A personal journey to spiritual maturity
October 23, 2000Every journey should start somewhere. But it is not always possible to point out the exact starting point. So, I declare the start of my journey to be now, although, I know that I have been thinking about it for more than a month now.
It is not possible to point out a single reason why I want to embark on this journey now. I could think of many reasons. Is it because, I still sense this emptyness inside, which cannot be filled with anything in this world? Or is it that sudden death of a colleague, that shocked all of us? Or is it the fear that things might not be what I have always believed them to be?
Why do I have this strong urge for significance, to achieve something lasting, to be recognized as someone important, to be loved and accepted? Why is it that I even want to write about this?
October 25, 2000Waves of depression flooded over me, when I realized that I had forgotten the appointment with the dentist we had this morning. I almost felt like I wanted to die. Luckly, it did go away. Life is not easy. But yet, if I think about all those others in this world that suffer even more, there is no reason for complaining. The truth is that we all suffer our own tribulations. It is impossible to remove suffering from your life. Even if we succeed in removing one (like not having to worry for your daily food), it will be replaced by a host of others. This world is drenced with Death. Yes, I spell it with a capital on purpose. We seek pleasure only to forget the reality of Death. Is there no escape from suffering?
October 30, 2000Here I am sitting on the floor of our bed room, with my laptop sitting on the bed, and slowly typing these words. Did I come any further so far. Yes, a lot has happened. No, some things are still the same.
On the evening of October 25, last week, the church cell group I belong to was meeting. At first I did not feel at all like I wanted to go there, and I was contemplating whether I should just phone, and tell them that I did not feel so nice (which was true in a sense). But nevertheless, I decided to go. Not much exciting happened, except that I was remembered about this very deep longing to seek God that was planted in my soul from the moment I had this life changing encounter with God now so many years ago. Although, I have doubted all of my believes a countless times, I never have been able to get rid of this very deep longing, this assurance, deep in my spirit, which calls "Abba, Father". Sometimes it can stay there unnoticed for a long time, but whenever I quiet my soul it is there, stronger than anything else.
The next day, I took Annabel and Andy to the city. We went to a Christian bookshop, where I bought a King James Version (KJV) Bible. This is one of the most beautiful and best translations of the Bible in the English language, once you have come used to the language. It seems as if each first widely used translation of the Bible in a certain language is the best. Often the translations that come after it, in attempt to make the bible more accessible for the mordern speaker, deviate further from the original text, often introducing interpretations.
Last Saturday, I came along a book that claimed that Jesus Christ had not died on the cross, and that Pauls theology about the His death and resurrection were never intended by Jesus Himself. At first this even seemed plausable to me, but then when I thought about it during the day, I more and more came to the conclusion that this was not the case. First came to my mind that Jesus had indicated that He would rise from the death. And then I remembered the Lords Supper, and the story about how after His resurrection He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures (the Old Testament writings) the things concerning Himself. It are these Scriptures that state that there can be no forgiveness without blood shedding, and that speak about animal sacrifices to cover the sins of the people. So, indeed, Jesus Christ did teach that salvation was through Him, and that it was achieved through His death and resurrection. This book also claimed that Jesus never wanted to die, when He requested that "this cup" (refering to His coming death on the cross) would be taken away. They quoted the verse, without the last phrase "Thy will be done", without which it indeed might sound like this.
And now today, my head seems to be filled again with a thousand and one thoughts. In my mind I am a sceptic, an unbeliever, but in my heart I am believer. In my mind their is chaos, a multitude of fears, but in my heart their is peace. In my mind, I am an Agnosticus, an Atheist maybe, but in my heart I am Christian. In my mind their is scientific knowledge, but in my heart I know God.
November 6, 2000Here I am sitting, at the end of the day. The room is dark except for the light coming from the laptop I am using. Which is still a lot, as I use dark letters on a white background. This is an attempt to find some quietness after a long and busy day. But should it not be better to go to sleep, as to get some strenght for the day of tomorrow, which is likely to be even more busy? At the start of the evening, I felt an urgue to seek God face, because of some pressing matters. The coming months there will be some changes in our daily doings which require an adaption of our daily logistics of getting everybody where they should go in the most efficient way. It again raises some questions as to what I should do with my occupation.
There is a growing desire to spend more time with God, which also explains why I am writing this. But why do I seek God? Is it because of this stronger realisation of my mortality, and that I have less than a year to go, before I will be forthy. About ten years ago, I still was single, and at that time my most pressing question was if I would ever find a companion for my life and get married. That question was answered quickly, for I have been married for more than seven years now. My biggest question now is dealing with what I have achieved so far, and what I can still achieve in the remaining part of my life. Looking at the average life expectation, I know that I am about half way. but of course there is also the question whether I will be able to achieve as much in the second half, as I could have in the first half. The signs of getting older are there, and I also have that time consuming responsability to take care for my children. But, at the other hand, I have learned, and am still learning, to discipline myself, and to use my time more effectively.
But, why am I seeking God? Because I am too afraid to fail? Because I want to make something more out my life? Or to find comfort for all those fears that trouble me? Fears of being a loser. Fears of losing my health. Fears of dying in an accident, or to encounter other kinds of trouble. Fears of not being able to achieve my dreams. Fears for being forgotten after I die.
