Let's talk religion. I am going to write a little bit about my own experience with religion, as it stands. The first thing I am going to tell you, and where I am going to start, almost like a short auto-bio which has the real question at the end. So if you don't give a fuck about me and my story, just go ahead and skip down to the bottom, where it says in bold and big letters "My Realization": Humble Beginnings I was about 11. Maybe 12. I'm sitting in Church with my grandmother or whatever, me and my dad just moved to Albuquerque from Vegas (one of the worst fucking mistakes my Dad ever did. I'm sorry, I love this man, but still - the worst fucking mistake he's ever made in my eyes. It fucked me and him over for a long time trying to survive out here, and it is fucking me over even still) and they're putting us up, shes super religious, we gotta do the Church thing because she wants us to. My father was Christian (he's dead now, RIP), not super fanatic Christian, but your average "Yeah I believe in Jesus and this and that, now where can I get a beer?" Christian. Anyways, we're sitting up in Church, and here this pastor is going on and on. I was kinda listening, but I must have not been listening that well because I don't remember a damn thing he's said that day (it's also been ten years and many bags of weed in between, but still). Except one thing, which went something like this "People come up to me and ask, hey - they aren't in our religion, but they still believe in one God, and love, and brotherhood, and almost everything that we based our religion off too! Is it or shouldn't it be the same God? Well, NO! It's not the same God, because the only God is the Christian God and blah blah Jesus save us blah blah. I kind of snapped to attention to that little "rant" and even as a ten or eleven year old kid that didn't give a shit about anything except kid stuff, I was like "What the fuck? That's bullshit!". I didn't know HOW it was bullshit because I had absolutely NO experience with religion outside Christianity. But I KNEW it was bullshit, I just knew somehow. THE DIVERGENCE FROM CHRISTIANITY So after that little rant, I'm just like "fuck that pastor, fuck that Church" that's not what I believe. I'm a Christian goddamn it but that's not what I believe. So then me and my Dad visit another church (you gotta remember, he's still a Christian somehow) after I absolutely refused to go. I got threatened to get my ass beat for just flat out refusing to go to church, but I just straight up was like "no. Fuck no I'm not going to that church" (keep in mind, I'm still a little ass kid at this point int he story. So if I use "fuck" or something, it was most likely "frick" or something you'd hear a kid say. I really didn't start cussing until I was like 14 years old). So eventually, they stop trying. Eventually a year later down the road we move out of Grandma's house and start our lives over in Albuquerque. We started going to other Churches, only for me to find out that they are all exactly the fucking same as that last Church. So then I just basically realize, "fuck Christianity, it's not for me. I'm still going to believe in God, I'm still going to believe in Jesus, but fuck Christianity, I'm not a Christian. WHO CARES ABOUT RELIGION? I'M 15 YEARS OLD.... Eventually we would end up moving again. This time closer to my school. Throughout middle-school, I was a scrub (well I'm a scrub still, can't deny that. But I'm a different kinda scrub..... kinda). I wasn't that kid that was constantly being fucked with by other kids (although something would happen in 8th grade that would get me arrested and expelled because of some other basketball playing douche bags, but that's a story for another time), but I was still that kid who was in the back of the class, that nobody talked to and nobody tried to hang around with. I didn't have any brothers around me or anything. "I'm guess I'm just a ghost, because everybody walks through me. If I died in class, they'd probably say they knew me. Or they wouldn't care, they would even think. A dead body rotting in the of the room, for weeks and months, stinking up the class - until somebody noticed and then they threw me in the trash. I could chop my arms off and run around the class, I doubt they'd even notice, but I'd be dying fast - Joseph Bruce, Mr. Johnson's Head). I was just like "this sucks. But what am I going to do? If I'm a scrub then I'm a scrub. And if I'm a scrub then I'm going to embrace it". I had kids I would hang around, but these were also all the other motherfuckers nobody wanted to hang around also. So I was always either hanging around with: a nerdy kid (my first friend at that school was a nerd). Scrubby kids just like me that