From an Occult Perspective, Atheism is a More Simplistic Belief System Than Christianity

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m super conflicted about the rise of popular atheism over the last ten years or so. Let’s get that out of the way right off the bat. I truly respect the way people like Richard Dawkins (and the late Christopher Hitchens) challenge the influence of the world’s dominant religions publically. I love Bill Maher and found his movie Religulous quite amusing for the most part. This critical dialogue is incredibly important because I got news for you, religion is still the great fundamental bamboozle driving the war on drugs and terror. I think organized religion can be just as nuts as these guys do. I guess I just also see that it can also be incredibly and most boringly normal. A lot of good things come out of it as well, a sense of community, drug rehabilitation, charity work, etc.

Truth be told, the majority of people I’ve known or hung out with for most of my life have basically considered themselves atheists. It’s become almost a badge of pride for so many teenagers and young people, but I got news for you, it isn’t anything new or subversive. Kind of conformist in all honestly, just like religion. Try being an Occultist, everyone thinks you’re completely batshit. You are and always will be an outsider. People have absolutely no problem insulting your spiritual beliefs publically, so most of the time you don’t even bring it up. Seriously, directly insulting people’s supposed ‘new age’ or mystical practices is seen as absolutely A-OK in pop culture and even in the work place, to this day. I’ve seen it first hand and it’s pretty much why I don’t talk about my writing at my job, ever. Truthfully, I don’t talk about my magickal practice in 99.9% of the conversations I have in actual life (but I do on Facebook, friend me).

The reason is obvious. It’s pointless. People know so little about even basic spiritual shit it’s mind boggling. And here’s where I get weird. You know how I define spirituality? By matters of the spirit. Dreams, hallucinations, etheogen rituals, astral projection encounters, supposed alien contact? Yeah, that’s spirituality to me. Stuff that takes your consciousness out of the material realm and into the realm of the soul. Crazy way of looking at it I know. And that’s the problem I have with atheism. I’ve never known an atheist who knows anything about this sort of thing or has experimented with it at all, outside of maybe trying mushrooms once or twice. But they all have strong opinions as to why they don’t have to. Basically, if that kind of thing was important, our society would have figured it out by now. That’s essentially the argument you get (trust me, I had many of these drunken debates before I turned like 25 and realized how pointless it is).

Funny story on that front, I used to sing (yell) in a metaphysical rant metal band. All of the lyrics in the project were essentially about the spiritual ignorance of humanity, and a lot were about how this ignorance was reflected through me, which I don’t think most people got. No, I wasn’t necessarily ranting bout my how stupid people are, I was ranting about how stupid I am because I’m a person. Actually when looking back, a lot of it had to do with my own non-acceptance of these non-physical realities which is something I didn’t even understand at the time. Anywho, you know who really didn’t get what I was doing? All the other guys in the band. We hung out and drank incredibly heavily together for 4 straight years, and we practiced 3 times a week so that meant a lot of debauched tomfoolery. Amazingly, we sometimes talked about things other than our dicks, but despite being in a band whose lyricist was espousing ideas completely foreign to them, nobody once bothered to read a single book I recommended them so they’d get hip. Then it got even more peculiar because as creative tension began to mount in the project, near the band’s demise, I increasingly caught shit for writing lyrics that “made no sense”. Pretty much sums up my experience with most atheists I’ve known. That song doesn’t make any sense? Yeah, actually it does and it’s fairly coherent I must say, did you read that Rick Strassman book about DMT I leant you 2 years ago? No? Yeah, well, you just answered your question as to why that song doesn’t make any sense to you.

The Occult game’s all about taking an active role in programming your own brain. That’s what a lot of it has to do with when you get right down to brass tacks. Very practical knowledge set in a society that’s constantly trying to do this for you for the benefit of a daemonic profit margin. When a lot of Christians brag about how they can bring you peace and inner harmony, I’m like, well yeah, I’m not saying what you’re doing doesn’t work. You’re taking something as infinitely complicated as the spirit realm, which is a billion times more intricate than the perceived physical universe and saying, I’m going to replace that complexity with simplicity in my own world. The answer to every possible spiritual inquiry is Jesus. Sort of like giving yourself a philosophical lobotomy.

But it’s a bit more nuanced than that. Most Christians believe that there is an afterlife and that their actions here are going to determine what that’s going to be like for them. This is where I can step in as an Occultist and say, yeah, pretty much what I’ve been shown in a number of visionary states, which is something that threw me for quite a loop. And that’s where Christianity (and you could sub in almost any other monotheistic practice) gets balls out hilarious. Y’all believe in shamanism. Your entire belief system is based around it, but barely any of you know anything about these things you believe in so dearly. You’ve completely lost track of your faith’s origins, and because of that you sort of made it illegal. Jesus was whacked out of his skull when he was talking to Satan in the desert. That’s all I’m saying.

But despite the potent Luciferian humor involved with this whole charade, I have to concede that at least this openness to the possibility of an afterlife is more than most atheists I’ve known can offer. To them, somehow consciousness devolves into nothingness upon death, even though that’s a concept they can never fully flesh out. Isn’t nothing in fact something? Describe it. Yep, just as nebulous as God. The truth is, if I played in a band with Christians, they’d probably read a book I recommended to them about spirituality. Not the right wing fringe nut jobs types, just you know, normal Christian folk. I went to church every Sunday until I was 16. Abortion being bad, hating gays, Muslims, or voting Republican never came up once. We just, read the Bible and I tried to run some weak ass tween game on the cute girls in the parish, which I had no idea how to do at the time.

What appeals to people so much about both atheism and Christianity is that they’re incredibly simple thought modalities that give people the comfortable certainty they crave. For Christians, it’s often an exact set of sexual rules that’ll get you into the higher realms (so creepy). For atheists, it’s even simpler. Nothing. Don’t have to think about spirituality, because it’s not a thing. There is no afterlife. See what I mean, actually quite a bit simpler way of looking at it than the Christians they love to deride. Rather than putting your faith in an unknown God, put your faith in the supreme intelligence of the human species. Man, I can’t think of anything dumber than that.

Here’s why this way of thinking is so tragically foolish: It’s a fact that the human brain can do a bunch of absolutely weird shit that we intentionally program it not to do. Wait, that’s not a fact? Yeah, I know we act like it isn’t but it absolutely is. Have you read anything about LSD? How about DMT? How about schizophrenia? Lucid dreaming? See what I mean, you can’t say our brains can’t do this (if you must insist it’s our brains). What you’re truly saying is, I don’t think there’s any value in any of that exotic consciousness stuff. We sure as hell don’t study it much (this is starting to change). Seems a bit superstitious and completely irrational to me, and I’m looking at both camps, Christians and atheists. One thing I can say and will a million times before I die I’m sure, is that I got a college degree in psychology and sat through over a decade’s worth of church services and I never heard anyone mention a near death experience once. The only reason I know anything about it is because my Mom had one and she told us about it as kids.

While you’re never going to win any sort of argument with an atheist about the reality of a spiritual dimension, what’s going to get increasingly difficult for them to argue is that there is no value in powerful inward-freak-out-mindgasm experiences. Don’t believe me? Here’s a list of traits that have been reported in people who come back from Near Death Experiences (link to whole article here).

1. An amazing ability to live in the present. Most of us live in the two places where nothing ever happens: the past and the future. But the present is all we have. Every moment is a microcosm of the macrocosm. How you’re doing whatever you’re doing right now is probably how you do everything.

2. An abiding sense of deep confidence. The untransformed self is inherently insecure and destabilized. The true Self finds a strong and lasting confidence – a sense that things are all right – without this being based on your external circumstances at all. You don’t know where the feeling comes from. It’s just there.

