Sunday, April 23, 2017

my faith

A friend recently asked me to explain my own spiritual/religious beliefs.  My response:

I suppose I'm pretty spiritual too.  I certainly feel energy as trust, or fear or any number of underlying feelings that we have, which includes phenomena like remote viewing which the CIA experimented with, later the NSA, on subjects including survivors of intergenerational ritual abuse (I don't know whether you've heard about my years of bringing survivors and advocates to my classes, and close involvement with survivor activists, where early on I wandered into an active satanic site with a human grave marker, sacrificed animal, and all kinds of stuff two blocks from home).  I often find myself having thoughts that others, particularly my wife, often express.  So...for starters, esp is acceptable to me.
  My father was a non-practicing Jew from Minnesota, my mother a WASP from Louisiana.  I was sent to Protestant Sunday schools by my mom to "learn about the Bible," and I knew believed (as you can see below accepted for myself) that "God is love," until I reported to my mom that my Sunday school teacher, a Batelle scientist, had drawn a picture of the Nautilus nuclear sub and told us it was God's work (my mom was a pacifist; I think married my dad during WWII in part because he was 4-F for nearsightedness, my mom did all the driving, my dad rode a bike or took a cab to work).  In college (U of Michigan) I joined a de facto Jewish fraternity, where it was made clear by brothers during initiation and from Jewish sorority girls who wouldn't date me that since my mom was Gentile, "my parents wouldn't approve of my dating you," while of course I didn't get a bid from my grandfather and uncle's Sigma Chi because my name is Jewish.  So that kind of took care of my formal religiosity (and Jill fell out with the Catholic church in Poland after first communion).
   The summer after my first year of college, I got a scholarship to get my start on becoming a Chinese language and literature major.  (I knew I wanted to become a lawyer like Clarence Darrow, and law schools didn't care what I majored in.  In fact, my major got me into Harvard Law School, where Jerome Cohen had moved from Berkeley after becoming the first US law prof to specialize in Chinese Communist law; and where my third year of law school was paid by an NDFL scholarship, which in turn got me my legal internship in the State Dept.'s legal advisor's office for East Asian Affairs.   And I recall thinking at the time that Laodze's Daodejing was my first spiritual guide.  I also embrace Buddhism, which as the Dalai Lama puts it compassion becomes the highest value across formal religions.
   As I turned toward Asian Studies, I had the feeling that the spirit of love I embraced came from a Chinese general.  Decades later, I discovered that Japanese WWII supreme commander Isoroku Yamamoto had been shot down, later found lying strapped to his aircraft seat holding his samurai sword, nine months to the day before I was born, April 18, 1944.  I also accept that the spirits of people with whom I have lived, such as my parents, live on in me, as I expect to see my will to love informed and strengthened in those who live after me, and sometimes procreate too.
  As to life after death for myself, who knows whether it will take any form in which "I" become aware of this life of mine, or disappear?  As to earthly immortality, I concluded long ago as I sang in nursing homes that any of us is lucky to live latter years aware that we have made a significant difference for the better in at least one other person's life.  I know I have that, and also that I have been blessed to live many interesting, in many ways rich and sometimes reckless lives in one lifetime, which I expect to be doing once more in a year when Jill and I move to Durango.  I have experienced so much, I have enjoyed so much love and respect and appreciation: I am so lucky simply to have lived at all, and yes, I can even imagine enjoying another lifetime of consciousness even if that part of me turns out to be unaware of our history together.  Call me an agnostic believer:-)  l&p hal

1 comment:

    Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at
    April 28, 2017

    I’ve just discovered a mistake: Isoroku Yamamoto died on April 18, 1943, not 1944. So much for the thought that I was born with his spirit in me, which arose long after I had finished East Asian studies. It doesn’t affect my belief that our minds and feelings are connected with one another by materially undetectable energy flows, from interpersonal levels (as in feelings of trust or distrust) to collective potentially global levels, nor the living presence of now deceased people whose lives have significantly mine, memories included. And as I wrote on “my faith,” I am agnostic about any sense of myself that will linger, see or influence others after I die. And the belief that I somehow had Admiral Yamamoto’s spirit in me doesn’t change where my living spirit carries me…still learning what I don’t know as much as what I think I do. Love and peace, hal