WORK IN PROGRESS:
I don’t believe in a soul. I don’t believe in an afterlife, gods, deities, angels, ghosts or demons.
I do, however, have a deep appreciation for mythology and the artwork that has gone into the multitude of religions that mankind has created over the centuries.
Deities began as simplistic pantheons personifying the most profound phenomena in the natural world. Sun gods, rain gods, sky gods, earth gods, moon gods, thunder gods and so on. Then, as is particularly notable in the Greek pantheon, gods that represented human tendencies and qualities that (nearly) anyone can relate to arose. Gods of beauty, war, love, music, wisdom, agriculture and harvest, justice, communication etc. were invented.
Whatever mankind in its various societies did not understand or could not explain throughout history, our brilliant, if naïve, imaginations channelled “spirituality” to do the explaining for us. Many phenomena that had previously been attributed to an angered god or trespassing into taboo have now been discovered to have a natural cause.
There are countless creation stories depicting very similar themes, perhaps because there are challenges, superstitions and emotions that all societies share.
What I do not accept is that this popularity of mythology across a broad spectrum of cultures is a subconscious tapping-in to some kind of “one truth” or “ultimate truth”.
The idea of “spirituality” as an aspect of this supposed universal truth is prolific, even amongst people who could otherwise be considered secular, or non-religious. I was raised in a cerebral, objectivist, philosophical household that didn’t deny god or spirituality, rather never really went there. So it is a surprise to me that there are people who are close to me, who were involved in my upbringing and whom I did not regard as theistic, that have in recent years strived for “a spirituality that offers what I want, without religion, because religion doesn’t do it right”.
One issue I have with this is that there is no perceived effect or benefit to spiritual practice, other than the observed psychological ones. People who engage in chakra healing might feel good about themselves or the others around them participating, but what is actually happening here? How does chanting a song activate some hidden centre of energy in the body, but not even in the body? How does the physical action of song affect a non-physical thing? What even is a non-physical thing?
In other social circles, I see very frequently that people subscribe to beliefs in esoteric things, such as astrology, fortune telling, ghosts, the concept of a soul, or the idea that another realm exists outside or beyond our own. What is most baffling to me is that these ideas are considered quite vanilla, and perfectly socially acceptable to hold. Very few people I discuss these topics with are prepared to scrutinise WHY they believe in what they do. And the ones that often fall back to the “one truth hinted at by many” AKA argument from popularity fallacy.
Back to the main point of this post: duality. Dualism in the spiritual context often refers to the idea that this material universe, made of matter and energy, is not all that exists. Beneath, behind, outside (prepositions make little sense when we talk about the entirety of the universe in three dimensions) this physical realm exist others, perhaps.
A common reaction to my declaration that I don’t believe in spiritual realms or a soul, is an attempt to marginalise the universe.”If you don’t believe in a soul then do you think that this world is all that exists? That there is nothing more than physical matter and energy?”
Nothing more? Nothing more than the entirety of the natural universe; the entire cosmos to the very furthest (possibly infinite) reaches of space? As though this is somehow ripping us off? This is laughably insulting – if the universe had feelings – and displays a deep egomania that many humans hold about their own existence. We want to feel special. We want to feel that we are not alone in the universe, and that there is something magical that we can tap into to save us from the mundane.
I exist, in the physical world. The same realm where Earth and all of its wonders exist.. so many lifeforms, geographical formations, natural wonders; where the Moon and the Sun and the rest of the planets exist; where countless star systems, galaxies, black holes and nebulae exist. Nothing invented by the human mind can compare.
The solution is simple. Don’t believe in things that aren’t real, and you won’t have to separate yourself from existence. I feel no loss in my lack of belief in the esoteric, because this creates unity with all that is. If I was constantly striving to understand something that has no parameters or measurable qualities, no perceivable characteristics aside from what people describe as the feeling of the intangible (which is the same as nothing in my eyes) then my life would be an endless struggle to obtain something that is unobtainable. I could never achieve spiritual oneness because if there is no spirit, I am simply chasing unicorns.
Accept that this universe in which you live, the matter you interact with, is all there is and you will feel one with everything.