New Year, Old Beliefs

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2013 We are alive beach installationHappy new year!

I think we should all be congratulated on making it to 2013. I have to admit there was a moment on December 21st where I really started getting a bit nervous, a resounding ‘What If?’ drifting through my mind. Luckily, Peruvian Shamans warded off the impending doomsday and we all live to look back and laugh about it.

I have to say, I was quite surprised at how people took the whole thing with a pinch of salt. I’ve been hearing about 2012 and many theories about how the world would meet its end for so long that I expected many more people to take it seriously.

In many ways I feel disappointed, but I’m not sure exactly why. Perhaps it’s because I wanted to believe it myself, but I didn’t. Maybe I secretly wished something would happen. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because people’s lack of interest simply proved my thoughts that people no longer believe in things.

I’ll tell you a quick story.

For about four months a year or two ago, I lived in the beautiful city, Barcelona. Now, I think that anyone who’s been to Barcelona will agree that it’s a fantastic city. The beaches are vibrant, full of bikini-clad women, ultra-tanned naked men and countless people offering you MDMA every few minutes. The parks are alive with Capoeira dancers, jugglers and young lovers. The streets are bustling with merchants, tourists and prostitutes. It’s the perfect blend of beauty, tranquillity and sin; almost like drinking a cocktail made of Mint, Cucumber and Vodka.

The city is full of art wherever you turn; extremely extravagant buildings and and murals can be found in the least expected places. A fantastic cathedral, designed by Barcelona’s favourite architect Antoni Gaudi and called the Sagrada Familia stands tall above the city, never finished, but ever breathtaking, it features one of my all time favourite religious sculptures. The Sagrada Familia is of course not the only building in Barcelona designed by Gaudi. In fact, these magnificent, bizarre buildings could be found all across the city and never cease to draw the eye, like massive, organic creatures that have crawled out of the ocean and died, at which point people had moved into their fossilised corpses.Barcelona-Sagrada-Familia-Jesus-Cross

It was during this time, on a memorably pleasant night that I met someone who has stayed in the forefront of my mind ever since.I was standing for a while underneath the bright yellow ‘M’ which is the universal sign for bad food. I surveyed the area and the people inhabiting it from underneath that light. Barcelona never had a lack of interesting people. One cannot describe the vibrant diversity that the city draws into itself. On this night though, there was one specific person who happened to catch my attention.

The man was very tall and extremely dark, and by the looks of him, he was homeless. He wore a ragged jacket and ripped trousers, his hands were gloved and covered in the grease of the burger he grasped in them, his shoes had holes in them and he wore no socks. Most striking of all though, was what the man wore on his face.

Half of his face was bare, allowing one to see the rough black skin and grey hair. The other half however, was covered frantically with brown packing tape. At first I wondered if he had cut himself, and was using the tape to hold his wounded face together. Or perhaps he was ashamed of this half of his face for some unfathomable reason. More likely, this half-mask was some sort of security blanket, which the man could wear and partially escape from the harsh realities of this world, which had obviously not treated him well.

When he saw me and my companion he turned to face us, a genuine toothless smile spreading over his face and he approached us in fewer than four large strides.

‘Hello, my friend.’ He said in an accent that I still can’t quite place. It had obviously been affected by many years of Spanish, but it certainly was not a local accent. Instead, it sounded exotic and mysterious. I remember the man greeting us, saying something along the lines of; ‘Very nice, very nice. I have no name. Only my face!’ This was followed by a spout of manic laughter as he fingered just beneath the edges of the packing tape. Me and my companion didn’t quite know what to think of this so I recall we just nodded and laughed nervously.

‘Thanks be to God, eh?’ He said and we nodded enthusiastically and mumbled in agreement. ‘I used to know him, you know?’

It was at this point in the strange conversation that our nervousness gave into curiosity. When we asked what he meant the man explained that he had once known God personally, and that he himself was not from this worldly plain. The exact words he used, and I still remember them so clearly, were; ‘I am not God, but like God.’

After some sceptical comments and jokes from us the man gave us his life story. And my lord, what a fantastic story it was. This is what he told us:

From nothing he began and from that nothingness he created himself. Forging a body from metal. A body capable of encompassing the mind of God (that is, not God, but like God as he so often reminded us).

And when he was finished he looked at his new body and he was proud, as was God. And so God sent him from the heavens down to the Earth. A gift from on high, flashing across the night sky like a shooting star.

But, in the heat of the Earth’s atmosphere a change occurred. His body of metal died but was transformed to flesh and bone, machinery became biology and thus, he was born once again, this time in human form. But, (he warned us) he was far better than human for he was stronger and still had the mind of a God (that is, not God, but like God).

We quizzed him about all this for a while, wondering how he had come to find himself eating a big mac on the streets of Barcelona and he said something quite complicated, that when translated looks a bit like this;

Humanity has turned its back on magic and no longer believes in Hell, Heaven, God, Lucifer the light bearer or his band of rebellious souls. And the world certainly no longer believes in this poor reincarnated robot angel from the past.