went to school in $10 shoes and kept food stamps (when they were STILL stamps) folded up in their sock. Assholes or dickheads that nobody liked. And finally - stoners. Mainly stoner scrubs - because even the regular stoners weren't completely looked down upon. This here is where my best friend, evens still to this day comes in. This is where I meet David. David was a stoner and a scrub. Hanging around David was awesome, because I felt like out of all those other kids, I feel like I finally got somebody who I can trust to watch my back. David eventually introduced me to weed. I started smoking weed everyday, and stayed high ALL day. Me and David would just sit in my room at my house, and just smoke fucking weed all day. I still went to school because I was still getting good grades (from my father's encouraging. My Dad was always cool. He was like "I know weed isn't a "REAL" drug. I know it's not a hardcore drug or anything seriously addictive. Hell, I used to be a stoner myself. So I'll tell you what - keep getting good grades and you can smoke all the weed you want, I could give a fuck. And so I did. I stayed in school and got good grades. Where was I? Oh right - David. Me and David were tighter than a noose. (I never knew that I could depend, that I could have some friends thats down till the very end. - Jamie Madrox of Twiztid. Song: 'Homies'). We were just those scrubs always hanging out at the farthest edge of the field (away from prying eyes) every day. Nobody bothered us, nobody fucked with us. I liked it that way. I had my homie in school, and that's all I'd need. And then things changed. I eventually started talking to some of these popular chicks, turns out - their stoners too. The basketball team clique fuck heads didn't like that though. They jumped one of my other "friends" (wasn't really a friend) right in front of me and made me watch. I said fuck that, I'm not going to live in fear. I packed a steel pipe, went to school one day and one the yard at lunch, pulled it out of my back pack and beat his ass in front of all his friends. I went to jail and got expelled for the rest of 8th grade for that (my grades were so fucking good though, that I'd still end up passing that grade. I was Honor Roll every week). What does all this have to do with anything? Nothing - well not really. It just leads to the events of what happen next. Anyways, my cousin Junior (for Eddie Junior, we just call him Junior or just J to be lazy) and his Dad eventually came to Albuquerque from Vegas to and moved in with us. Now you gotta understand something - before David, there was Junior. As kids in Vegas, we stuck together ALWAYS. We were brothers. He was much better than my REAL brother (not my Dad's son, but my crazy ass mom's other son), who was a fucking jackass as a kid. I'm serious bro. I mean one time, I'm like eight or nine years old right? My mom couldn't pick me up from school that day so my brother does. This motherfucker. Let me tell you about this motherfucker: He picks me up on his bike, he's about 13 years old. We go, and in the trailer park where my mom and brother used to live, and I stayed during the day till my Dad could pick me up from work at night, there are these huge fucking bumps. So I'm on the pegs and he knows this. At one of the bumps he hits that fucking thing at a high speed and get's air, sending me flying off the pegs. Call it instinct, but I grabbed on to the pegs as I hit the ground. We hit the ground, and I'm still holding the pegs. He looks around and notices this, and is just like "Hah!" and keeps trying to drive the bike until my body weight forced him to stop. So my real brother was a fucking dick, but I had Junior. We stuck together through everything. And then my Dad moved us away (worst fucking mistake) from Vegas, and Junior wasn't in my life anymore. Until now. Me and Junior live together now, and Junior has met David, and now all three of us are best friends. Where there was once two, there is now three. When David leaves our house and goes home, me and Junior continue talking and blazing. We talk about many, many topics. Science, history, cybernetics, technology, future technologies, anatomy of mankind, the Illuminati and other crazy conspiracies, more science (he loves science), etc. etc. But one thing we would often talk about, is religion. Let me break it down for you like this: where I would go on to study the major religions, he would go on to study New Age kind of shit. But us talking religion, high out of our minds, got me thinking. "What if I'm wrong". Then, thinking came to feeling. "I'm wrong, I know it. I know Christianity isn't the answer. Fuck it, I'm not Christian anymore, this isn't the right path/the right way". Then, feeling