3. An immense decreased interest in material possessions. The Self knows that happiness doesn’t lie in another trip to the mall, or a bigger house, or any external attainment.

4. Spirituality becomes central and important. People know for certain the reality of the spiritual world.

5. A much higher natural compassion – which extends to almost everything. There’s a deep gratitude for everything. A forgiveness for everything.

That’s just the top five. Gee, I don’t think any of that would come in handy in an insanely materialistic society where a small group of privileged war mongering creeps are running everything into the ground. Wonder why this research is so hard to get done and taken seriously? You bought into the charade hook, line, and sinker atheists.

Here’s the thing, there is absolutely no reason that I can see as to why every single person can’t have a near death experience every single day of their lives. We know this has something to do with a release of DMT to the brain. We should then easily be able to study dying people neurologically and re-produce these exact states at will. No problem right? Seems like the easiest thing in the universe to accomplish with technology these days. Why isn’t this happening? Whatever happened to neuro-theology? Our society’s dominant spiritual players are a bunch of superstitious pussies, from both the scientific and the religious worlds, that’s what happened.

To this day, no one in the academic world will purport to fully understand even basic shit about spirituality like what dreams are. How simple is that? We’ve never figured it out. There is a dominant materialist theory that pervades most of our behavior. We’re taught essentially: nothing to see there, it’s just meaningless replays of your day to help you survive the great cold of the night. This is just a theory, and the thing about it is, it’s in direct conflict with the shamanic perspective which tells you that dreams are communiqué from the other side, which is ultimately what I’ve found through personal experience. Don’t believe me? Try living your life as if this is true and see what happens (or friend me on Facebook and see how odd it can get when you do).

On that note, one last little anecdote. Several years ago I was flipping channels and caught Christopher Hitches on some late night talk show (Larry King I think). I liked a lot of what he was saying about you know, how religion is bullshit, but was obviously at odds with a great deal of it as well. I went to bed directly after the show and fast found myself in a potent dream state. Christopher and I were climbing two parallel ladders and he was ahead of me. We kept climbing through the skies until we reached a large white barrier to the heavens. He looked at it a bit, gave up and decided to climb back down. He sort of told me something to the effect of, “well I guess that was pointless” as he passed by me on his way, as I was just then ascending to the top. I saw the same barrier he did, thought for a second. Then I punched a hole in it, popped my head through and took a look around. Totally meaningless, right?

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  • Liam_McGonagle

    Are we perhaps oversimpifying the notion of atheism a bit by equating it with “aspiritual materialism”? I hear that followers of Islam don’t care to be called “Mohammadists” either.

    • jnana

      Buddhists are generally atheists, right?

      • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

        No

        • jnana

          ya sure?
          maybe not most Buddhists are atheists, but there are a lot, right?

        • jnana

          ya sure?
          maybe not most Buddhists are atheists, but there are a lot, right?

          • Kevin Leonard

            Hard to call Tibetan Buddhists atheists, but yes, there are a lot of “philosophical buddhists”

      • Bob the Lunatic

        Yes, most are. You’ll find many claim “Nontheism”, but that’s a nonsense term, invented by an atheist in the 19th century, which means the same thing, yet avoids the “immorality” synonym of atheism created (and perpetuated) by christians.

        Yes, Buddhists are so atheist, they tend to not think the concept of “god” worth discussing. Nor is there even one sect that is monotheist or believes in a creator. Those that are “theist” believe the gods are lower than humans, and need to be reborn as human to attain enlightenment-yet “gods” are obviously allegorical in Buddhism. Used only to bring theists into the teachings of buddhism rather.

        I’m a Buddhist, and it’s a natural consequence that I am atheist. In reality, karma and “god” are mutually exclusive. If a Buddhist is a “theist”, then his gods have no purpose, they are unemployed, or… he/she doesn’t understand karma-it makes the whole god/s idea pointless.

      • Jin The Ninja

        no.

  • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

    Only nominal Christians believe leading a good life will get them in to heaven. The Theological idea is that Jesus death on the cross, the substitutionary atonement, saves people. Leading a “good life” ( such as not fornicating) is just to please God and maintain communion with Him.

    Most Christians make a big point of saying that leading a good life doesn’t get you into heaven. as far as following sexual rules to reach higher realms, that struck me as sounding more like esoteric forms of Eastern Religion. Many Buddhists believe that by abstaining from sex they can sublimate their sexual energy to open their third eye and achieve realization.

    As far as New atheism, why it annoys me, is that it seems to be about ignoring huge swaths of human experience, rather than simply getting people to question dogma. It sees mystics and dogmatists in the exact same light. There is no rational reason for this. They seem to have a zero tolerance policy, or a “slippery slope” argument, where they label certain types of experiences as “off limits” for discussion or examination, because they think it might lead to “woo woo”

    • echar

      I think it’s mostly the Jehova’s Witnesses that believe that exactly 144,000 faithful people will go to heaven? The rest will burn in their idea of Hell.

    • echar

      I think it’s mostly the Jehova’s Witnesses that believe that exactly 144,000 faithful people will go to heaven? The rest will burn in their idea of Hell.

      • http://twitter.com/TheJasonNewcomb Ulysses Ontusado

        Not quite. I’m an ex-JW. They believe that 144 000 will go to heaven as a ruling class after Armeggedon. All other JWs will stay on Earth to work to make it a paradise. They do not believe in a fiery hell but that the dead are simply dead and can be resurrected by Jehovah if he so chooses.

      • http://twitter.com/TheJasonNewcomb Ulysses Ontusado

        Not quite. I’m an ex-JW. They believe that 144 000 will go to heaven as a ruling class after Armeggedon. All other JWs will stay on Earth to work to make it a paradise. They do not believe in a fiery hell but that the dead are simply dead and can be resurrected by Jehovah if he so chooses.

        • echar

          I didn’t know that. Thanks. :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/JimmyHolley1 Academician Lucko

      Its annoying to me because their own physics points to consciousness being involved. Im actually pretty certain that this is why the Dalai Lama cant stop laughing.

      • hurrrrrrr

        …. the observer effect in quantum physics has nothing to do with a sentient observer. are you retarded?

    • Bob the Lunatic

      I would also argue that “new” is a misnomer. For starters, I cannot really see what exactly is new and/or common among the “Four Horsemen” (well, 3 now that Hitchens passed away).

      The only real difference is that it is LOUD. So I’d call it “loud atheism”. And with that comes both good and bad… For example-with Hitchens: Good arguments, bad motives.

      And frankly-I cannot say the arguments ultimately make me proud as an atheist. At first, sure. But upon reflecting on the arguments, really it just seems like bullying. Otherwise, I’d expect some stronger arguments-those regarding free will, or responsibility of self, etc…. something WORTHY of “rationality” of “humanism”. Yet instead, I see cheap shots at weak gods.

      Okay…. so again, I ask-what is new? New spins on old arguments, new attempts to dehumanize that which dehumanizes itself by doctrine???? Ultimately in the end, I’m less and less impressed. However, still glad that such low arguments (like Hitchens’) are making some people think. But again, I would argue that Christopher just liked to kick a weak, disabled god who is already down…. meh.

    • Bob the Lunatic

      I would also argue that “new” is a misnomer. For starters, I cannot really see what exactly is new and/or common among the “Four Horsemen” (well, 3 now that Hitchens passed away).

      The only real difference is that it is LOUD. So I’d call it “loud atheism”. And with that comes both good and bad… For example-with Hitchens: Good arguments, bad motives.

      And frankly-I cannot say the arguments ultimately make me proud as an atheist. At first, sure. But upon reflecting on the arguments, really it just seems like bullying. Otherwise, I’d expect some stronger arguments-those regarding free will, or responsibility of self, etc…. something WORTHY of “rationality” of “humanism”. Yet instead, I see cheap shots at weak gods.