As a mortal person in this physical world, I seek immortality. But there is no immortality to be found in this world. Tomorrow this world can be totally destroyed by such a thing as a nearby gamma-burster. Yet, the Bible promises eternal life. I hear those words from the Messiah by Handel sing in my head: "Death where is thy sting?" Is this, why their is such a battle between my mind and my heart. If my mind can proof that there is no God, then the last hope of my heart is gone. Should I in my mind accept that there is no hope for immorality, and in my heart rejoice about the eternal life that lies ahead? If science could reason away the existence of God, then nothing would be left for the heart to hope for. How is it possible that I as a believer can have such strong doubts? When we seek God most, it seems He is the most furthers away.
Yes, I embarked on this journey and called it "The Road to Enlightment", but it almost seems as if it is only getting darker. Is this seeking for enlightment not only a form of seeking immortality, a way to trancedent the physical world where mortality reigns? It is suprising that the Bible does not teach us that we should trancedent the visible world. That we should become free from it. This is often what is thought. The great secret is that God became flesh, and lived amongh us. For some this alone is the only reason to reject Christianity from the start. Others reason it away, by denying the diety of Christ.
November 20, 2000And before you know, two weeks have past. At our church cell group meeting now almost two weeks ago, we talked about the very complex theological problem of sanctification. Is being sanctification a position we have in Christ Jesus, or a state to be achieved? It all ending in splitting of words. It made me study the First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians again. I compared the KJV and the NASB with the Textus Receptus (TR). Of course, the NASB differs from the TR, because it is based on Nestle. But to my surprise, I also noted that the KJV sometimes gives interpretations of the TR. This made me think about trying to come up with my own translation, while comparing the three, in which I would try to use a literal as possible translation of the TR, in sake of readability.
At the last church group meeting, I suggested that we should talk about something more practical. Then they asked me what. I said: "money". Thus it was agreed that next Wednesday, we will take about money. Yesterday, several people asked me, if I already had started preparing. I told them I hadn't started yet. Some people go into long preparations when they have to lead a bible study in a cell group type of meeting. I have come to the conclusions that the result is usually better if you prepare less. But these questions really made me think. And now I got the feeling that I have touched upon a subject, that is profoundly more deeper and complicated than I had realized at first. Since then, I have been remembering statements, discussions, parables and stories from the bible dealing with money and property. And to be honest, I haven't been able to form a unified model about what the bible teaches about the subject of personal and collective properties.
Just some verses (from the KJV translation):
December 7, 2000Tomorrow it is one week ago, that my father was taken into heaven. It does not seem as if a week has passed. The strange thing is that until now, I haven't felt very sad or missed him very terribly. Of course, I feel sad for my mother, who has to spend the rest of her life without my father with who she was married for just a little more than forty years. And I have felt sad for Annabel and Andy who are now without grandfather. I do not know why I do not feel so sad. Of course, I knew of his condition that he could die any moment. For many years I have been very afraid of the day that my father would die. And that for the rest of my life, I would always add the sentence "the year my father died" when mentioning the year in which he died. But I don't think I will be saying "2000, the year my father died" the rest of my life.
Last summer, I visited my parents alone. On that day I had a very good talk with them, assuring me that my father laid his trust in the Lord. When I drove home, I felt very glad. This took away my fears. Maybe that explains why I do not feel so sad now. Or it must be that I am mentally ill.
December 14, 2000An image that has been playing through my mind the last days is that of monks eating rice with some vegatables from a bowl. After the meal, tea is poured in the bowls as a way of closing up the meal and cleaning the bowls. As far as I can remember these were young Japanese men seeking enlightment in a Zen monastary. They had to meditate most of their time on the impossible riddles that were given to them by their Zen masters. I wonder it their temporary stay in this monastary did bring any lasting change once they returned to their normal life in the hectic Japanese cities.
The Japanese culture is very different from anything else in the world. It is indeed a strange culture. Maybe it comes to no surprise that there is only a very small minority of people following Jesus Christ in Japan. Although their are many young people seeking enlightment (or simply a meaning for life), their are very few accepting Christ as their saviour. One explaination might be the wide spread practice of worshipping idols. Japan is a country full of temples dedicated to all kinds of gods. It might not seem such a good way for finding enlightment
Yes, I am trying to find peace myself. And someway I wish I could go to a place where I could be on my own to contemplate the things that have happened. But it appears I have a duty to stay with my family.
December 15, 2000For many people becoming spiritual is equal to abstain from sex. Also for many sex is seen as the greatest sin against God. But sex itself was given by God, and the Bible speaks about it as a gift. Of course, in the Word of God, we do read about sexual sins, and that sexual sins differ from the other sins in that they affect the body. Sex itself is not a sin, it only becomes sin when performed outside marriage.
Sex has to do a lot with power. Not so long ago, in the almost empty dressing rooms of a swimming pool, I heard a girl call a boy to come to her. Apparently, he didn't want to come. Then she shouted: "If you don't come now, than no sex tonight". Of course, I do not know whether she meant it, or that it was only said as a joke, but she expressed a very deeply rooted truth about sex and power. There is a deep rooted difference between man and woman with respect to their sexuality. There is possibly no other area in which man and woman are so different.
There is yet a deeper truth behind this. Which has to do
with the fear of death.
