I don't believe in God. But I believe in the feelings that accompany belief.
So now that I've realized the falsity of religion, I've discarded the theological aspects of my former belief system and kept the positive feelings.
Here's some examples.
I used to enjoy the feeling that God was looking out for me, managing my life in such a way that even bad experiences were aimed at bettering my long-term salvation chances. This made me feel hopeful about the future, since I considered there was a trajectory to my life that would end with me becoming familiar with divinity, and maybe actually merging with it.
Now, I'm simply hopeful. The feeling is the same. I've just eliminated the crazy theological reasons I had for believing that the future would turn out fine.
Serving God (or a guru, for I was a member of an organization that believed the guru was God in human form) was another enjoyable feeling. Back in my true believing days I engaged in a lot of seva, as it was called, which is an Indian term for service, or volunteering.
Well, I still like to feel like what I'm doing is benefitting others.
But I've discarded the notion that there's some sort of special benefit to being of service to a supposedly Godly person or organization. This allows me to enjoy the sensation of "selfless service" without having that feeling rest on an imagined theological foundation.
People cling to religion because they like the good feelings that come with believing.
What I'm suggesting is that those feelings are separable from the theological framework, rituals, holy books, forms of worship, and other trappings of a religion.
In the same fashion, happiness is a feeling. But obviously there are many ways for someone to be happy. There isn't a single cause of happiness, just as there isn't a single cause of the good feelings that people enjoy from embracing religious beliefs.
You can give up religion and keep the feelings.
For many years I was the secretary, or leader, of the people in my town who embraced the teachings of Radha Soami Satsang Beas, an Indian religious organization.
I'd arrive early at the place where we held our Sunday morning meeting to get the room ready. I'd sweep the floor and arrange folding chairs just so, getting them all lined up nice and neat. I enjoyed the feeling of seva, being of service.
Today I went to Lowe's and bought 16 bags of garden fertilizer and 6 large containers of weed preventer (we have a really big yard, living as we do out in the country). My wife had noticed spring weeds beginning to pop up, and March is when I spread weed preventer, so today seemed like a good time to do it.
I was careful. I did my best to put the weed preventer every place in our yard that needed it. I enjoyed the feeling that after some rain arrived in a few days, it would be activated and stop weeds from sprouting. This was "seva," service -- just not to any imagined God or other divinity.
It was service to my wife and to myself, because we enjoy our yard more when it looks good and doesn't have a bunch of weeds. The good feeling I had after a couple of hours of work was very similar, if not exactly the same, as the feeling I used to have when I was performing volunteer service for a religious group.
So it doesn't make sense to cling to a religion because you enjoy the feelings that come with being a believer. Those same feelings can be produced in a myriad of different ways. Keep the feelings; ditch the theology.
Do a simple experiment beyond feelings & beliefs , live alone for 1 year , completely alone with bare necessities of food , water & maybe tv / computer. These things will happen , your mind will start producing rational fears & phobias of all kinds , of dying alone , of disease , starvation & suffering alone.Eventually solitude increases the strength of being which can numb mind to give the experience of Samadhi / Trance. It will be better experience than decades of atheism & cogitating.
Posted by: vinny | March 19, 2018 at 06:09 AM
If you feel badly doing something, why spend a single thought on it?
But is it possible people give up doing something because it doesn't feel good anymore?
Some people project their disappointment and just make themselves miserable.
"If my expectations aren't met, I'm going to be disappointed. If I don't get my reward right now, either in meditation, or being in satsang; if I don't get my own room at Dera, just like J.... did; if my feelings of being special aren't confirmed by that special Darshan, I'm not going to believe any more."
All those false beliefs you should give up. Just be in the darkness, in the cold. Just be there. The darkness can be soothing. The cold can be refreshing. You see happiness is always an inside job.
So you can give up those old and obsolete notions, too,and just enjoy living the life you have. Don't memorialize them as if they are someone else's fault. No whining.
It was never Sant Mat, just one's own projections. The most determined Satsangis give zero attention to any such thoughts.
Posted by: Spencer Tepper | March 19, 2018 at 12:58 PM
Somehow, hope does not feel the same (for me) as having faith in a spiritual Master and the feeling of being special and on a path to enlightenment, being looked after and protected.
I often wonder about that feeling of missing something. Is it necessary to love and worship another because we can't love ourself in the same way because it seems too much like ego? Do we need to project our love in some mystical magical way onto a another being.
Seva, service to others, makes us feel good, which can also be seen as stroking our own ego, even if we don't realise it.
I think our brains are hardwired to worship some god or mystic or maybe spirits of nature and conduct ceremonies which make us feel magically transformed into something better. The beatnik and hippie movements seemed to be about love, hope and change for the better. Now its very disconcerting to see the opposite, there seems to be more hate in the marching protestors.