      Okay…. so again, I ask-what is new? New spins on old arguments, new attempts to dehumanize that which dehumanizes itself by doctrine???? Ultimately in the end, I’m less and less impressed. However, still glad that such low arguments (like Hitchens’) are making some people think. But again, I would argue that Christopher just liked to kick a weak, disabled god who is already down…. meh.

  • echar

    Two questions:

    Why does it matter what others think?

    You seem to have it all figured out?

    • http://twitter.com/RayButlers Ray Butlers

      1. It matters because how it informs their actions.
      2. Apparently, yes.

      • echar

        What if other’s thoughts are not pertinent to an experience?

        • http://twitter.com/RayButlers Ray Butlers

          wouldn’t that be nice?

          • echar

            It’s simple. Exclude outside influences.

  • bobbiethejean

    Atheism can mean approximately one of two things: (1) I do not believe in any gods or (2) I believe there are no gods. That’s it. That is all atheism is. It’s not a religion. It is not a belief system. It’s not a political ideology or a worldview. Anything can be tacked onto atheism but that is not atheism, that is atheism with SHIT TACKED ONTO IT.

    Oh and by the way, no one believes that obviously made up BS was “just a dream you had.”

    • Andrew

      The most accurate explanation of the meanings of “atheism,” “agnosticism,” and “religion” was made by Humpty Dumpty.

    • Andrew

      The most accurate explanation of the meanings of “atheism,” “agnosticism,” and “religion” was made by Humpty Dumpty.

      • bobbiethejean

        Well see, to me, it’s very simple. Words have clear definitions. That’s not to say there isn’t sometimes cause to smudge, fudge, or pudge the definitions. By all means. But not if altering the word is a way of evading debate or copping out.

        • BrianApocalypse

          The cultural meanings of words do change though (one of the clearest examples being “gay”).

          The term “atheist” has become pretty loaded, culturally speaking. If you state that you’re atheist today, there tends to be an immediate assumption that you’re also a darwinist/skeptic etc… Although this isn’t technically anything to do with atheism (there are christians who believe in evolution), the cultural association has become so intertwined that it has effectively taken on these political/social and ideological ideals by default.

          • bobbiethejean

            “The term “atheist” has become pretty loaded”

            Oh absolutely. I don’t deny that. But I detest it and I try to correct people whenever I see this happening. I hate that when I say “I’m an atheist,” people start formulating ridiculous assumptions about me. This is why, whenever I see this, I always try to correct it. Well I mean, personal feelings aside, it’s also flatly wrong.

        • Andrew

          > Words have clear definitions.

          I don’t subscribe to that superstitious nonsense.

          • bobbiethejean

            Are you be sarcastic? :P

    • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

      “Oh and by the way, no one believes that obviously made up BS was “just a dream you had.””

      Are you claiming to be psychic?

    • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

      “Oh and by the way, no one believes that obviously made up BS was “just a dream you had.””

      Are you claiming to be psychic?

      • bobbiethejean

        I’m claiming to have very good intuition, logic, and personal experience in dealing with people who like to premise BS with “I had a dream…” so they don’t have to take responsibility for whatever nonsense they’re spouting.

      • bobbiethejean

        I’m claiming to have very good intuition, logic, and personal experience in dealing with people who like to premise BS with “I had a dream…” so they don’t have to take responsibility for whatever nonsense they’re spouting.

        • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

          You never dream about famous people? The guy that played Colonel Potter on MASH recently appeared to me in a dream.

          • bobbiethejean

            Oh sure sure, of course. But it sounds much better to say “I had a dream that I was more enlightened than Christopher Hitchens” than it is to say “I think I am more enlightened than one of the 21rst century’s greatest minds.”

          • http://2012diaries.blogspot.com/ tristan eldritch

            I’d believe this guy dreamt next month’s lottery numbers and next year’s Oscar winners quicker than I’d believe that Christopher Hitchens is one the 21st century’s greatest minds. He probably wasn’t the greatest mind in a lot of elevators he rode in.

          • bobbiethejean

            Oh so just anyone in an elevator can become a world renowned journalist and best selling author?

          • mannyfurious
          • bobbiethejean

            You’re point?

          • mannyfurious

            I am not “point,” actually.

          • mannyfurious

            I am not “point,” actually.

          • mannyfurious

            In all seriousness, though, my point is that anyone who would put himself in a position where the War Nerd makes him look like an absolute asshole is probably not one of the greatest minds of the 21st century.

          • bobbiethejean

            He was, in his field, one of the best and brightest. The fact that he could be an incalculable asshole at times is besides the point. :P

          • mannyfurious

            Fair enough….

          • http://twitter.com/RayButlers Ray Butlers

            I frequently dream about my real mother, Cher.

      • Andrew

        I doubt his subconscious is really that corny.

    • Kevin Leonard

      Curious that your definition of atheism contains the word “believe” twice, then you go on to say that it is not a belief system.

      • Andrew

        The first time “believe” was preceded by the word “not.”

        • Kevin Leonard

          There is a simple truth that, when it comes down to it, there is precious little that we actually know – and that is nothing more than our own experience of something, which, in itself, is flawed, especially when we try to convey that experience to someone else.

          The way we conduct our lives is based almost entirely on other people’s experiences and our faith, our belief, that they are acting in good conscience when they, for instance, teach us that it is not safe to cross the street without looking in both directions, or publish journals reviewed by peers – or that they hold some grand wisdom.

          In the case of atheists, saying you do not believe in a god, or God, is really nothing more than saying that you don’t accept anything that cannot be proven, which is a belief that nothing can be true until it is proven (apparently by material means). Nevermind the fact that science makes new discoveries on a fairly regular basis and those things existed prior to the stamp of approval by scientists.

          There are other semantical issues, as well, as Liam_McGonagle and others have indicated. The author here was very smart in prefacing a section with “You know how I define spirituality?” because it gave us common ground and understanding. That is not how I define spirituality, but now I can understand where he is coming from.

          Words have specific meanings to specific people. I find one of the hardest questions to answer to be “Do you believe in god?” because I have to say, what do you mean by “god” and what do you mean by “believe.”

        • Kevin Leonard

          There is a simple truth that, when it comes down to it, there is precious little that we actually know – and that is nothing more than our own experience of something, which, in itself, is flawed, especially when we try to convey that experience to someone else.

          The way we conduct our lives is based almost entirely on other people’s experiences and our faith, our belief, that they are acting in good conscience when they, for instance, teach us that it is not safe to cross the street without looking in both directions, or publish journals reviewed by peers – or that they hold some grand wisdom.

          In the case of atheists, saying you do not believe in a god, or God, is really nothing more than saying that you don’t accept anything that cannot be proven, which is a belief that nothing can be true until it is proven (apparently by material means). Nevermind the fact that science makes new discoveries on a fairly regular basis and those things existed prior to the stamp of approval by scientists.

          There are other semantical issues, as well, as Liam_McGonagle and others have indicated. The author here was very smart in prefacing a section with “You know how I define spirituality?” because it gave us common ground and understanding. That is not how I define spirituality, but now I can understand where he is coming from.

          Words have specific meanings to specific people. I find one of the hardest questions to answer to be “Do you believe in god?” because I have to say, what do you mean by “god” and what do you mean by “believe.”

          • Kevin Leonard

            be·lief
            noun bə-ˈlēf

            1: a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing
            2: something believed; especially : a tenet or body of tenets held by a group
            3: conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence

          • Kevin Leonard

            be·lief
            noun bə-ˈlēf

            1: a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing
            2: something believed; especially : a tenet or body of tenets held by a group
            3: conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence

          • http://twitter.com/RayButlers Ray Butlers

            so the word “belief” has several meanings. Matters of faith and matters of understanding the evidence.

