It's been a steady substitution. The less I've filled myself with organized religion, the more I've felt a ever-increasing sense of wonder.
I guess I needed to empty myself of theological beliefs, faith-based concepts, and imaginary anticipations of a promised divinity around the corner in order to become much more aware of the Wow! that is right here, right now.
Existence. Life. Consciousness. The amazing fact that we are, that the cosmos is.
After several years of reading and re-reading "The Way of Wonder," I belatedly noticed a mention in it about Haas' other books. Recently Amazon sent me his "In, and Of" -- an autobiographical book that reveals how Haas came to the conclusions about reality that he writes about in "The Way of Wonder."
He writes with a lot of power. Here's some passages from "In, and Of" that appealed to my sense of spiritual independence.
We were born to be naked, and dancing, and kissing each other. We were born to be changeless and changing, mortal and immortal, formed and yet free. We were born to be the stillness inside the fabulous change.
The self is a perpetual baptism, wherein one moves, and moves, and never stops moving; it is the relentless, uncatchable, spectacular, dynamic of the soul that demands to be free.
We each belong to the energy of the moment. In the wildness beyond anarchy, where the individual, rampant from the mean, will accept no compromise, no help, no advice, no method, no limit -- that is the point where the spirit breaks free of its mold, flies beyond itself, and dwells in the infinite expanse of the unimaginable, untethered new. To soar where no archetype can follow, that is to be new, and to be true.
Anyone who breaks free of the imposed structure, who lives life for life itself, with no worry or expectation of reward or praise, develops their own individual force, unknown to the greater part of mankind. We all have it, but most of us give it away to convention, or cowardice.
We were not born to follow others, to learn what they say we should learn, to go where others wander, nor to deny the smallest part of our own force for comfort or acceptance.
We are not alive to toil, to lie, to impress people, or to suffer. We are alive to be life -- to be the great mystery endlessly awakening to itself. We are all God becoming infinitely godlike. And each of us must live it alone. Alone.
God sits in a different seat in each person's auditorium. If we rely on anyone but ourselves, we are doomed; every time we deny the reality that we alone can come upon, we deny reality. And so it is the harsh but essential cosmic law that one who has no acceptance of their own vision... shall see nothing.
Ah, to be sure, before you can blend into the One, you must stand out conspicuously, as that precarious, uncamouflaged happening so visibly bent, blotched, or broken. For in order to be chosen, you must first become a choice.
And so, within the suffocating alienship of society, we must begin the long and forgotten route through strangeness towards home; we are our own gates, our own judges, our own redeemers, and redeemed.
Indeed each of us is alone to hack out our own cramped, ponderous tunnel, towards or away from God knows what, for no imaginable reason.
The way piles up in fragments behind us, and as endless walls ahead, while we flail and flail and perhaps find nothing but the hollow ring of movement through the moldless form of unknowable truth. So be it. The bearings may be on the outside, but the compass lies within.
A spiritual anarchy of biblical proportions is now thoroughly under way. Each person must sedulously mine their own dark, mysterious life.
...Oh, it is a wild and crazy untraveled road we're on. You find your way, you lose your way, you find another, and lose that one, and then another, and they keep coming and going and you keep stumbling along imagining you're going someplace, though the Self never goes anywhere, but only the form and identity find and lose themselves in the flux and flare of the ephemeral.
...Through all the reading I had done regarding the many differing philosophies, spiritual accomplishments, and unique realities other have experienced, all of which inspired me to tear down the walls confining me and pursue greater truths, in the end I was thrown back upon myself and had to abandon all I had learned and heard about from others.
I see now that this is an essential step -- to understand and accept that no matter what anyone else has experienced, or perceives as reality, that we are each born unto this earth to discover our own beliefs, our own truths, and to live out our own lives. And that these truths and realities may differ immensely from one person to another is a hard piece of news for the mind to accept, but I had to accept it in order to believe in my own vision. I had to become an individual.
To be an individual means to exist without pride nor shame, nor yardstick between yourself and all others, but instead to live out your own life, without a thought that it might be different, or wrong, or right, because that is who you are, and there is no option, decision, nor guise. In this way does a person arrive at eternity, having been born out from under the great sea of undifferentiated souls.
...I found that to be a part of the whole I had to also, paradoxically, be apart from the whole. For there is no symphony without separate instruments, no harmony without distinct notes, and no whole without separate parts. And this, my friend, is what is called... the way of sin.
To sin, to be single, to dare to believe in your own vision, and to give God the greatest gift imaginable -- something new, something unique, something called... you.
...To do this, not just outwardly, but at the absolute inner essence of all that you are, is to turn yourself upside-down, let your pockets empty themselves of all you have ever been or wanted to be, and then stand back up and walk on without a clue of who you are or where you're going. And that takes a type of courage which no one applauds, and no movie actor portrays, and no women sing songs of praise and worship about.
But it is the only type of courage which will invigorate and grow the mercurial aspect of the soul; it is the only type of courage which will serve the light-body within; it is the only type of courage which matters in the end when all human roads lead to dead ends.
...And so our greatest service may be the act of spiritual violence, of disobedient novelty, which rends the fabric and sets us apart from the rest of humanity for a while, until the whole has shifted -- as it must -- and reassimilated our new reality into its necessarily new position. Thus we have helped evolve the universe. This is why the word 'eccentric' means: to come close to the center.
...I ask not that you sanction what I have said. I'm not asking you to agree. I'm not expecting you to understand. I have only my own life, and my own answers. A man must stand up for the vision inside of him, especially if he is the only one who has seen it.
What is real for me must be real for me alone, or what am I calling me? I have no reason, no need, no desire to embrace another person's reality, for mine is much more real for me than any other's ever could be.
The fact that no one else corroborates my reality guarantees that it is true. Each man, his own messiah.