Two Creeds for One Good Life

Editor’s Note: When I asked Mason Lane to write a personal “Credo,” he sent me two! His creed, written years ago, is about his panentheism – how he feels and what he strives for. The “Credo” focuses on humanism – how to act in the world. Both are good models for living and I thank him for sharing them with us.  Coming next on The Rational Doubt Blog — Chris Highland’s creed.

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By Mason Lane

CREED

I am the Universe; the Universe is me. We are one. There is no separation, no dualism. There are no deities. I find the greatest peace and centeredness in this understanding.

Universe 2 hubble

I do my best to treat others as I’d like to be treated. It is the wise, prudent, and intelligent way to live.

I strive to understand and align myself with the natural laws of the Universe. Not to do so is to attract pain and disaster, and there is already enough coming to each of us, without inviting more. Science, with all its wonders, risks and dangers, is our only legitimate lens of reality, both macro and micro.

I strive to avoid ignorance, greed, and anger. Three great sources of self-destruction. Live, laugh, love is where I prefer to hang out.

The Universe is prone to cruelty, unfairness, chaos, and the abhorrent. I will not emulate that example.

I find magic in peace, love, quietness, music, Nature, and all the arts.

I agree with Ekhart Tolle’s saying, “You are the Universe expressing itself as a human for a little while.” We are never, annihilated, just transformed into the next expression.

“CREDO”

My statement and elaboration of the beliefs and aims that guide my daily actions.

PARITY: Treat others as I want to be treated. This is my fundamental behavior worldview and morality core, but this alone without specificity is a recipe for disaster. It would be like telling someone to drive safely, and calling it a Driver Education Course. So here are the vital components of the whole, my Ten Commandments

  1. MUTUAL RESPECT: Mutual respect is required in all of my relationships, of any kind.
  2. SYNERGY: Agreeable synergy must be the central component in all of my relationships.
  3. FORGIVENESS: Forgiveness can be warranted and reasonably given, or be a decidedly inane concept. The belief that a person can be forgiven of heinous crimes like rape, murder, horrendous violence, or embezzlement of peoples’ life savings is a despicable precept. Even more disgusting is the cruel religious idea that a rape/murder victim could end up in some fantasy Heaven happily together with her perpetrator, via “forgiveness”.
  4. VICTIMIZATION: I will not victimize others nor be a victim. I will not ignore red warning flags by entertaining a Pollyanna mindset, wearing rose colored glasses, or adopting an absurd ancient edict like “Turn the other cheek,” which only serves to foster masochism and enable tyrants and bullies.
  5. VITALITY: I will live a life of continuing curiosity, utilizing the scientific method and critical thinking, offering and accepting love, requiring mutual responsibility and earned trust, practicing perseverance, simplicity, and avoidance of toxic people, as long as I’m physically and mentally able. My opinions are always subject to evidentiary information. My opinions will be tested in discussion and debate.
  6. CHARITY: I will engage in charitable actions and not engage in worthless yet popular human clichés such as, “My heart goes out to you or I’ll pray for you”.
  7. REVENGE: Revenge is always an option in reserve, but must be used as judiciously and carefully as forgiveness. Justice warranted and served is justice, regardless the source.
  8. BELIEVING: I will not believe anything without verifiable, credible, and substantiated evidence. Blind faith belief is the indoctrinated default employed by the intellectually lethargic, and I’ll not be part of that crowd.
  9. SIGNIFICANT OTHER/FRIENDSHIPS/FAMILY: My significant other love, family, and the close friendships I develop and cultivate are the best mirrors of the person that I am.
  10. EUTHANASIA: I will do my best to maintain physical and mental health and I also possess the unalienable right to terminate my life if it becomes unalterably physically or mentally untenable.

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Mason LaneBio: Mason Lane: As a credulous child, I was raised Christian fundamentalist Baptist. I later became a glory-shouting Pentecostal and was ordained by the Christian Faith Church Pentecostal in Mishawaka Indiana. I ceased believing in the irrational and supernatural at age 30, thanks primarily to reading the “bible”, and thinking simultaneously. At the time of my de-supernaturalizing, I was General Manager of WHME-FM radio station in South Bend, Indiana, a Christian radio station and Pastor of Christian Faith Church in Mishawaka, Indiana. I resigned both positions and moved to Phoenix, Arizona where I became dean of students at DeVry University.

I’m still a person of faith. My faith is now in Science, Nature, Love, Friends, Family, Music, Humor, Art, US Constitution, the 5,000 year old Golden Rule, and Separation of Religion and State.

>>>>>By NASA, ESA, H. Teplitz and M. Rafelski (IPAC/Caltech), A. Koekemoer (STScI), R. Windhorst (Arizona State University), and Z. Levay (STScI) – http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2014/27/image/a/ (image link), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33189266

 

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  • http://www.chighland.com/ Chris Highland

    Wow, Mason, I’m glad I read beyond the first lines. I thought I was reading Desiderata. . .or the Dhammapada! You are the Universe. Hmm. No, I get it, I think.
    I like much of what you say. Who could argue against ethical “beliefs” that are fleshed out so “believing” becomes irrelevant. Quite a story you have, friend!

