By William Bowman
Imagine a hair-thin strand of thread, sinuous and sharp, tied to a nerve end in one of your fingertips. Now, imagine someone pulling it, extracting your nervous system inch by inch, nerve by nerve, until there’s nothing left inside. This is the way it feels to lose one’s faith.
Over the past two years, I’ve felt this way. Honestly, truly engaging religions, science and history makes you question and redefine things…
Remember I said this issue we’d cover the most important question? Well, it’s “Who or What is Being?” Let me explain.
All of us deep-down desire pleasure, avoid pain; desire survival, avoid death. But, newsflash: we all die, eventually. And life’s full of suffering. Thus, to survive and prosper, we unify ourselves with entities and ideas more longevous and powerful than ourselves and trust our survival to theirs. I call these entities “Being.”
“Faith” is our belief in a Being’s ability to fulfill these desires, for us the individual and the whole world.
Everyone has a Being, even if not God. A family, job, career, company, ideology; each can be our Being. It’s what brings us joy. What we stand for. What we think will survive long after we’re dead. What our life will mean and what we’ll be remembered in the context of.
For Christians, Being is Jesus Christ. For Hindus; Brahman. For Atheists; society or some facet of it.
After defining Being, we define our “Self” in relation to it: our desires, goals, definitions of good and evil, actions, etc.
For Buddhists, this Self is the Buddha Self. For Hindus, the Atman. For Christians, Paul’s New Self in Christ.
But sometimes in life, our Being no longer seems real or powerful enough to fulfill our and the world’s deepest desires. Sometimes, we lose our faith. And with our Being goes our Self.
We call this a spiritual or mid-life crisis. The prognosis: all desires, goals and achievements up until this point could be cancerous and must be scalped away. It’s like open heart surgery, without anesthetic. It hurts like hell.
I’m currently experiencing one. Over the last two years, I’ve lost much of the Being of my youth. And with it, my Self. It’s hard to know my direction, goals, desires, and it’s very hard to interact with others without a mask.
Honestly, I’m a spiritual hedonist. I want the most pleasure and the least pain for both myself and the world. I want to live forever, or at least as long as possible.
So I’m seeking. This process of defining Being then seeking Reunion with it King David calls in the Psalms “seeking God.” I’m seeking a Being which I can put my faith in for these things.
And every religion echoes Jesus when he says, “Seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
So, reader; what’s your “Being?” Is It real, longevous, and powerful enough to provide the world’s greatest pleasure and palliate the world’s pain? Will It survive, and you with it? Or will It erode in time like a sand castle in the waves?
If so, drop it like a bad Relationship. Give yourself the Christmas present of Something that really matters. Seriously, ditch the grease-soaked curly fries.