January 16, 2001
January 16, 2001Yesterday, I wrote in my online diary about the message being preached last sunday in our church. In the past month, I have thought a lot about the historicity of Jesus Christ only to conclude that the subject is very complex, and that it is hardly possible to make any firm statements about. I do believe that the Bible is historical reliable, and that this faith is based on reasonable grounds. But lets not deviate to much from my journey.
Last Sundays speaker did raise the question what is in the center of our lives. I was thinking about the things that keep me occupied during my free time. It seems I always have a huge lists of things that I still want to achieve. The problem is that the list is simply so large, that I never will be able to achieve only a fraction of it. I also get the impression that I spend more time on thinking what I should focus on than doing something. I know what kind of things are now on the list:
But, at the same time, I became aware of how God truely molds our soul, our spirit in His hands. Suddenly, I saw how all my feelings, desires, wishes are like blobs that He wants to mold after His purpose. My soul, my spirit lays open to Him. There is non who can look into it, except He, and He is the only one qualified to look into it, and to mold us. And suddenly, it was as if I saw how He was doing that not only in my life, but also in the lives of all other people present in our gathering. There was an invitation to go forward, and to kneel and to confess your sins to God.
|For some reason, I suddenly, had to think about some of the shocking images shown on the news this evening. One was that of a very slim baby drinking some water in a hospital in Irak, now ten years after the Golf War. In the same item many pictures of mallformed babies were shown, claiming that this was caused by the war. The other was about some soldiers throwing a man of a bridge and then starting to shoot at him. It was not shown whether the man was actually shot, but it was implied.|
The speaker also urgued us to seek the purpose that God has with our lives. The last time he came to speak, about half a year ago, he made all under thirty years standup (almost half of the church), and told them that they should seek God's purpose for their lives. Now he asked how many had found it. Nobody raised hands. Some people raised hands when he asked if there were any seeking to seek it. But then he made some statement that all above thirty should even seek harder, if they had not found their purpose yet. Our lives are short, and indeed, you have to set your goals before you get thirty if you want to achieve anything substantial. Now that I am reaching forty, I sense that I am getting old with respect to my professional career. To be honest, I do not know whether I have found God's purpose for my life.
Although it is good to achieve something in God's kingdom, it is not the most important thing. We labour in vain, if God does not build the house. What does Jesus speak about achieving things, I wonder? He does speak about serving one and another, and He speaks a lot about coming to know God. That is why He came to earth, so that we could become children of God, such that our spirit would call "Abba, Father".
February 11, 2001Todays preaching in our church was about Jacob wrestling with a man during the night (see Genesis 32:1-6). The story of Jacob is the story of a very clever man with a successful life, who is finally confronted with a situation that he cannot handle by himself. At the end God has to dislocate his hip to make him dependend on Himself. I am still in the strength of my life, living in a very wealth country, not really having a need to trust God for my immediate needs on a daily basis, it seems. When will come the moment that my hip will be dislocated, and I too as a limb person will walk through life?
March 12, 2001Almost a month has passed by since I wrote the above. Tonight, I came across some Bible verses that Li-Xia read to me on Thursday, June 25, 1998 in a time where we were also facing some job related decisions.
About two weeks ago, while attending a meeting of the church cell we belong to, we sang a song with the line God is so great, endlessly great. If God is infinitely great, it means that the universe is infinitely small compared to Him. This made me think about the size of the universe, and whether if you could detect whether you are near the border or not. It also made me think about the nature of space. Strange ideas indeed.
Lately, I have found myself again in the middle of the science versus faith debate. My mind is having a hard time to believe that there is indeed a supernatural dimension. This is not the first time, and definitely also not the last time that this is happening. Again, I am feeling like I am drifting away from the goal that I had set before me, when I started writing this investigation.
April 1, 2001It is only in the last week that I have moments of sadness about my father's death. My mother still suffers from it every day, although she has managed to organise her life again. We are very happy for the warm neighbourhood she lives in. This has been a great help for her finding her life again. But without doubt she misses my father, with whom she lived together more than forty years, every day.
Since this morning, I know what are the key words in becoming enlighted. They are all given in the following verse:
May 20, 2001It is a Sunday evening again, and I am sitting in the dark besides the bed in our bedroom and typing these words on the Toshiba laptop laying on the bed. It seems it is often on a Sunday evening that I write something here. I have been reading some of the things I wrote above. Some time ago, I heard some man tell that life starts with sixty. I will be forty this year. He described how when he was forty he was still so busy with his carreer. Also, about a month ago, I told the story of my fathers death and funeral in our church cell group, reading all the bible verses that were read during the evening vigil and the funeral service. Just a few days before I had written to someone in an email that some people when approaching death start to enjoy life again as children do, living it day by day. I know that I do not enjoy life in this manner. I am still in the rat race, worrying about my career, thinking about how I can secure the future of my family. Yet, when I think about some of the words that Jesus said, I know that it must be possible to enjoy life day by day. He tells us to become like children. He also says that we should not worry. Every day has enough of its own evil. I also got the idea that this manner of enjoying life, is what comes very close to the idea of enlightment. Some time ago, I realized that I had not yet studied what Jesus Christ had said about the subject of this page. Jesus is the True Light which came into the world, to enlight every man.
September 19, 2001It has been some time ago that I wrote something here. Some weeks ago, I decided to read through the Gospel of Mark with the idea to think about why Jesus did what He did, and how He did it. It has been an interesting, but also confronting story so far.
