Sadly, it looks like I’m not going to get much support from atheist/humanist communities because I’m interested in “spirituality” and elements of Hinduism, which they tend to dismiss as unscientific New Age mumbo-jumbo. I’ve heard people say atheists can be just as dogmatic as the religious, and I now agree. This probably has something to do with the fact that many of them came out of religion, and so they still operate under some of same religious ways of thinking (dogmatism, absolutism, lack of openness) they never worked out of their systems. I don’t blame them, because spirituality can be as wildly unscientific, ungrounded, and dangerous as religion. I think part of this has to do with the presentation of spirituality by those who uphold it. That is, it’s generally propounded within a quasi-religious package, or couched in religious language. Many of the truths contained within Hinduism and Buddhism are gaining mainstream acceptance (for instance, mindfulness and nonduality), but they’re still so often bundled with all kinds of religious myths and superstitions.

I challenge any secular person who wants to be dismissive of mysticism to take a psychedelic twenty times by themselves and then come back to me and tell me it was all just a hallucination. I doubt this person’s worldview would remain unshaken. I find the existence of a so-called spiritual reality to be undeniable at this point. There is no explaining all these things as mere hallucinations of the brain. No freaking way. Anyone who does this merely parades his own lack of personal exposure, and unwillingness to try.

Part of the issue is that much of the scientific community is oriented in such a way that it’s not very open to experiential inquiry of the kind we find with mystical ways of encountering reality. Measuring reality through conscious experience is an entirely different kind of microscope, but it may not be altogether unscientific. I am very much a fan of humanism and secular rationality, and to an extent I trust it more than the spirituality movement, where so often anything and anyone goes, cult leaders run rampant, and critical thinking just flies out the window. Exploring spirituality still scares me a little, because I don’t want to fall into the kinds of superstitious religious ways of thinking that had gotten me into so much hurt before (for instance, taking signs, omens, or “god’s voice” too seriously and losing sight of my own decision-making and rationality).

I am certainly an atheist. I reject any notion of a creator god outside of ourselves. Such an idea is to be taken as seriously as the myth of Santa Clauss by thinking adults in a world where we know of many contradictory religions and science. The myth of the monotheistic god or gods has been completely invalidated on every single level. I do enjoy playing with words like god, spirit, or divinity when referring to certain aspects of reality that can be encountered through mystical experiencing. When I speak this way, I aim to evoke a sense of mystery, and awe, and also to subvert religion’s grasp on such words and their meaning.

There are deeper realities underlying this one, and any separation between what we might call spirit and matter is ultimately an illusion. I highly doubt that any of it cannot be explained or measured by science, and the terms supernatural and spiritual are really outdated, for it’s all different aspects of the same thing. I don’t know how to describe the difference yet, but I’m making this my aim. Unfortunately, I stand somewhere in-between the three worlds of science, religion, and spirituality, and I’ll probably have a hard time being fully accepted by any of them. Oh well; I probably enjoy it more that way.

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