Sinners and forgiveness: a belief system I never bought into, even as a child, when the analytical function and the necessary vocabulary were lacking. I just knew something wasn’t right. As I passed through the various grades of religious education, nothing unusually oppressive or rigid I might add, I began to see how the church and its operatives used the definition of sinfulness, sinning supposedly being our very nature, to manipulate and control. Inputing guilt to the hypnotized sinners seemed to be the next step, and that in itself leading to the desire for forgiveness, so that life might continue and some heavenly berth reserved. Even as a teenager I could see that shame over expressions of lust, greed and anger were the easy opportunity for religion to harness you with guilt and the subsequent desire for forgiveness.
As an adult freed from the bonds of both religion and the education system, I began a lifelong study of esoteric teachings and philosophies which accompanied my devotion to the arts and humanities in general. To illustrate: I was reading Gurdjieff, Steiner and Castaneda while listening to Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Schoenberg, and marveling at the Impressionists and Surrealists. This study lead me to understand how the mystical path, the philosophical inquiry and the occult attitude allowed in the light of greater understanding to the ill explored and unexplained shadows of religious dogma.
The mystical and occult paths seemed to circumvent this mystery of a god who radiates forgiveness only if you say certain things and perform certain rituals. God, obviously from astronomy alone, was not a being of form or dimension, although millions of religionists could not seem to conceive of ‘him’ otherwise. ‘God’ seemed approachable through contemplation or meditation. By contemplating the endless wonders of the universe one could, it would seem, enter into the space which ‘god’ inhabited. One could enter and remain. At least for as much time as one’s focus could hold. Later I came to call that space the ‘god consciousness’, for it seemed to be a state of mind that one could share: the endless, overflowing creativity of both the tiny (sub-atomic) and immense (galactic), with our culture/nature plane of perpetual change plopped in between. Somewhere, perhaps the entity Seth, capsulized ‘god’ as ‘All That Is’, and for me that seemed to catch the flavour of it.
‘All That Is’ seemed very all-inclusive to me, and in a world where many beings were emphatically placed outside the charmed circle of society’s approval, that seemed eminently desirable. The excuses, all ethnic, gender, caste and behaviour based, seemed unjustifiable to the me who lived in some all-inclusive vision where all beings and behaviours blended into one majestic cosmic machine with a gazillion moving parts. In this experiential vision I could see the supposedly good balanced against the supposedly bad as perfectly as the heat of summer erases the cold of winter, I could feel all opposites arising simultaneously out of the bottomless pit of creation, cruelty and kindness, condemnation and mercy, every apparent problem with its accompanying solution, every key of knowledge chasing its keyhole of ignorance, joy and suffering ecstatically dancing.
I could no more separate myself from all this swirl of activity than I could separate myself from ‘god’. For me creator and created were one. As a wave seemed to emerge out of the ocean only to slip back in, so too did beings emerge out of the whole cloth of beingness, briefly besotted with their uniqueness, only to remerge in the moments that centuries cleaved from eternity.
And this appeared to be the central perception which removed me from the religionists’ insistence that one sinned and then one reached out for forgiveness from the appointed and approved deity, and then somehow one felt blessed, refreshed and ready to reenter the fray. Somehow taking a nap seemed more appropriate to me. Many paths to the same goal, you might be saying. As a truism it most certainly holds. But I would ask, does holding yourself apart from the experience of divinity and asking, cap doffed and head bowed, for forgiveness, ever lead to to the ecstatic merging with divinity, where nothing is requested and nothing is given, for embraced in that knowingness nothing else is actually required, – no prophets, no messiahs, no religions, no gods.
Let’s hope so. No, let’s know so.