Connecting with God
Within this website I explore whether there is a spiritual realm, a supernatural realm, containing God, mind, souls, consciousness with its contents (ideas, emotions, love, reason, etc) — this, from a purely philosophical and unreligious point of view.
In this article, I first assume there is a spiritual realm so as to explore the implications; then I present my conclusions elsewhere.
Anytime you experience anything good and beautiful, you are interacting with God; you are connecting with God, with God's essence.
Anytime you enjoy beautiful music, or experience joy, or love someone or feel loved by them, or share in being connected with people; in doing these, you are connecting with God.
Trying to figure out what makes life valuable. And remembering that in the past I would have done various activities that were goals and then I would afterwards feel that my life was valuable, that it had purpose and meaning. So: work-toward-goals = meaning.
But now suddenly, these this don't make me feel purpose and meaning. I'm having to redefine what purpose and meaning is:
Purpose and meaning is not derived from work toward goals. Rather, it is derived from being, from living life. The purpose of life is the living of life.
Funny that as a Christian I always felt like I had to do something; this, from a group that strongly teaches it's not works, but faith. But their emphasis on works was immense and pervasive.
Does this mean exuberantly happy 100% of the time? Or 80% of the time? Or mildly happy 50% of the time? What about people in war-torn countries who experience nothing but misery; does this mean their life has no purpose? That only the rich and prosperous can have a life of purpose?
What good is it to have a purpose in life be something you have only partially, and that some never have?
I think the purpose in life is to experience being; the conscious experience of it.
And, no, it's not to gain God's favor so you will spend eternity in heaven instead of hell.
By Jesus I mean the personal aspect of God who I can interact with in my mind and soul. The essence of the living Spirit of God, of goodness and beauty. The source of creation and creativity; of life and consciousness.
This communication to God is the same as when I was a Christian. De-converting (apostatizing) from Christianity didn't change it at all. All that changed was, I no longer have all the stories in my head.
I was playing with my dogs, and it was so fun and brought me such joy, and I said, "Thank you, Jesus".
When I'm around my Christian family and friends, it is convenient to use the word "Jesus" when talking about God. They are easily offended and I'm sure they would feel obligated to either re-convert me or else to shun me. I have not even told most of them and they haven't even noticed the difference.
A long time ago, I announced to my evangelical fundamentalist friends when I converted to Catholicism. Only a few didn't abandon me. I don't wish to offend them again; they are very tribal in their outlook.
Listening to Alan Watts. He seems to be promoting the eastern idea that you should permanently turn off a part of your brain functioning. This seems wrong somehow. Who thought of this crazy idea? It seems to be based on the idea that we were created (evolved) imperfectly and need to make adjustments to bring ourselves into harmony with the universe that created (evolved) us. Seems like it would be better to expend the human energy in improving our political and social systems to create a more just and fair and equitable society.
Or, on a personal level, to improve our speech and behavior towards others.
Whenever I have memories of past events (and having a lot lately, dredged up, I think, because of a stressful family situation), I experience various associated negative emotions, similar to when dreaming during sleep. (Psychology confirms that most dreams contain negative emotions.)
So, when I become aware of this, what can I do in response? Two options:
But how to do this?
A Christian would recite a Bible verse, perhaps as part of prayer, to trigger God's grace and the power of the Holy Spirit to wash over their soul and energize a divine presence to transform their mind.
I think of God as the creator of everything good and beautiful, and look for evidence of his/her presence — things good and beautiful. This does the trick.
I'm not referring to a spiritual quest for enlightenment but, rather, a day to day, minute by minute, scanning of your surroundings and your thoughts to determine which things are of God and which are not. Nor am I referring to trying to learn about God and his nature.
The problem with this is: if some things are not of God, then God is not God. Therefore, there is no God.
