Why, this is almost like the Twelve Days of Christmas -- aside from the Days and Christmas part. It's my Twelve Favorite Blog Posts of 2018 here on the Church of the Churchless. (Image below came from here.)
I picked one post from each month, because that was easier.
And I generally chose posts that I'd written mostly by myself, rather than posts where I quoted a lot from someone else. But since rules are made to be broken, a few posts don't contain mostly my own words.
So here they are, the decidedly non-sacred Twelve Favorite Blog Posts of 2018, with an excerpt from each.
I'm a free will junkie.
I find this subject fascinating. I've read most of the books that argue free will doesn't exist, even though we humans believe we possess it. So since the subtitle of Barker's book is How Science and Philosophy Converge to Create a Beautiful Illusion, I expected a rational, reasonable, factual explanation of not only why free will is an illusion, but the benefit of giving up a belief in it.
Well, even before I got through the introduction, I found myself writing more and more question marks in the margins, because what Barker was saying made so little sense.
Walking back to our rural home after a dog walk, I was struck by how a leafless oak tree at the edge of our yard looked against the late afternoon sky. It was a lesson in fractals, those amazing shapes that repeat at many levels.
Each twig was a reflection of each branch which was a reflection of the entire tree.
Which got me to thinking about how the small things in life are a reflection of the big things in life. To put it another way, the meaning we get from small things is the same meaning we get from big things.
Sometimes I feel like praying, even though I don't believe in God. The only prayer that I remember from my brief time in Catholicism as a child is the Lord's Prayer.
So I enjoy interpreting the familiar words from a scientific atheist point of view.
Some scientific findings contained in an article in the April 2 issue of The New Yorker, "Are We Already Living In Virtual Reality?" bear on the question of what meditation is all about, and the extent to which meditation liberates us from anything.
The article is about Thomas Metzinger, a philosophically-minded neuroscientist.
As you can read in the excerpt below, Metzinger speaks about our inability to recognize the unconscious mental models that determine how we experience reality.
Since 2004 I've written 2,365 posts on this here Church of the Churchless blog. That's a scarily large number, which testifies to my commitment to churchlessness after spending 35 years being firmly churched in an Indian guru-based form of religiosity.
During the past fourteen years I've talked a lot about why I no longer believe in God. I've put forth numerous reasons for my conversion to atheism. Here's a fairly brief description of five key reasons.
Since there are quite a few devotees of Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB) who use the comment sections of my blog posts as sort of a Sant Mat discussion venue, I wanted to revisit the question of how the current RSSB guru, Gurinder Singh, has been altering Sant Mat teachings to a surprising degree.
...It struck me that the philosophy Gurinder Singh is now espousing bears a considerable resemblance to what Alan Watts talks about in his marvelous book, "The Wisdom of Insecurity."
Gurinder Singh Dhillon is the current guru of Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB), a spiritual organization headquartered in India that has a worldwide reach.
In this post I'm sharing 27,000 words worth of comments left on this blog by "Tara," a woman who had an up close and personal view of both Gurinder Singh (photo below) and the RSSB organization prior to her becoming disillusioned by what she saw, which led to her leaving the RSSB fold.
Today Bloomberg, a business publication, published a tell-all story about Gurinder Singh Dhillon's hugely complicated, and ethically dubious, financial dealings with Shivinder and Malvinder Singh, nephews of the Radha Soami Satsang Beas guru.
Ari Altstedter wrote the story, "The Billionaires and the Guru: How a Family Burned Through $2 billion." I spoke with Altstedter by phone about the 35 years I spent as a RSSB devotee, and was quoted in the piece.
I find it entertaining to see how supposedly "spiritual" followers of Radha Soami Satsang Beas, the Indian organization headed up by a guru that I was a member of for 35 years, can write such wonderfully insulting comments about me.
I'm sharing some recent comments below, along with my response in italics.
It gives me great pleasure to invite not only visitors to this blog, but everybody in the whole freaking world, to join a non-exclusive club I've just formed:
The I Don't Know For Sure club.
Admission is free. There are no dues. Also, no meetings. Nor any sort of organization. This club exists only in the minds of those who answer "no" to a simple question.
Are you 100%, completely, absolutely, without-a-doubt confident that what you believe about god, the supernatural, and mystical experiences is objectively true?
Here's a big question, one of the biggest when it comes to understanding reality and how religions typically view what it means to be human:
Do we have a self? Or adding an (important) capital letter, Do we have a Self?
To kick off my discussion of these questions, here's some recent right-on comment observations from "JB."
The past couple of days have been ugly for investors in stock markets around the world, including here in the United States. But I've been pretty much unmoved and unworried by the downturn.
Why? Because quite a few years ago I decided to embrace index investing, where you don't try to be smarter than all the other guys/gals who invest, you just have a goal of doing as well as the general investment climate.
A few years ago I wrote about this on one of my other blogs in "Index investing lets me relax in a stock market crash." And I've come to take the same approach to spirituality.