Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A couple weeks ago, I was on one of the forums I frequent, and someone on there had a problem with their personal life. This person has difficulty making friends and felt bad about that; as if people not liking them made them wrong, somehow. As if having many friends would make this person a good person.

It is not enough to be liked by everyone. One must be liked by the good, and hated by the bad.
~Confucius

Yes, I know it's Confucius in a Taoist blog, but Confucius was quite a wise man, and this quote most certainly holds considerable wisdom.

But what makes a bad person in this regard? Well, that's more of a difficult matter when it comes down to it. Perhaps it would be more productive to consider what we want ourselves to be like, and then try and be liked by those we wish to be like and disliked by those we do not want to be like. Who do I seek to emulate? I turn once again to what is probably my favorite quote from the Tao Te Ching:

A truly good person functions without ulterior motive.
A moralist acts out of private desires.
A ritualist acts and, when no one responds,
rolls up a sleeve and marches.

When we lose the Tao, we turn to Virtue.
When we lose Virtue, we turn to kindness.
When we lose kindness, we turn to morality.
When we lose morality, we turn to ritual.

Ritual is the mere husk of good faith and loyalty
and the beginning of disorder.


I seek to be a truly good person, and so I wish to be disliked by ritualists, those that place emphasis on things such as proper responses and greetings, and things of that nature that I group as "social ritual". I do wish to be liked by those who have no need of such things, but they seem to be fairly rare, and so I am more often disliked than liked.

Autistics tend to have difficulty making friends because of our difficulty with social ritual. This is not necessarily a bad thing. If you believe that social ritual is a good thing, then I suppose it would be. As for me, I do not. I believe myself to be a fairly good person (not a truly good person yet, but I am trying). Lacking ability with social ritual means that those that want to be my friends do so because of who I am, not how well I follow ritual.

If you feel upset because people don't like you, look inside yourself. Weigh your actions against what you believe to be right. If you find that your actions have strayed too far from what you believe is right, change them. However, if you find that your actions are correct according to you, then do not worry that you do not make friends. To make people your friends, who do not care about you as a good person, you would have to lower yourself.

It is better to be good and hated by the world, than to be bad and loved by it. Rejoice that those who are bad dislike you; it means that you are good.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

What Religion Must Be

It has been more than half a year since I have last posted a blog. This is partially due to computer issues and partially due to personal issues. No matter the cause, however, I am ultimately to blame. There is always a way around these issues that I could have found, but I did not.

As I sit here, it is nearly 6 AM and I have not slept yet. I spent 12 hours asleep a couple of nights ago and now I cannot go to sleep at my usual time. Still, I felt that I should post one of the many things that I have thought about in the past seven months.

I began watching Through the Wormhole, a series that discusses many of the rather extraordinary questions about the universe. The first episode was a very interesting look at the possibility of the existence of a creator. It dispelled some common myths (such as the idea that science disproves religion), but there was also the issue of ignorance in religion. Dr. Garrett Lisi is a brilliant man when it comes to the realm of physics, but I feel that he is lacking in an understanding of the true diversity of religion. He explains that he does not believe that a creator being, which he believes must be infinitely complex, could create something as infinitely simple as his theory of the universe.

I have met people who believe that, if a creator being exists, then there must be some clue that has been given, and as such, there must be some sort of belief that is correct, but since all religion is an organized institution and we are all equal in the eyes of God, then no religion could be correct and thus there can be no God. Or else that God could not possibly care about taking attendance, and thus any belief that requires you to attend some sort of proof of your faith must be false. As all religions require this, no religion is correct.

There is also the famous (or perhaps infamous) argument that, if there is a being of perfect goodness and absolute power, then why is there evil?

I suppose I should address these misconceptions in the order given. First would be the idea that God must be infinitely complex. A counter to the idea that God needs to be infinitely complex would be the Theravada Buddhist belief that whether or not gods exist is of no concern to the individual. There are also a number of beliefs that state that God or gods were created alongside the universe or after the universe (or that our ancestors are the powerful beings in the heavens). These beliefs also rarely attribute infinite complexity to God or the gods. It has always been my belief that the Tao is not complex at all, but rather infinitely simple. This is reflected in much Taoist writing.

Second would be the issue of organized religion. I knew someone once who was a member of a rather interesting religion: Discordianism. Discordianism, as the name would suggest, is not an organized religion. It is, in fact, a disorganized religion. I will not go into the details here, but I would highly recommend that anyone who is able read a copy of the Principia Discordia, which is one of the holy books of Discordianism. In addition to Discordianism, there are a number of religions that view a personal connection to God or enlightenment as being much more important that anything that anyone else could say. I myself am a non-denominational Taoist, which means that I don't follow the beliefs of any Taoist sect. My belief is my own, and thus my religion is not an organized one. There is no requirement that you join a denomination to be religious.

The last one is the easiest: Who says God is perfectly good? Who says God is perfectly powerful? Who decides what is good? The Tao is everything, and so would be perfectly powerful, but it does not alter the course of history. Nor is it perfectly good. As everything, it must also be evil as well. Aside from that, few religions attribute absolute power to their God or gods (assuming they have any at all). The Norse even believe that the gods are mortal beings. There are still many people who hold to the Norse faith, and it is a wonderful faith. Those that have not studied it would likely not understand. Lastly is the issue of good itself. What is good? Are you fit to decide this? We cannot predict how our actions will affect the future (as I have already mentioned), nor can we know if that end is truly a good end or not. What we see as right and wrong could very well be incorrect.

The first two are addressed in the first chapter of the Hua Hu Ching:

My teachings are simple; if you try to make a religion or science of them, they will elude you. Profound yet plain, they contain the entire truth of the universe.


The last one (as well as the first again) is addressed in the Tao Te Ching:

Tao that can be called Tao is not true Tao, the Name that can be named is not the true Name.


I suppose that I must also address here the belief that evolution disproves religion, or even creationism. I have looked at it from many angles, and creationism seems to be incompatible with Taoist teachings and beliefs, but I will address it here anyway: The assumption that evolutionists have in mind when they make this argument is that God cannot manipulate the path of evolution in such a way that every species (including the first living beings from organic molecules) that comes into being is a result of His guidance.

I have nothing against Atheism as a belief system. Please understand, however, that it is a belief, and not an absolute fact. And please, if you are going to talk about religion, at least understand its diversity and the fact that there is no one way that religion must be.

I sit here at 7 AM, and I am glad to once again be writing in The Tao of Autism. I hope to have another post next week, perhaps pertaining to autism in some way.

 

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