ATHEISM AND THE END OF THE WORLD

I declared myself an atheist at the age of 12, religious stories that had illumined my childhood imagination no longer seeming relevant as I became aware of scientific explanations of life. I can remember in my teens kinda wanting telepathy and magic to be real, but was too rationally persuaded by this stage to do much about them.

From 12 until 30 atheism meant for me a denial of the existence of god as I understood that concept from my anglican upbringing, a father being in heaven. I preferred to believe that my existence was the result of chance collisions and explosions of physical matter somehow sparking life. I saw mother earth as a concept, simply a metaphor.

At age 30 strange and inexplicable things started to happen to me. I began to sense and experience things I had not noticed before – energy patterns, connections, bright colours, unexpected sounds, and voices from unknown parts of my mind.  I had to admit there was more going on than the simple logical alignment of molecules, there seemed to be a mystery waiting to be unravelled.  The idea hit me that a-theism might mean not the rejection of a religiously defined father god, but instead could imply the search for deep truth, the quest to understand the true nature of reality. At this point atheism ceased to imply a closed mind but more an open one, seeking answers rather than accepting what it was told by anyone else.

I was keen to find answers – motivated by my doctor’s prediction that I would die from AIDS within a couple of years. The switch I made in my own mind was enough to let information come flooding in, via books, films, conversations, music and creative writing. Inspired by ideas from the tao, from buddhism, witchcraft and kabbalah, by books on crystals, chakras, ancient civilisations, and from a suddenly visible world full of signs and wonders around me, I became very excited, just when it had seemed more likely I would be getting very sad and low.

People around me, though pleased I was happy and energised, were concerned for me and at times thought I was crazy, such as when I would not sleep for days, bubbling with ideas and spending nights staring at the moon and stars entranced, writing and drawing manically and disappearing off on mysterious missions. I would wear myself out and crash occasionally, but would return to states of elation quickly during a period of 6 months in 1995. I saw the end coming and knew I would enter into a quieter period where I would now need to study spiritual teachings and holy texts deeply in order to understand what had been happening to me and learn where to take it next. At this point I still considered myself an a-theist, a seeker of truth, but now I was also a believer in something bigger – in many things in fact, outside the culturally agreed norms of human awareness.  I just didn’t know how to define it yet.

It was as if the states of being I had known over the previous six years while on lsd had become my constant level of existence. Acid used to give me the idea that I knew the beginning and end of the universe, and could travel anywhere within it. Through music and dance I transferred my attention to my inner eye, opening it to receive images, colours, all kinds of psychedelia. Now I saw those abilities as a very real part of the many layered, complex BEING that I had discovered myself to be. Of course I wanted everyone around to share the same vision and elation, but by now began to understand that only a few could, I became calmer and started to face the idea of my own death, but with greatly reduced fear.

***

I have been very grumpy with atheists lately. In the rational twentieth century it seemed reasonable to reject all notions of god, refuse to give any credence to religion, but we are now in the second decade of the twenty-first. The idea of a global awakening to higher spiritual awareness has been in the mass consciousness for several decades now. Secret societies, cults and covens have been putting energy into that event for hundreds of years. All the worlds religions, magical paths, mystic teachings and shamanic practices are available to us in the cultivated west. And in many of those manifestations of humanity’s search to know its place in the greater cosmos there exists the notion of an eventual great change for life on earth, sometimes interpreted as a terrifying destruction, or else seen as a great glorious arrival of heaven, or both.

This time can be seen as an ‘end time’ and a beginning. But it certainly is a time of great challenge and difficulty. Fuck it, we are already there but still we collectively cling on to old notions of separation, superiority, difference – and blame. Our world is fuelled by greed and manipulation. We waste limited resources and are destroying the delicate balance of nature. We are all involved in this destructive conspiracy, 100% of us.

The search for self-knowledge through drugs is  illegal, and the search itself is mocked as new age nonsense.   We spend vast amounts of money on weapons and elections and hadron colliders, while many people struggle to simply survive and are denied basic amounts of money to live healthily on. Soon we may all be struggling to simply survive, as the people of the east coast of the americas recently learnt.

THIS IS 2012, the most talked about year in the spiritual calendar EVER. The Mayan Calendar ends… in a few weeks time. Certain other calendars from the americas consider the 4th world of life on earth to have already ended and the fifth begun. Fundamentalist Christians are passionate about the arrival of Christ on the planet, even to the extent of willfully perpetuating the encroaching chaos as they believe this will bring the end… and, as they see it, their own salvation…. rushing along.

Humanity is at the point of its biggest global crisis ever.

But what are the British talking about? Paedeophilia, and of course…. economics. Like more jobs, more money is going to help. We already have more money, bigger economies than ever before. When is enough enough?

What are religious leaders talking about?  How terrible it will be if same sex couples are allowed to marry – that apparently is what will bring the end of civilisation, not outrageous greed, corruption and climate chaos.

What are atheists talking about?  They don’t talk in general, they preach… and even have their own high priest in the form of Richard Dawkins.   On my path, I was thrilled to discover that the rejection of a personal deity figure was not a modern invention – it is something that has existed in eastern metaphysical religions for a very very long time.   Hindus are known for worshipping many gods, but certain paths within hinduism prefer to view the ultimate divinity as an impersonal force, of which the individual gods are representations designed to stimulate our minds and hearts.  Buddhism and Taoism are religions entirely built on this assumption, but divinity is not denied – it still appears in the miraculous powers of the many buddhas, dakinis and nature spirits.   Life itself is a mysterious complex miracle – and if we need proof of that, science has provided bundles of it.

People from the east rarely dream of denying the existence of a divine source altogether, because they experience its presence.  Eastern religions are fundamentally mystical paths, encouraging direct experience of the layers of reality our own consciousness can access.  Western religions have the same potential, but have become systems of political and social control – or they were.  Since atheism got a grip on the western mind, control has been replaced by confusion and consumerism.  All established religions, east and west, are patriarchal power hungry beasts, seeking to disempower women and gay men, ie the people for whom feeling, emotion and pleasure are equally or more important than logic, money and obedience to the rules as straight men have defined them.

We are at the tipping point.  We are at the end of a long period of heterosexual male dominated greedy exploitation.  What comes next?

Like a man destined to die in a short time of AIDS, humanity needs to find some deeper answers, get beyond arguments around whose god is best, which path is the holiest.    Religious leaders, politicians, academics, corrupt big business all need to fucking wake up.

And so do atheists.. but they at least are the closest to doing so.

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