Part 5 of my (faux) revival sermon attempted to show how meaning and satisfaction can be had without recourse to religion. 7 of your comments represent compelling challenges or questions that I choose to address in this separate blog:
Michael questions whether the anxieties of Death, Guilt and Meaninglessness is an adequate breakdown to account for the hundreds of forms of human suffering---like loneliness, pain, shame, defectiveness.
Answer: Anxiety is a dis-ease of the mind and it's distinguishing characteristic is that it has no object. It is a dread where you do not know what you are dreading. No one can bear naked anxiety---it would kill us. (Paul Tillich) (those who've suffered deep depression have a glimpse of the anxiety of meaninglessness) So we all attempt to morph anxiety into fear----because fear has an object---you fear something. We can try to deal with our fears-- by dealing with the thing we fear. Not so with anxiety. So yes there are hundreds of human ills but they all are expressions of one of these anxieties. (I think)
Wayne ask: If after 32 years (when I wrote the speech) has my opinion changed any.
Yes---Lots. And this speech has been revised about 10 times.
Do I still think that pursuing temporary pleasures provides any real meaning.
Answer: Yes I do--if you define pleasures broadly----and here is where we differ Wayne. I think EVERYTHING is temporary and fleeting. Even this earth and our sun are temporary. Our very being is ever more temporary. There is nothing else to do but enjoy/experience/respond to this temporary existence. The entire cosmos is a fleeting experience.
My hope is that you and billions of others would "Catch the drift" of the Bhagavad Gita in your spiritual pursuits. (I'll summarize it in a sentence: The Cosmos is God--- amusing itself in a grand drama---eternity is adventuring in time---God is you---wake up-- and play the role you find yourself in with passion.)
Wayne continues his question: Is self centeredness and hedonism what this world needs more of. Have you found anything deeper?
Answer: What this world needs more of is people pursuing their hearts' desires through RATIONAL SELF INTEREST. Ayn Rand and Nietzsche both had this right. The notion of surrendering your life's energy for pie in the sky bye and bye---or just fulfilling societal expectations--for a lifetime is a less than empowering ethic.
I suspect that by deeper you mean the bliss, joy and creativity of being in touch with and guided by the divine. I believe in bliss ---I think the deepest happiness is indeed inside us. I question most seriously your notion of divine guidance. I think you and I when we are our most effective and creative are simply being guided by OUR DEEPEST INTUITION. (call it God if you will---I don't seriously object)
George: does not think that "deserts will bloom and love will permeate the atmosphere if we will only UNBELIEVE---(and become experiencers).
Answer: Of course he is right about this---I was engaging in fun Puffery. I am confident, however, that most of the current wars are clashes of religion--and would indeed stop.
George continues: Instead of brainglow---try heartglow for awhile.
Answer: Also good advice---Laurie was kind enough to scan some of my answers and instruct me in non violent communication. She makes my heart glow with her Love is my Country mission.
Anonymous: A church without messages from God? How is that possible?
Answer: It's very possible---The Unitarian/Universalist have done it by shucking all those tedious and improbable doctrines and bonded together in a search for truth and values. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitarian_Universalism
Anonymous continues: Seeking fun is all you ever do.
Answer: You may be right---but I tell myself that I'm seeking fulfillment through adventure and inquiry and self expression. I am definitely at war with drudgery and I urge everyone to read the first chapter of Walden by Thoreau and see how unnecessary it is.
Mary Matzek: (a very bright involved lady--- have a look: http://otrwjam.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/women-have-to-fight/ ) asks about people who vigorously play the game of life---doing evil---like serial killers--finding meaning in mayhem.
Answer: I interviewed a genuine bank robber once who told me how incredibly exciting it was to plan and rob a bank-----seems to prove her point. It may well be that killers and con men and Nazi's have meaningful lives ---their brains certainly glow as they do their deeds. The Bhagavad Gita implies that evil is an integral part of the drama of life---that it is "plot thickener". That death isn't real--so no real harm is done.
I guess she has persuaded me that there is "good glow" and "bad glow"---that my formula for meaning creation needs a guiding ethic. Mine is called CONSEQUENTIALISM ---it matters what the consequences of our games are.
Steven: asks if billions of separate egos pursuing their personal satisfaction---playing Ayn Rand's game with RATIONAL SELF INTEREST will lead to a more loving, joyful, environmentally sustainable world or end wars.
Answer: I think it will---eventually---in the same way as the "invisible hand" of self interest can make economic markets work. It is masses of people somehow persuaded to surrender and sacrifice their life energies (usually in the name of religion) for the good of others----that has retarded our progress toward fairness and sustainability.
Thoreau marveled that so many people could be found to build the pyramids as a tomb for a booby. He would have like to have known people who "were beyond such trifling."
Ron (a very creative friend) makes an interesting point: The thrill of pure experience can be diminished by thinking (or judging/analyzing).
Answer: I think that the ability to experience life is a personal art form---never perfected---and slightly different for all of us. Two people on a Disneyland ride might well focus on different things: one on the thrill of motion---the other on the mechanics of the ride. Both could enjoy the ride.
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: Thanks to the Yuma Unitarians for the opportunity to revise my speech once again and enjoy ranting against belief and for unbelief and creative responsiveness to life. Thanks to my readers for challenging me----I've received a good dose of meaning ---my head glowed a bit---maybe even my heart.