became wonder. "Well, if Christianity isn't the right path, what is? I have to find it!", but this all happened over a very long time. Like a three year time span. And it all stemmed from the religious topics we would sit and talk about, stoned out of minds. Junior loved life. Nothing could EVER get him down, EVER. He has always had such an awesome way of looking at life, and every time I am around him I just feel so good. I don't feel like life fucking sucks anymore. He's moved from Albuquerque back to Vegas these days, which blows, but that's another story and I don't feel like talking about it. He'd never hear me say this (since we're both to fucking prideful - we're both Leos), but I kinda idolize him. If there is anybody I wish I could be like, it's him. Everybody loves him, and he just attracts people right to him. Whereas me, I just attract people's fucked up looks. I'm sooner to attract some girls spit or the palm side of her hand toward my face than I am sooner to attract their love. But again, that's another, fucked up, story. I'm a scrub, what can you do about it? I often, often reminisce back on those times, when me and junior and David would be together ALL the time. He would often fall asleep stoned at our house so many times he basically lived there, and Junior DID live there. So now I have to two people that I love like brothers, side by side, and my Dad who I've went through life with at his side, experiencing my own problems and good memories along with his. Life was fucking awesome. I didn't ever want it to change. And than it did. Living With Satan & the Quest for Truth My Dad met a girl, named Annie. Annie worked with my Dad. She was actually a fairly pretty lady, thin and good shaped, and somewhat good looking. When is more than enough for most men to jump all over. But she got together with my Dad. The problem, she was (and still is) married. Eventually, my Dad moves us (me, him, and her) out of the apartment in order to move in to a new apartment (Junior's Dad was pissed. He felt that we brought them out to Albuquerque, only to abandon them a year later. And he was pretty much right. Another fucked up mistake my Dad made, but we've all made stupid mistakes). I pretty much loose all contact with David and Junior, and would very, very rarely see them over the next like three years. That sucked. That fucking crushed me. That straight up fucking crushed me. I was depressed more than ever. I was in High School now. I had "friends" even though I was a scrub, but our friendship (if you can call it that. More like acquaintances) only extended to school. Meaning the only time I ever saw them from during school, never before, never after. I was pretty much depressed as fuck. And my dad was so blinded by his new found "love" that he couldn't notice it, not right away, anyways. I slowed down smoking weed a little bit - and I just went to school, came home and did it again everyday. That's it. Annie, our new addition to the "family" who would later reveal herself as my future step mother and Satan in disguise, was cool as fuck. She was bringing me food all the time, and even bags of weed! Eventually, she told me and my Dad she wanted a family, and wanted me to be a family. She said she wanted to be like a mother toward me. I don't know if it was because I was depressed and needed something to break that, or if I was just stoned out of my mind, but I was actually like "alright. Great!" Yeah, just fucking great. At first things go along fine, then she gets pregnant. Things still go along fine. We're a family all happy and giddy and white picket fences and a full blown cover screen of bullshit. She has her son with my Dad, whom is named Kalob, and she just completely flips her fucking lid. She went bi-polar like crazy. Things went to "love you, son!" to "no wonder your real mom didn't want you - fucker!" and "you're not my son, don't call me Mom motherfucker!" She started popping my dad's percocets (which he got from a doctor and used for back pain) like m&m's. If she's not working or spitting in my face (literally), she's passed the fuck out on pain killers. So me and my Dad raise my so-called "mom's" baby together, double-teaming his parenting while this bitch sleeps away on drugs. Here's a common day at the house: She wakes up, yells and fights with me over absolutely nothing. Leaves to work with a wave and a "hate you, fucker!" and is gone for awhile. Comes back - pops some pills, and then argues with me (one time she actually fucking punched me in my face. But what the fuck was I going to do, punch her back? Not only would straight knock her skinny ass out (which would be kind of fucked up), but I'd spend the next three nights in jail for domestic