Finding Peace Without "God"

Heaven on Earth

Heaven does not require “god” or “Jesus” or “salvation”.  However, heaven is real.

WHAT?  An atheist believes in heaven?

Yes, that’s exactly what’s happening here.  However, it’s neither god, nor Jesus nor salvation that will actually get you there- heaven is what you create for yourself during the time that you’re alive.  I think the best philosophy to back-up this claim is that of the Toltecs, as described in Don Miguel Ruiz’ Four Agreements.

You see, we as humans are capable of creating our very own heaven, right here on earth—this is the heaven we need to strive for, and I believe, this is the actual heaven that  the bible talks about.  It’s only due to our misinterpretations that make us credit god.  (But that’s an entirely different blog)  Additionally, we are equally capable of creating our own hell by not following the guidelines to achieving heaven on earth.

First off, heaven is an achievement.  It’s where we (or at least people who are believers) hope to go when they die.  In the biblical sense it’s an eternal life of peace, free from worry and pain and suffering, living forever with “god”.  The alternative is hell, where the sinner or unsaved, will live for eternity without that peace and will suffer forever knowing that they messed up.  At least that’s the gist of it, no?

Even when I was a Christian (and I really thought I was for a brief period of time) I never fully grasped the concept of the afterlife- it’s just too farfetched for me.

It wasn’t until I read Don Miguel Ruiz’ Four Agreements that the concept of the REAL heaven and hell made sense.  If you haven’t read The Four Agreements, I urge you to read it NOW!   No matter your religious beliefs, it is life changing and never once does he try to convert you to atheism- he himself is not atheist, it’s actually a very spiritual book.

http://www.amazon.com/Four-Agreements-Practical-Personal-Freedom/dp/1878424319  go!  NOW!

Although I feel you really need to read the entire (very short) book to fully understand the concept, the four agreements (principles) that he shares are:

1. Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

While I completely agree with these four principles, there are a few others that I would add:

  • Be kind and respectful of other’s self and property
  • Live in the moment- make the right decision for you right now and know that if it doesn’t work, you can always change your mind
  • Acknowledge your faults but don’t dwell on them and always recognize your strengths  use them to your advantage
  • Be forgiving of others

I’m not telling you anything that you haven’t heard before.  We all know that we need to do these things no matter our religious beliefs, but the most important principle that I would add- the one that matters most is:

  • Accept that this is your only life, that you will die- appreciate that knowledge.  Don’t waste your life- embrace it, make it what you want it to be.  The thought of dying shouldn’t make you sad or scared; knowing that you’re living should make you feel empowered.

I actually believe that this is the basis behind the bible’s teachings.

I believe that the whole point of salvation is to surrender to life.  It has nothing to do with a deity or going to some magical place when we die; it has only to do with life.  The only true heaven is “heaven on earth” and that can only be achieved by surrendering to life and the principles listed above- only then will you truly live a life free from worry, pain and suffering.

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Christian Question #1

QUESTION FROM A CHRISTIAN: “If there is an all-good, all-powerful God, He would never allow all this evil and/or suffering that we see in the world.”

Christian Question for the Atheist: “If there is no objective standard of right and wrong, or good and evil (such as God), then how can we even judge that the things we see in the world are evil or wrong?”

Atheists say that an all-good God would never allow all the evil we see in the world.

Yet, how are they even judging whether something is “evil”, without having a standard of good and evil to compare to?

And if they do an objective standard of good and evil to compare this world to, wouldn’t that be God?

MY RESPONSE: Humans feel joy and pain, this creates is an innate ability to know good an evil. No god required.

HIS FOLLOW UP: +Life Reason But how can atheists build their entire argument from evil against God based on an “inner feeling” of joy?

MY ANSWER: Well, evil is just a word. Because atheists don’t believe in god they also don’t believe in satan. But you don’t need either of those mythical creatures to have feelings. Feelings are what we use as a gauge to determine good and bad- or in this case good and evil.
We, as in ALL people don’t need to have a god tell us that something is good or bad. We are a thinking, feeling, deciphering species. We know that joy feels good and pain feels bad. The things that cause feelings are what I might label good and “evil”- but not in a devil-ish way

It has been over a year since I was fortunate enough to spend a day with the Embera Indians in Panama and I still feel just as angry and sad as did the day I left; angry at missionaries who won’t leave them alone and sad for the people of the village who will soon lose their identity.

