In 1517, Martin Luther, frustrated with Pope Leo X's selling of indulgences for absolution from sin, nailed to the door of the Castle Church his "Disputation on the Power and the Efficacy of Indulgences", which became the basis of the Protestant Reformation. Luther believed that his opinions were right and just. He posted them in public where he was sure they would be read. He wasn't looking for validation of his opinions. For Luther it was a conviction of faith.

I am not in any way comparing myself to Luther, but I understand the significance of his gesture. It is not enough to have strong opinion or incontrovertible conviction. You must also be committed to take action based upon those beliefs, and be equally willing to endure the the repercussions of public expression. And since we've been addressing conviction, here, with all due apologies to Luther conveyed, are a few of my own.

  • God is what you believe God is. I don't believe in God. Or heaven and hell. Or reincarnation. I don't know why we were all put on this earth in this form. Or if we were put here.  I but I do know that what we do while we're here, and how we affect our world around us, is what makes a life.  Accumulation of physical things is a conceit. It accomplishes nothing. That's not to say I don't like nice things or have a favorite pair of shoes, but a ten dollar timex tells time as well as a five thousand dollar Rolex. All physical things return to the dust from whence they sprang. And all energy returns to the cosmos from whence it sprang.  So while I will never see another sunrise once my days on earth have ended and my body turns to dust, I am not afraid. I see God as every bit of energy in the cosmos, from the tumult that births the stars to the imperceptible hum of atoms. It means I am part of something big and glorious. It means my soul or essence can be a sunrise, or be a cool breeze on a warm summer's eve. Or a gentle snowfall. Or something so massively wonderful that my puny human brain could never imagine or comprehend its exisrtance. Over and over, infinitum. And some day some form of 'me' could inhabit some other physical form for all it's days on its planet. That's ok by me.
  • Spirituality can exist outside the realm of religion.  Thirty-five years ago I left the Catholic church. There was no one compelling reason, it just wasn't for me. But that doesn't mean that I don't pray, or don't feel a connection to life greater than my own energy.  I've been a practicing Buddhist for nearly twenty years, and embrace the four noble truths and eightfold path as right and proper. But I also don't think of myself as particularly religious because Buddhism doesn't center on God, but rather personal responsibility. I also practice yoga, which is distinctly Hindu, but practiced my scores of Buddhists, particularly American Buddhists. And that seems to be simply because yoga reinforces the quality of mindfulness. The long poses and metered breathing keep the mind focused on the present moment and quiet the inner conversations. Yoga teaches discipline and ritual, it enhances mental clarity. And it produces a level of self-acceptance among yogis that takes it outside the realm of exercise.  It creates a sense of spiritual awareness in the same manner as does mindful meditation or prayer. It was yoga that led me to explore Buddhism in the first place. To deepen my spiritual growth. And I think both together have made me a better person, both physically and emotionally.
  • You are what you eat. I've always had a fractious relationship with food. Food used to make me angry. Seriously. Angry. I remember once being at a picnic and having the choice of hot dogs, hamburgers, and Italian sausage. And I was angry because I was going to be forced to make a choice, because eating all three was out of the question. Now, I love Italian sausage, but I really love burgers. And I never overlook an opportunity for a charbroiled dog. I can still remember standing there in front of all this food thinking "its not fair to make me choose." Soon after I went into food rehab. At first I stopped eating wheat products, and it helped some. Then I gave up everything that came in a box, or had an ingredient list. Better still. Now I try to eat only meat, fish, leafy vegetables, some fruit, and occasionally some sweet potato. And gone are the internal food fights, the bloated belly, the monstrous cravings. Gone is the anger over having not eaten something that was there to be eaten. I love food now. And I love shopping for food. There is so much good food in the world, and I love finding something I've never had before. I'm now the type of shopper most grocers hate- produce, meat/fish, eggs, checkout. I'm not an aisle shopper or a coupon clipper. There are no coupons for broccoli. But I buy quality foods, organic when possible, local in season. It really wasn't a difficult switch, and it has made me feel healed.

Maybe its not much, or earth shattering in its disclosure, but Its an honest expression of some things I believe, and I wanted it to be public. I'm not trying to start an argument, or begin a paleo/secular reformation movement. Maybe its enough if it merely starts a conversation. If you feel so inclined, I would love to know what some of your core beliefs are- leave something in the comments box or email me.

 

Thanks / namaste

Mark

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