violence. Fuck that!), and then after her pills kick in she stops fighting with me and goes to sleep. The next day comes - Ding! Ding! Round 2330942398, let's go again! I ended up hating this bitch, but more than so I ended up getting right the fuck depressed again. I was about 17. My father just lost his job (he'd get another soon), and in the meantime, he was depressed as fuck. So on one side I'm dealing with the shit the bitch throws at me daily, but on the other I'm dealing with my dad who hates his life right now because he's out of a job, and spends a lot of time either sleeping, looking for a job, or just being down generally. I eventually get hit by a truck. This fucks me up pretty badly, even giving me a brain hemorrhage (which thankfully, the bleeding stopped before they were going to prep me for brain surgery to open up my skull and let the swelling brain expand, and try to stop the bleeding). I can't walk for the first two weeks, so while I'm stuck in bed, I'm thinking about a lot of shit. Most importantly, I'm thinking about religion. (By the way, I'm leaving my ex-fiance Kate out of this story ((and how I ended up getting stuck on the pills to doctors would give me for pain)). I still love that woman and I'd just rather not talk about what happened). Walking A Never-Ending Path Things change, my Dad leaves Annie, we move away from her and my life looks up again. I start focusing on religion. Like all the time, it's searching for answers on my mind. I'm going to share three general key points to this story which lasted for such a long time in my life (until I was like - 19). Buddha Who? A friend (or "associate") at school ends up encouraging me to study Buddhism. I eventually study it on the internet, and in a hastily fashion, adopted it as my new religion. I believed in God - but I believed that Buddhism was the only true path - and the way to get to God was through Buddhism. I believed that we are all put here on a cycle of reincarnation until we realize spiritual enlightenment. Then, when we die, instead of reincarnating, we go to Nirvana. Nirvana to me, was going to re-join with God. Now, God and your "afterlife" if you want to call it that, to me here (and even now) was NOTHING like the Christian God/Heaven concepts. I didn't believe God looked like us/we were "made in his image", I didn't even thing he held a shape or body! I believe(d) that he is a formless, sentient being which created the universe through "igniting - if you will" the big bang, and is omniscient, omnipresent, and all of that, and benevolent. And I believed when we died, we would "return to him". This doesn't mean being reborn in a new, beautiful land with gold everywhere and diamonds raining through the sky and this and that. That means, we will be in a realm in a bodiless aspect. And what we will do is rest eternally. We will be reunited with God, and we will rest/dream in an eternal peace/slumber, one with God. So basically, we'll still exist after death, but no, there wasn't much of an "after death" except for an eternal slumber of the soul, provided you've reached enlightenment that is. And I believed Buddhism was the path to reach enlightenment. Then, I met a Muslim kid... Temple of Fear! This Muslim kid did everything he possibly could to stray me from my beliefs. I never converted to Islam, but Islam did confuse the fuck out of me and made me again wonder, a second time, if what I thought I believed in was indeed the true and correct path? I went to a mosque and watched how they prayed, even talked to an Imam. Eventually I slightly discarded the whole Buddhist is the correct and only answer belief, kept my general beliefs, but didn't exactly incorporate Islam either. I did read through the Quran, and did incorporate a lot of their beliefs though - such as praying five times a day and fasting. I took on a, once again, much more monothesitic take at worship, but kept several Buddhist/East Religious aspects such as what I posted above about God. Only I went back to believing that there is indeed a "Heaven". Eventually, I started reading the Quran all the time. I was pretty close to just dropping all of my current non-Islamic beliefs and then converting to the "true religion!" I was about 17 at the time. And I was still very confused. So here I am, heavily considering becoming a Muslim. And then something stopped me: I kept reading the Quran. And I started seeing what layer over layer of fear. God hates these people (non-believers!), and will only ever love and forgive them if they convert. But alas, he can and will forgive, he is benevolent! Then I'd be like; "Wait, God hates people? God is supposed to be ever-benevolent, loving people who are even lost on their path. God