          • Kevin Leonard

            You equate belief and comprehension?
            …might want to check those Mac Davis quotes.

          • http://twitter.com/RayButlers Ray Butlers

            I did not equate them. I said that there are at least two meanings of interest that are sometimes used to play semantical games. For example, my belief in evolutionary biology is not a matter of faith, but one of evidence. Some people like to make it seem as if that “belief” is matter of faith, which it is not.

          • Kevin Leonard

            I’ll not argue against that it is a semantics issue.
            But your “belief in evolutionary biology” (there’s that word again), by definition, is a matter of faith (/fāTH/ 1.Complete trust or confidence in someone or something).

          • http://twitter.com/RayButlers Ray Butlers

            that comment makes no sense, especially in light of the information that you provided previously:

            “conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence”

            Just to be clear, my “belief” in evolutionary biology is based on my examination of the evidence. Quite different than complete trust and confidence in something.

            Your response is NOT the avoidance of the semantics issue, but the very same game to which I referred.

            You are being deliberately obtuse. Starting to think that you and Ted are one and the same.

          • Kevin Leonard

            So you don’t have complete confidence in evolutionary biology? No faith in science? Good for you.

            It is obvious you have difficulty understanding me, though I am not being deliberate about it.

            I like semantics. If you have read any of my posts, this should be patently obvious, especially when I plainly state that this is a semantics issue.

            I will take the Ted comment as a compliment.

          • Kevin Leonard

            So you don’t have complete confidence in evolutionary biology? No faith in science? Good for you.

            It is obvious you have difficulty understanding me, though I am not being deliberate about it.

            I like semantics. If you have read any of my posts, this should be patently obvious, especially when I plainly state that this is a semantics issue.

            I will take the Ted comment as a compliment.

          • Guest

            again: aggressive, obnoxious, disrespectful game-player. How tedious.

          • Guest

            again: aggressive, obnoxious, disrespectful game-player. How tedious.

          • Kevin Leonard

            hominem hominem ad ad hominem
            (to the tune of “summertime summertime”)

          • http://twitter.com/RayButlers Ray Butlers

            and childish. go ahead. have the last word.

          • http://twitter.com/RayButlers Ray Butlers

            and childish. go ahead. have the last word.

          • Kevin Leonard

            I’ll take it.

            Here is an illustration of irony: You call me aggressive for pushing my point after you first call me “deliberately obtuse” and compare me to someone you hold in a negative light (though, I will repeat that I enjoy the comparison). You call me obnoxious after implying that certain atheists have a right to be arrogant because they are perfect in every way, and then call me childish because I also invoke a melody. You call me disrespectful when have done nothing to earn my respect.

          • Andrew

            Saying you do not believe in a god, or God, is not saying that you don’t accept anything that
            cannot be proven.

          • Kevin Leonard

            I am aware of the false equivalent, however, that is the argument that typically follows.

          • Andrew

            In addition to asking what a person meant by “god” and “believe,” I’d have to ask them what they meant by “you.”

          • Kevin Leonard

            Word.

          • drokhole

            Alan Watts – Not What Should Be But What Is
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vaaJP6fpJ0

      • bobbiethejean

        A belief and a “belief system” are not the same thing, firstly, and secondly, to believe and to disbelieve are also not the same thing.

        • Matt Staggs

          I believe I can fly….

          • bobbiethejean

            You’re an I-believe-I-can-flyeist?

          • Matt Staggs

            We prefer not to test our faith, though. All of our temples are one-floor only.

        • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

          I get the feeling more people object to your dogmatism than your atheism. My biggest argument against religion has always been dogma, yet while you have completely different sets of beliefs, you have the same level of conviction and righteousness.

          • bobbiethejean

            Have you even ever bothered to ask me what I believe? Because until you understand my beliefs, you have no right to call me dogmatic. I certainly am not. However I have very little tolerance for willful ignorance and that can come across as dogmatic I suppose.

          • echar

            You “intuitively” made some assumptions about Mr. McKraken. Is it not fair to receive the same in return? You did set that tone from my perspective. In all honesty, I don’t care. Just pointing something out.

            We all have beliefs, or lack there of, or whatever.

          • bobbiethejean

            There’s is a difference between making baseless or unfair assumptions and assumptions based on logic, evidence, and intuition stemming from advanced understanding of human nature and psychology.

          • echar

            ok :)

          • bobbiethejean

            I will concede it is entirely possible he had that dream about Hitchens. I couldn’t prove otherwise. But I will say I think it is unlikely. Too often I have seen “I had this dream” used as a device to evade responsibility for spouting nonsense.

          • echar

            Now I understand, and I appreciate you explaining yourself. Honestly, I have learned through experience to take anything that anyone says online with a grain of salt.

          • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

            I suppose I’ve always been a bit more concerned about how you believe than what you believe. for example i’m torn over whether i should tell you that I don’t believe in willful ignorance, or that I believe you are willfully ignorant of the fact that you are willfully ignorant.

          • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

            I suppose I’ve always been a bit more concerned about how you believe than what you believe. for example i’m torn over whether i should tell you that I don’t believe in willful ignorance, or that I believe you are willfully ignorant of the fact that you are willfully ignorant.

          • bobbiethejean

            So which is it? Either you don’t believe in willful ignorance because you are uninformed ( here, let me enlighten you: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Willful_ignorance )or you think I am suffering from willful ignorance to which I would reply, “evidence?”

    • jnana

      But what if it is true? Wht if Jesus did die on the cross? What if he did come back across? What if he is serious about what he was teaching? What if his teachings are valid?
      A lot of people will flip out when strange events start occurring more frequently in their lives. Of course, there are many ways to “rationalize” a way out of confronting strange goings on.

      • bobbiethejean

        Then I’d go from being an atheist to an anti-Yahwehist because that guy is a horrible monster.

        • jnana

          who says Jesus and Yahweh are one and the same?

          • bobbiethejean

            Have you not read the bible- specifically the part where it clearly says, many times in fact, that Jesus, the holy spirit, and god are all three in one?

          • Kevin Leonard

            Jesus never names Yawheh. He does not say I and YHWH are one.

          • bobbiethejean

            Jesus names god, doesn’t he? God is understood to be Yahweh AKA Jehova, el Shadai, el abba allah yahweh, the father, etc, ne?

          • bobbiethejean

            Jesus names god, doesn’t he? God is understood to be Yahweh AKA Jehova, el Shadai, el abba allah yahweh, the father, etc, ne?

          • Kevin Leonard

            That is a common interpretation, but just one of them. jnana may have a succinct exposition of another interpretation, but there is an abundance of material on the web which present, in depth, the idea that the God of the New Testament and YHWH are not the same entity.

          • jnana

            there’s even some early Xian material that claims Jesus and the God of the New Testament aren’t the same, namely the Gospel of Judas. But Ptolemy’s Letter to Flora is a text I would suggest reading for anyone interested in a more nuanced discussion on the difference b/w Jesus’ teachings and those of Mosaic law, Jewish tradition, etc. There isn’t just one formulaic interpretation by Xians as there are many different beliefs among those who call themselves Xian.

          • bobbiethejean

            As a holy book or guide to life, the bible fails miserably because it can be interpreted in so many different ways and not only that, but it absolutely lacks any evidential backing. Yeah, ok, Jesus was a cool guy for the time he lived in, but that’s one of the very, very few good things that can be said about the bible. The rest of it is nonsense, BS, or downright horrible.