March 11, 2002It is almost half a year, since I wrote the above. (Today it is exactly half a year since the WTC building was destroyed by a terrorist attack.) In the past half year, I have been struggling with a mid-life crisis, wondering about the meaning of my life, and also doubting many of the things I believe. (I will not go into a deep analysis about what triggered this crisis, but for sure the 11-9 event, the death of my father and me becoming forty were among them.)
Yesterday in church, it was for the first time in a long time that I felt being close with God again. I didn't have to translate, because there weren't any English speaking people needing translation. (Lately, we have a group of French speaking Africans attending our services, so often the translation booth is occupied by someone who for some years worked in a French speaking African country.) Somehow, I also felt relieved. It looks like some victories have been won. I wonder whether this is related to the news I got last Friday that soon I will be fired because of financial problems in the company I am working with. Luckily, here in the Netherlands, there are some regulations which provide you with money for some time, after you loose your job. But, I will have to find a new job, which might not proof easy in the current economical situation. I am also considering to start working for myself. Strangly enough, all this does not make me feel depressed, but rather feels me with a new feeling of freedom, a sense that something exciting is going to happen.
It is truely the case that God is working a new sense of self-assurance and maturity witin me. A self-assurance which is not based on my own achievement, but rather on reliance on Him.
September 16, 2002Yesterday evening, we had our regular prayer meeting in the church. I felt God was revealing some things to me. Especially, with the fact that I have been trying to fix some dark corners in my life all by myself. He showed me that I should lay those things in His hands. I felt like I have been in a desert for some time in the past weeks, wrestling with some deep doubts about the nature of consciousness triggered by an article that stated that consciousness is an illusion.
Then when I expressed these feelings and thoughts in a prayer, I was given a verse from the book of songs (2:13b,14). Now the book of songs can be read in three ways:
August 27, 2003Soon Mars will be closer to Earth than in many thousands of years, at least, if you do not believe in a literal interpretation of creation being done in six days a little more than six thousands years ago. Many months have passed, almost a year, since I wrote the above. And have I come any closer to my goal? Not really! At the moment, I see myself as a sceptic believer. Not a devoted believer. Not a sceptic scientist. Just the opposite of a devoted scientist.
August 30, 2004A year has past since the previous entry on this page. I have had some very deep struggles, and I think I have finally found peace with the possibility that there is no God and that there is nothing after we die. I have come to the conclusion that there is not much that I can know for sure, but also that there are things that I cannot explain (like the two questions) that still leave open the possibility for a God to exist, and thus do not rule out faith as pure nonsense. Yet, I do have problems with putting faith above science, as many (even educated) Christians do. I have come to the realization that much of ethics can be explained by natural principles without having to rely on a divine source.
October 10, 2006It is long ago that I wrote something. Although in the past years my desire to go to church has declined, I often experience comfort when going to church. I rarely join in the worshipping and sometimes I even don't follow the preaching. Often I spend time reading the gospel of Mark from an old Dutch translation, marking down verses that I think have to do with becoming a true disciple of Jesus.
February 17, 2007Last Sunday, I have been dancing (that is jumping) during the worship time of the church service. It is a long time ago that I have been dancing like this. I do not understand why I was dancing, but it must have been because of some strong emotions. I remember feeling very strong and masculine. It has now been three months that we know that Li-Xia has Alzheimer's Disease. At first, I felt quite terrible about it, but it seems now that I have started to live from day to day, not expecting anything. It seems that in a sense I have become more and more detached, while still being very much involved in everything and taking care for things. I consider this as a form of masculinity. Maybe some call it enlightment. But it is not every day like this. Sometimes, I feel utterly depressed about the smallest things. Last Saturday, while I was walking through a bookshop, I felt like being on the same level with God. Of course, presuming that God does exist, He is infinitely above me, and infinitely more powerful. And possibly, I am nothing more than a passing thought in His mind. Yet in the Bible it writes that God made us almost like Himself. I think it was more like those man of God, talked with God as being on the same level.
August 27, 2007Yesterday, I went to church with Annabel. My intention was to spend some time writing in my diary during the service, about my feeling of losing control of my life, how that feelings of depression keeps me from making decisions. We were a little late, and found some seats on the second row from the front. I did get my diary out, but for some reason I did not start writing. I suddenly felt like God allowed me to get into the situation in which I am right now, in order to let me return to Him now that nothing else is left. During our time of worship I started to join in with the singing and one of my favourite songs, which has made me jump before, was also sang. The preaching was about the question whether we are saved by faith (letter to the Romans) or by works (letter of James). The speaker suggested that both letters were written by and addressed to Jews, and that in the Jewish thinking there is no division between faith and works, as there is in the Greek way of thinking that we follow in the West. After the preaching he suggested that we would sing the one song that makes me jump again, and I very much enjoyed the song and could prevent myself from jumping a little. I felt very happy at that moment, like I was able to deal with all troubles. Afterwards, several people asked me how I was doing, and I answered that I was doing fine. I felt very much refreshed by this service, and also when I came home, I felt very calm.
But then I decided to check the internet a little, and I came across the article Ape-Human Split Moved Back By Millions Of Years. And for some reason, my skepticism returned.
