An Absolute Religion

Yesterday, along with spawning lousy takes on literary development, I also spent some decent amount of time sitting placidly at the Hospital’s chapel pew. I got to wonder—as we often do—what relationship do I have with the Absolute?

To understand how to even begin unlocking the path to an answer, I must venture back into my childhood. Born in a small Portuguese village, the presence and power of Catholicism was palpable. There was a silent yet immense belief for the Christian God, and an unparalleled dedication to whatever that could possibly mean. As such, I spent a good amount of my young days going to services, bible studies and processions of various kinds, dedicated to various Saints. That isolated perspective gave me that sentiment of generality and unity. God was to be considered a “none can, all must”, it didn’t require explanation because it was like eating, like surviving, so encompassing of being human that it begged no further explore.
But I never got that.
Already adolescent, I belonged to a plethora of religious groups for charity. Spent a good portion of my weeks taking care of elderly or preparing food for the homeless, always with Godship in the background, and prayers paving ways to a deep, raw understanding that any void is reasonable, because it is God.
I walked 150 kilometres from my home to Fátima, in a pilgrimage that took every atom of my being to complete. When I arrived, I cried. Not because my spirit was augmented, or overwhelmed, or God was awaiting with a bouquet of sun-cosmos. But because there was nothing there. I cried because I voyaged to discover God, and instead, I found myself. And not the myself you like to find and even claim to search for, no. It was a myself that was too inadequate and insufficient to even relate to something as magnanimous as religion.
A true and virtuous need to belong, and a cruel inability to do so.

At my twenties, where I stand, I’ve since resigned the search for spirituality. It seems to be outside my reach, outside my touch. The Spirit, wherever it lays, has battled me my entire life, and I believe we both gave up to fatigue.

Here, in WordPress, I often come across a lot of people with reinforced faith. In fact, many authors I’ve adored were also deeply immersed in spirituality, Dante, Kierkegaard, Dostoyevski, all enormous influences on how I fostered my being, all spiritual and religious. But I do not understand them on those grounds, nor can I connect with worship here on WordPress.
I look at it, but cannot feel it, nor reason with it. And I try, I’ve tried so hard, but it simply isn’t there. I’ve met many Atheists who refused religion for specs of rationality and scientific facts, but I haven’t met any that genuinely had their relationship with spirit torn by inadequacy. None that couldn’t simply experience it, perhaps with or without will to do so.

As I love talking to all of you, tell me, have you felt this? What do you feel?

Hoje sou tudo no nada que sou, amanhã serei outro.

27 thoughts on “An Absolute Religion

  1. first of all, beautifully written, dear johnny.
    second, although i have never experienced a crisis of faith (in my case they are never crises, perhaps more accurately they would be less serious…perhaps yours is not a crisis either–i do not want to label your experience), i do indeed understand your struggle with trying to find the truth in the divine. i was raised in a household of multiple faiths and beliefs, with a clear tone of respect for all religions, a comprehension of the divine that was inclusive rather than exclusive. simultaneously, science and the explanation of existence through careful study of observable phenomena and theoretical but logical conjecture…well, that fueled my curiosity and satisfied my questions about things that could not be explained rationally.
    still, i am a spiritual being and believe in the divine within each individual human being, the good. how amazing that you could experience a moment of self-discovery at the end of your pilgrimage at a young age. but self-discovery is such an on-going process, and the discovery of the divine is as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • (thank you, concerning the writting. Still hard to transmit emotion in a different language, but I’m getting the hang of it)

      But, after all of that, do you still feel a necessity to believe and worship? That’s what I can’t manage to click, the world is so overwhelming with ideas, isn’t it painful to adhere to a single imutable one?
      I understand you are a spiritual being, I’ve always felt that from you, and I think that’s part of why I like you so much. Along with your brilliant writting and sweet, positive nature.
      And you are totally right, life is a process, it must continue its expansion. Perhaps I’ve tried too much to rush something that within, still isn’t ready to elapse…

      Like

      • to your question about the need to worship: i have never worshipped, as such. rather, i have been to churches, mosques, temples, to observe worship and appreciate the energy around human beings’ unbound belief in the divine. and please, don’t misunderstand, i don’t treat these moments of observation as scientific exercises or a chance to dip myself into others’ faith in a disrespectful way, but rather to reacquaint myself with the thought that there is something much bigger out there than me, to feel the awe of faith in its buoyancy. this is something i think we all should do because it humbles us, reminds us that no one person is be all and end all (something that even those who claim their devoutness often forget).
        as for belief, we all need belief–we all have belief, even atheists must believe in something, hold on to some faith, even a changing one, until our internal compasses find their true north. if not, we are lost to a void and fall victim to anxiety of existence, at least that’s how i feel. in the moments i have questioned belief, i have felt the most crushing sense of free fall–the weight of the whole universe…it takes time, and always involves constant searching and redefinition to find that place. i’m not even sure that i’ve found it for myself, but i keep at it!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Johnny,

    As you know, I have always felt simpatico with your writing and now I know why.