            I mean, any book that includes explicit descriptions on how to sell your daughter into sex slavery or chopping up prostitutes and using the body parts to intimidate people should be excluded as a guide to life. Even if you completely discard the Old Testament (and ignore the bit about not adding to or taking away from the bible lest you burn in hell) the New Testament isn’t much better! I can throw a shit-ton of NT passages the new testament at you, you can take my word for it, or you can look it up yourself.

            Anyway, long story short, I find the bible reprehensible. If I met Jesus, I’m sure I’d think he was a cool guy but I’d expect some explanations about all that murdering bullshit his alleged father may or may not have committed. I still wouldn’t worship him though because the idea is ludicrous. Think about that- a god powerful enough to create the entire cosmos, to know the secrets of any human mind, and break the laws of physics wants and demands the unconditional love and worship of an ant like me and if he doesn’t get it, he will send me to hell for all eternity? Pft.

          • bobbiethejean

            As a holy book or guide to life, the bible fails miserably because it can be interpreted in so many different ways and not only that, but it absolutely lacks any evidential backing. Yeah, ok, Jesus was a cool guy for the time he lived in, but that’s one of the very, very few good things that can be said about the bible. The rest of it is nonsense, BS, or downright horrible.

            I mean, any book that includes explicit descriptions on how to sell your daughter into sex slavery or chopping up prostitutes and using the body parts to intimidate people should be excluded as a guide to life. Even if you completely discard the Old Testament (and ignore the bit about not adding to or taking away from the bible lest you burn in hell) the New Testament isn’t much better! I can throw a shit-ton of NT passages the new testament at you, you can take my word for it, or you can look it up yourself.

            Anyway, long story short, I find the bible reprehensible. If I met Jesus, I’m sure I’d think he was a cool guy but I’d expect some explanations about all that murdering bullshit his alleged father may or may not have committed. I still wouldn’t worship him though because the idea is ludicrous. Think about that- a god powerful enough to create the entire cosmos, to know the secrets of any human mind, and break the laws of physics wants and demands the unconditional love and worship of an ant like me and if he doesn’t get it, he will send me to hell for all eternity? Pft.

          • Kevin Leonard

            On the one hand. I’m not really sure why you are making this argument to me. I have never defended the Bible on any of the points are making.

            On the other hand. In my varied studies of different spiritual texts, no matter which ones, I have found the following statement to be rather consistent: If you are looking for falsehoods, you will find falsehoods. If you are looking for truth, you will find truth.

            I read a quote by some Rabbi saying, “A literal understanding of the Bible is for children.”

          • jnana

            The canonical bible has helped me out a bunch, Old and New Testament. You just gotta learn how to interpret it, like your dreams. All sorts o’ religious scriptures helped me. But you gotta actually be walking the spiritual path to really understand the signs on it. Otherwise, I understand why it sounds ridiculous to you. You’ll never understand until you commit yourself to understanding Truth, in whatever form it comes in. Hence spiritual practices to create a receptive mind free of conditioned prejudices.

          • Kevin Leonard

            I am not a Theosophist, but this gives some decent exposition on one alternative interpretation of “The Father.”
            http://www.theosophy-nw.org/theosnw/world/christ/xt-oste.htm

          • bobbiethejean

            Jesus may never have said Yahweh but he said words that link back to Yahweh, didn’t he? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yahweh Even if I’m wrong about that, my ultimate point still stands- God is a murdering, vicious, horrid, tyrannical dictator.

          • jnana

            Who’s God?

            My God surely isn’t or I wouldn’t CHOOSE to serve him.

          • jnana

            Who’s God?

            My God surely isn’t or I wouldn’t CHOOSE to serve him.

          • Kevin Leonard

            Again, that is the common interpretation. But it is the Church that linked Jesus’ words back to Yahweh. I have no fondness for the Church. For much of the same reasons as Dawkins. In the video you linked, it showed very clearly how religion merged different deities into one god. What makes you think it is any different here?

            You have a narrow perspective on “god” – necessarily, one might add – but yours is defined by hellfire Christians. I will actually stand next to you in refusing to submit to such a deity. In a discussion with such a Christian, once, I asked these questions “Do you believe in an all-knowing God? [yes] Do you believe in a loving God? [yes] Then how can you believe that such a God can bring someone into this world, knowing that they will never accept Jesus as their personal savior, and therefore damn them to hell? Where is the love? … [that's a good point]”

            There is deep esotericism in the Bible. I cannot accept it at face value, either, but that does not mean that there is not truth within.

          • Kevin Leonard

            Again, that is the common interpretation. But it is the Church that linked Jesus’ words back to Yahweh. I have no fondness for the Church. For much of the same reasons as Dawkins. In the video you linked, it showed very clearly how religion merged different deities into one god. What makes you think it is any different here?

            You have a narrow perspective on “god” – necessarily, one might add – but yours is defined by hellfire Christians. I will actually stand next to you in refusing to submit to such a deity. In a discussion with such a Christian, once, I asked these questions “Do you believe in an all-knowing God? [yes] Do you believe in a loving God? [yes] Then how can you believe that such a God can bring someone into this world, knowing that they will never accept Jesus as their personal savior, and therefore damn them to hell? Where is the love? … [that's a good point]”

            There is deep esotericism in the Bible. I cannot accept it at face value, either, but that does not mean that there is not truth within.

          • bobbiethejean

            Interesting. Interesting indeed. Hm.

          • Kevin Leonard

            funny down vote. care to show me the passage where he does?

          • jnana

            it doesn’t say that actually, although one could interpret it that way, that is that God is a Trinity. Jesus does say that “I and the Father are One” But He also says those who do the Fathers will are one with Him. I do personally believe the Trinity is a mystery of the Divine. But So is duality and Jung talks about how 4 is a divine number.

          • jnana

            and yer right, Yahweh is a monster, or rather more of a Dr. Frankenstein.

          • bobbiethejean

            Well I don’t see how god is any better even if he isn’t the same as Yahweh. God would demand that I worship him and if I don’t, I go to hell for all eternity. That’s beyond absurd.

          • jnana

            Where do you get your understanding of God? Why do you believe God demands you to worship him? Because SOME people say that? Some people say a lot of things about God. All sorts of beliefs. If you want to get to know God, though, know your self first, because you were created by hIm/her. Made in his/her image and all that…

          • bobbiethejean

            I’m an atheist. I don’t believe. Of what I know about the character, I know from the bible.

        • Matt Staggs

          Some of the Gnostics believed exactly that: Jehovah is the demiurge, a nasty little god in control of the material world who believes that he is THE god. Interesting stuff.

          • jnana

            sometimes hes considered a psychopath of sorts, other times hes just trying to the best he can with the material he’s got.

          • bobbiethejean

            I was ever so loosely informed of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlnnWbkMlbg (highly recommend watching that. It’s fascinating. Gonna rewatch myself. :3) However I am actually a little surprised to see people believing this since it’s not taught in any church anywhere that I’ve heard of. I thought the vast majority of Christians subscribed to the concept of the Trinity, the one god, the holy spirit, and Jesus as his son.

          • Kevin Leonard

            It is a good presentation. And I will look at more of the sections because it is so. But every statement the narrator begins with “maybe” or “perhaps” in 3.3.3 part 2 are just as lacking in evidence as the other notions of god. And so his is a belief system, no less than others.

            All of the questions raised are incredibly valid, many of which I still struggle with. But there are cosmologies that have more cohesive frameworks than mainstream Christianity that answer many of them, if not all.

          • bobbiethejean

            I really admire the guy who makes those videos. He’s so….. professional and reserved.

          • bobbiethejean

            I really admire the guy who makes those videos. He’s so….. professional and reserved.

          • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

            Its taught in Gnostic churches. There aren’t that many of them. Its more of an esoteric thing, like an idea people toss around.

