God fer Heathens
I come from a Roman Catholic family. I was raised Roman Catholic. Like many of this time, near the end of the dark ages, I found this faith did not meet all the requirements I had for spirituality. I haven’t been a Roman Catholic for quite awhile. However, unlike many I had unknowingly acquired an alternative spirituality. One that has proved remarkably adaptable and pragmatic in this era when knowledge and spirituality often seem so contradictory.
I began to hunt at my father’s side as a very young child. He thought himself Roman Catholic, but it turns out, likely unknown to him, his spirituality was more complicated than that. What he had was an adaptation of aboriginal Cree spirituality to Catholicism. It took many years after his death for me to understand this and that I had inherited it. Though it was there all the time in some fashion meeting requirements the Catholic faith did not for me. My indoctrination into this belief system began at about age five. It grew out of the experiences of hunting and killing animals. My father in a likely subconscious to him fashion impressed upon me the idea the animals are related to us. Animals are distant brothers, sisters and cousins. It was part of teaching me common anatomical features of animals which is required knowledge for killing quickly and humanely as well as for cleaning and cutting up the animals. It led me vaguely to a question I had difficulty approaching and formulating at that early age.
In many indirect conversations over years I managed to ask my father, “If the animals are our brothers and sisters, what gives us the right to take their lives to sustain our own?” In similar fashion he eventually passed on the idea we are higher beings and this is what gives us this right. With his help I also eventually understood for myself this right has to be earned. We must live as higher beings! We must be more than animal! Even the plants we eat are living beings or potential living beings. And so by the way we live from the lives of other beings we are charged with certain duties. These duties can found writ in spiritual text everywhere and in every time. However they should be eventually self evident to any higher being and need not necessarily be the word of the Creator. (I generally think the Creator would have little need or use for words. Words are a contraption of humans.)
There’s grasp of evolutionary theory in this thinking. We are related to the animals, so we therefore must have a common parent to all somewhere in the mists of time. We are the pinnacle of many generations and must strive to reach even higher. This seems the natural course to me now with my modern knowledge of evolution. Aboriginal hunter gatherer knowledge of the biosphere overwhelming supports evolutionary theory. The related aboriginal spirituality is an easy fit with this modern science.
Another important idea gained from close association with the biosphere is there need not be an afterlife. Might this not be enough? Even in the briefest spark of light that is our lives, is not the marvel of creation enough? Such bounty, such diversity, such depth of experience and wonder! Even for the mere senses of my aboriginal ancestors it was exquisite transcendence of the animal. The everyday material universe, very real without illusion or being just a shadow of something greater, as it is now revealed by modern science is staggering beyond any mere belief system. We see billions of light years into the universe and at the same time billions of years into the past nearly to the birth of Creation itself. We see the dance of the equally small motes of light that make up the entire universe. We have begun to unravel the deepest mysteries and puzzles of biological life and evolution. Even if one were allowed one breath of such awareness as higher being, would not the sheer “joy” of it all take that breath away and make even such a brief existence more than worthwhile?
There need not even be a God or Creator! If this be cosmic chance alone, even then, are we not privileged beyond immortality to be one of its parts and bear its witness? If this universe sprang into being of its own accord, are we not directly experiencing the self creating God and in the same experience we are a part of its continuous whole? Even more precious and rare the flash of awareness is so brief and finite! In this briefest of flashes, is it not right, is it not most important to be the brightest flash, the highest being possible? Because these nearly insignificant flashes at their very limit of reaching higher will eventually be the highest awareness of Creation. With this idea I point to the self evident duties of all higher beings! Even for all us heathens! Perhaps we face an even a greater imperative and harsher assessment than those we so often scorn supplicated in idolatry! If evolutionary theory is correct eventually a much brighter and enduring awareness will emerge from our efforts at discharging duty. Since we are part and parcel of Creation, it may well be this will be the final actual awakening of the Godhead’s full awareness! No doubt all that we do in our brief flash of existence is writ in some fashion as the heritage of the highest awareness to come! How will this consciousness looking back at us, its nearly insignificant progenitors, perceive and assess you? Are you part of its awakening or do you hinder its ascension? Do you choose to rise above the animal to meet the duties of a higher being?