    • mason

      Chris, thanks for reading further! Yep, you get it … you’re it. :)

  • See Noevo

    “I am the Universe; the Universe is me. We are one. There is no separation, no dualism…
    I strive to understand and align myself with the natural laws of the Universe.”

    Why would you have to strive to understand and align yourself with yourself?
    ……
    “The Universe is prone to cruelty, unfairness, chaos, and the abhorrent. I will not emulate that example.”

    Then you are prone to cruelty, unfairness, chaos, and the abhorrent.
    Just be yourself, the thing that is cruel, unfair, chaotic, and abhorrent.

    BTW, what does the Universe think is cruel, unfair, chaotic, and abhorrent?

    • mason

      See Noevo, Thanks for the challenging questions:

      “Why would you have to strive to understand and align yourself with yourself?”

      The human body has up to 170 trillion cells (est), human and non-human. There is the whole and each cell is an entity. Life is a constant struggle for the whole and each entity. When the alignment fails the whole is dispersed and recycled. Alignment, balance, homeostasis, are all critical to maintaining life. I still love life so I strive to align. Surely that striving will come to it’s conclusion one day. https://www.quora.com/How-many-cells-are-there-in-the-human-body#

      “Then you are prone to cruelty, unfairness, chaos, and the abhorrent.”

      Yes, all we humans can be. That’s why a creed can be helpful to effect the natural potential in favor of what is considered the good/moral, and away from the evil/immoral, as understood within human constructs; if a person cares about such morality. The Universe has no moral constructs and I’m the Universe but not the whole, any more than a mass of hydrogen atoms are the whole Universe of hydrogen atoms.

      “BTW, what does the Universe think is cruel, unfair, chaotic, and abhorrent?”

      That is my thought. I cannot say with any certainty what or if the Universe “thinks”, just how it appears to me and others to act and function. Personally, I don’t think the Universe thinks as a whole; “thinking” is the manifestation of the Universe’s conscious sentient creations. The only questions I know the Universe answers are those posed by nuclear physicists with their Supercollider and other scientific instruments.

      I’m a manifestation of the Universe made entirely of the material Universe. This resonates with me both in an intuitive and scientific sense. We are in fact star dust, the Universe.

      http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/01/150128-big-bang-universe-supernova-astrophysics-health-space-ngbooktalk/

      • See Noevo

        “The human body has up to 170 trillion cells (est), human and non-human.”

        Then, don’t you mean the human/non-human body?

        Which is the human part of the human/non-human body?
        ………
        “There is the whole and each cell is an entity. Life is a constant struggle for the whole and each entity.”

        But that sounds dualistic, and in your creedo there is not supposed to be any dualism. There is no whole vs part, no whole entity vs cell of the entity. Each part and each cell is the universe. The cell and the universe are one.
        ………….
        “That’s why a creed can be helpful to effect the natural potential in favor of what is considered the good/moral, and away from the evil/immoral, as understood within human constructs; if a person cares about such morality. The Universe has no moral constructs…”

        Oy vey.

        Next.
        ……………..
        “and I’m the Universe but not the whole…”

        Then what you said is not true, namely “I am the Universe; the Universe is me. We are one.”
        ………
        “I cannot say with any certainty what or if the Universe “thinks”…”

        How could you not, given that you and the Universe are one?

        • Mark Rutledge

          reading this exchange reminds me of a similar issue I try to articulate about my own sense of “what is.” My shorthand phrase yesterday about how I see us humans was: “we are sinners and stardust.” Needs more fleshing out, but these issues are important.

        • mason

          I’m getting the sense my Creed and Creedo aren’t resonating with/for you. Oy vey, Tsvey kluge kenen nit shtimen.

  • Mark Rutledge

    Mason I really enjoyed reading your two statements. I think we could be good friends. The part of me that resonates to astrophysics (via Neal DeGrasse Tyson) also resonated with the way you see your identity with the universe. I have no basic quarrels with anything you wrote except a minor quibble or two here and there but that’s probably a matter of the weakness of words to convey experience. One thing I learned from they way you articulated your credo– yours was more personal than mine–you focused more on how you live while mine was more focused (though not exclusively) on “belief.” And ultimately I think that how we live is more important than what we believe intellectually. I was moved by the way you integrated your evolving beliefs with the way you live in the world and with your personal journey. If I write a more extended statement sometime I’ll keep your approach in mind. One thought lingers: I wonder if we are both not kind of barefoot mystics?