By analogy: you are in the forest looking for leaves. They are everywhere, but not everything is a leaf. When you see a leaf you say, "there is a leaf". You might even wander into a section of forest dense with leaves to see more of them. I'm not talking about asking, "what is a leaf? Is there such a thing as a leaf? I'm in the Sahara Desert on a lifelong quest to find a leaf."
Just so with looking for God. He/she is everywhere manifesting as goodness and beauty. True worship of God means seeing his/her manifestation, seeing goodness and beauty and recognizing it as God.
I always read from these self-help spiritual sources that we should regularly practice mindfulness. Usually this refers to some sort of meditation involving emptying the mind of thoughts, of calming the mind, and experiencing peace of mind.
But really, any condition that our brain goes into are all states of mindfulness. The flaw is in assuming that it is better if our thoughts are empty. This originates from eastern religious views.
I think a better approach is to base it on psychology. For example, anxiety is undesirable because it is unpleasant and causes distress. We should judge the conditions of our mind based on this kind of idea, on whether it is mentally healthy or not.
They have mis-defined mindfulness to mean "empty headedness". But mindfulness is the same as conscious awareness. We can always endeavor to focus better moment to moment and direct our minds to achieve success and peace, but empty headedness is not the proper goal of humans.
Thinking about one's own death. I'm old enough now that this question seems worth pursing.
When I'm about to begin an activity I sometimes think, why bother because I might die soon. But we need to value our activities based on the meaning it has in the moment, not on some future benefit to ourselves. (But of course we need to eat healthy and exercise etc for the benefit of our future, even if it is short.)
There might be younger people who also do have this old-age kind of dread of death. Certainly, this way of thinking I'm proposing would be useful to them.
We should live as we did when younger, assuming we were invincible and immortal, enjoying the moment. And planning projects that will take decades to complete because it is enjoyable to do such projects.
One of my interests is exploring consciousness in its spiritual aspect and how it interfaces with the physical realm.
I accidentally ate too much sugar and now feel weird ("different" is probably a better word for it).
The sugar has affected my feeling of being. My sense of time, sense of purpose, my mind; these are racing with thoughts and ideas. My mind is racing so fast it doesn't even land on thoughts anymore, just as a lake with tall choppy waves in a storm, and as you skim over it you just touch the tips of the points of the waves, you don't experience the feeling of the water.
Usually my experience (my feeling of being) is: I have a thought and I explore and dwell on it a bit. Maybe I get antsy about it thinking I have to add it to my to do list and do something. (Lately I'm trying to resist feeling the pressure to act on every thought I think, to, rather, enjoy the thought as it is.)
Lack of sleep also affects my feeling of being. As does food intake and exercise and caffeine. (I can't comment first hand on drugs or alcohol because I don't partake of these, but I can imagine they have radical effects on your feeling of being.)
To enjoy moments of enjoyment. That's it.
From an evolutionary perspective, this implies that, for complex organisms having brains, consciously experienced enjoyment somehow enhances their ability to survive and pass on their genes (although even individuals who suffer often pass on their genes as well).
Anything from pure pleasure (such as cuddling with your dogs), to creating and building things and ideas, to enjoying the beauty of nature and music, to spending time with friends, and etc.
Sadly, these moments are all-too-rare. This implies there is a utopia somewhere, but certainly not in this physical universe with its built in limits of resources and the need for competition to get what is yours. Maybe the utopia is yet-future, in a reconstituted new heavens and new earth. More likely, it's in a physical universe better constructed for such a utopian existence.
How to diminish the bad times and enhance the frequency of the good times? For some, their lot in life, their circumstances of life, prevents of any improvements. For everyone, death comes all too soon.
As a Christian, I would pray to God, to Jesus, for protection, knowing full well it didn't work. (At least it didn't dependably work, and there were all kinds of reasons you had to give for why it didn't work that time.) An odd idea.
Now I still pray to God, who I call Jesus. I still pray for protection, but now I know it doesn't work. I also know I could get lucky and something good might happen. But if I don't pray it doesn't mean something bad will happen.