When I arrived, via dug-out canoe, the villagers were lined up near the shore line playing a welcome song on their handmade instruments. As I walked up the dock they each came to me, shook my hand and welcomed me to their village, even the smallest of the children- big smiles and open hearts. Dressed in colorful garb, covering just the “important parts”; the women wore red hibiscus wreaths in their hair, brightly-patterned wrap-around skirts with bra-tops made from shiny nickels and dimes. The men were shirtless with only a loin cloth covering their man-parts and everyone, from the youngest infant to the eldest villager, were covered in a henna-like ink. The ink is made from the berry of a native plant is used as not only decoration but also as a bug repellent.

It was a magical day spent just hanging out- chatting, eating and learning about each other’s culture. They had as many questions for me as I did for them. The Medicine Man took me on a tour of the village, pointing out different plants and telling me about their medicinal properties. He told me a bit about their agriculture and their faith in nature.

I sat and talked with a new friend I made, Miguel, as he was whittling a new flute for himself. It was his birthday. 

It was quite literally the most delightful experience of my life. No one had a care in the world. The villagers just went about their business of cooking and napping and playing and chatting. And although the first hour or so was a little uncomfortable for me, I quickly became acclimated and felt like I was a part of their community.

The day I went was a very special day. Not only was it Miguel’s birthday, but they were also celebrating the new community structure that had just been completed. It was an impressive bit of architecture built using the same techniques that the Embera had been using for centuries. One large log in the center and smaller logs that make up the rest of the frame. There are no walls, only a thatched roof made from large palm fronds. (Before they were booted from their land just a few years ago, all of their materials came from the area in which they lived. However, since the Panamanian government moved them to a “reservation”, much like the American Indians, they Embera now have to buy logs for their buildings as it is against the law for them to cut down trees –that’s a rant for another day.)

On to the point of this essay- MISSIONARIES

As I was saying, it was a special day. It was Miguel’s birthday and the new building was complete- those are two pretty good reasons to celebrate, no? Of course they are! But guess who showed up to do it “right”. You guessed it, missionaries. In this case it happened to be a Catholic Bishop and two nuns, but it could have easily been any other denomination.

You see, the bishop wanted to “bless” the structure- apparently he didn’t think that whatever the Embera had been doing for hundreds, possibly thousands of years was good enough, so he came with his rosary and bible and probably some holy water, to bless this new building. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I missed the actual ceremony as it happened just before I got there, but my guide/interpreter told me about the goings on. He told me that this bishop had been visiting the village for the last few years, teaching them about Christ and the bible and encouraging them to build a chapel at the top of the hill where their homes were located.

The bishop also arranged for other missionaries to come to the village back in 2008 to give them running water and while this sounds like a noble cause, it comes with consequence.

When the Embera were free, they were somewhat nomadic, and were always sure to live near clean, running water. However, when the government moved them to the reservation, not all of the villages were near drinkable water. This particular village was now a mile from the nearest drinkable water and therefore had to walk back and forth with buckets the closest spring daily.

While this was not as convenient for the Indians as having the spring run through their village, they were used to acclimating themselves to the necessities of their circumstances. They did not complain; they just dealt with it- just as they had with any other inconvenience they had to “suffer” in decades past.

If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “what’s wrong with providing them with running water?” When the medicine man took me on the tour and showed me the spigot, and my guide explained to me where it came from, I said, “oh wow! That’s cool!”  That’s when he explained to me that, no, it really wasn’t. He said that since that spigot had been provided, the villagers had become lazy. Not only were they no longer walking the distance to get the water, but they were becoming more and more dependent on outsiders to bring them things that, until now, were never necessities.

 

This really became clear to me when, after lunch- a delicious feast of fish, chicken, rice, plantains and a yummy oat-milk drink, 

we were served cake and ice cream.

CAKE AND ICE CREAM!

The bishop and his nuns had brought a tub of ice cream and a sheet cake to celebrate Miguel’s birthday, along with disposable plates and utensils. A thoughtful gesture? Sure, IF YOU LIVE IN A CITY WITH A TRASH DUMP AND A DIGESTIVE TRACT THAT’S USED TO CONSUMING DAIRY AND LOADS OF SUGAR!!!

Do you see where I’m going with this? This bishop and his nuns and all the other missionaries out there who are “just trying to help” will eventually make this tribe and every other tribe of indigenous people EXTINCT by converting them to Christianity, making them sick and creating a dependency that wouldn’t otherwise be there.

These amazingly beautiful, happy, peaceful, nature-loving people will become poisoned with diabetes, guilt, shame and “civilization” all because the “civilized Christians” think the “uncivilized” can’t survive without them or their god.

