A couple years ago, I realized that the pearls of wit and/or wisdom that occasionally fall from my lips were being wasted on swine. I decided that since no one else was writing them down for the benefit of posterity, I would have to so do. Eventually, I expect they will be compiled by my biographers into a handy, pocket-sized volume. The sub-heading of this blog, “The pun is always intended” is one. Others include:
“I never made up anything that wasn’t true.”
“The measure of a man’s maturity is the length to which he will go to avoid the company of women.”
“Religion is the greatest human invention.”
I want to elaborate on that last one.
First and foremost, I do not mean that there are no spirits or gods. Those metaphysical realities are certainly real, in a mysterious way that can’t be explained or understood, but which can be felt and experienced. The Spirits/Gods/Daevas are transcendent entities because they transcend the ability of finite, temporal beings to understand, speak of, even think of. Any and all words in any and all languages are human inventions, formed with the context of the human mind, bound as it is by time and space, and therefore incapable of expressing anything beyond time and space which is in any way intelligible to the human mind.
We can use words like “infinite” and “eternal”, but we cannot really grasp their meanings. Go ahead and try. Try to imagine the meaning of “infinity” and what you’ll get is a vast, open plane under an enormous clear sky, or something like that, which is not what infinity is. “Eternity” is even more misunderstood. Most of us imagine “eternity” as referring to a really, really, really, really, really, really, really long time – the amount of time our souls are going to burn in Hell if we pick our noses on Sunday or something. Trying to wrap your head around transcendence is like trying to put the Gobi Desert into a five-pound potato sack - failure is assured and there’s a possibility of ripping the sack.
And yet, we want to do it, which is fine. My daughter enjoys sitting in sandboxes, putting sand in her shoe until it’s filled and then more and then more and then dumping it out and overfilling it again. Certainly, the vain pursuit of understanding those Mysteries which can never be understood is a less harmful hobby than some others and may even have some positive effect, unless it degenerates into philosophy, in which case one tends to sit around, thumb in ass, coming up with ridiculous bullshitteries like Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox, which is actually as good an example of the futility of trying to understand the Spirits as any. You can’t ever get there. Shakespeare said something someplace about a man’s reach exceeding his grasp “or what’s a Heaven for?” or words to that effect or something. Anyway, we want to delve into these matters and we need some kind of method for doing so, even if it is flawed and ultimately destined to not quite make it and that’s what religion is: a way of referring to that which cannot be referred to. Religion is a human attempt to do that which is, by definition, impossible.
Mistakes have been made, sure. This Espresso Shaman will never make any arguments justifying the Inquisition, Crusades, or the zeal with which Europeans burned each other for a couple centuries (cf. H.R. Trevor-Roper’s The European Witch-Craze of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries and Other Essays, a rollicking good time for those whose sense of humor is Bible black). Humans make mistakes, a fact well covered by religion. Nobody’s perfect, except God – and most religions don’t even make that claim.
There have been very few truly original inventions. Even the wheel wasn’t actually invented – someone saw a rock roll and realized the potential. All the fabulous contraptions that make our lives easier (or not) are really just new applications and combinations of pre-existing applications and contraptions. Religion certainly was not invented all at once. The archaeological record places the earliest evidence of religious activity – deliberate burials with grave gear, indicating a belief in some sort of post-death life – in Europe, 45,000 years or so B.C. Surely, there were thoughts, activities and shenanigans before that of which no evidence survives. At that point, religion was most likely of the animistic persuasion, possibly with some shamans roaming around shaking rattles at sick people. Organized religion, with professional priests, didn’t happen until roughly 5,000 B.C., in conjunction with the rise of agricultural and cities. The oldest of the world’s living religions, Hinduism, dates from about that same time.
The cool thing is that religion is still being created, as the Creation is still being created, but it’s us who are doing the creating. People make religion what it is.
A few years before BDSR, I had a one-man band, the name of which shall remain nameless. I was working with found sounds mostly, recording espresso machines, rain on the roof of the car, doors slamming. I set up a mic one time while my girlfriend was in the shower. Then I’d put random radio dialing over all that. Anyway, I did several tapes, one of which was titled Horrible Dreamer. The idea was, if “life is but a dream”, why is it such a fucking awful one? Why, since we are all co-creating the world we live in, are we co-creating such a miserable shitstorm? How is it possible that the majority of the human race believes that war, famine, genocide and rape are acceptable? What the fuck? I don’t have any copies of that tape, or any tapes I made under that stupid name. Meh.
We are co-creating the world. Everybody has the same amount of power, but unfortunately, most don’t utilize it. We are making the world what it is. We could make it something else if we wanted to.
Now is as good a time as any for me to disclose my devious plot. I intend to make the world something else. I intend to spread my own cockamamie ideas about religion as far and wide as possible, using any and all means at my disposal, for as many incarnations as it takes, and to radically alter the world. I want more attractive architecture, cleaner cars, renewable energy, honorable combats (no pacifist, I), free coffee for shamans, enlightenment for all and the universal recognition that we are all aspects of the one divine and incomprehensible Mystery that is in everything, is everything and is more than everything. The Big Drum In The Sky Religion is just one part of the plan. There are other things going on which I won’t mention at this point (Hint: the water reservoirs of certain port cities in the U.S. and Canada have been loaded with entheogens.) I have chosen to use religion to change the world because religion has the power to do it.
Some would say science has the power to change the world as well, but science has no morality and is just as likely to give us atomic bombs as Ipods, neither of which I have much use for. Also, scientists tend to be a rather drab lot. They wear lab coats, for Christ’s sake. Tibetan monks wear saffron robes and some of the zaniest hats imaginable. The Pope has a pretty funny hat, too, and a lovely dress. Shamans are some snazzy dressers, as well, if I do say so, meself.
And religion has much more entertaining stories. That’s part of the plan, too: I refer to the really cool stories (a.k.a. myths) in music and art to lure people in. Once people start reading the stories, they’re hooked. At least, that’s what happened to me. The myths got me and then I was transformed. If it can happen to me, it can happen to everybody.
Thing is, it doesn’t make sense. Well, it does make sense, but not in an intellectual way. It makes sense in an experiential way. Remember Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox? Diogenes solved it by getting up and walking out of the room. His solution wasn’t a solution according to the “rules” of Greek philosophy, because he didn’t refute Zeno’s argument using logic and a lot of wordy-words and blah blah bullshit, but what are rules for? Diogenes demonstrated by his actions that Zeno was wrong. Religion makes sense in an active way, a feeling way, a doing way. I may never write about Zeno again, but don’t be surprised if I hit on Diogenes a few more times.
Religion was invented by humans. They were inspired by the Myster(y/ies), yes, but humans did it. Religion was – and is – great, in all senses of the word. Religion can be even greater. Humans, inspired humans, can make it so.
Other great quotes by me:
“Good enough is good enough – that’s why they call it that.”
“Fifty percent of doing a good job is being able to fix what you fucked up.”
“The word ‘cynicism’ comes from a Greek word that means ‘dog-like’, because dogs are capable of learning from experience.”
“If I wasn’t from Virginia, I wouldn’t be from anyplace else.”
“People will eat shit if it has enough sugar.”
Brown Hat the Espresso Shaman
The pun is always intended.