October 25, 2007On Tuesday, October 16, I attended a meeting with the leaders of the teenage group of our church, because Annabel attends this group from the start of the year. According the teaching plan, the goal of for the teenage group is that the teenagers should be aware that they have to made a choice. The leaders told us that they would like to put the bar a little higher and that their goal is that the teenagers would make a choice for God. When I thought about this, I wondered whether this was wise. How much pressure would be put on them to make a choice, and to what extent that choice would be really theirs, I wondered. This made me think about my own choice, my own religious experience, which I had on May 24, 1979 when I was 17 years old. Did I really choose for God, or was I lead by my experience?
For some reason, this made me think about the book He : Understanding Masculine Psychology by Robert A. Johnson, which I read some years ago (from March 28 till April 6, 2005, to be precise). In the past week, I reread the book.
October 28, 2007This morning, I suddenly remembered another experience from my past, which happened on the evening of Monday February 23, 1981 (Dutch). That evening, I sat in the dark with a girl of my age, and experienced a heavenly peace while we embraced each ohter and had spoken about our deepest fears. Although at the moment I thought that this experience stood at the begin of a life long relationship, it later appeared to mark the decline of our relationship. I have never kissed this girl, but she is definitely my old love.
During the Sunday morning service, I thought very deep about these experiences and what they could have meant. I woke-up from my deep thoughts when Eddie Bakker from Christen Gemeinde Nordhorn started his preaching. I was touched by his message, because it dealt with some of the issues that I had been thinking about. It was a lot about what people do with their lives.
November 5, 2007Yesterday, someone preached from 1 Corinthians 14:1, where it says Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. This person also testified that one day he had been cured of a sinus infection after a friend prayed for him. And also that his wife was relieved from her back pain at a prayer meeting.
February 25, 2008Yesterday, the preaching was about the verse 1 Thessalonians 5:24 and how God is faithful. During the preaching it was remembered how Mozes at the end of his life (in Deuteronomy 32:4) proclaims that God is faithful. Now I realize that this statement is also a statement about the faithfulness of Moses. Moses did not turn his back on God, although God punished him by not allowing him to enter the promissed land, after Moses had sinned against God. I also had to think about the verse Habakkuk 3:17-18, which is also a statement of the faithfulness of people. This kind of faithfulness is of totally different order than the faithfulness of an infinite, everlasting, almighty God, especially if you realize that often these people even lack the direct evidence of God's faithfulness, because they are suffering intensely. One would even think that the only reason that they proclaim that God is faithful is because that thought is the only thing left as a comfort to them. It almost sounds like a proclaimation against all odds.
March 31, 2008After the service on February 24, one of the elders of the church that I attend, approached me with the question whether he and another elder could have a talk with me about an event that occured some months before. On one hand I could sympathize with the fact that they wanted to question me about this event, but on the hand I considered it as a purely private matter. I became greatly disturbed about this. The following day, I send the elder an email to ask what they were worried about. I could not put the matter aside and became very depressed about it. On Thursday, I stayed home and spend the morning writing an email in which I suggested that maybe it would be better if I would terminate my membership of the church. I explained how I had started to doubt the existance of God and how I had considered before to terminate my membership. I also gave some answers to the issue they wanted to talk about and concluded that my position might be regarded as somewhat deviant by many members of the church. (I also sent an email to some other people to inform them about my position and that I would no longer help out with certain church activities.) Some days later, I received an email from the elder to tell me that he was impressed by my email and that he would like to talk about it with me and this other elder. I replied that I was not ready to talk about it. About three weeks ago, I again send him an email with my original question. Although I stated that I was not expecting an immediate answer, I did not receive an answer so far. I guess that my question has been forgotten among more urgent matters.
The strange thing is that seems as if the past five weeks I have been thinking more about my (christian) convictions than in the past years. I also read through Arnon Grunberg's anthology of the bible. I am thinking about writing a commentary about this in Dutch.
May 18, 2008Last weekend, Annabel went to the largest Pentacost conference (organized by Opwekking) in the Netherlands. When she came home, she was very dissapointed that it was over. She had greatly enjoyed the seven services organized for teenagers. She felt very free to sing and worship God. She felt very difficult going back to her normal life of going to school. She asked herself why we had to live this kind of life and why God would not take us into heaven immediately. I told her that I thought it was because God wanted to teach us something. In the beginning of the week, I felt that she had become much softer, as if she really had been changed by the experience. She also said that John 3:16 is the most beautiful verse from the Bible. It seems that she has become a christian. I feel that I have not contributed much to this. I have never really talked about becoming a christian. I also have not told her about my personal doubts. But later in the week, she reacted as being annoyed again. She told me about some struggles she had with some of her friends in school. I think that in some way she realizes that her new found faith sets her apart from the other children in school.
This all made me think about my own faith. I get the impression that the division between my mind and my heart is becoming even more clear. In my mind I am a sceptic concluding that there is no ground for believing in a personal God, yet in my heart I sense a genuine desire to worship that God.
January 11, 2009Last Wednesday, Li-Xia and I attended a funeral of an old acquaintance. He and his wife attended our church in the past. They were one of those couples who everybody loves because they are always very enthousiastic and interested in everyone. (When we went to offered our condolences afterwards, she kept on saying that it was so sweet of us that we had come.) The church service, with the theme "My soul waits for the Lord" from Psalm 130, I thought a lot about my own position. Somehow, I felt that I did not fit in, on the otherhand I enjoyed the service.
