I've flown both ways.
For many years I Iooked upon the world through a conceptual prism where my belief in God, a being unseen and unknown, altered the perspective from which I saw things.
Now, I do my best to cast off the filter of spiritual imaginings, desiring to view reality as clearly as possible as it is rather than how I'd like it to be.
I've discovered something interesting: when I don't try to fashion the world into a place that it isn't, full of illusory ideas about salvation, divinity, soul, eternal existence, and such, what is turns out to be wonderfuly satisfying.
Not nirvana. Not perfection. Not an idealized Platonic realm. But a glorious fully natural godless corner of our vast mysterious cosmos.
Sure, it's easier to feel this way in beautiful locations.
Recently I walked along the Metolius River in central Oregon, where I took the photo above. The sun was setting. I wasn't aware of the beam of light making its way through the tall Lodgepole pines until I transferred the iPhone image to my laptop.
What should we call such moments? Spiritual? Elevating? Transcendent?
Or just... experiencing how the world is.
I fully understand the lure of adding fantasized extras on to existence as it is known to be. Death is scary. Suffering sucks. Disappointments abound. The gap between is and should be begs to be bridged by theological consolations.
All I can say is that I've tried both ways of living: with and without religious beliefs.
I've enjoyed the feeling of having a special relationship with God, one that promised me both eternal life after my stay here on Earth and a way of looking upon happenings as having cosmic significance because of God's plan for me.
I'll admit that sometimes I miss the warm spiritual blanket, woven of pleasing beliefs, that sheltered me from the cold winds of reality for about 35 years. Well, I really should say "seemed to shelter me."
Because now that I'm committed to looking upon life naturally, rather than supernaturally, I realize that reality offers me a much firmer foundation than the fantasies I used to embrace so enthusiastically. Quaffing one ounce of "what is" is more satisfying than a pound of "what might be."
Even when I'm experiencing something painful, disturbing, distasteful. I'd rather feel the honest touch of life, even if it hurts, than shut myself away in an antispetic conceptual room where, I believed, I was protected from the world's dark side.
LIke I said before, dark and light appear to me as one now. The world seems to shine more brightly when I don't try to bring an illusory spiritual radiance into it.
About ten years ago I blogged about corn on the cob. Specifically, about not pulling back the husk when choosing corn. This isn't necessary. Seemingly not a super-important subject to be concerned about. But I quoted Thoreau's "Walden" approvingly.
Say what you have to say, not what you ought. Any truth is better than make-believe. Tom Hyde, the tinker, standing on the gallows, was asked if he had anything to say. "Tell the tailors," said he, "to remember to make a knot in their thread before they take the first stitch." His companion’s prayer is forgotten.