without confidence of a better nature than his own, could never attain. So Man, when he resteth and assureth himself upon divine protection and favour, garthereth a force and faith which human nature itself could not obtain; therefore as atheism is in all respects hateful, so in this, that it depriveth human nature of the means to exalt itself above human frailty.

– – “The Essays of Lord Bacon” published 1888

I collect old and antique books, it is a passion. Recently I decided I had to many books (hard to believe) and started to thin the collection a little. Some are beyond repair, some I will never read, but a few I have decided to read to help me decide the fate. The above passage is from such a book. Written in Olde English it can take a moment longer to read but to me it provides significant insight.

What surprises me as I read through many of these books that were written 100-200 years ago is how in touch the authors were of our current social and political struggles. This perspective helps me to see that we are unique but timeless in our struggles, we are egotistical enough to think that only our generation has dealt with such things. We view the past through filters that lead us to believe that problems were different and certain issues didn’t exist. While extreme topics may have been tempered throughout time they seem to rise and fall like the tides of the sea from my readings. What is interesting is the presentation of their thoughts.

In the above passage I find the example of the dog in the last paragraph the most poignant. Whether you believe in God or not this example should give pause to deeper thought. It is a calling to a higher order, an illustration of the limitless bounds of the human spirit given aspirations of heavenly targets. Perhaps that is to flowery for most, I tend to talk in extremes to make my points. I do not say these things or ponder these topics here to convert, that isn’t my concern. I ponder them because it helps me to better understand those whom I run into daily. The vast majority of people I meet do not know what they believe. If they profess to know what they believe often they do not understand what or why they believe it. God, no God, darkness and dirt, or heavenly fields, these are after all the reasons we pursue knowledge and enlightenment, we wish to know the unknown, we wish to feel some ounce of control over our path. Not all of us ponder these thoughts but for those us that do, what do you know? To know is indicative of knowledge but how can we profess knowledge of things near impossible to prove? There is the gem, there is no need to prove anything! Oh we want to convince others that we have the secret, many out of compassion for others, more out of a need for validation, very few because they have clarity of truth.

Clarity of truth is a funny thing, when you have it (and I’m not saying I do) you are unaffected by the scorn of others, because you know. This is that state of calm where you know in your gut what is and isn’t. There is peace there, yet it can make others very uncomfortable even in their calm silence. To many people are evangelical about their causes. In my opinion evangelical people are simply looking for others to validate them, they are like the 3 monkeys who hear no “opposing views”, speak no “opposing views” and see no “opposing views”! Perhaps that is the only way they can support the reality they have built. This applies to every topic from religion to relationships and politics to pollution! They over simplify the world to make it easy to explain away anything that is uncomfortable. Yes these words are a double edge sword, it cuts both ways, but that isn’t my concern because I am not worried about you.

We need to spend more time looking inwards and less time getting upset with others. Whoever said, “Know thyself and to thy own self be true” was on target. This was somewhat of a free form, stream of consciousness post but hopefully you found something useful in the reading.

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Before you bring it up let me close by saying this passage is not meant to bash anyones beliefs or lack there of, but to provoke thought and introspection. Some of my previous posts on similar topics have been the subject of positive and negative discussions on other blogs. These posts are what they are presented for, meditation points, points of reflection, to stimulate thought and interospection. If you are adverse to critically examining your own beliefs and thoughts on any topic, then you have little hope for growth.

Often those that disagree with us (the global us encompassing all views) seem to feel we are simply misguided or at a lower stage of enlightenment. From where I stand my perspective on most controversial issues is clear, but to many I may seem delusional! That is their right and I respectfully support that right. Of course attacking my point of view irrationally would point to your stage… πŸ˜‰ Perhaps some of the words I have used are to strong, misguided, dillusional, etc, for not everyone feels that strongly, regardless I intend no offense but do not apologize for any made.

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