    Also, that you ask these questions, I think that I might see something that you may one day grow to see, if you continue to ask.

    And while the answers or responses may take years, the years between us give me a different perspective. However, some of my writings on my blog speak to the same questions that have driven me my entire life. https://desertrose.blog/

    See, I too was raised Roman Catholic and my parents were both born and raised in Jerusalem. So as you say, it is the air we breath never to question why.
    However, I grew up in America from the age of two. When my parent’s moved to San Francisco’s Noe Valley in 1968 and the height of the Hippy revolution. At such a young age, this experience shaped me and taught me early on not to accept things blindly or conform to authority.

    As I grew, I began exploring and asking these questions. My parents accepted me because in their hearts they also knew the constraints religious beliefs can have on the spirit. This turned into the greatest blessing of my life.

    In my studies of world religions, Hinduism was the nearest to my heart and I followed its voice to find the Absolute.

    Just this past week, I had the epiphany of a lifetime. And this relates to your share of finding nothing at the end of your pilgrimage. You may see one day, as I did that nothing is truly a gift of a lifetime. The Absolute is filled with nothingness.
    The center of an atom.

    Physicists first found that the substance of an atom at its core was empty. Nothing else existed there, as I am sure you are aware of this. But then with their colliders they found a quark! I understood immediately that this is the Absolute, and that creation begins from nothing then unfolds and expands infinitely.

    Back to us, I too at times feel very alone, so one day I looked up alone and learned that it is a combination of all plus one. The one is us as an atom and what we create in this lifetime and in our expression is the quark!

    I was afraid to share this poem on my site because of how strange it would sound without proper context. But getting to know you better, I believe you will understand.

    At One

    As I am
    individual
    alone

    a ray of the Sun
    with all
    at one

    nothing
    center of an atom
    oh my a quark

    An individual
    totally unusual

    what is all plus one?

    me and you in the expanding universe

    Looking forward to your thoughts.

    Jordan

    Liked by 2 people

    • Beautiful perspective Jordan.

      The path to understanding is an evil one, and to a certain extent, even Biblical presentations seem to indicate so.
      Adam and Eve ate the apple of wisdom of good and evil. God opposes knowledge, and to my naive understanding, Adam and Eve were not thrown into Hell by God himself, but rather, they attained knowledge of a Hell that was already there. They adquired understanding, and drifted from God, naturally…

      The Absolute, as it gives, works in a similar way. Your view of the Absolute is Pythagorean, mostly associated with Monadism, an ideology I’m deeply enchanted by. That of unity in Absolute, everything is divinity because everything exists in an order of unity. Halves are defined by their wholes. Allan Watts said, wisely, that life implies death, and he achieved peace by applying that construct of totality. I’ve murked around such thoughts, but again, my inability to commit to Absolute Ideas, even those I agree with, is the integral plague I cannot surpass.

      Your poem is beautiful, reminds be of elder Italian minimalists and their wisdom of the vague, it is a very appealing characteristic to have.

      Jordan, you truly are one of the kindest spirits I’ve met so far, beyond description. I appreciate you endlessly.

      Liked by 1 person

      • And your response is even more beautiful, Johnny. Indeed, I not only guessed that your studies have carried very far, I also see it in your poetry.

        I too am very familiar with monadism, or otherwise described vaguely as non-duality. My studies include meditation from that space, and present centered in the now. At the same time my undergraduate is in Developmental Psychology with a focus on epigenesis. and the anatomy and structures of the brain. Because I have been torn between the worlds of physicality, the material, the body and that of spirit. And thankfully in my mind’s eye, I see much further than my pea brain would ever allow. I am glad that we just shared our motivations as it adds more context.

        And ultimately each individual’s path opens and unfolds in unique ways. Which to me is the magic of existence.