Posted by: Jen | March 19, 2018 at 03:45 PM
I agree in the main with your comments.
The entire biosphere is a mother's tender love for Her children. Life is incredibly fragile, and wonderful.
If we cannot give thanks in some form, how can that be healthy? It is a natural feeling of thanks to the One that made all this, that gave us this life. We are of the same stuff. So it is not only natural but healthy.
To get into arguments about 'Is this God?' Is that God? ' misses the point entirely.
Is God a personality?
Our Master says no. Charan Singh said God is a power.
Yet that power is so very intimate. Even the hairs on our head are counted, lovingly.
God is not supernatural. God IS all nature. What we can see, and so much more we cannot.
Posted by: Spencer Tepper | March 19, 2018 at 05:11 PM
Spencer, I have to travel my own path. If I don't see any hope in this world, that its just some kind of a stupid game and we are caught up in it and I want to escape. Thats me.
I don't have a religious mindset and no one person can change another's point of view. I'm glad that I've seen through the falseness of following a guru. It hasn't been easy but now I follow my own truth, my own path, being connected to the "power" that you speak of within. It is what it is.
Posted by: Jen | March 19, 2018 at 05:52 PM
Brian, all the things you mentioned except for maybe "the mode of worship" have zero to do with meditation practice. You are talking about the exoteric forms of religion there. But mysticism is mainly about internal meditation. The idea is that you meditate inside and when you are accomplished that meditation spills out into your external activities so that everything becomes a meditation.
Jen, a guru is supposed to be a character who initiates their disciples but apart from showing inner lights and sounds at initiation, it is for the disciple to do the work and get God realisation themselves. So you are half correct in my opinion. You do need a guru and you don't. It depends upon how you look at it. And, I hope you aren't drinking too much fine red wine. :)
Posted by: D.r | March 20, 2018 at 09:33 AM
@ Spencer - appeasement left millions dead during ww1 and 2.
Yet you think rssb is the answer - when will you understand it is a money making business and some closer to master are in deep trouble with authorities in the money.
Why why why can you not understand there is nothing there ! They treat you like shit and judge you but yet your ilk state the monster is within or the fault lies in oneself. But sometimesits ones surroundings that lead us into anti drepresents or powerful drugs. You appear to stand for appeasing falsehoods or bullies or judgement gods in human form!!!!
Are they paying you to write on here?
Posted by: Arjuna | March 20, 2018 at 12:42 PM
"@ Spencer - appeasement left millions dead during ww1 and 2."
Arjuna, meditation, real spiritual meditation, which is nothing but the purest form of prayer, makes us strong, fearless, responsible.
WW2 happened because a whole nation was looking for someone to blame. And obviously it was the Jews fault. Right? Everyone knew that. Whatever was wrong, blame the Jews. Very few had the strength to say "I need to help. This is wrong, but a worse wrong would be to go along with it. And not to help. I must help no matter the cost. Even if everyone around is to afraid, angry, hateful to behave like human beings instead of animals. Even if the price of my humanity is my life. "
But instead Hitler and all his followers jumped on the hate bandwagon saying "Can't you see how corrupts Jews are? They are the source of all the evil. They are just stealing our money! The Jewish bankers! It's their fault. We must eliminate them!"
Most of my relatives were murdered. I'm lucky to be here.
Until you can see the hate in your own heart and take full responsibility for it, you are not solving anything, and might be making things worse.
Posted by: Spencer Tepper | March 20, 2018 at 05:05 PM
Hi Brian, I just started reading your blog and have to give you credit for really making me rethink my ideas. This post is something I completely agree with though and I wanted to add another suggestion if I may. From personal experience, when I really look at the universe and learn about the inner workings of it, it's easy to see that God isn't necessary to feel like a part of something. When one can see that we are all part of a beautiful and complicated universe there's no longer a need for God because you can find peace in knowing that there is a force that looks out for us in a way and that force is the natural laws that make our universe the wondrous place that it is. Thank you again for writing these posts, there's not many people who dare to think beyond group mentality.
Posted by: Alex Ken | March 20, 2018 at 05:46 PM
@ Spencer - sorry to hear what you wrote.
I don’t carry hate but frustration and sometimes it lashes out.
Have a good day.
Posted by: Arjuna | March 20, 2018 at 09:14 PM
WW2 happened because a whole nation was looking for someone to blame. And obviously it was the Jews fault. Right? Everyone knew that. Whatever was wrong, blame the Jews. Very few had the strength to say "I need to help. This is wrong, but a worse wrong would be to go along with it. And not to help. I must help no matter the cost. Even if everyone around is to afraid, angry, hateful to behave like human beings instead of animals. Even if the price of my humanity is my life.
