11-17-04 - Here is something I've been wanting to write down and organize for a long time. I'm opinionated, and my thoughts are often spinning and whirling, and if I don't write things down, I'm bound to forget a lot of things.
(I'm going to start a sort of layout to add to, so I don't forget various topics I'm wanting to cover.)
The Purpose of Life
Lessons of the World
My views on religion/afterlife are flexible and open to change, and I'm not rigid in my thinking. I'm going to talk about things I mostly believe, although I'm not saying I'm 100% right, because probably nobody is!
I believe in afterlife. I believe that our consciousness doesn't just "extinguish" when our body dies. The soul is energy, and this energy can't be destroyed. And I believe that we all go to the same place after we die, sometimes called The Spirit World, or The Other Side. I do not believe in a Hell (unless you count life on Earth as Hell), and I do not believe in an evil being with evil intentions (Satan.) There are not "Good People" versus "Evil People" nor "Saved People" versus "Damned People." I'll explain more below about "Evil Acts."
I absolutely do not believe that there is just one way to "heaven." It makes absolutely no sense that there would be one little thing that makes the whole difference between an eternity of bliss and an eternity of pain and suffering. That's just ludicrous, and God would not do that. If (and I stress if) God did have one key difference that made a person "saved" or not, then He would make that distinction obvious to everyone, and let us choose. As it is, the world does not agree on the "one right path" and everybody's various religion claims that it is true. Analogy: This would be like God saying to all his people, "Here are 50 different colors. Everybody choose one. Choose the one that you like, or that makes the most sense to you... Ok, now, everybody who chose Pink, congratulations! You get an eternity of bliss and happiness! The rest of you, I'm sorry, those are not real colors. You were fooled/tricked/deceived, and I'm condemning you to an eternity of unimagineable pain." Does anybody really think that God (or the universe) is that shallow?
So, what is the purpose of life, and why are we here? I truly believe that the purpose of life is to learn lessons, gain knowledge, have experiences, improve ourselves as much as we want to, and learn better how to treat our fellow human beings (and animals.) I believe that we get as many lives on this Earth (or even other planets/dimensions/universes) as we want to accomplish our own goals. I also believe it's ludicrous to think that people only get one life to live and that's it, and that's everything you have to determine the rest of eternity with. What, then, of the babies who die in infancy? Is that all the chance they get in this world? It doesn't make sense, and I believe God and The Universe do make sense. There is plenty of evidence to back up reincarnation if you just believe the thousands of people's testimonies to past-life memories and past-life regressions which can be verified with historical records. Again, this depends on whether or not you believe that thousands of people would be in a conspiracy to make all this up, and to somehow come up with the same information from their past-life regressions as other people who they'd never met or heard about.
The whole world also has its lessons to learn. And historically, you can see that the world is slowly learning its lessons and improving on how it should run, how it should be organized, and most importantly, how it should treat other people. We learned hard lessons from things like The Crusades, The Witch Hunts, Slavery, and Wars, and I'm so glad that nowadays we don't burn people at the stake for having views which differ from our own. Although we still have a lot to learn, and I'm impatient and saddened that we're not learning as fast as we'd like (as can be seen from the 2004 elections and all those states which voted to ban Gay Marriage...)
When it comes to "Good or Bad," "Right or Wrong," I think the world is a little too judgemental for my tastes. I know, it's hard not to judge. We do it in everything; it's part of life! We use our discerning skills to problem-solve based on given evidence, and that can be considered pre-judging! Some definitions of "judging" (like in The Bible, where people are told not to judge) include naming something "Good or Bad," "Right or Wrong." I think that instead of using these definitives, it's better to use comparitives such as "Better or Worse" in regards to the goals you're intending.
Here's my theory: Instead of saying "a wrench is good" and "a pillow is bad," we need to understand that something is only better or worse suited to accomplish a particular goal you have in mind. A wrench is good if you're wanting to loosen or tigten a bolt, and a pillow wouldn't be much good at this. However, if you're wanting something comfy to lay your head on, a wrench might not be the best thing to have. I believe this is true of anything! Depending on what someone's goals are, they can find better and worse ways of accomplishing them, and it's not fair for someone else to name what you do "wrong" because nobody has the same goals (or perspective, or personality, or tendencies, or past-experiences) as you do. Although, even for yourself, you will find better and worse ways of doing things in your life, and I think the purpose of life over time is to learn what the "better" ways of doing things are.