          • jnana

            Most gnostics don’t attend gnostic churches, they’re usually hidden in other traditions, the OGs were hidden in the Catlic Church.
            Jesus said, Blessed are the alone and chosen. For you have come from the Kingdom and will return there soon.

        • Andrew

          Being a monster does not preclude one from being God.

        • Andrew

          Being a monster does not preclude one from being God.

    • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

      If it is how you define the manner in which you manage your beliefs, how is it not a belief system?

      If it is how you define your understanding of how you view the world, how is it not a worldview?

    • http://twitter.com/mlilback Mark Lilback

      What about those who just don’t give a damn? Obviously, christianity is a provable load of crap (the bible can’t be factual as it was edited thousands of times). As to other spirituality questions, I treat them like celebrity gossip, sports, and quantum mechanics. They have no place in my life and if I’m wrong that there is no afterlife, oh well.

      Maybe there is a better term, but I’ve not found one. Every other atheist I’ve met largely feels the same.

      As to attacking christian beliefs, I’m just correcting someone who is wrong, the same as a correct anyone who says uses “good” instead of “well”. It has nothing to do with religion per-say. It is just a result of being rational.

    • http://twitter.com/mlilback Mark Lilback

      What about those who just don’t give a damn? Obviously, christianity is a provable load of crap (the bible can’t be factual as it was edited thousands of times). As to other spirituality questions, I treat them like celebrity gossip, sports, and quantum mechanics. They have no place in my life and if I’m wrong that there is no afterlife, oh well.

      Maybe there is a better term, but I’ve not found one. Every other atheist I’ve met largely feels the same.

      As to attacking christian beliefs, I’m just correcting someone who is wrong, the same as a correct anyone who says uses “good” instead of “well”. It has nothing to do with religion per-say. It is just a result of being rational.

      • echar

        Rationally right like this?

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARJ8cAGm6JE

        Did you mean per se?

        :D

      • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

        So all Christians are fundamentalists who interpret the Bible literally? Or could you possibly be missing a lot of subtlety and nuance when you “correct someone who is wrong”?

        • http://twitter.com/RayButlers Ray Butlers

          Mark said no such thing. You have a bad habit of accusing people of things they didn’t do. Why is that?

          • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

            “do” ? all he did was type characters into a computer. I just go on syntax. Assuming he uses the English language the consensus way, he appears to have made some unjustified claims such as “christianity is a provable load of crap”

            Which implies all of Christendom presents falsifiable propositions, such as “the Earth is 6000 years old, etc.” challenging people to disprove it. Obviously he referring only to Fundamentalists, which means he is missing a lot.

          • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

            “do” ? all he did was type characters into a computer. I just go on syntax. Assuming he uses the English language the consensus way, he appears to have made some unjustified claims such as “christianity is a provable load of crap”

            Which implies all of Christendom presents falsifiable propositions, such as “the Earth is 6000 years old, etc.” challenging people to disprove it. Obviously he referring only to Fundamentalists, which means he is missing a lot.

          • Guest

            you obviously make a lot of assumptions. Clever. That way, you’ll win all arguments.

            BTW: I find you to be disrespectful and aggressive. I regret engaging you at all.

          • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

            (((hug))) (((Ray))))

      • mannyfurious

        The problem is that most Christians read the Bible literally, sure. But that doesn’t mean the mythology and symbolism isn’t meaningful. Try reading some Joseph Campbell. The problem a lot of atheist-types have is in understanding that spirituality can be healthy and even when it is healthy it’s not totally rational. Just like life isn’t rational, and just like, when you get down to it, science isn’t rational (i.e. Why is there anything in the first place? Science cannot and will not ever answer the most basic, fundamental problem in all of existence. Because the answer cannot be “rational” in the traditional sense of the term. You can say it all began with the big bang, but what was before that? A singluarity-like point? Where did that come from? Two membranes smacking against each other in a extra-dimension. Where did the membranes come from? And if they’ve always been there, what the fuck does that mean? etc. )

      • mannyfurious

        The problem is that most Christians read the Bible literally, sure. But that doesn’t mean the mythology and symbolism isn’t meaningful. Try reading some Joseph Campbell. The problem a lot of atheist-types have is in understanding that spirituality can be healthy and even when it is healthy it’s not totally rational. Just like life isn’t rational, and just like, when you get down to it, science isn’t rational (i.e. Why is there anything in the first place? Science cannot and will not ever answer the most basic, fundamental problem in all of existence. Because the answer cannot be “rational” in the traditional sense of the term. You can say it all began with the big bang, but what was before that? A singluarity-like point? Where did that come from? Two membranes smacking against each other in a extra-dimension. Where did the membranes come from? And if they’ve always been there, what the fuck does that mean? etc. )

        • http://twitter.com/RayButlers Ray Butlers

          I don’t agree that life is irrational. You live. You die. Rational. The rest is theory.

          http://youtu.be/hiq1lturAao

  • jnana

    Jesus Christ was the greatest shaman this world has ever known. Jesus said, “Whoever drinks from my mouth will become like me; I, too will become that person, and to that person the obscure things will be shown forth”
    “Jesus says to his disciples: “Compare me, and tell me whom I am like.” Simon Peter says to him: “Thou art like a just angel!” Matthew says to him: “Thou art like a wise man and a philosopher!” Thomas says to him: “Master, my tongue cannot find words to say whom thou art like.” Jesus says: “I am no longer thy master; for thou hast drunk, thou art inebriated from the bubbling spring which is mine and which I sent forth.” Then he took him aside; he said three words to him. And when Thomas came back to his companions, they asked him: “What did Jesus say to thee?” And Thomas answered them: “If I tell you one of the words he said to me, you will take up stones and throw them at me, and fire will come out of the stones and consume you!”
    What is interesting about this, is anyone who is familiar with South American shamanism will recognize a similarity. When a disciple decides to become a shaman, an elder shaman initiates. Near the completion of the initiation the elder shaman spits up this thick mucous which the initiate drinks. This mucous contains power or somesuch. There is a really cool ayahuasca painting with this image. Anyway, read the above passages of the Gospel of Thomas and you’ll realize Jesus does the same thing. He was a shaman, the GREATEST shaman who taught us how to subvert the plans of the archons.

  • Geoff Henry

    What a bunch of crap. If you’re going to program yourself, why not just find inner peace etc. without the mystic bullshit that invariably ends in priesthood, superiority, and all that comes with that?

    • Kevin Leonard

      i find atheists such as dawkins and maher and their followers to be far more arrogant with their supposed intellectual superiority than any mystic i have ever encountered

      • mannyfurious

        That about nails it. As much as certain atheists would like to deny as much, many of them are guilty of exactly the same things they accuse others of, except they do so under the guise of “science” or “reason” when there isn’t much actual science or reason involved.

        • Bob the Lunatic

          Absolutely. This includes blind faith and resorting to ad hominem, and oh are they fans of straw men, and other fallacies. Hitchens is a great example-he never even tried to debate a Buddhist, yet made ignorant sweeping claims about it. Too bad really as his anti-theist arguments were nearly brilliant (apparently pointing out obvious stuff is “brilliant” in the realm of indoctrination), yet he dashes the integrity of it by trying to make the false equivocation of religion and theism-oops.

          Why don’t they study Eastern religions-so as to actually make an intelligent argument? Laziness? fear? arrogance? Nothing dignified, nothing respectable leads to it, that’s for sure.

          In the end, yes they come full circle to be as full cupped, as closed minded, as arrogant, and as silly sounding with blind faith reasoning and dominionist superiority as the christian backgrounds they usually come from.

          This leads to my theory: They dropped god, but kept the rest, the superiority, the insolence, the need to have a blind spot, etc….

          I call them “Christian atheists” as that’s exactly what they act like.