January 20, 2009This morning, I dreamt about attending some other church. It was a rather small church with its own traditions. At one point some people were wearing robes similar which reminded me of an easter orthodox church. The last part of the dream was a scene where everybody had to renew their faith by bowing before kind of coffin and proclaiming their love for Jesus. I did not go forward. But when I thought about this (while this was during the dream or at the moment I remembered my dream, I don't know), I had to think about what I wrote not so long ago: "In case God would exist, I would be very happy, and my heart would leap with joy and with great joy I would subject myself to Him and praise and worship Him with my whole being."
February 15, 2009This morning, I went to church together with Li-Xia. The preaching was about Colossians 1:3-6 and the subject was hope. We also read Filipians 4:4-7. I suddenly realize how introvert the preaching is in our church. It is almost never about the things that are happening in our society. I barely every hear anything about the growth of islam in our country, or about the changes in the environment or the fact that we are running out of cheap fosile fuels. It seems like everything is focused on the future we have in heaven. I am no longer sure, that there is any life after death. Of course, I hope there is something, but I no longer depend on it. I cannot find peace in hoping on a life after this life. Somehow, I feel I have become stronger in the past years. I still do have my depressed moods, but these will just remain the rest of my life I guess. I no longer need a faith to feel peace. It is no longer something that I depend on. Or that I feel sad about that I lost my faith.
April 10, 2009Yesterday, when I biking to my office, I was listening to SlamFM and I heard a song, which contained some Gregorian chanting, that gave me goose bumps. Somehow it reminded me of some ecstatic experiences I had while worshipping God. I considered the idea that it would still be possible to worship God, or at least the idea of God, even if you would be very sceptic towards the existance of God.
Today, I discovered (with the use of Slamfan.nl) that it was the song Ameno by DJ Quicksilver I listen to. DJ Quicksilver is born in Turkey and lives in Germany. The singing is taken from the song Ameno by Era, a New Age music project. Although the song sounds like a Gregorian text, it is not, and it not even Christian or refering to God in any way. Read Ameno Lyrics for the text and its translation.
May 24, 2010Yesterday, on Pentacost Sunday, Li-Xia and I went to church, and it has been the first time in very long time (maybe two years) that I did enjoy the service. I even joined in with most of the singing, which is something that I haven't done for a long time. However, my 'philosophical' doubts about the existence of God, have remained, and I also did not receive some 'experience' about God. It was on Saturday, that I decided that I wanted to go to church.
I am sure that everything is related to an email that I wrote not so long ago to one of the elders, in which I stated that I have stopped visiting website displaying nudity and pornography. I stopped doing this some two months ago when I read some scientifical article somewhere (I don't know where I did) stating that watching pornography was related to depression. It turned out it was not so hard to stop. Most likely this is related to the fact that my libido has decreased in the past years, which is most likely the result of aging, but probably also related to the amout of stress I am experiencing in my life and the resulting depression. I am not sure if quiting did have an effect simply because there are so many other factors involved.
Viewing pornography was strongly related to the issue that I was confronted with on February 24, 2008 by one of the elders. The fact that this elder wanted to talk with me together with another elder, gave me the idea that I was involved in some serious sin and that I needed to be corrected. Although, I did not agree with this fully at the time (and I am not sure I agree at the moment), I no longer felt free to join the Lord's Supper based on 1 Cor. 11:27-29. But now that I stopped this habit, I feel free to join, and that is what I also wrote to the elder. The elder also wrote me that he did not consider my doubts as a reason not to join.
Today is also the day that it is 31 years ago that I had the conversion experience that caused me to become a Christian.
December 9, 2010Some weeks ago, I reconnected with an ex-girlfriend through facebook. At some point I was convinced that God had said to me that she was going to be my wife. But things did not go as smoothly as I had wished, because we communicated at a different level. I ended up hurting her in a very deep way and our relationship came to an end. She did forgive me and maybe this has helped her to deal with some issues from her past. These events also prompted me to be baptized by submersion a few months later. We tried to stay friends, but that too did not work out and after she got married, we lost contact. Over the years, I occasionally would think about her, and I made several attempts to find her through the internet, even mailed a card to a possible address, but to no prevail. When I found her facebook page, I was quite excited. For some days we exchanges some messages, nothing really deep or spirtual, just talking about our personal circumstances. But it did have an effect with respect to my faith, like some deep blockage was removed. Maybe my disappointment resulting from being mislead with respect to understanding God's will was running deeper than I thought. I did enjoy the last two church service that I attended. Does it mean that my agnostism has disappeared? No definitely not.
October 31, 2011Tomorrow, I will be fifty. It is a long time ago since I have attended church, although I have sufficient opportunities now that Li-Xia has been admitted in a nursing home. In the past months, I have slowly recovered from the depression that was the result of all the care that I had to provide to her. But there is no desire to attent church.
In the past year, I have come across a woman who to me appears to have some 'natural' enlightment. I find it difficult to judge her age. On one hand she looks young. On the other hand she acts very mature. She seems very much in balance with everything, never thrown off-guard, always friendly and living in the here and now, with a great dedication to her work. I expect that if I would tell her that she appears 'enlighted' that she will look at me puzzled, not understanding what I am talking about. Would she loose her 'enlightment' if I could explain it to her, I wondered?