    • mason

      Mark, Thanks for the read and glad you enjoyed. I hereby acknowledge we are potentially good friends, and the fact you included me in your resonation thought that included one of my heroes Neal Tyson, makes me feel we might become BFF. :)

      Here in Florida, barefoot, with a close eye on the storm even though we left low land Naples and moved to 167 ft. elevation Gainesville.

      • ElizabetB.

        Trying to emulate #6, I will make that donation to the Red Cross — but it’s hard not to natter that I do hope you’ll all be safe!!!

      • Linda_LaScola

        Stay safe and let us know. The trajectory for Hurricane Irma doesn’t look promising at the moment.

  • carolyntclark

    Mason, I’m admiring your gift of introspection, your acquired wisdom and your ability for concise presentation. I share and have found post-theist peace in many of the same sentiments .
    Isn’t unencumbered rationale wonderful !

    • mason

      Most definitely wonderful, and no pesky imaginary beings constantly messing with our brain calibration and function.

  • Objective Judgment

    “FORGIVENESS: Forgiveness can be warranted and reasonably given, or be a decidedly inane concept. The belief that a person can be forgiven of heinous crimes like rape, murder, horrendous violence, or embezzlement of peoples’ life savings is a despicable precept. Even more disgusting is the cruel religious idea that a rape/murder victim could end up in some fantasy Heaven happily together with her perpetrator, via “forgiveness”.”

    There are many levels of forgiveness but only one term, it’s one of many inadequacies in our language. People do terrible things, and these are always their responsibility. However, the thing that caused them to do those things are often not, or not all, their fault. People can be brainwashed, indoctrinated, compelled, mislead or just plain mistaken. People can be traumatised and desensitised. People can be desperate, lost in self-hate, and unable to control their anger. Much of therapy, of which I have long experience, is about showing people the difference between taking responsibility for their actions and feeling guilt for things they had no real control over, taking to much responsibility. People can recover from all of these things and become more akin to the person they truly are. The difference can be remarkable, people who have terrible things walk and live truly good lives – it’s almost certain that you know some of them well, perhaps even love them for the person they now are. Those people, even if they have committed heinous crimes like rape, murder, horrendous violence, or embezzlement of peoples’ life savings, should be forgiven in the sense that their true part in their actions should be properly recognised, although they should always be held responsible. That is not a despicable precept, it is what is fair and just, and to refuse to do so is itself an evil.

    This is obviously a deeply personal issue for you, but its one that I think should be resolved. Your refusal to contemplate forgiveness at any level (although perhaps in practice your credo is not applied as dogmatically as the words indicate), especially making it dependent upon the specific crime committed, is not a strength but a flaw. Ultimately by applying such a rigid standard to others, you risk not only yourself committing a fresh wrong, but also compromising your ability to understand, address and forgive yourself for your own flawed actions, weaknesses and mistakes.

    • mason

      “Your refusal to contemplate forgiveness at any level (although perhaps in practice your credo is not applied as dogmatically as the words indicate),”

      Glad you picked up on this. :) (but then you choose to ignore it)

      “Those people, even if they have committed heinous crimes like rape, murder, horrendous violence, or embezzlement of peoples’ life savings, should be forgiven in the sense that their true part in their actions should be properly recognized, although they should always be held responsible. That is not a despicable precept, it is what is fair and just, and to refuse to do so is itself an evil.”

      We disagree on this point. Don’t you think there are rapists, premeditated murderers etc. who have the idea of playing the “forgiveness” card implanted in their mind via religion before they commence with their heinous acts?

      “This is obviously a deeply personal issue for you, but its one that I think should be resolved.”

      If you can’t post without reverting to personal assaults and absurd accusations then you lack the maturity to be posting on this site. But this is a minor transgression of mutually respectfully decorum, so I’ll forgive you, … one time only. :)

      I do not think my standard is rigid at all, maybe too liberal, whereas I can see your standard as a carte blanche for human predators and a heartless cruel insult to the tragic victims.

    • mason
    • Michael Neville

      Those people, even if they have committed heinous crimes like rape, murder, horrendous violence, or embezzlement of peoples’ life savings, should be forgiven in the sense that their true part in their actions should be properly recognised, although they should always be held responsible. That is not a despicable precept, it is what is fair and just, and to refuse to do so is itself an evil.

      There is a difference between recognizing that someone has been victimized in some way and forgiving them. I understand forgiveness as a pardon or absolution of the perpetrator by the victim. Some years ago I was accused of a specific act of misconduct which I hadn’t done and which the accuser knew I hadn’t done This accusation caused me a great deal of difficulty at work (I came close to losing my job) before I was able to show that I was innocent of the accusation. I know who the accuser was, I know why she did it, and I know that while she was “counseled” no other action was taken against her. She has never apologized or attempted to make amends to me. I recognize what she did to me but I have not forgiven her nor am I likely to, even if she asks for forgiveness.

      There are times when forgiveness is not appropriate. One of those times is when forgiveness is demanded by a third party.