One Hundred Eleven: Rationally Evaluating Mysticism

“For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can’t readily accept the God formula, the big answers don’t remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command nor faith a dictum. I am my own god. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”  – Charles Bukowski

Monday, April 21st

The weekend left my energy reserves drained, so I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to attending a Barbara Ehrenreich talk of which I had tickets to. But I was happy to have plans with a girlfriend, and so I mustered up enough energy to get out the door. The only thing I really knew about the talk was that it was titled “The Meaning of Life.” Within minutes of the talk starting, I realized it was one atheist’s perspective of several seemingly mystical experiences.

I left the talk without a burning need to read the book, but Ehrenreich said a couple of things that have stuck with me. First, she said that many people are mistaken in believing that atheists don’t have the spark of life because they don’t have a connection to a God. That’s a particularly interesting thought to me. I like the notion that existentialists can be highly attuned and connected souls to Life through the understanding that living itself is the here and now. It’s no less important than if they had a devotion to a deity of choice.

Second, Ehrenreich said that if you have an encounter, “Don’t fall on your knees…get a blood sample if you can.” Great scientific thinkers through the ages balanced faith and reason, but she seemed to modernize it in terms for our times. She said that since we don’t really understand everything about the levels of existence, it’s possible that there is sentience where we’re not looking for it, joking that we may bow down to E Coli someday. Given that the human body carries more DNA from intestinal flora than actual human DNA, it’s possible that our existence is symbiotically being governed by bacteria.

I like having my daily thoughts being shaken up. I want to know how others view this wonderful life of ours, and maybe it will shape my own views too.

When was the last time you challenged your own beliefs by listening to someone with contrary views?


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