February 17, 2012Recently, I heard someone speak on the subject "lose your life to save it". In Matthew 10:39, Luke 9:24, and Luke 17:33 Jesus speaks about that in order to save your life you have to lose it for His sake. I don't know whether I have lost my life for His sake, but I have the feeling that all the problems of the past years, I have lost more of my own life in order to take care for others. And although, I feel less drained than a year ago, much of my daily life is still determined by taking care for others. Later, I realized that the speaker had a rather 'easy' life in the sense that he had a stable marriage with a wife staying home and taking care for their children. As far as I know, they did not have any serious problems with their children, all being intelligent and having a high education. So far, he has been blessed with (what I would consider) a happy life. Although it is impossible to make a real judgements about the life of someone else, I still wonder whether the speaker knows (first hand) what it means to lose your life.
April 23, 2012This weekend, I had several moments during which I felt exceptional happy. I have come to the realization that maybe the only thing needed to become enlighted is to choose to be enlighted. I already had come to the conlusion that the only way to become happy is to be happy by choice. I think that many people have the misconception that their happiness is foremost determined by the circumstances they are in and are trying very hard to change the circumstances for the better. But the problem is that your circumstances will always change and that even if you are able to improve them, you will quickly get used to the improved circumstances. Maybe it is much easier to try to be happy despite the circumstances. I think this can be done by choice, by focusing your mind on what you do have, instead of thinking about what you do not have. It is the decision to experience the now, instead of thinking about the past (what you have lost) or dreaming about the future (what you still could get). I think this comes very close to what is generally understood as being enlighted.
But if free will is a mere illusion (as some believe for good reasons), than it is impossible to become enlighted by choice, but is it something that can only happen to you, if you are lucky to be born with the potential of becoming enlighted.
September 18, 2014Recently, I have been thinking that maybe the only enlightment there is the realization that there is no enlightment, no special state to be achieved. That there is no meaning to life, and maybe even that our conscientious is an evil tweak of evolution, which is the cause of our suffering. In a sense, this realization that life is utterly without meaning, has also helped to enjoy the now more, because there is no longer this urge to find meaning in life or to achieve something lasting in this world.
Today, I attended a funeral service of a young man from the church that I used to attend. The service started with some worship songs. I found myself singing along and sensed an urge to sing the songs at the top of my voice and jump along as I sometimes used to do. I was a little surprised by this, that I still could sing these worshiping songs with all of my heart, as it seems, and that it brought back some warm feelings from the past, almost if I was coming home from a long journee away from God. I found myself pondering the idea that maybe I had lost my faith because I had been angry with God. But then when I thought about it, I realized that I still had very strong doubts about the existence of God, and that although the ideas of the christian faith and the words of the bible sound very nice, they become bleak in the light of science and philosophy. Later during the day, I realized that I have managed quite well without faith in God, and that feel I have grown as a person, enjoying life more.
October 4, 2014Today, I finished reading The Conspiracy agains the Human Race and wrote a review about it.
December 24, 2014Today, I finished reading F**k it: The Ultimate Spiritual Way and wrote a review about it.
September 27, 2015About two weeks ago I finished reading Consciousness and the Brain by Stanislas Dehaene and now I continued reading Ik ben een vreemde lus (Dutch translation of I Am a Strange Loop) by Douglas Hofstadter, which I do not find a very great book. He is using too much words. I had always stood that the thought that consciousness is the result of the fact that the brain inside the skull constructs a model of reality, which include itselfs, causing a kind of recursive self reference. But in the Chapters I am reading now, it seems he thinks that the "I" is the result of continuous process of adapting itself. But that does not seem to explain how (or when) the 'I' came into being.
This morning, I watched The Workshop. This (promotional) documentary has a lot of nudity and although I probably would never join in such an activity, I do think that Paul Lowe makes some interesting statements. Afterwards, I also found Dying To Everything We Think We Know. A little funny that he quotes Jesus, but it seems he is interpretting the statements in his own philosophy. Somehow, I agree that the question "who am I?", is unanswerable, that you end up the "Hall of Mirrors" (as in The heretics of Dune), but I wonder if it is truely possible to escape thinking (through rebirth). It is undoubtable that the model we create in our mind about the outside world, is an illusion. But I am afraid that it is an inescaple illusion, except maybe by becoming insane.
January 30, 2016I am coming to the conclusion that we all are psychopaths in the sense that we are just animals pretending to be more than that. We are all the result of a long evolutionary process, the most succesful to stay alive through many centuries. Basically, we are only here to promote our genes, to make them reproduce. There is no such thing as unconditional love. We do not love others, we only love ourselves and those that are close to us with respect to shared genes. In all our relationships, both private and professional, we are always fighting to get a better position, to benefit more than the other party. But we are very good at hiding this fact, to pretend that we do love others. Yes, there is something like romantic love, but biology has tought us that it is a kind of madness during which our view on reality is distorted, such that we can bond with someone not close to us (with respect to shared genes) such that we can produced offspring. It seems as if we are constantly lying about these basic facts. We pretend to be nobel and have a good character, but this is only play. Experiments have proven that it is relatively easy to manipulate people to perform cruelty on others. I begin to doubt if humans truely do have a free will, that we only imagine that we do have a free will as part of the rationalization we continually perform to justify our actions in case we are being held accountable by others. Basically we are all the time lying to others and ourselves to establish and improve our position among our peers, while in reality we are just egoists who only considering our own interests. I am afraid we are not even able to escape from this kind of behaviour because it so deeply rooted in our beings, as result of the long process of evolution of which we are the result. Reality seems to be more grim than we think.