        Although what I did forget to say about “nothing” is that sometimes it can be a gift because it leaves us with no answers, no doors to close, to continue in our explorations…..

        I look forward to my reading time with your poetry. Jordan

        P.S. I agree with your position on the use of comma’s! I had a professor tell me that I used them like I would salt and pepper shakers. I answered, but no I put them where I need them to be!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Ark of Quantum. To be counted by time is to be remembered.

      It’s all a matter of interpretation until we develop the ability to read and reconstruct a photon’s total history, at which point our interpretations become moot anyhow as I understand it. Lessons about ourselves, not the things we thought we perceived.

      I still feel like we’re ignoring Qualium to our own discredit, though.

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  3. In my twenties I left religion because the dogma of the church stifled my curiosity . You were not allowed to ask questions, doubt was a playground for the devil. I began my true spiritual journey in my late 30’s and I continue on the path. I’ve since studied all the major religions and traditions of the east. IMHO, there is no one way. Each must find their own way. If your inclined, you can check out the Spiritual Category on my blog to learn more about my journey. But again, your journey will be distinctly your own. The fact that you’ve asked the question is proof that you are on the right path. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Sue! I will surely stop by and check your wisdom!
      I’m too young and far, far too confused to even lavish on the luxury of certainty, but by ability to ask is my only weapon against that confusion.

      Thank you, Sue, comments mean a lot to me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re very welcome, Johnny. I certainly don’t have all the answers. All I can share is my journey. I continue to stay curious and ask lots of questions. I find the universe a fascinating place! Enjoy your journey ❤️

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  4. It’s beautiful written from heart. I’ve been a confused soul too when it comes to religions, I’ve tried my hands in different mythologies and faiths. But I remain obsecure, I guess we are seekers on the path of quest.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. My own experience is rather the opposite of many. I was brought up to be as atheistic as possible, to the point that I became anti-theistic. The brain damage left me agnostic; I couldn’t claim belief, but I knew I no longer disbelieved in any active sense. I began to see the metaphors and mysteries religions opine on, and to find my own place in the Legendry. At first I took *myself* for a God, which was a psychic strain I was unprepared for and likely always will be. Later I found myself in absolute despair, and faced with four metaphysical gates which I found at “rock bottom”. I chose the door that seemed to fit me best, and found myself baptized an agent of Famine. This cured the worst of my depression at the time, but changed me. I found friends whose aspects resembled war and pestilence, and we discussed philosophy and meaning. It was a pretty good time, all in all.

    Eventually I would draw S’word from S’tone, and that threatened to send me right back into the I am God/I am insufficient despair. Eventually God decided to grace me with His presence, and suggested I look into my bloodlines. This revealed to me the Davidic Lineage/AntiChrist genetic crossroads I inhabit. Then I figured out something was translating for God, and that something turned out to be Jesus. He’s an absolutely fantastic fellow, and I’ll tell you right now, there is no such thing as a real Christian who does not have a personal relationship with Jesus.

    The churches are chock full of people who’d call me crazy for claiming I speak to these two figures. Those aren’t Christians.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I understand your view David, but gatekeeping religion is not, nor will it ever be, an effective way to argue.
      The No True Scotsman fallacy is brimming with this one, nor is Christianism the only or rightest or most original religion. In fact, the archetypes Christianism uses far precede Christ in his temporal claims.
      I do not argue against or in favor of religion, every experience is unequal in its own way.
      I would suggest you further edit your ideas of the world to something less alienating of others, because others have a wisdom that we do not.
      Regardless, I do thank you for your sharing, as it means a great deal to me.

      Like

      • We each convene differently with religion. “Read the book” won’t help, The Bible is a collection of out-dated tables and inapplicable philosophies. Your relationship with God is yours and yours to keep, none elses.
        There is no harm with people who do not see Jesus as the ultimate religious figure, as he himself often discredited his severance with God. To many, God and Jesus are a singular being, and they are as right as you are, because the Bible has no literal definitions. They made it a mission not to write literally, for the sake of abusing interpretation and perpetuate changing faith.
        This vision is your choice.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I suppose the foundation of my argument is in the fundamental difference between loyalty to Church and loyalty to Christ. If you are religious, you are loyal to a building, a community and a dogma. If you are loyal to Christ, you serve an ideal, going so far as to bleed out in its service. WORD as DEED.