doesn't fucking HATE people". Then I'd hear my Muslim friend describe Hell which wounded much worse and much more detailed that when Christians described it, and then I'd read the Quran, and I swear to God, in several parts it would say "And THESE people are going to Hell. And THESE people are going to Hell. And THESE people are going to hell. And it is Allah's will because these people failed to convert in their life". I would then be like "wait, if God loves us all so much, and is so loving he wouldn't ever even think of anything violent, why the FUCK would he go make a place like Hell? What the fuck? How is that benevolent and loving, sending off people who didn't believe in you when there's no physical proof on Earth that you exist to an eternity of the worst, most painful, fucked up torture that only a human mind could imagine". Then I was told "Yeah, God wrote that Quran. He told Muhammed ever word and Muhammed wrote it down. I was then at that point pretty much like "bullshit......." I didn't put his religion down, I just stopped talking to that kid about religion all together, stopped going to watch at mosques, stopped all and every connection I had with Islam. The Marvelous Missing Link! If Islam and Christianity weren't the answers, which I know in my heart not to be the "one, true, only" answer - then what is? Maybe I had it right before? No, if I was right, I wouldn't have strayed from my path so easily. Maybe no religion is right? Well... I figured the only possible way I could ever even get close to knowing the "truth", was to research religion. Not just religion as a whole topic, I mean each individual major world religion (while my cousin would go on to start researching New Age spirituality just as much as I researched major religions, and I researched them a fucking lot). I went through every religion, pouring over every topic back and forth, back and forth during any free time I had. I spent a shitload of money from my job on more books about religion. I also heavily researched philosophy. I did nothing but work and research, research, research. You're probably saying - yeah, we've all done that. I've researched like that too, when I was in school/college. Well, - no you didn't. In college, you no doubt took breaks. I never did. If I wasn't working or sleeping, my nose was in a fucking book. And that's how it was ALL the time. Let me give you an example. After many months at one library, I ended up reading EVERYTHING in their religion/spirituality sections, and I mean EVERYTHING. It was a total of about 50 books (the library wasn't big, but still). I read those motherfuckers from cover to cover. After that, I started buying books from the extra cash I got from my job (like I said above). After a while, I bought a pen and several thick notebooks, and I started writing down EVERYTHING I thought was of any importance in any of those books. I study Christianity (most major sects), Judaism, Islam (the two major sects), Buddhism (the three major sects), Sikhism, Mohism, Legalism, Confucianism, Shinto, Hinduism (two of the major sects), Taoism (both the philosophical and religious sects), Shamanism, Native American religion, Mythology of the world's greatest ancient civilizations (Aztecs, Mayans, Olmecs, Toltecs, Greeks, Egyptians, Norse, Ancient Chinese, Persia, Carthage, Babylon, Sumerian, Celts, Romans, Ancient Huns, and finally Ancient-Medieval Japanese), Zoroastrianism, Jainism, and a three part 800 page book on many major philosophy subjects. I studied my fucking ass on, and I always kept a notepad nearby and wrote down what I thought was of importance. Now eventually I studied enough (for about 2 years straight) to have about five notebooks full of my own notes. It looked like about two or three years of college notes on one subject worth. So one day I'm reading over my notes, trying to decipher what might be along the lines of "spiritual truth", in a fashion I was actually more like "meditating on my notes", and it hit me. Out of absolutely nowhere, all this sudden knowledge hit me. The Realization Here's a small glimpse of what I gleaned, learned, and still believe by that sudden wave of knowledge all getting crammed into my brain at once. It was like someone put a ton of knowledge in a pill somehow, and then I swallowed that pill and all that knowledge just somehow hit me, all right at once. Another way to explain it is, it's like taking 10 college courses all at once, all based on the same subject, yet each course being about a different part of that subject, and you sat through all ten of those course at once, and took them and finished all of the courses in it's entirety in like ten seconds time, each second of that time each course imparted