Before any of you think I’ve gone off the deep end and started standing on mountain tops yelling at the sky, hear me out. Recently I’ve been reading a book called Conversations with God by Neil Donald Walsch and it has honestly been the perfect capstone to this year long experience in Korea. I came here because something inside me told me that I needed to go. I didn’t know what it was then, but now I do. And thanks to this book, I can finally put it into words.
As I have discussed here before, there are a lot of problems with the word “God” and mainstream religion, and in my honest opinion this book puts them to rest. So if you are reading this and have an opposition to either of these two things please reserve your judgments until the end… better yet, have no judgments at all. In fact, this leads perfectly into one of the major lessons I took away from this book: all pain in life is caused by judgement, attachment, or resistance. Let’s think about. Have you ever lost something of value to you and felt sadness? Have you ever fought against a situation in your life and had it cause you pain and stress? Have you ever made a judgement about someone you’ve met only to have it come back and blow up in your face later? Can you recognize resistance to what I’m saying right now? I know at this point it may seem easy to poke holes in this lesson, but I promise you, if you really look hard, all pain is rooted in one of these three things. For example, what if your dog dies? Of course, this would be a sad experience for any of us dog owners, but if you break it down: You have judged that where that dog is going is worse than its life here on Earth, you have become emotionally attached to the dog and therefore are experiencing the absence of the happiness it brought you, and you are resisting something that has already happened and is therefore outside of your control.
Now maybe even this example has made you feel a little angry. Of course I’m attached to my Dog! I love my Dog. Of course I don’t want her to die. Are you saying I should actually want her to die to avoid pain? And my answers to those questions come in the form of the next lesson I learned from this book: That which the Bible calls God, New Agers call the Universe, Muslims call Allah, and people call life, are all one in the same. The absolute internal recognition that all things – yes, ALL things – are really one thing is the state of Enlightenment. Contrary to popular understanding, enlightenment is not akin to the yellow brick road leading to Oz. It is not a path. Rather, it is a rememberence of that which already exists inside of us. Think of the light that we see in the eyes of a young child – now consider that many people have also spoke of this same light in the eyes of the Dahli Lama. We are born into Enlightenment. Getting there, therefore, is not a matter of learning anything new, but in actuality it is a process of taking out the mental trash that gets in the way – like anything that belongs in the JAR (Judgement, Attachment, Resistance). All of those things are emotional or mental constructs that distract us from the fact that eeeeevvvvvveeeeerrrryyyyttthhhhhiinnngggg is one.
Now this leads to Jesus. For a moment, I am going to ask that you suspend all of your previous knowledge and judgments about Jesus. Jesus was not the savior. Well, not directly at least. Rather, he was the example of a person who completely and absolutely understood the above two lessons and lived them everyday, in every action. So, he gave us a perfect example of how one should live life, and in that way, can be considered a “savior.” However, as the book discusses in depth, mainstream religion has a vested interest in making us feel guilty and therefore in need of savior. When I say mainstream religion, I mean those TV preachers that tell millions of people the only way to be saved is by accepting Jesus as their savior and sending money to the number at the bottom of their screen. As long as those viewers feel like they’re not good enough, don’t have the answers, and feel guilty about virtually everything they do, then mainstream religion can control them. And this leads quite well to the final lesson I took from this book: There is no hell. Hell is only the absence of the knowledge that Heaven is a here on Earth. Heaven is a mind-state, not a place that we go. It is the feeling linked to the realization that all things are one. Heaven is the overwhelming inner joy that comes from the realization that you are everything, God is everything, and therefore you are God. Whoa… now I know that may sound crazy at first – it did to me too. But the reason it seems so crazy is that all of our lives we have been taught that God is this separate being floating above us throwing lightning bolts, judging us for thinking things that are “wrong,” and ultimately weighing judgment on us deciding whether we get to go to Heaven or hell. But if God teaches us not to judge, then why would she then go and judge us? How could he be such a hypocrite? And the answer to that lies in the fact that the Bible was written by men – generations and generations after the events actually took place. Furthermore, the only method of communicating information to the masses at that time was through stories, and therefore stories were used. But thousands of years of misinterpretations, the Catholic church deciding to remove and add things, other religions printing their own Bibles, and Televangelists spreading their malintended messages to the masses have brought forth a picture of a ruthless, judgmental, destructive and hypocritical God – one that I still remember having trouble understanding as a young Catholic. I could not understand why God would care whether we put $2 or $10 into the donation basket. I could not understand why, if God really loved us unconditionally, there would be SO MANY RULES that we had to follow at risk of being sent to eternal damnation. I now see God for what it was meant to represent, and for that I am thankful.
THE TAKEAWAY: Now, I am fully aware that there may be some of you who are strongly opposed to some of the lessons I’ve taken from this book. And yet, in the spirit of what I believe this blog has come to represent, rather than look for things to resist, please try to find things that you feel like you can accept. Things that, deep down inside, feel like the truth to you. No individual religion is any different at its core than any other. They all are based on stories told thousands of years ago to communicate one incredibly simple point: all things are one. The wind that blows past my face, the King Crabs at the bottom of the ocean, the truck driving down a highway in Croatia, the Sierra Nevada mountains, the sun, and our galaxy – all one. If we can all work on taking out the mental trash, then we can finally remember the Enlightenment we were born into. I came to Korea because I was looking for Enlightenment – I thought that if I could get out of my comfort zone, learn a new language and culture, and redefine myself once more then I would somehow be able to find the path to Enlightenment. But now, I am overjoyed to say that I now know I was going in the wrong direction. Instead of looking out, from now on, I will look within. Love to you all.