March 17, 2016Today, I finished reading Our Inner Ape and wrote a review about it.
April 25, 2016Shortly after what I wrote on January 30, I experienced an emotional 'breakdown', which lasted much longer than ever before. In fact, it might still be ongoing. I think it is a false idea that enlightment is about becoming happy, but that it more has to do with getting a better understanding of reality, which often is accomplish with a feeling of loss when we realize that a certain believe about reality (such as for example the believe in the eternal existance of a 'soul') is most likely false. I do not know if the 'breakdown' was triggered by the realisation, or that they both were caused by stress at I experienced at that time. I experience a kind of emotional lockdown and/or detachment, due to which I am not able to experience emotions with respect to certain aspects of my life. If I do try to approach those aspects, I experience an unresolvable complex of chaotic emotions and thoughts. Because it lasts already so long and because it is tied with the new insights, I am afraid it is going to be a lasting condition.
November 14, 2016While biking home from watching the movie Arrival, I realized that I should not take life as serious as I do when it has no ultimate meaning and purpose.
November 16, 2016This evening, I realized that I do have the ability to control emotions, just like I learned to suppress somatic reactions to stress.
February 6, 2017In the past months I have been trying to get information (through people) about how to live you life in the full awareness that life is meaningless and that 'consciousness' and 'free will' are an illusion (which strangely enough, sounds like a contradiction). For this reason, I got interested into buddhism. For that reason, I read Basic Teachings of the Buddha by Glenn Wallis, in which the author presents sixteen suttas in an original translation from Pali texts accompanied by an explaination and notes. With the second sutta the author explains that searching for answers to life's big questions might stop you from achieving buddhist enlightenment. Yet in some of the later suttas it becomes evident that Buddha did believe in reincarnation or at least something meaningful after death. Which conflicts with my personal view that very probably there is nothing meaningful after death. I also have problems with the 'religious' practices found with many forms of buddhism, even in some of the zen buddhism traditions that focus on mindfullness. I also have some personal issues with focussing on breathing, as it seems to cause irritation with me. In the past two weeks, I did discover that it is more effective for me to focus on relaxing and letting things go. I discovered this, when I noticed some (muscle) tension in my body.
February 26, 2017Two days ago, I understood why the song Dat ik je mis (Dutch for That I miss you) by Maaike Ouboter touches me so much. The performance, during a singer songwriter contest, made two of the jury members cry (the woman only after the song was finished) and the third seems also seems to come close to crying. The song is about missing someone and keeping their image in her mind. Maaike lost both her parents through her teenager years. She became an instant hit in the Netherlands. The song has not made me cry yet, but it still continues giving me gooshbumps once in a while. The song touches me (in a positive way) because I realized I had never missed someone that much. I did not feel sad at all when my father died and I also did not miss him very much. I am afraid that there are not many people that I will truly miss. Is this a sign that I am very depressed? I doubt it, because if so, the song really would not have touched me. I see it as a sign of a kind of loneliness. It almost seems as if there has been nobody who has met my emotional needs or at least that there has never been someone with whom I had a deep emotional connection, or that if I had such a connection, I was not on the receiving side. Maybe it due to the fact that I find it hard to have an emotional connection with someone or even that I find it hard to open up and receive emotional support from someone. There definitely are people with whom I have felt very much at home, being able to relax, but at the same time, it seems that I have been holding back something, not giving myself completely, not losing myself. There is also a positive side to this, because if you are not really missing people when they would die or be gone, it means that you are not attached to them. This also gives a sense of freedom, knowing that losing people will not turn you life upside down that much. Maybe that is also a reason why the song touches me.
This weekend, I also came to the realization, that although life is utterly useless and without meaning, it is still beter to choose to be happy than to be depressed. I have had a rather productive day, finishing some tasks that I have been procatinating about for many weeks.
March 19, 2017This evening, I enjoyed preparing dinner for myself very much, although it is the same 'boring' dish that I make almost every evening. I guess, it must be related to the fact that this morning I joined an active dynamic meditation. It is the first time that I did such a meditation, but I think, it is not going to be the last time. I lost my concentration several times through the first three phases, also feeling that they were a little to long for my (physical, emotional, and/or mental) stamina, but the fourth phases went very well. No big revelations here. I cannot describe well what I experienced, but it definitely made some change. I guess you have to be ready for this form of meditation to have it some effect. It is not the first time in my life, that I had some deep experience, mostly religious and romantic experiences, but this experience seems to be more about coming closer to myself, my core being, than giving me an elevated emotional state. Not sure how long it is going to last. I also have some idea that watching (already some weeks ago) Top 10 Mistakes Intelligent Men Make With Women and (more recent) How to Get Sexual Like a Man might have helped me to have this experience.
March 23, 2017In the last days, I have been experiencing a kind of stress in my body that I have not experienced for many years. Only this evening, while biking home, I realized that I have been using the experience of the active dynamic meditation to put some unrealistic demands on myself. This week, I applied the pomodoro technique at work. I tried it earlier this year, but failed applying it, but this week it went much better. As a result of this initial success, I (unconsciously) started to put higher demands on myself, as if I had to work harder now. Funny, how we impose ourselves all sorts of things, out of an inferiority feeling, a feeling of responsability and/or perfectionism.