the Dao of Atheism :jeffers' petroglyph, pre-dakota, minnesota : the Shaman Atheist 4/81


Atheism is an empty bowl:
it cannot be filled
neither does it need filling.
It is at the beginning of all human consciousness
and is even the origin of theism.

Soften the sharpness
stop the debate
dissolve the confusion
reduce the glare
become like dust.

Like a spring-fed pool in a quiet forest
it has no bottom
no beginning
no end.

Is atheism born from theism?
No one knows.
But it is
the natural state
of all being.

What is god?
Not even the people who believe and experience god personally can agree on a definition, even those among the same faithful tradition. Some have said that the Dao -- the mysterious way of the universe -- is god. In most childhood visions, god is an invisible, benevolent, and all-powerful male who knows everything and can control all the forces in the universe. Others say that god is the universe, or that goddess is the planet Earth, or that god is the ground of all being. Personally, i don't know.

I read of the personalities of the Sumerian, Egyptian, Hebrew, Greek, Roman, Celtic, Hindu, Chinese, Japanese and other gods. I don't know them and have never experienced them. I read the Bhagavad-Gita, the Upanishads, the Iliad, the Edda, the Torah, the New Testament, the Koran, the Book of Mormon, the stories of many tribes of indigenous peoples, the literature of modern pagans and New Age channelers. Powerful gods, goddesses and immaterial spirits abound. Many atheists say that these metaphysical beings are fantasy or guilt projections of human beings. Many atheists say that societies create religion and gods to reinforce the social structure of rank, class, race, sex, materialism, property and education. These seem to be good explanations for the old gods, but does it apply to all?

How can i say -- i have never experienced a god or a disembodied spirit. It is this lack of experience that now keeps me silent when others speak of their experience. I respect that experience like that of a friend who has traveled to a far-away land and tells me of experiences completely foreign to me. Women do not understand men, men do not understand women, and yet we are the same species. Surely understanding another human's religious experience is a recognizable communal mystery.

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