Monday, 23 April 2012

Looking for God - Part III - Conviction

As a reminder....I am on the search for God. This was triggered by a talk from the Machine Gun Preacher held at a Christian church I recently attended, which made me realise how the missing key to my life at this stage is conviction. It is something I lack, and observing Christians and the MGP in action , much as I can't agree with their basis for it, they sure have a lot of conviction and it drives them on. I need it. My problem? I aint never going to be a Christian. There was one line that really started this avalanche within me. It was when Sam was asked how it began for him and he said,

 'God spoke to me and said , Sam, you got to go to Africa' .

He went on to explain how it really was God speaking to him. That, right there, was not only the moment I realised I needed that kind of conviction in my life if I was to succeed in the endeavors I felt my life was destined for, but it was also the moment I had a serious problem with the whole thing; God does not talk to people. Only crazy people. Yet Sam, from my brief assessment, was far from crazy, he's a bloody successful businessman, living out his destiny, and all because of God, or more accurately IMO, his conviction.

with me? good.

So, lets continue Looking for God.

What is conviction ?

Apart from getting sentenced to imprisonment, according to the Oxford English Dictionary it is,

- a firmly held belief or opinion

In my use of it here I would go further and say conviction is an unshakeable belief. When faced with the opposite opinions of your fellow man, or even outside influences, you remain unshakeable and convinced. That is conviction. In short, nothing will ever be able to sway you from your belief. Your belief is right, all opposing beliefs are wrong.

Now that is a pretty serious stance to take. You have to have looked at your position, seen all the other possibilities, and know without any doubt at all, that you are 100% right. For real.

Unfortunately, all my lessons in life have taught me that not only is that a very dangerous position to hold, but being inflexible is also virtually impossible because things change and evolve. Though I have to say for men it is a classic issue. We seem to have an in-built need for things to stay the same and can fall to pieces when they dont. In that light alone, I can see why Christianity came about, created by males, for males to feel safe in a universe of chaotic change. It is also the root of most war. But what is a truth today can be revealed to be irrelevant tomorrow. Sometimes it is important that it is. Evolution itself is an example of how permanence actually changes. So right there is a first stumbling block, and one of the reasons I moved away from my Christian upbringing and eventually settled more in a Buddhist approach.  What is the Buddhist equivalent here?

Anicca (pronounced anichar ) - the law of impermanence. It is a fundamental cornerstone of Buddhism and relates to the need for us to come to terms with the fact that everything is in flux, everything changes, and nothing ever stays the same. Nothing is permanent. This is a meditation and after many years of meditating on this, I have to admit it would appear to be pretty accurate. Nothing is permanent. Feel free to try to refute this idea.

At first the idea of impermanence is scary and leaves one no ground to stand on, unconscious fears immediately arise, and if you are in meditation you start to fidget and feel all sorts of reactive sensations like itching, or pain, or boredom. But as you move through this, you start to realise impermanence is also your 'get-out-of-jail-free' card, because whatever shit may befall you in this life or another, it wont last forever. That is a bit simplistic, and really what the whole thing is about is uncovering a 'truth' and facing up to our fear of it, but again I digress. We are talking today about conviction, not impermanence. Though they may be related, for now I want to stick with conviction to really try to understand what it means for us to have it, or not.

So Sam Childers has it, the elixir of conviction, the magic, empowering force behind his every waking action, his decision making, and as a result, his progress through life. Frankly I am jealous. But I started to consider the reasons why I dont have it. I am a strong-willed, fairly able individual who has succeeded in achieving phenomenal deeds and, without wishing to sound egotistical, quite simply put, I know I have done many things in life that others look at and wonder how the hell I had the balls to do it, let alone get away with it. So, I have a driven nature. I am self-centred, bloody-minded, and something of a megalomaniac. I know this. And for me to say I am lacking conviction would certainly set a few people I know rolling about in fits of incredulous laughter. Why do I say I lack conviction? Well the difference is I am a chancer. I get moments, bursts of self-driven obsessiveness, and they generally die out after a while, and quite often I am left with the mess of the aftermath, no real explanation for why I did it, and sometimes even a sense of guilt at what I have done. This is a common cycle for me. My partner says I run 'hot and cold'. But getting back to conviction and why it applies for me, is because if I had a sense of conviction, if I could genuinely say the honest equivalent of 'God told me to do it' and really say it with conviction, and not be a dangerous mental person, then the things I could achieve would be epic. Do I want that? I want to feel epic, sure, but more importantly I want to feel correct. For me, I have the gusto and gumption to do shit, my problem is I actually have to reign it in to stop myself doing shit. All because I dont have a 'God told me to do it' clause. Not one that I can put any conviction in anyway.

There are a billion reasons why I can't join the Christians and start believing in their version of 'God'. Hardly anything about the Christian version of it sits right with me, and that is due to study, not just reaction. I dont deny others the right to it as their source of conviction but for me it wont wash. So my only alternative is to find my alternative.

I am repeating myself a bit now, but I think we have got some clarity on conviction and just what it means and why we might need it. So the next question is why do I takes this particular direction, why have I titled this search - Looking for God


Prixie said...

I do hope you find it soon!

Wow, you met Sam! That is so awesome.

Mark Berry said...

hey Prixie

good to hear from you , hope all is well in sunny africa

yea Sam was great, real nice down to earth guy