I want an avowed atheist in the White House. When time comes to push that button, I want whoever's making the decision to understand that once it's pushed, it's over. Finito. They're not gonna have lunch with Jesus. Won't be deflowering 72 virgins on the great shag carpet of eternity, or reincarnated as a cow. I want someone making that decision who believes life on this Earth isn't just a dress rehearsal for something better -- but the only shot we get.
A wide and vague impression exists that so-called Eastern religion is more contemplative, innocuous, and humane than the proselytizing monotheisms of the West. Don't believe a word of this: try asking the children of Indochina who were dumped by their parents for inherited deformities that were attributed to sins in a previous 'life.
When we can't understand the science behind something in this world, we make up mythological entities that we can relate to. We personify the forces of nature that mystify us, using our boundless imaginations to comfort us and make us feel like we have some control over these things that are much bigger than we are.
Everything is connected, like a delicate web. Ever growing, ever changing. New silvery strands come together every day, and once the strand is formed, no matter what superficial circumstances may sometimes keep you apart, it is never broken. You will meet again, perhaps in another lifetime. The connection is unbreakable, lying dormant in your subconscious.
What we call life...is the combination of the Five Aggregates, a combination of physical and mental energies. These are constantly changing; they do not remain the same for two consecutive moments. Every moment they are born and they die. 'When the Aggregates arise, decay and die, O bhikkhu, every moment you are born, decay, and die.' This, even dow during this life time, every moment we are born and die, but we continue. If we can understand that in this life we can continue without a permanent, unchanging substance like Self or Soul, why can't we understand that those forces themselves can continue without a Self or a Soul behind them after the non-functioning of the body?
When we die the only judge we have is ourselves. We see our life played out in a hologram of knowledge that our earth souls cannot understand. We see all at once how each word and each action affected the lives of the people around us. How a moment of kindness can change a life and a sharp word can affect someone for ever. Words and actions are far more powerful than we realise. It's the pebble-in-the-lake effect-even the tiniest pebble thrown into water will create ripples right across the lake. We don't need to be punished because, when we have viewed the consequences of our actions on all the souls we have met, we have remorse enough. I believe there is no external judge. We must face ourselves.
With riddles as black as coals, and answers as invisible as our past, I can only depend upon the crest of the rolling wave I now traversed; a romance worshiped only by the dreamer in us all, a psithurism of trust making its way through the years of our ascension to one day climb above the kaleidoscopic canopy of this mortal coil.
It comes as no surprise to find [Norman] Mailer embracing [in the book ] a form of Manicheanism, pitting the forces of light and darkness against each other in a permanent stand-off, with humanity as the battlefield. (When asked if Jesus is part of this battle, he responds rather loftily that he thinks it is a distinct possibility.) But it is at points like this that he talks as if all the late-night undergraduate talk sessions on the question of theism had become rolled into one. 'How can we not face up to the fact that if God is All-Powerful, He cannot be All-Good. Or She cannot be All-Good.'Mailer says that questions such as this have bedevilled 'theologians', whereas it would be more accurate to say that such questions, posed by philosophers, have attempted to put theologians out of business. A long exchange on the probability of reincarnation (known to Mailer sometimes as karmic reassignment) manages to fall slightly below the level of those undergraduate talk sessions. The Manichean stand-off leads Mailer, in closing, to speculate on what God might desire politically and to say: 'In different times, the heavens may have been partial to monarchy, to communism, and certainly the Lord was interested in democracy, in capitalism. (As was the Devil!)'I think it was at this point that I decided I would rather remember Mailer as the author of and .
What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: 'This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more' ... Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: 'You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.