Culture and Religion

A world view where the guide for society is based on human nature,
 not on ancient scriptures.  Home  or Topic Groups

My Life, Religion, and Zen

Zen is a religion of sorts. It has no scriptures, no idols and no God to worship. Its goal is a state of enlightenment called satori. This feeling comes when the person is able to 'let go' of one's intellectual grasp on reality, that continuous analysis by the brain of its sensory inputs that prevents the realization that one is part of the universal flow of nature.

The process of achieving this enlightening is often achieved in Zen through the active consideration of Zen puzzles called Koans, to enable one's intellect to 'let go'. This is a kind of trick. I think a similar intellectual challenge is to feel the act of falling asleep. It cannot be done because when the brain is actively considering such a problem it cannot relax into the new stage of consciousness that is sleep. As long as one is trying to feel the act of falling asleep, it will not happen. Satori is achieved when the mental processes have reached a state of frustration with the Koan puzzles and that grasp on reality is temporarily altered.

I discovered Zen in college and I experienced this feeling of enlightenment when I was 21. After the experience my perception of everything changed. The feeling accompanied the realization that I am very much a part of the flow of nature. With that enlightened perspective, I came to better understand my own humanity. This social fabric is somewhat another flow within a larger current. I interact with other people as they interact with me. Every person is a social creature whose behavior is intricately enmeshed in his/her social environment.

Having completed a 4-year college education though in electrical engineering, the courses were diverse, so I understand much of the natural processes as well as the basics of human psychology that both make up a person's day to day living. (As I continue to study the sciences out of college, I see even more interdisciplinary interactions than can be appreciated in the less advanced collegiate courses available in a 4-year degree.) I appreciate the wonder of nature as well as the inherent challenges of personal relationships. No one else thinks or behaves just like me. Everyone has their own unique behavioral linkage to their social environment. The most productive social relationships are driven by a mutual understanding of each person's unique attitudes.

My adult life has had several phases. The initial phase included the college life to develop my vocational skills (engineering) soon followed by a marriage to satisfy that innate human desire for a monogamous relationship. We were fortunate to have two wonderful children that are growing into mature adults. Those years were the most challenging with the mix of family and career commitments often competing against each other for my limited time. In 2004 both kids are off to college so the mix is evolving again. This has enabled more time for the personal pursuit of better understanding the world. The pursuit also drives my desire for expression in this web site.

Each day is another adventure including challenges both on the job and in all personal relationships. Each night's sleep is the natural separation between each day allowing rest before taking on the new opportunities in the next day. Challenges are met either with success or with failure. Successes are gratifying but the failures are rarely complete and by continuing to work on the situation often a success of some degree can be achieved.

I grew up Catholic, attending a Catholic grade school so I attended church service 6 days a week for most of 8 years. The emphasis of Catholic teaching is the effort to get to heaven. Our entrance into heaven is based on God's judgment of our behavior during our short human life. No matter how many years we live, that number cannot be compared to the eternity of a life after death. In my high school years, I realized this relationship makes our life meaningless. We live only to die, to get to that life after death. It seemed like the best life, given the many temptations of sin in every person's life, would be a short life marked by enough good events to warrant heaven. The longer one lived, the more likely more situations will arise where the combination of options results in the wrong decision at the time. A good example of such options is a decision to skip Sunday service because of a multitude of factors; God requires that weekly homage. At the end of the longer life there might have been enough of these bad decisions to prevent that eternity in heaven.

I know that my life is totally meaningful. I am truly a part of nature, not just an ego trapped in a human body. My life, through human nature, must affect others. A productive moral life will have a positive effect on others, perhaps contributing to the advancement of my family and  immediate community. There is no life after death, though a memory of me might live on in those that I have affected during my life. My contributions to business and social entities will have hopefully enabled improvements. Certainly when I die the course of nature (that I am a part of) will continue to flow.

Even though an apple tree bears fruit that eventually falls to the ground, it continues to grow and bear fruit with each passing year. A big difference between people and apples is our actions affect the health of our 'tree'. This is a simple acknowledgment of why I have created this web site. My intent is to pass on my knowledge so that others might be perhaps similarly enlightened.
Addition in July 2008: I have had the pleasure of reading several Noam Chomsky books the past few months, including Chomsky on Anarchism. Sometime around college I discovered the Progressive magazine (a magazine with its roots back in 1909 to Wisconsin's Senator Robert La Follette Sr), that frequently described labor and social activism as well as corporate and government misdeeds. Later I found persuasive arguments in the libertarian approach by Murray Rothbard and others. With Chomsky's libertarian socialism (since the term anarchism frequently elicits an incorrect image of chaos and destruction), I find myself coming back to my initial political leanings. I suspect that a number of web pages in this site would now be written in a different tone, with a different emphasis.

added 2/14/2018

In late 2016 my brain cancer (GBM) was removed. I posted comments about the cancer and its treatment in 2018.

added 08/14/2018

In Feb. 2006 I added a site icon: I Ching hexagram 48, the well. The
hexagrams need interpretation; the reader can  decide if that is needed.
created - Dec. 2004
last change - 08/14/2018

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