This being my birthday, I figured it was a great time to fire up my Burgman scooter, head to my favorite Salem coffee house, and write a blog post -- stimulated by 20 ounces of the Beanery house blend.
Next month is this blog's five year anniversary. One of the presents I opened this morning -- in addition to a bunch of books I gave to myself -- was a wall hanging that Laurel, my wife, thought was fitting for me.
Happiness: When one's spiritual needs are met by an untroubled inner life. Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to yourself and others.
Well, my blogging definitely makes me happy. I know it's beneficial to myself, and have a lot of reasons to believe that this is true for others as well. To be exact, 607,001.
That's how many page views this Church of the Churchless blog has gotten since November 2004. Currently the blog is averaging about 550 page views a day.
Of course, some of those visits lasted just long enough for someone to go "Ugh! Blasphemy!" and head elsewhere into cyberspace. But the 12,858 comments show that quite a few people stay around long enough to leave their feedback.
Which makes me feel good. I recall (more or less accurately) a C.S. Lewis quotation: "We read to know that we are not alone."
Religious believers have churches, temples, mosques, and such where they can congregate with like-minded individuals. Churchless folks usually don't. So I wanted this blog to be a place where spiritually independent people could come in contact with like-minded minds.
Thank you for making this possible. Writing and reading is a two-way street. Or more accurately, a circular boulevard.
Meaning, when I throw some thoughts out via a blog post, almost always my thinking is changed in some fashion by those who read what I've written and share their own ideas. And so it goes...around and around and around, sharing how we see things leading to fresh ways of seeing.
It's difficult to encapsulate how I feel that I've changed churchlessly over the past five years. I'll spend the last of my 20 ounces of coffee giving this a try.
More relaxed. Less worries about doing the right thing. I've become much less obsessed about following rigid ethical or moral rules, such as not drinking any alcohol. Now I follow what could be called a "middle way," if I was a Buddhist (which I'm not).
For example, I've found that a glass of red wine doesn't send me to hell. Just into a bit of relaxation and improved health.
It's also nice to not feel so special. I used to look upon my belief system as head and shoulders above all those ridiculous other faiths that didn't know The Truth. Now, I consider that nobody knows the ultimate secrets of the cosmos, so we're all in the same boat of not-knowing.
That's a humbler place to be.
So after trying hard for thirty-some years to lose (or lessen) my ego through meditation and devotional practices, it's interesting that by becoming faithless, I feel a lot fewer egotistical sensations of "I'm right and you're wrong!" welling up in me.
Lastly, the universe is an amazing place.
It's marvelous that we're here, conscious human beings, able to look out upon it -- and also capable of gazing inwardly at our minds that try to make sense of it all.
Almost certainly we won't ever be certain of what it all means, including what It is. All we can do is live our lives as authentically and zestily as possible, drinking in each and every experience with gusto.
Just as I'm doing with my last gulps of coffee. Time for a sunny caffeinated scooter ride home.