          • mannyfurious

            Great post. I would argue that they don’t even need to study Buddhism. Just read some David Bohm, who was a physicist, a disciple of Einstein and whose work now is just becoming more widely accepted (he’s the mind behind the idea of a “holographic” universe).

          • Kevin Leonard

            And then some Jacob Boehme ;-)

          • Kevin Leonard

            Yes! Excellent. I watched a debate with Dawkins once and kept thinking, he makes a good argument against the Christian religion, but that is about it. I think this is a Fallacy of Composition, yes?

          • Kevin Leonard

            Yes! Excellent. I watched a debate with Dawkins once and kept thinking, he makes a good argument against the Christian religion, but that is about it. I think this is a Fallacy of Composition, yes?

          • Bob the Lunatic

            Indeed Kevin, I have trouble keeping all the fallacies straight. But clearly this mistake, made so often by closed minded atheists (what else could they be?) is a variety of fallacies, beginning with that of composition.

            I do enjoy the irony of it though-to press this fallacy, they’ll need to resort to many others and exhibit all the things they claim to hate-like blind faith, irrationality, etc.

          • drokhole

            Alan Watts has a great lecture that speaks exactly to that point:

            Our Image of the World
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INVjMaoA-yg

            If you’d prefer, here’s the full transcript:

            http://www.erowid.org/culture/characters/watts_alan/watts_alan_article1.shtml

            He pretty much spells out what you summed up so well.

      • http://twitter.com/RayButlers Ray Butlers

        Oh lord it’s hard to be humble.

    • mannyfurious

      Also, too, I would point out that throughout history, “enlightened” people kept a pretty low profile. Most of the Zen masters didn’t write any books and pleaded with their disciples to not keep record of their teachings. It’s only since about the 19th century since people figured out they could make good money and/or have lots of sex if people believed they were spiritually superior. That’s why we have the situation where we do now, where spiritual growth, which is supposed to include the destruction of the ego, is actually a cause for significant ego-bloat, as you point out.

      In short, I personally don’t believe that any person who makes a name of themselves through their supposed spiritual maturity is genuine. These people are usually fakes and should be looked upon with some sort of scorn.

      • Andrew

        Did the enlightened masters go around calling unenlightened people “sheeple” like so many do around here?

        • mannyfurious

          Rinzai referred to practitioners of certain other sects of Buddhism as, “Bald Headed idiots” so it wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility. Although, sure, I certainly hope “enlightened” people are, at the very least, a little more creative than the rest of us.

        • mannyfurious

          Rinzai referred to practitioners of certain other sects of Buddhism as, “Bald Headed idiots” so it wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility. Although, sure, I certainly hope “enlightened” people are, at the very least, a little more creative than the rest of us.

      • Kevin Leonard

        There are a few exceptions.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYVXOdvNhxw

      • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

        I’m a little more skeptical of Zen masters throughout history.

        • mannyfurious

          Um. Ok? Care to elaborate? Either way, there tends to be a continual inclination on behalf of spiritually mature individuals to scorn excessive attention and wealth, both east and west, until very recently.

          • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

            Well, beating people to death with sticks, Political corruption things like that. Don’t get me wrong, I think Zen is a perfectly Noble religion. Just don’t set yourself up for a fall thinking that its history is totally pure. Because what would you do if you found out otherwise?

            I tend to think that all world Religion have similar Foibles.

          • mannyfurious

            Most of that stuff didn’t start becoming an issue until zen made it to Japan and it got fairly distorted for some reason. The Chinese masters appeared to have used sticks occasionally but I don’t recall anyone being beaten to death. The most questionable actions of early Chan masters were their willingness to play politics to some extant to keep their patrons’ pocketbooks cracked. It’s not totally excusable but what are you going to do? Even then it wasn’t possible to keep a temple going for free.

            I don’t know if you’ve read Victoria’s book. He makes a lot of good points but he’s also so quick to demonize zen that he more than overstates his case from time to time. And even in Japanese Zen there were a number of seemingly genuine masters such as Bankei and even hakuin and ikkyu.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gene.semel Gene Semel

    Another great piece Mr. McKraken!

  • http://www.facebook.com/gene.semel Gene Semel

    Another great piece Mr. McKraken!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Eeriesilence Alisa J. Fomenko

    It’s funny, you are quite right about both christians and atheists being very closed minded to real spirituality. And I disagree that dreams are “just stuff you see the previous day” because I never ever dream of what I have ever seen, I go to terrible places and very beautiful ones. And I have never seen them before in my life.
    But the question is, what do you consider me? I consider myself an atheisticly leaning pantheist. Pantheist meaning that I believe that the universe itself is god, but infusing atheism means that I don’t believe that it is a personal god or a god that particularly exists as a being. Yet I explore my spirituality very often.

    • echar

      I am not sure who you asking, but I will answer.

      What do you consider you?

  • BuzzCoastin

    The tao that can be told
    is not the eternal Tao
    The name that can be named
    is not the eternal Name.

    The unnamable is the eternally real.
    Naming is the origin
    of all particular things.

    • Kevin Leonard

      One day Chuang Tzu and a friend were walking by a river. “Look at the fish
      swimming about,” said Chuang Tzu, “They are really enjoying themselves.”

      “You are not a fish,” replied the friend, “So you can’t truly know that they
      are enjoying themselves.”

      “You are not me,” said Chuang Tzu. “So how do you know that I do not
      know that the fish are enjoying themselves?”

    • Kevin Leonard

      One day Chuang Tzu and a friend were walking by a river. “Look at the fish
      swimming about,” said Chuang Tzu, “They are really enjoying themselves.”

      “You are not a fish,” replied the friend, “So you can’t truly know that they
      are enjoying themselves.”

      “You are not me,” said Chuang Tzu. “So how do you know that I do not
      know that the fish are enjoying themselves?”

      • BuzzCoastin

        Zhuangzi is a later adaptation & interpretation
        of the “Taoist” thought
        less refined than the Laozi
        more wordy, less subtle & somewhat degraded
        but I dig it nonetheless

    • drokhole

      “Truth cannot be known except through direct experience, through enlightenment. And often language is a barrier to knowing the truth because there is a confusion between beams of non-verbal intuition and that learned arbitrary framework called language. For it is quite clear now that learning to speak a language means learning to think in a language – that is, learning to think in terms of abstract verbal concepts and grammatical categories. Language is symbolic; and language thinking is symbol-thinking. And symbols are always less than the realities for which they stand. As such, language constricts consciousness and places limits on understanding. One must go beyond words and other symbols to a direct, unmediated vision in which perceptions are not filtered through a linguistic screen existing in the mind.” – John White (“The Highest State of Consciousness”)

      • BuzzCoastin

        great quote, but wordy in comparison to Laozi
        who says the exact same thing in far fewer words
        which is why I conjecture that the Laozi writings
        predates Chinese civilization as we now know it
        and is much older than the date commonly ascribed to it

        • Kevin Leonard

          I had four translations of the tao te ching at one point.
          One of them took three paragraphs to explain what Lao Tzu said in four characters.

          • BuzzCoastin

            I think I’ve got about 12 or more digital copies, one is a literal translation
            even that can’t get the words down to the original number

            I also discovered that the script is so ancient
            that modern Chinese cannot read it
            and it has to be translated into modern Chinese characters

          • Kevin Leonard

            such amazing material for contemplation…

          • BuzzCoastin

            When a superior man hears of the Tao,
            he immediately begins to embody it.
            When an average man hears of the Tao,
            he half believes it, half doubts it.
            When a foolish man hears of the Tao,
            he laughs out loud.
            If he didn’t laugh,
            it wouldn’t be the Tao.

            the first time I read that
            I really laughed long & hard

          • BuzzCoastin

            When a superior man hears of the Tao,
            he immediately begins to embody it.
            When an average man hears of the Tao,
            he half believes it, half doubts it.
            When a foolish man hears of the Tao,
            he laughs out loud.
            If he didn’t laugh,
            it wouldn’t be the Tao.

            the first time I read that
            I really laughed long & hard

          • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

            I did too!

          • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

            I did too!

        • drokhole

          Oh, absolutely. I was gonna say as much afterward. Had this Zen story in the back of my mind (as I fall into the word-trap again):

          Once upon a time, there was a Zen student who quoted an old Buddhist poem to his teacher in saying:

          “‘The voices of torrents are from one great tongue, the lions of the hills are the pure body of Buddha.’ Isn’t that right?” he asked the teacher.

          ‘It is,’ said the teacher, ‘but it’s a pity to say so.’

  • drokhole

    This was great. Lots of great contributions and insights in the comments, too.

    I’m reading a pretty great book/anthology at the moment edited together by John White called “The Highest State of Consciousness.” He put it together in 1971, and a lot of it echoes this article almost to a T. Especially in the unwillingness to address or accept these experiences as legitimate and/or something other than some sort of regression or psychosis by the atheistic/materialistic community/academy. Also, how now (just like then) people don’t like to talk about these experiences for fear of being ridiculed, marginalized, and/or labeled “woo” and into “magical thinking.” Of course, its true persuasiveness lies on having the actual experience itself, but I can’t see how someone can continue to deny its existence/reality/significance when confronted with the staggering (and varied) amount of material that’s featured in that book alone (that is, as mentioned, if you could get them to read it). As Aldous Huxley put it:

    “If it [the visionary experience] is co-operated with, if we perceive this has some sort of deep significance and we do something about it, then it may be very, very important in changing our lives, changing our mode of consciousness, perceiving that there are other ways of looking at the world than the ordinary utilitarian manner, and it may also result in significant changes of behavior [for the good].”

    That’s from the transcript (featured in the book) of this excellent speech Huxley gave to the International Congress of Applied Psychology:

    Visionary Experience – Aldous Huxley MIT Lecture ’61 Part 1
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wogDOSeNAfE

    And here’s the book:

    The Highest State of Consciousness
    http://www.amazon.com/Highest-State-Consciousness-John-White/dp/1908733314/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1362622212&sr=8-1&keywords=the+highest+state+of+consciousness

    This is also a fun site to explore:

    The Archives of Scientists’ Transcendent Experiences
    http://www.issc-taste.org/arc/dbo.cgi?set=arc&ss=1

    My favorite being the “Cosmic Consciousness” experiences, with this one as the standard-bearer:

    My Experience of Cosmic Consciousness
    http://www.issc-taste.org/arc/dbo.cgi?set=expom&id=00004&ss=1

    “Whatever we will to do, whether it be to come to the unitive knowledge of the Godhead, or manufacture self-propelled flame-throwers – that we are able to do, provided always that the willing be sufficiently intense and sustained.” – Aldous Huxley (“The Perennial Philosophy”)

  • emperorreagan

    I think anything you can place under a neat label will tend to become simplistic because many people become invested in defining what that label is, defining the in group and the other. It becomes restrictive.

    The other element these labels carry is an emotional charge. People’s identities become so dependent on these associations that anything critical of the chosen identity is a personal attack.

    • jnana

      I call myself a Xian yet there is probably nothing you can say about Xian thought that would get me upset and/or take it personally. I actually encourage people to criticize Xian thought because that may mean they’re actually THINKING, even when its repeating what they’re taught. ///jesus and thought inspired by him brings up a lot of important questions about the nature of life and reality that could benefit anyone w/ an open mind

  • http://www.facebook.com/jacob.garrison.31 Jacob Garrison

    I quit reading when he said he liked Bill Maher.

  • Captain Ob(li)vious

    Let me remind all of you commenters of something; We’re not talking about Atheism or Christianity. We are talking about Atheists and Christians.

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  • Alan Morse Davies

    Atheism is not a unified belief system, it’s a non-adoption (or rejection) of other long-standing belief systems but not an indictment of them… that requires intolerance. The desire to equate a rejection of certain belief systems with a homogenous community comes from those “with faith” failing to understand the nature of the rejection, and them believing that somehow the non-adopters are a unified community with shared values.

    I don’t swim very often. I don’t believe I have much in common with other non-swimmers.

    Our knowledge develops, is limited by our intelligence and is fallible, what we know as conclusively true today is not the same conclusive truth as we had 50 years ago.

    My partner is religious, I am not. To the question does God exist, my answer is maybe, but if so everything written about God is wrong, based on what we know. So if God exists, it’s a whole different kettle of fish.

    I can’t prove that our universe wasn’t created… but neither can I prove that it was (perhaps by a collision in the 11th dimension of M-Theory). These two things are informed by a question: where did our universe come from? As an atheist I’m saying I don’t know. It’s OK to not know. If by saying I don’t know I offend religious communities so be it.

    I think there’s a cultural bias to equate Atheism with Darwinism (oh that Darwinism is so dangerous!)… somehow what people of faith take out of Darwinism is that it’s a cold reductionist view of humanity. We are pointless ants who fuck then die. This is a result of taking God out of the picture, if he didn’t make us then we are pointless!

    The picture is the wrong way round.

    We are made of atoms formed at the birth of the universe and right here right now we have life. We get recycled. That doesn’t have to mean something bad as we don’t even know what that means!

    • shane brown

      Exactly. I think the author is confusing atheism with nihilism. Or something. The usual ignorance – atheism = belief system. Facepalm, as they say. Quite the opposite, ladies and gents.

      He’s also TOTALLY RIGHT about atheists. Not a single one of them has ever considered or explored what is perceived to be the spirit realm. Not a single experience among any one of us blindly unified dolts. Especially not me.

      The whole “I’m into this and you’re clearly not so I’m having more fun and living better and am more interesting than you.” thing sounds pretty juvenile. Mainstream even. I did some drugs when I was younger and now have moved to stuff beyond that! Now listen to me! Like, wake up, bro!

  • Alan Morse Davies

    I’m a little bit astonished by the comments, there were a few good ones but not many, thanks Kevin Leonard. I think “atheism” has a different meaning in the U.S., which I learnt to my cost during a dinner once, it seems to be interpreted closed to “satanism”.

    I personally think Christopher Hitchens was a great social and political commentator and thinker and that Bill Maher is often funny but I don’t follow them in a way that informs my life or my values… I came to those on my own.

    My personal experience includes the spiritual, those things we cannot explain, I just choose not to try and convince others of the universal truth of my experiences.

    There was a lot of quoting of “universal truth” here. I don’t want to be disrespectful of others beliefs. Why is it NOT OK to say I don’t share that “universal truth”?

    For me, this is the core of the problem. Is it OK to say “I don’t believe in what you believe”? Is the very act of saying it a personal assault on those beliefs?

    For me, the tragedy is in the potential takedowns. I don’t want to have to deconstruct your faith in order to win an argument… but I can if you want to start the discussion, it won’t make either of us any happier.

    Why is it not OK for me to NOT believe in what you believe and how do I somehow tarnish your own faith?

    If gay people can get married will that destroy your own marriage? If so, talk me through the potential breakdown of your own marriage step by step.

    It’s a topical analogy but relevant.

    If people of faith, I’m guessing mostly christians of some flavour here cannot deal with me (who was brought up a christian)… how about the rest (the majority of the world’s population)?

    Is being a hindu less offensive to you than being an atheist? If so why?

  • I.m. Concomitant-Dissidence Vo

    I don’t even have to read this article. The title alone is incorrect. Atheism is NOT a belief system. If the article is based on this misunderstanding, it isn’t worth reading.

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