Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Baruch de Spinoza...on GOD

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Baruch DeSpinoza

Around Christmas, it's natural that many of our thoughts turn more spiritual. It's a Season in which people tend to be nicer to each other, a Season of gratitude and gift-giving.

For me, one of the odd dichotomies of Christianity is that, while based on the teachings of Jesus, a representative of "the God of love," it STILL keeps the image of God as the vengeful, angry God of the Old Testament. I always found the view of a vengeful, punishing God, at odds with the idea of an "All loving, all forgiving" God.

In College, a Philosophy professor once told our class, "Your heart is your inner voice/child now go dive into that pool and swim inside yourself and clear the water of all the debris of guilt and shame and chlorinate it to kill off the bacteria of negative thoughts."

That Professor was what was called a Rationalist - a disciple of Baruch De Spinoza, a Dutch philosopher considered one of the three great rationalists in the 17th century, along with the great French philosopher, Rene Descartes, who greatly influenced him.

Here are some of Spinoza's views, from his work titled, "The Nature of God";

"God would have said: "STOP being, praying, giving yourself blows in the chest, what I want you to do is to go out into the world to enjoy your life.

"I want you to enjoy, sing, have fun and enjoy everything I've done for you.

"Stop going to those gloomy, dark and cold temples that you built yourself and that you say to be my home.

"My house is in the mountains, in the forests, the rivers, the lakes, the beaches. That's where I live and express all my love for you.

"Stop blaming me for your miserable life; I never told you you were a sinner.

"Stop portraying me as so frightening.

I do not judge you, nor criticize you, nor anger me, nor bother me, nor punishment. I am pure love.

"Stop asking me forgiveness, there's nothing to forgive. If I made you... I filled you with passions, limitations, pleasures, feelings, needs, inconsistencies...of free will, how can I blame you if you answer something that I put in you?

"How can I punish you for being as you are, if I'm the one who made you?

"Do you think I could create a place to burn all my children who misbehave, for the rest of eternity?

"What kind of God can do that?

"Forget about any kind of commandments, of any kind of laws; those are wiles to manipulate you, to control you and that only create guilt in you.

"Respect your peers and don't do what you don't want for you. The only thing I ask is that you pay attention in your life, that your alert status is your guide. This life is the only thing there is, here and now and the only thing you need.

"I have made you absolutely free, there are no prizes or punishments, there are no sins or virtues, no one carries a marker, no one carries a record.

"You are absolutely free to create in your life a heaven or a hell.

"I couldn't tell you if there's anything after this life, but I can give you a tip. LIVE AS IF THERE ISN'T.
"As if this was your only chance to enjoy, to love, to exist.

"So, if there is nothing, then you will have enjoyed the opportunity I gave you. And if there is, be sure that I will not ask you if you behaved well or wrong, I will ask you. Did you like it?... Did you have fun? What did you enjoy the most? What did you learn?

"Stop believing in me; to believe is to assume, to guess, to imagine. I don't want you to believe in me, I want you to feel me inside you when you kiss your beloved, when you toss your little girl in the air, when you love your dog, when you bathe in the sea.

"Stop praising me. What kind of egotistical God do you think I am?
I'm bored of praise, I'm fed up with thanks.

"Do you feel grateful?

"Prove it by taking care of YOU! YOUR health, YOUR relationships...the world.

"Do you feel overwhelmed?

"Express your joy! That's the way to praise me.

"The only thing sure is that you are here, that you are alive, that this world is full of wonders.
"What do you need more miracles for?

"Why so many explanations?

"Don't look for me OUTSIDE. You won't find me.

"Find me INSIDE...there I'm beating inside you."
(Baruch De Spinoza)

I'm not sure how others might feel, but I find Spinoza's views are much more consistent with the Christmas spirit than those of that fire and brimstone "Old time Religion."

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