I've wondered often about this. There were many who did resist
of course. Somehow, I think everyone did have the strength to
say "I need to help" too. Just not the self-awareness to look
inside and ask for help finding it. Only the ignorant fantasize
they, Rambo-like, can summon up courage whenever they
It doesn't matter how church-y or non-churchy you are. inwardness
and mindfulness will qlways be needed. It's the true path of courage.
Posted by: Dungeness | March 20, 2018 at 11:36 PM
Hi Dungeness, Jen and Arjuna.
I honor your comments. My point reflects your sentiments and Brian's that we can and should stand on our own two feet, and find that happiness within in its pure and natural form without any artificial packaging that, as Jen would say "gives our power to someone else."
My point is that this is going to be different for different people. For Jen and Brian the men that a Guru is waiting inside them, waiting to meet them one future day seems like a distraction from their own happiness.
But for others there is no one but their Master. Christ is at the core, and is their ultimate reality that is present and a part of their normal reality.
So if we avoid making judgements of each one's experience (mine is objective Yours is fake... My reality is permanent, yours is disposable... "
Posted by: Spencer Tepper | March 21, 2018 at 06:28 AM
So if we avoid making judgements of each one's experience ("mine is objective yours is fake... My reality is permanent, yours is disposable... ") I think we actually take a step closer to reality, and away from inadvertently fueling hatred and discord.
Posted by: Spencer Tepper | March 21, 2018 at 06:30 AM
@ Spencer - my advice would be careful labelling everyone as they are to blame for everything - some may have done bad things in previous lives but may be doing good here now. Who remembers their last life . My point was that I tried to a part of rssb but was judged and looked down upon.
I really hate being told to look within and at my faults - yes I have many but am also a good man. A hard trained man but still gentle. Rssb has too many links to money - it’s losing its appeal. It’s a business - simples. So please don’t piss me off with answers the demons are within - I know they are. My desire is to find a real master to help me. Respect
I don’t tell you that you must seek within to fight the monster but I can tell you to stop being an apologist for frauds. On a lighter note - so how much are rssb paying you?????
Over and out!!!
Posted by: Arjuna | March 21, 2018 at 12:12 PM
Your judgment of RSSB is biased. That was my point about Hitler's Germany.
Rather than actually take the time to confirm the details, to investigate, people like to find common targets to vent their anger.
What happened in Hitler's Germany happens all the time in a lesser degree because it is based on flawed human nature.
To do real good is generally to work in silence. Those who resisted Hitler successfully, saving many lives, those you may never hear about.
That was real help.
Posted by: Spencer Tepper | March 21, 2018 at 12:33 PM
One more point Arjuna.
While it may feel good to respond in kind to the mistreatment you perceive you received from some Satsangis, it doesn't reflect well on a guy who claims to be tough.
Who cares what anyone else thinks? Can anything be accomplished being so easily distracted? They are all schmucks, Arjuna, but that includes you and I. So if there is gold, incredible treasure to be had, toughen up dude!
That is the treasure I'm paid in. Every morning I get a paycheck. It's more money than even I can conceive.
And yes I'm a schmuck! But if you hand a schmuck a diamond mine, he's still a schmuck: but he's a wealthy schmuck.
If only some of those who treated you badly had kept that in mind...
They might not have lost their paycheck.
Posted by: Spencer Tepper | March 21, 2018 at 12:42 PM
In answer to your question, I get paid every morning. I can't even conceive of the amount.
Posted by: Spencer Tepper | March 21, 2018 at 01:02 PM
I honour your quest to help others but no-one can really change another's opinions or point of view. We all have our own moral compass.
Its impossible to change the way of the world. Its not meant to be perfect. We each struggle to follow our own path in our own way and I do see how you are trying to help or probably more than help but trying to fix things. Its not going to work brother. Life is messy and weird and we just cannot change whats happening. We can only make progress for ourselves by doing the very best we can even when living in difficult circumstances.
Posted by: Jen | March 21, 2018 at 01:05 PM
@ Spencer - don’t insult me or judge me man!!!!!!
Biased!!! You missed what I said so it’s ok for me to judged and insulted . I allowed people to do that as I feared a God.
You get paid every morning - wtf are you doing on this site ???? You have now pissed me completely off!!!!?!
Posted by: Arjuna | March 21, 2018 at 02:09 PM
I honour your quest to help others but no-one can really change another's opinions or point of view. We all have our own moral compass."
Mine, for better or worse, is set upon a fixed mark.
Posted by: Spencer Tepper | March 24, 2018 at 09:19 AM
@ Spencer - I apologise for being an A hole.
Think my lashing out serves no purpose whatsoever - it was a bad week.
Posted by: Arjuna | March 24, 2018 at 02:50 PM
Let me repeat. Forgive yourself. You and I agree identical in all that matters.
Posted by: Spencer Tepper | March 24, 2018 at 03:29 PM
@ Spencer that we do
Posted by: Arjuna | March 25, 2018 at 12:20 PM