After lunch, I got to sit down and have a chat with the chief. He spoke a little English, but not enough to communicate, so my guide translated for us. I asked him if they believe in god, he said, “we believe in nature” and when I asked him how he felt about the bishop wanting to build a church, he just shrugged his shoulders. My guide explained to me that it’s not their culture to say “no”. Not because they think it’s a good idea, but because they think it’s rude to turn down an offer.

So regardless of your religious beliefs or dis-beliefs, the next time you think you’re helping someone, ask yourself, “am I helping myself more?” Because while your intentions may be good, all actions have reactions and sometimes those reactions are more like consequences.

As for the Embera, my best guess is that they’ll continue being polite, the missionaries will continue bringing them cake and “wisdom” and eventually, the Embera will become another extinct society. Only they won’t die off, or vanish overnight- they’ll be swallowed up by those who “meant well” but were oblivious to their self-serving motives.

No god necessary…

Nature is far more capable than the credit we give.

Angry Tweeter

I spent the better part of last night and this morning arguing with a militant atheist about how to BE atheist. It started when I posted something along the lines of “If we want the non-secs to respect us, we need to do the same”. This led to him berating me for HOURS even though we’re on the SAME fricken team.

DUDE!

According to him I’m not atheist enough because I’m not ANTI-theist. Supposedly, you have to insult and shame believers into converting because they are responsible for AIDS, among other things. This is the kind of atheist I DO NOT want to be.

The thing is, I’d like to give him credit for some of the things he said, he DID make some decent points. But he was such a dick about the whole thing that I actually tuned him out and simply felt the need to defend myself– which was the whole point of the entire conversation.

I’m always up for a good debate, but you have to know when to walk away.

It ended when he told me that you have to tell Christians that they are stupid over and over again in order to get them to question themselves and their beliefs. My last tweet to him was, “w/your reasoning I should just tell you that you you’re an asshole over and over again until you believe it. would that work??”

–he did not respond.

I wonder if he’ll read this post?

Death of an Atheist…

and everyone else for that matter.

What if NEITHER heaven nor hell exist? What if when you die, you do just that? You just die and that’s the end of the story? Is that so bad? Why can’t life be treasured for as long as we are living and then when we die, we just…no longer exist?
Do you remember what it was like before you were born? I know I sure don’t and I’m guessing that’s about how it’ll be after I die.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but the biggest reason people believe in “god” is because of death, right? They are afraid of dying and want eternal life. They have been convinced that if they don’t accept Jesus as their savior or do enough good deeds that they will go to hell. Even if they aren’t or don’t believe in being “born again”, many people still believe that there is a heaven and a hell and that “god” determines your ultimate destination.
Not to sound morbid, but I often wonder what my family would believe if f I die tomorrow. They aren’t particularly Christian, but they still hold on to the potential magic of god and fantasy of heaven. Last I heard my mom believes that god exists, everything happens for a reason and if you’re a good person, you’ll go to heaven. I’m pretty sure she thinks I’m a good person, so I guess in her eyes I will be in heaven when we die.  She and I will be in heaven together eating pasta and chocolate and have perfect bikini bodies. That would be nice, wouldn’t it?!  Too bad it’s not true.
Unfortunately, that kind of heaven doesn’t really exist. NO kind of afterlife-heaven exists at least not the pearly gates kind. Therefore, when I die, I hope to leave behind good memories of me with the people who are still living because that’s what heaven is. Heaven and hell are only what we create on earth, during the time that we’re alive and what we leave for those who are still living. Our bodies rot, well mostly…sort of—depending when and how you’re buried, but that’s it- that’s the end. We go back to not knowing, not existing, just like before we were born and the memories of us live on- that is eternal life. Depending on the legacy you leave behind you may “live” one more generation or hundreds of generations but you won’t know a thing about it.

Going to lunch on Sunday, after church– This is a concept I have never been able to grasp and always made me feel guilty any time I went to lunch with fellow church members after Sunday service.  According to the bible, Sunday is the Sabbath day, right?  And we’re not supposed to work on the Sabbath, we’re supposed to go to church to worship “god” and then rest.  So why is it okay for people to go out to lunch  after church?  So they don’t have to go home and cook or clean (work)?  And instead  go to restaurants and make other people do it?  Does that strike anyone else as WRONG?

I live in a small town where a lot of businesses are closed on Sundays, including restaurants.  While it is an inconvenience for me I respect these business owner’s beliefs enough to not make a stink about it.  At least they aren’t making their employees work on what they presumably believe is a holy day.  But as for the rest of church-going population, this is just one of many hypocrisies that I will never understand.  What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.  If it’s not okay for you to work, it’s not okay for the people who serve you either.

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