Also: Is it possible for an atheist to have a crisis of (non) faith?

This is an issue that while I try to keep quiet, has come up frequently in the last year. As of late, it's been spurned by Jesse's and I's binging on the show Supernatural.

It can be difficult to discuss it with Jesse, as his spiritual beliefs are well-structured, complex, and very well defined. My questions and ideas about spirituality are anything but structured, complex, or defined. There are times he will even allude to having experienced spiritual experiences around and/or about me while I've been in dire times, but I always shut him down before he gets into explaining it.

While hospitalized, I have spoken to a few chaplains about it all, but they tend to be Jesus-centric. (It's a Seventh-Day-Adventist hospital). So half of those conversations wind up with me trying to steer the conversation from accepting Jesus as my savior and into something more generic. This is more than mildly frustrating for both the pastors and myself, so I no longer seek them out.

My hardline beliefs are that I do not accept the existence of ghosts, angels, demons, or spirits that would otherwise have any interest in my tiny, tiny little life. But now that I've had a little time to look back and see just how easily any of my sidesteps could have resulted in a bloody, projectile-vomiting death, I am beginning to wonder.

Chance and coincidence, along with a stubborn as fuck willpower, can carry almost any explanation very, very far. But does it carry it over the finish line? How far does the belief in Luck stretch until it smacks into a belief of faith?

What IS faith and does it have to be connected to a structure of beliefs about the spiritual realm? I find Paganism to be just as annoying as strong Christianity. Ditto for Buddhism, general New-Agism, Unitarian beliefs, and anything else that requires letting go of any personal reigns in order to trust a Higher Power.

But there is ONE thing I do miss about all of those beliefs, and that is ritual. The closest thing to ritual I've come to in the last several years is wearing a locket of Santa Muerte, and even that, to me, is more about the power of symbolism than an actual belief in a Death God.

But lighting candles, saying specific prayers, having a thing-to-do that follows steps and instructions in order to connect with the Universe as a whole...I do miss that. But how does one create, let alone follow, a ritual when you believe there is nothing there to hear it?

Jesse has said that he saw the spark of faith flare up over the last year. I respond by telling him that I was scared - terrified - and that faith is a pretty common refuge for the frightened. But even in that fear, I didn't come to any conclusions, find any beliefs, that comforted those fears. I just barreled through the fear until I didn't NEED that comfort anymore.

Except maybe I am still scared, because the idea of wanting to believe in something (something small, that doesn't have assloads of minor and sub-beliefs that have to be built as a foundation UNDER the belief itself) is still there.

Don't get me wrong - the show Supernatural is not enough for me to start stockpiling salt and buying silver tableware. This is TV-land we're talking about, and as fun as it is, I recognize that it's fantasy and adapted-folklore.

I just have to wonder if there is a way of not-believing that is somehow a belief. I've never had a paranormal/spiritual experience that wasn't easily explained by mundane things (or else experienced while flying high on mania), and maybe I'm looking for that. Maybe I envy people who seem to experience that all the time.

But I can't just make myself believe things that I don't believe in. This is, however, starting to get in the way of wondering if there, actually, things TO believe in, whatever those things might be.

Maybe, in the end, I just want there to be some kind ghostwriter to this narrative that is my Life. I don't know. I am still vehemently opposed when Jesse insists that he's seen my lack of spiritual beliefs shift, because while I've questioned, that does NOT mean I've settled on an answer.

I guess even having the questions is what's throwing me off.

This entry was originally posted at http://quirkytizzy.dreamwidth.org/1102531.html
The specific prayers and rituals don't make much sense to me either. My father used to make a big show of silently saying grace before his meals by burying his face in his hands and kissing one of them after he finished, but he's slightly more low-key about it these days.

I'd like to think that if there is a higher power out there, it's a lot more complicated than any of us think. Perhaps it tires of hearing "Our Father" billions of times per day. Who knows?

I don't really believe in specifics, but I do believe in energy and the unknown and that's enough for me. I think it is human arrogance to claim that we know and see all of reality when we know there are colors we can't see. Animals have differently tuned senses as well. I think whatever spiritual track you're on is right for you and reasonable. :)

When I was in hospital I woke up the morning of my operation and was brought immense comfort by the strongest sense that Selena had come to sit with me for a while. And all of my fear and worry evaporated.

