Where to begin?
If you read my last post you will know that this was triggered by a visit to a Christian church to hear a talk from Sam Childers, aka the Machine Gun Preacher. During which I came to the realization that my life was missing something. Some may mistakenly call this a revelation, or maybe even use it as the excuse to say 'Mark, God spoke to you maaan, you got to go to church and repent your shit'.
It wasnt like that, it was simply that I saw something reflected in Sam, in me. As a result I could respect what he had to say. Maybe it's the killer instinct, or the bad past. I dont know, but what I saw in his belief, I knew was distinctly lacking in me.
It was his conviction
Sam really did believe God had spoken to him directly and told him to go to Africa. This conviction alone enabled him to attain his goals against all odds. He wasnt doing it for himself, his wife or anyone else, he was doing it all for God. And that shit was clearly working for him. I wasnt convinced of the God hot-line, but it set off a chain of thought in me that I could not deny. I just dont have that kind of conviction in my life, and it is exactly what I needed to find.
As I sat there listening to Sam and observing the intensity of belief exuding from the Christian audience, it conjured up all the other times I had come across religious zeal. And love it or hate, you had to admit the bastards really had some fire-in-the-furnace when it came to doing their shit based on their belief. Delusional or not, they had conviction.
God damn Christians, but lets face it, they got nothing on the Islamic militants, those mofo's even blow themselves up for their religious beliefs ! They blow Christians up too for that matter, or anyone deemed an 'infidel' i.e. not an Islamic militant, but we all know this, I digress.
Now, for the last 4 years, and in many ways a lot longer, I have been finding my personal truths aligning more and more to another system , maybe religious, arguably more scientific and experiential than simply faith-based like the Christian and Muslim God clubs. For me Buddhism has a much more agreeable truth.
But it isnt the whole story, there is one other spiritual system that I oft find myself in agreement with, Animism. I've got 3 definitions from the free on-line dictionary;
1. The belief in the existence of individual spirits that inhabit natural objects and phenomena.
2. The belief in the existence of spiritual beings that are separable or separate from bodies.
3. The hypothesis holding that an immaterial force animates the universe.
It's in there somewhere, I am not sold on multiple gods with volition and care for humans, but there is something in the system that I have found rings true and more specifically where you find Animism you usually find a lot of direct, and divine, connection with Nature. Indigenous systems the world over are Animist. Arugably the oldest belief systems in the world and they have striking similarities the world over. Outdating the Muslims and the Christians by many thousands of years sometimes hundreds of thousands of, and as much as both those One-God based religious systems have gone out of their way to annihilate any remaining trace of Animism, pockets have remained (South America, Africa from my experience) Even up until the Romans, belief systems allowed for multiple Gods and also threw in Goddesses to the equation. It's all just so much better balanced and on an experiential level, for me, it provided access to aspects of my life that a One-God upbringing had just never been able to hit. Animism was my entrance back into that world, for reasons I will explain later, while Buddhism provided me a path and way of living, education might be a better word, but it didn't mess with my innate sense of existing belief in the way the One-God systems did. I hasten to add that it didnt make me a Buddhist either, I just observed and found I could agree with their stuff. And in following the Vajrayhana a little way, I also got an education into life. A perfect example being meditation, inner silence and deconstructing the essence of existence. Buddhist are not only a scientific bunch but they offer practical lessons to follow if you wish to check it out for yourself. Again, more on that later.
So, finally and in my usual long-winded manner, I get to the reason for the title of this post. In starting my search for God I have to begin in the place I am at today. As I sat listening to Sam go on about God talking to him and telling him to do this, and that, I started to feel somewhat confused, maybe like a cat in a dog house. I have gone into the details of that in the previous post but suffice to say it made me observe myself, and I saw that it is a long, and well-earned path that brings me to my own stance on it all here today. A lot of battles, and a lot of stories, and many questions on the bigger picture. I have burnt the midnight oil looking for those answers, this isn't just a whimsy dislike of Christians & Muslims, this is a life-long study of humankind we are talking about here. I have been to some dark places looking for those answers, and in surviving many of them, I have brought some booty back with me. Its really just a co-incidence that I had this realisation in the midst of a bunch of Christians. But as I said at the beginning of this post it hi-lighted to me something: I had certainty, I had knowledge, I had experience, and I had covered a lot of ground looking for answers, but what I really never had found, what I was still lacking, and what was needed next , was the power of conviction
And then the label just popped up, because it was all I could think of to fit who I am, in this moment, right here, from a spiritual belief perspective I have to admit I am probably part Buddhist, part Animist, and thus I, rather self-righteously, decided to invent a new system and I loosely called it Budanimism.
I wont be needing an army of militants to spread the word just yet.