Around 3 years ago I officially declared myself an atheist.
A year after that happened I realized life is very ugly and cruel, and that I am just not excited about anything.
Suddenly I was without faith and Sam Harris presented good enough arguments to convince me that free will doesn’t exist. (Even though I still have no fucking idea what that actually means.)
How on Earth can I find meaning and purpose now that I am not living in an illusion?
Honestly, this is something a lot of atheists experience at one point or another but eventually, we all find an answer that gives us what we need.
Me, I am at peace with the fact that I will die and I need not do anything beforehand.
It’s not that I believed in heaven and hell before (I was a New Age follower, not a religious person), but I did have some kind of a checklist that I had to complete before I died.
First, I had to have faith that God was guiding me at all times and trust that he will do what is best for me. Second, I had to complete/learn a handful of lessons I chose for myself before I was born. Third, I believed I will not die until I fulfilled my purpose.
I was never afraid of being dead, but I did enjoy reading about the afterlife and what will happen when this is over (Deepak Chopra wrote a book on this topic and I was crazy about it). It was more of a bonus to this life as we were not taught, unlike religious people, that it’s the afterlife that actually matters.
So when I declared myself an atheist I had to find something to make me feel needed. Sure, I didn’t just throw what I was doing in the trash can and lost all my interests, but what was the point of trying to accomplish anything now?
I will die one day, I don’t know when that will be and nothing that I do will ever feel as satisfying than knowing the creator of all things is proud of me. Everything I did when I had faith was for him and him only.
It took tons of books and hours of meditation to come to the realization that there is beauty in impermanence.
So what if I will die and everything I will ever do will be forgotten? Should I do good things because they make me and others feel good, or because someone in the sky is checking if I am good enough for him to show himself to me?
Why should I have a grand purpose and why should life have only one meaning? What if we can find different meanings in different situations? What if our purpose is to not have a purpose but to experience life in a way that will satisfy us, not someone else?
Yes, having faith that God is taking care of everything and all the suffering has a meaning makes us feel better, but this is not the real world. I would love it if God existed but I am just not convinced. And there are way too many Gods in the first place, can we just agree on one for a start??
The real world is darker and scarier but also fascinating and wonderful.
I am filled with awe when I look at the stars and think about which one of them has a planet with life spinning around it. I am filled with awe when I think about evolution and where we came from.
Do you know what’s funny, though? That even though I believed in the big man for quite a few years I never felt like that when I thought of him. I never felt like God being real was an amazing thing.
I like to believe that it was that way because I was brought up in a household where no one talked about religion or God at all. I also never doubted evolution and was quite fond of learning about different facts that science taught us.
But to go back to impermanence.
Joseph Goldstein wrote a wonderful book titled Mindfulness, which is a book about Buddhism but I look at it more from the philosophical perspective than a religious one.
In the book, he shares a passage from a book The Life of Shabkar and it is everything I needed to see the beauty in impermanence.
After three years of trying to find something to hold on to, something that will make my life more meaningful and purposeful, I found what I was looking for in non-attachment.
Before, I was striving to be someone God would love and be proud of, and now I am living life without being attached to anyone.
This is my life and whatever I do is a choice I made because I wanted to (don’t start with free will), not because I would disappoint someone else if I failed at accomplishing it (even though he was supposedly guiding me but it is all really confusing when you look from the outside).
I am not afraid of dying, because the fact that I don’t have to follow someone’s orders and I don’t have to achieve grand things to be a good person, gives me the freedom to just exist.
I know this is probably not what you expected me to say, it is a really simple answer, but it is the fucking truth!
I don’t have to be perfect and positive all the time (read why I had to be here) and I don’t have to feel ashamed of experiencing emotions like pain and anger.
I just have to be myself and live in the present because that’s where I am.
Does that make sense? I know I often ask this but I truly want to know if what I write makes sense as I have a tendency to jump from one topic to another and then never making a full circle.
Anyway, let’s take our glasses off and stop looking at the world through the God lense.