And while it is entirely possible my subconscious conjured up the concept of being visited by my dead best friend in order to relax me and make me feel better, it is just as possible that she was there for a bit, that she dropped by to make sure I was okay. It was a strong enough sense that I spoke to her. And I wasn't on painkillers at the time.

So I'm not sure that most of us ever get a really hard definitive piece of evidence. Just little hints here and there.
When you get right down to it, spirituality of all kinds bends itself to the end of allowing the beholder to tolerate the inexplicable. Whether or not something is known is secondary to whether or not it can be explained in a rational+empirical way - and if it cannot, then somehow one needs to cope with it.

...But even these days, when we know that if it's not explained yet the best minds are working on it as we speak, when there is plenty of rationality to go around, the irrational becomes that much more remarkable. So goes a lot of religious nuttery. "Ha! You can't explain that! Neener neener!" (To which I respond: "How's that prediction for the start date of the End Times coming along?")

It is not rational that this crazy, fucked-up autoimmune condition should march into your life and kick you in the ribs just as you're really starting to get your life together. "What the fuck, Universe?!"

It seems perfectly reasonable that naked rationality is your article of faith. Why not? 'S not like being brought up by junked-out borderline personalities leaves you particularly well-disposed to put faith in anything else. Rationality got you sober and keeps you there, makes you capable of, say, going to Wal-Mart and carrying on your business in a perfectly normal way.

The question, then, is not if an explanation exists for all this irrationality. It certainly does.

The alternative questions are if the explanations will be worked out in time to have any value for you personally... or if you can learn to live with the fact that they will probably be out of reach in your lifetime.

Edited at 2017-09-15 09:54 pm (UTC)
Make up your own rituals that mean something for you, to you. Light a candle for those that you've lost, burn some incense to change the air in the room... and marvel at the way the smoke rises and dissipates into the world. Get a plant and make taking care of it part of your ritual. There are many non religious, even non spiritual things you can do to focus and reflect on life. You just need to make them part of your rituals. Feeding the birds can be like that, making an offering to others. Its all in how you look at it.
I think I'll get it started with this:



Seriously, I think in that point people know either too many different beliefs or not as much as there would be.
'Cause, why the hell you get upon a ton of practices, but the least one ever occurring is "believing in nothing"?
I mean, really nothing. That big empty nothing. That nothing really matters for the world what happens in your life. That none of your small actions is gonna change the course of the world too soon - that you're not that big that you can in an instant.
I think in that part the term "nihilism" (no matter how you want to fill it personally with content) is pretty unknown to many.

Other than that, just as the song mentions, why not believing in oneself? Why not being the God that you want yourself?
Does a "God" actually have to be perfect - or see everything? Or be almighty, able to stop everything at any given time?
I feel like humans with all their technology and their powers of destruction can be that all by themselves, they do all the stuff themselves that they say spiritual entities do.
And, other than that... Why not firmly believing in all the powers that oneself has to offer? Why seeing onself as so weak that you can't stand through anything?
I know that's a bit extreme for your experiences now, but seriously, but do you think has gotten you through that? Medicine, your own biology, and helpers from outside. Important, never forget the helpers from the outside which got you to hospital as you misjudged the situation!
Biology can be that powerful, you must also know this from using drugs. Some stupid liquid injected to your body, and suddenly you can see dimensions that you can never even touch when you're sober. That's how powerful it is. Consciousness in combination with self-control is a much overrated thing when it comes down to possible outside influences. I don't only mean psychical manipulation in that, I also mean the own physical biochemistry that takes place and shit you shovel into yourself from meds to food to real drugs.
All that does have some influence upon your judgment.
It takes a lot of knowledge and experience to be able to exclude all that and find your bare will that doesn't depend on all that, that only depends on the self-acting thing that is you.
But if you're able to feel that in between that knot, then it's like domination over everything.
Not very many reach that state of awareness, so that's why not that many find belief in themselves.
That domination is the soil for that confidence for finding faith in onself that rides that idea of being the God of your own world. Being that thing that can survive and see a lot of shit without getting insane from it.
If one looks for rituals in that context, well, everyone can create his own, can he?
For some it's the worship of affording oneself anything good every day, for some it's following your hobby interests every day for a little bit, for others it's doing something exceptional from the everyday life that you keep doing as a kind of habit (actually, last thing is what a ritual is - something that stands out from everyday life, but you keep reapting it on a frequent time rhythm).
There's a lot one can do for sure; it only depends on your own creativity.
You don't need to be a complete atheist to be non-religious. You can put faith in things you cannot explain without being dogmatic.