Believe It…or Not

Rock God - Photo by Frank Kovalchek

Do you believe in god?

Most people would answer with a yes or a no. My answer would be “It depends”.

“Depends on what?” You would probably again ask.

“Depends on what ‘god’ is”, I would answer.

The moment that question is asked, the one asking already assumes a certain definition of god (god is a loving creator, god is a stern judge, god is a blue-skinned woman, etc.), and he assumes that I share the same definition, which I most probably don’t.

It is like when you go to a field and see a tree, and then you tell me, “I saw a tree.” I don’t really know what you saw. I know you didn’t see dancing pigs or exploding frogs, but I don’t know EXACTLY what you saw because the word “tree” is just an abstraction of something that’s very concrete. When you say “tree” I may picture a mango tree in my mind but what you actually saw was a pine tree. In fact, we both may have pine trees in our minds but I did not see the pine tree that you saw and those are very different things.

The point is that a tree is something that is quite common that every person above the age of three probably knows, and yet, it can mean many things to many people in many different instances. If that can happen for “tree”, imagine now when you talk about “god” that people have not actually seen, heard, or touched.

What in the world (or out of this world) are you talking about when you say “god”?

People’s belief or unbelief in their concept of god is just that — a belief — a conscious choice to declare for or against something. It is something that can neither be proved or disproved. Which is why theists and atheists have been arguing (and will continue arguing) for hundreds of years without any clear resolution. It no longer is a matter of reason but of conviction, of opinion, of differing points of view.

So do I believe in god?

The most sensible answer I can think of is: “Well, I love mashed potatoes”.

What is baptism?

Baby Baptism - Photo by Racquel Veiga

A little boy was in a Catholic church with his dad to attend the baptism of their neighbor’s baby. The dad wanted his son to pay attention to this important ceremony so they sat right in front.

The boy sat transfixed at the priest as he poured water on the baby’s head and murmured a few words. Then in a loud voice, the boy turned to his dad and asked, “Daddy, why is he brainwashing the baby?”

What is zen?

Zen stones - Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography

Zen is not a religion, although it most closely follows Buddhist principles.

It is not a religion in the sense that one cannot claim to be a “zennist”. There is no formal doctrine of zen, nor is there a zen priesthood. Neither does one worship zen gods, zen masters or zen spirits.

Rather zen is an approach to life — a way of seeing — of looking beyond the illusions created by the mind, of awakening to reality, of enlightenment. And this is achieved not by a strict adherence to any dogma or set of rules, but simply by being increasingly alert and aware of one’s thoughts, feelings and actions. The individual seeks that inner center that is unchanging and undisturbed, capable of seeing life as a mysterious and  great adventure, a grand theater, a delightful journey that has no other purpose than to enjoy and celebrate each step (or misstep) along the path.

Zen is not about emulating a messiah or a buddha. It is about becoming a buddha. It is about the full flowering of the love and compassion within all of us.

Be Quiet in Church

Shh...Photo by Elizabeth Welsh

 

“And why should we be quiet in church?” the little girl asked the little boy.

The little boy replied, “Because people are sleeping.”

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