This probably will be my last Church of the Churchless blog post.
(Oh, I so love to tantalize haters of my irreligosity with first sentences like that, who fail to realize that every profane, insulting comment or email they send my way makes me really happy -- because it encourages me to keep on doing what I'm doing: stand up for truth, openness, and reality against religious fundamentalists who hate those things.)
It's been a good year.
As has been every churchless year since November 2004, when I started this blog. I really appreciate the steady stream of visitors, especially those who leave on-topic comments. Spammers, not so much. Discussing and conversing via comments adds a lot to my posts.
TypePad, my blog service, indicates that the Church of the Churchless gets about 1200 page views a day. Makes me feel good.
Religious people have a ready-made community of believers they can engage with. Us skeptics, atheists, agnostics, don't know's, unsure's, pagans, heathens, Flying Spaghetti Monster worshippers, and otherwise marchers to our own life-drummer have a lot more trouble making contact with each other.
Maybe we need a secret sign. Or a tattoo on our foreheads. (No, scratch that idea; it was the caffeine talking.)
I'm not sure if there's been any discernible change to my churchless trajectory over the past twelve months. Probably regular readers of this blog would be more aware of this than I am, since I just sit down every other day and write about whatever is on my mind, not keeping close track of what was there before.
On the whole, which is a good place to be, I feel like I'm becoming more physical and practical in my "spiritual" pursuit. I'm coming to find this an increasingly meaningless term, spiritual, so I like to put it in ironic quotation marks the first time I use it.
Along this line, I just got a used copy of "Ways of Thinking of Eastern Peoples: India, China, Tibet, Japan," by Hajime Nakamura. Apparently its a classic of sorts.
Instead of reading it straight through, I'm starting off by jumping back and forth between the India and China chapters. The contrast between Indian and Chinese ways of thinking seems to reflect a universal difference that transcends those specific cultures.
India loves abstraction. China loves concretness.
Indian people are inclined to consider the universal seriously in expressing their ideas of things. This can be easily seen in the fact of their verbal usage in which they have so great an inclination to use abstract nouns... the Sanskrit expresses the individual only as one of the instances belonging to the abstract universal.
...Chinese concepts are expressed in highly concrete form. Nearly all words express particular ideas -- forms of existing things perceived in a particular state... The use of concrete imagery is common not only to Buddhism but to Chinese philosophical writing in general.
I'm becoming more Chinese'y.
Could partly be a result of quite a few years of immersion in Tai Chi and Taoist this-and-that. Or just an innate leaning that is blossoming. Back in my early teens I was fascinated by Chinese art. In my room I had scrolls that I'd bought in San Francisco's Chinatown of tiny figures wandering in a vast natural mountainous landscape.
Abstract ideas can lead us anywhere. Closer to, or further away from, reality.
Also, happiness, meaning, satisfaction. Only concrete demonstrable evidence allows us to tell the difference between mental bullshit and something authentically grounded in the world outside our head.
I still believe in the value of meditation. But I'm an even stronger believer in simply living life naturally. Not worrying much whether there is more to the cosmos than what we're aware of here and now. Endless searching for More is a guaranteed ticket to the Land of Unfulfilled Desire.
Perhaps you have moments when you feel, if I died right now, it'd be all right. I do. I felt that today, when I went longboard land paddling on a cold, sunny, clear Oregon day in a several hundred acre park near the Willamette River.
I broke my own world record for time and distance: 7.2 miles in a bit less than an hour and a half. But it was those virtually indescribable moments which were so satisfying. They existed both inside and outside of space and time.
What I love to do, what gives meaning to my life, what makes me go Wow!, what makes me feel happily connected with the cosmos -- this won't be the same for you. Each of us has to find our own way on the infinitely branching paths of life. Or allow the way to find us.
If that path includes a lot of religious scenery, great. Go for it. Whatever works for you. All I'm trying to do on this blog is encourage people to scan their horizon as broadly as possible, getting in touch with what they really want, how they really feel.
Reality is wonderful. The only thing which really supports us. May we all have as much of it as we want in 2013.