a tiny books worth of knowledge to you, and are still able to remember absolutely EVERYTHING you ever learned during any part of any of those ten courses. Here, this is the best way I can put it: The Partial Truth As I Interpreted My "Vision"; "My Truth" God is absolute. God is the only reality. God is formless, IT (I say it because IT has no gender; but from now on to make this easily understandable, I will call IT, "he") is all intelligent, benevolent, and all powerful. This and the fact that he exists and knows us as individuals are the only things we need to know. He has no shape, he has no form. He has "personality" in a way that a human could ever think of or understand. His very being and existence is something we as human beings cannot interpret, even those who are fully enlightened get a glimpse of the whole truth which will not, nor will it, ever come - even in Death. We as humans, have souls. Our souls are not actually bound to our bodies, they are bound to this world. Our body is merely a way that it is being held bound. We are bound here because our souls, in their ignorance, refuse to leave. Only by knowing the truth of this world as far as our minds can understand it can we possibly leave this world. Until then our souls will be stuck in a cycle of reincarnation. When we find the truth, we become enlightened. Our soul knows the truth, and is no longer stuck on this world. When we die in that life that we find this truth our souls will leave this world and rejoin with God. We will not be given a paradise, we will not hold form, we will not be given anything. Anything except more knowledge and understanding on the truth and knowledge to the universe, as far as our celestial minds will be able to understand it so. We will be rejoined with God, as we sleep in eternal peace, in an endless slumber, resting for eternity in an "Endless Dream". This dream varies for every soul, but it is never negative, and feels, - is in it's own way, - real. The actual soul however, formless, is rejoined with God in a sleep of eternal peace and slumber. Humanity is not the only thing that hold a spirit/soul however. Many other things, including the Earth itself holds a spirit. Many of these spirits are eternally (until they are somehow, relinquished, or "destroyed" if you will, though they will exist forever, some of them will quit existing on this Earth for some reason or another which caused that). There are spirits in animals, the elements, and the Earth itself (which is it's own singular spirit). These spirits remain on Earth. Some of them can be guardian spirits, some of them can be peaceful spirits, some of them can be wise spirits, and some of them can have malicious intent. Some of them can interact with human souls in their own way, if they wish. Even our Ancestors in their "Eternal Dream", can, through their rest and through their dream state, can manifest themselves such a way here on Earth to guide us when we need it (though no spirit can influence or effect a man's life. A man's life is left entirely up to the choices of that man and what happens physically around him/her). Note that this is largely a Native American belief also. I am, yes, Native American. For religion, the majority of the major religions were all simply different paths to the same enlightenment/truth. The reason they never stuck or felt right with me, is because my spirit/soul simply never aligned with any of those paths, and would rather have chosen to seek the "real truth". They were laid down by their founders and are in their own way prophets and seers of spirituality. However, every human is prone to mistakes, and not everything any religion teaches is not 100% truth. There are many different paths to enlightenment, and the rituals and ways we choose to achieve it matter none. NOTE: I don't consider that knowledge coming to me as me receiving "full enlightenment", but I do consider it hitting me receiving a very small part of the enlightenment we need to free ourselves from this world, and I consider it being something to let me know I'm on the right path. As said before I believe almost every major religion is right in some way, and I do not discredit any of them. I don't tell people that "my way is right, all others are false". 1) Because this can screw up their spiritual alignment and own quest for enlightenment/the truth. And 2) Because this act is a negative act against another human being, which we must strive not to do. I still feel like I have so much more to learn, and I'm not even close to realizing the entire truth. That's why I said I don't believe I've reached "full enlightenment". So.... what's your religious preference. What do you believe? Again, sorry for that long story.