Sometimes a comment is left on one of my blog posts that leaves me with a WTF (what the fuck) feeling. Meaning, I can't begin to understand where the commenter is coming from.
Here's a recent example that starts off with a quote from a post of mine.
>>If mystics claim to find a new reality, they need to prove it<< WHY? WHY do they need to prove it? No mystic owes anything to anybody.
Wow. The answer to that all caps Why is one-word obvious. Truth.
Truth is why a mystic needs to back up their claim of finding a new reality with solid proof. Reality belongs to everyone. Reality is the home of everyone.
No one gets to spread falsehoods about my home, which is your home, which is everybody's home -- reality.
Now, I understand that truth is taking a beating these days.
Here in the United States, a majority of people who belong to one of our two major parties, the Republican Party, have shown they don't give a shit about truth.
They wrongly claim that election fraud is widespread. They wrongly claim that the Capitol insurrection on January 6 wasn't carried out by Trump supporters. They wrongly claim that Georgia's new election laws are intended to expand voter turnout rather than suppress it.
Obviously I don't claim to always speak the truth or live the truth. Like everybody else, I make mistakes all the time when it comes to understanding things.
But I've always pointed myself toward truth, even if I fail to reach it much of the time. Intention is all important when it comes to truth. Much can be forgiven if someone sincerely aims to embrace truth, rather than pushing it away.
One of the first posts I wrote when I started this blog in 2004 was called "Just have faith." Here's an excerpt that I still heartily agree with.
Here's how to tell the difference between true faith and false faith: Imagine that you are standing in the middle of a bare windowless room. Two doors lead out of the room. Both are closed, but can be opened with a turn of the doorknob. The doors are marked with signs that describe what awaits on the other side: (A) Reality, (B) Belief
After you open a door, you have to walk through it. The door then will shut and you never will be able to leave the place you have entered.
Choose Reality and you will know things as they really are, from top to bottom of the cosmos. You will know whether or not God exists and, if so, the nature of this ultimate divinity. You will know whether death is the final end of your existence or if it is the beginning of another form of life. You will know whether there is a meaning to the universe beyond what human beings ascribe to it.
Or, choose Belief and you will know only what lies within the confines of your current suppositions about the nature of the cosmos. For the rest of your life you will be confident that what you believe to be true, really is. Any evidence to the contrary will not make an impact on your mind. You will remain doubt-free, faithful to the beliefs you now hold about God, creation, life, death, and the purpose of human existence.
Which door would you choose to walk through?
Before answering, consider carefully the potential ramifications of your choice. Reality is an unknown, a mystery. It could be frightening or fabulous, painful or pleasurable, warmly loving or coldly uncaring. Do you want to embrace absolutely real reality? Or would you rather hold on to your beliefs about what is real?
Someone with the type of faith extolled by the Church of the Churchless would unhesitatingly choose Door A and boldly stride into Reality. For their faith is not in anything particular, but is a faith that truth can be known, should be known, and, indeed, must be known.
Getting back to the comment about mystics not owing anything to anybody when it comes to making a claim about having found a new reality, back in 2006 I talked about the need for questioning such claims in "With God, from 'I believe' to 'I know' is a huge step."
Here's the core of that blog post. The A.H. Armstrong quote comes from my book, "Return to the One."
If you say to me, “When it comes to God, I don’t know,” we’re comrades in unknowing. Grab a chair and belly up with me to the clueless bar.
If you say to me, “When it comes to God, I believe…,” we can have an interesting conversation. I probably won’t agree with you, but I enjoy learning about other people beliefs, or lack thereof, in a higher power.
If you say to me, “When it comes to God, I know…,” we are going to have a really interesting conversation. For once you say “know” rather than “believe,” my skeptical radar sets off a Dogma alert! Dogma alert! siren inside my psyche.
I don’t expect reasons for beliefs. They’re your business. Just like sex, whatever turns you on. Go for it. But also just like sex, beliefs need to remain personal if they are to be unquestioned.
As soon as you say, “I believe _____, and you should too,” there’s going to be a stiffening of my argumentative spine. I’m pleased to be given advice by someone who is more knowledgeable about something than I am. However, that something needs to be objectively real, not imaginary.
And beliefs aren’t real, even though lots of religious people seem to think that they are.
Going further, some people actually claim that they know the nature of God or ultimate reality. Now, this requires some serious questioning. A claim like that, why, it’s amazing. I mean, in the entire span of recorded history there hasn’t been a single clearly evident, unquestionable, plain-as-day revelation about God or the divine.
So if you tell me that you know for a fact that God exists, or that God is such and such, or that God is realized in this particular fashion, then I’m going to be super-duper interested in how you’re able to back up that astounding assertion.
I want you to lay your cards on the table. Face up. All of them. Show me your four aces. And let me know in detail, exactly, precisely, how you were able to come up with that winning hand.
Of course, I know that this won’t be possible. If you’re just bluffing, and don’t really know about God, then you’ll be empty-handed. But even if by some miracle you truly are God’s bosom buddy, you still won’t be able to lay any material proof on the table.
I’m pretty confident about that, because nobody else ever has been able to do so, and I’m willing to bet that this run of “busts” will continue.
So, please, please, please. Pretty please with blind faith crumbs on top. If you write or talk to me and go beyond “I believe…” when speaking about God, bring your best stuff. Show me the money, as the saying goes. The proof.
I’ve shared this quotation before, but it’s worth sharing again. To my mind, classics scholar A.H. Armstrong hits just the right tone.
When claims to possess an exclusive revelation of God or to speak his word are made by human beings (and it is always human beings who make them), they must be examined particularly fiercely and hypercritically for the honor of God, to avoid the blasphemy and sacrilege of deifying a human opinion.
Or, to put it less ferociously, the Hellenic (and, as it seems to me, still proper) answer to “Thus saith the Lord” is “Does he?,” asked in a distinctly skeptical tone, followed by a courteous but drastic “testing to destruction” of the claims and credentials of the person or person making this enormous statement.