Now, one might ask "What about people who commit what most people believe to be 'Evil Acts'?" Most people feel that acts such as brutal and senseless murder, rape, molestation, etc. should not go unpunished. I do believe, as I said, that we're here to learn how best to treat our fellow human beings, take care of their needs, give to them, and show them love and respect (sappy as that sounds.) So, one might potentially think that these "evil acts" have no place, or at least are not the "better" way to go about things. I think I have several different things to say about this:
One, understand that even these atrocious acts have their place. I'm not saying they're "right" or "nice" or the "best" way to do things, but I must admit that we do learn from things like this. We see them and become horrified and devastated, and we tend to learn from these examples that this isn't the way we want things to happen in the world (assuming our goals for the world include having peaceful communities who love each other and live in relative happiness.)
Secondly, what should happen to the person who committed these atrocious acts? Should they be judged as "evil" and "punished?" I say no. And for several reasons, which I'll get to shortly. Should we try to prevent it from happening again? Yes! As to how to accomplish that goal, however, I'm not entirely certain. As for someone being "evil," I honestly believe that we plan each life out ahead of time, before we come "down here" from The Spirit World. We plan the major things we want to do and accomplish, and the major lessons we want to learn. One theory is that sometimes we will choose to be martyrs, or sometimes we might choose to be villains, just because someone has to "play that part" in the grand play that is Life. Sometimes someone will volunteer for this part so that others can learn from it and benefit from it, yet they are not an "evil person" who should "roast in Hell."
Conversely, this person who committed "evil acts" might just be someone who is having a hard time learning the lessons about how to treat other fellow human beings, or overcoming their weaknesses in life. Maybe it takes this person many, many lives to learn these lessons, but they're working on it. I certainly don't believe just because someone doesn't choose the best ways to handle things in one life, or one particular scenario in one life, should mean that they don't get more chances to keep trying to learn and better themselves. Every person is a person of value, and every person has reasons (past experiences, personality, tendencies, physical/mental attributes) which contribute to their decision-making, and I'm really beginning to understand and relate to this in my current life. Due to depression, physical pain, and just being pushed to my limits, I understand what it's like to temporarily NOT care at all about human life. I understand how people get to that point.
Now, regarding "punishment," I'm not sure what I believe about the government's justice system, or how we treat "evildoers," but I'm leaning towards the end that it's not fair or just, and that it's not helping the evildoers much, if at all. Regarding "eternal punishment," I do not believe that we are condemned or punished for our acts, but that all actions have their natural consequences. I'm going to call this "Karma," although different people's definitions of Karma vary, so I'm going to explain. After we are done with this life, and we return to The Other Side to evaluate what we did and what happened, we are going to want to understand the full consequences our actions had on those around us. In order to gain that full knowledge and understanding, we might want to experience what it was like on the flip side. This may mean a role-reversal in another life, and having done to you what you did to someone else, not as a punishment, but as a balance of experiences so you can fully understand the consequences of your actions. I think this means that everyone will eventually learn from their mistakes, although for some of us it takes many, many lives to learn a lesson.
I believe that...
I recently came across another sweet truth of life while working out some conflicts with my sister, and it was just now reinforced by a conversation with a good online friend who was criticized for not living her life the same way another friend does. I realize now that what works for me doesn't work for someone else, and what works for them works for them, and that's ok! And it's all about fulfilling your own priorities, and everybody has different priorities. I feel good when I accomplish things and get through things and can tick them off on my mental list of struggles I've survived, while my sister feels good when she takes it easy and enjoys her time and has fun. To my sister, suffering through life and doing things you don't want to do isn't the point, but to me, conquering my fears and overcoming my weaknesses is what I want to do. Yet she wishes I would smile more and laugh more, while I wish she would tackle her fears so she's not so held down by them. We're different people with different priorities. And with my online friend, her priorities are not to get the highest paying, most successful, most well-respected job out there just so she can afford expensive cars and clothes and not have to worry about money. She chooses to enjoy her work and have fun with it, and what's wrong with that? We all live different lives and adjust according to what our goals are and what our personalities drive us toward. I just really hope somebody reading this will think of someone they know whose lifestyle bugs them, who they've wanted to shake by the shoulders and say "you're doing it wrong! I can fix all your problems if you just do it my way!" and realize that what works for you probably won't work them because they don't have the same goals or priorities as you, and they're doing it their way, and that's ok!