So, I often find myself asking who this man was. Perhaps he was simply a destitute who had lost his mind on those busy streets of Barcelona. Perhaps he was a man who knew he deserved more from life and had created this outlandish story, which had transformed in his mind to fact. It was possible that the man was a believer in God, and had longed for so long to be close to him, that he had made a false history for himself that would bring him closer. Or maybe, just maybe, he really was some sort of reincarnated robot angel from the past.

I cannot bring myself to believe that the man was a robot made flesh, designed by God and sent to Earth. But, I do believe wholeheartedly that he did believe it himself. And I wonder what this had offered the man? Did this give him some comfort that he was more than he seemed. Did it give him faith? Hope? And what was that worth given the man’s homeless and prospectless existence? Is it enough to believe in yourself? We are often being told this, are we not? And yet, this man, who believed in himself more than most people I have met, will undoubtedly be branded as crazy, worthless and lost. I’m not sure what moral we can find in this, but I fear it’s not a kind one.fallen_angel

Anyway, that’s not why I told the story, the reason I told it was because of this section here:

‘ Humanity has turned its back on magic and no longer believes in Hell, Heaven, God, Lucifer the light bearer or his band of rebellious souls. And the world certainly no longer believes in this poor reincarnated robot angel from the past.’

I’ve thought for a while that people don’t really believe in things any more. There was a moment in our history where people were so glad to believe, and even the most outrageous things were met with questions rather than outright denial. I think more and more though, we as a planetary whole have become far too sceptical, and we believe in less and less every day. If someone talks of alien contact, we generally don’t believe it. If someone talks about holy visitation, we generally don’t believe it. Even potentially provable concepts such as time-travel are generally met with disbelief.

The questionless doubt that met the end of the Mayan calender just confirmed my thoughts about this.

And then I started thinking, maybe that’s it. The end of Mayan calender, as many people know, didn’t actually talk about the end of the world, but more about the end of one cycle, and a shift into a new state of conciousness. So I was wondering if maybe the fact that nothing happened on 2012, is actually what was meant to happen. Maybe our scepticism was supposed to be proven correct at this point. Maybe this new age we’re entering into, is an age of disbelief. Maybe ever so slowly, we will stop believing in anything but ourselves.

But even though it sounds like it, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I remember a moment in my own life where someone asked me if I don’t believe in God, do I believe in an afterlife. This question haunted me for a while because I don’t much like the idea of complete nothingness after life, but I couldn’t bring myself to believe in anything else. This upset me for a while, but then I realised something.

I realised that if there is no life after death, then it leaves only life before death.

What this means to me, is that life is important, not death. In fact, it means that life is the only thing that is important, that everything I do is important. Not because of some eternal gift later, no house in the clouds, no forty virgins, but simply because this is all there is.

7508929-the-sun-setting-on-planet-earthIt means that I should speak my opinion. That I should change or improve this world if I can, because if I don’t, I’m wasting the only chance I get. I started thinking, why should I, or any of us, live in a world that we a not happy in, that we are not prideful of if the only thing to come after this life is nothingness?

And maybe this new age of disbelief will offer some sort of similar thought pattern. Maybe we’ll start being a bit more concious of our little world and stop worrying about proving ourselves worthy of divine rewards. Maybe we’ll stop fighting each other over our beliefs, because of course none of us will believe in anything. Maybe, just maybe, the less we believe, the more we will know, and hopefully this will bring on a new state of conciousness where we really start paying more attention to our surroundings and try to improve things a bit.

But then, maybe I don’t actually believe a word that I’ve written here…

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6 responses »

  1. Trying to explain belief to the unbeliever is like trying to describe colour to a man who has never seen. He is not blind, for God gives all his children the capacity to see but if sight becomes too inconvenient it is just easier to keep your eyes tight shut and deny the reality which is before you. True unbelief is actually impossible as spiritual nature abhors a vacuum. A very wise man once said that we are all missionaries. The question is – for what? If we choose not to see God then we simply create gods and monsters of our own and they are infinitely more dangerous than plain indifference. This is the great lesson of the 20th century. Hitler. Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Ceaucescu to name but a few – ignoring the God that stands beside you does not produce a benign humanistic idyll because the Devil is always in the mix and he is gas chambers, gulags, killing fields, high school shootings and child abuse. I personally am hoping not for an age of unbelief but rather one of faith and hope where all human beings are seen for what they are – incarnate Angels and children of a loving Heavenly Father. The man in Barcelona may have been confused but he was not entirely wrong about his origins.

    • Hello! Thanks for you comment. I hope you don’t mind if I disagree with a few things.

      I think that it is far too black and white to say it is like closing ones eyes and denying the reality before us. More, it is like choosing to read one book over another. Neither choices are wrong, but they will effect the way one thinks. It’s also important to know that an unbeliever isn’t necessarily ignorant. If this is to happen it will be a concious decision to stop believing.
      I’m not saying that anyone is turning away from an inconvenient reality, in fact I’m saying the opposite; I’m saying that people may focus on the reality around them, rather than a conceptual reality ahead of them.

      I also think it’s very dangerous to say the devil is in such things, as it almost pardons the people responsible, as if they were possessed and not in control. I understand that one must let the devil inside of oneself for this to happen, but even so, it then becomes the devil’s fault and not the fault of the person. All these terrible things you name, although undeniably evil, are solely human creations.

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