        For the record, I’m still pretty much in pre school in that regard. lol

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  6. You’re not alone in feeling inadequate and it is exhausting trying to earn salvation. It cannot be earned by saying so many hail Mary’s or engaging in good works. It doesn’t happen of our accord and that is the point of the Christian gospel, that Christ did the work for us with His perfect sinless sacrifice on the cross, atonement for our sins. We can ask for His forgiveness and actually know forgiveness and peace, even at the most challenging of times. This has been my experience.

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    • I do not subscribe to the dogma of original sin. I think we are born pure and we must not be forgiven for anything.
      I’ve enjoyed Jesus teaching on other grounds, and although I’ve felt inadequate, I do not feel guilty. That’s another thing I do not understand, but perhaps I will eventually.
      Now, however, I’ve fully given up on Christianity, and have since ventured into other ideas and more Asian philosophies.
      But thank you for sharing Ceinwen! It matters much and is much appreciated!

      Like

      • I did not understand the teaching of original sin –or perhaps I should say I could only understand it through its Reformed and Lutheran and post-Tridentine forms, which all depend on late Medieval formulations of the teaching, and I found those repugnant and unintelligible– until I read Augustine in the context of neo-Platonism. Only then did some of the Hobbesian pessimism I found too redolent of pessimism and misanthropy begin to make sense as something not crazy, and not misanthropic. I do not think I have written about this, except indirectly in excerpts about the _libido dominandi_. Your comments suggest this is probably a topic that would be worthwhile writing about for a secular audience (even moreso a Christian one, who seem to try and affirm original sin without any historical consciousness, repeating the words but blind and deaf to the sense they would have had to the original hearers of any such teaching). Add it to the list of things I’ll likely not get to before I die. :-/

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m familiar with all of Augustines work, including the three libidos. In no way did he aid my proximity to Godship. He was a brilliant man for a myriad of reasons, and his capabilities to perceive the world, akin to Kierkegaards, far exceded Christians of his — and even this — age.
        Religion is Culture and as such, it is volatile and ever-changing. Chances are, Gregory, by the time we do understand it, it’s probably already something else.
        Subjectivity is a game of chance more than anything.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I suppose I’d ask –and this is not a trap; I have mixed feelings about how I’d like to answer this question myself, as I can see multiple angles for it– what you think religion is. More specifically: is there a religious dimension to human beings? –if so, to what does it orient us, what is its role, how is it cultivated, how might it be left to wither, &c.?

    You may enjoy Schliermacher and some of the 19th century Germans, which rigorously explore these questions. (See https://www.amazon.com/Schleiermacher-Religion-Despisers-Cambridge-Philosophy/dp/0521479754/ for starters) Even the Asian philosophies do not throw us back entirely on ourselves. Have you looked into this volume? https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0691019649/

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    • I’m widely familiar with the latter, but not the former. I tend to stray away from Theology and non-analytical philosophy nowadays. I’ve done my rounds and laps around those topics and to be completely honest here, they are tired subjects. Too many millenia being bent on such primitive concepts, it makes these themes overbearing at times.
      We push and pull shreds of understanding, shift them around, invent and arrange words that can better meld into this primitive understanding that, for some reason, this is meant to be understood.
      Now, this is a string of infinitude, because understanding the Absolute is based on that very concept of Absolution. Augustine, as you cited, was a man who got encumbered with faith to such a level, that his questioning consumed him. My inability to connect with realms of possible existence will not handicasp me from attempting to thrive in those that, all metaphysics aside, are more tangible than that of generality.
      I mean, Germanys entire literary culture seems based on over-explanation to the point of ultimate exhaustion. I’ve never been fond of that, still am not. Perhaps one day, if I do become smarter, I will also see it more clearly. For now, I’m content with my non-necessity to do so.
      But thank you so much for the comments Gregory, it means a lot to me that you are willing to engage in these interactions, which are valuable for my growth. It means a lot, truly does.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, and I did not evade the question of what Religion is, but rather, I’d prefer not to answer. Religion has a hard time defining itself, the last thing it needs is for a non-religious person to chyme in with lackluster conceptions.
      To me, personally, Religion is nothing. It is far from my natural state, and from the look of things, it is likely going to remain that way. Thank God for Secularism, I suppose, hehe.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I seem to have configured my brain has such, at this point, but I still feel like something lacks. Not so much “God”, I could care less about the identitiy of Godship. Spirituality and, by extension, the Absolute, is a different story. To many it seems elevating, to others, constraining, but I can’t feel it at all.
      Thank you, by the way. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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