An old friend was killed in a motorcycle accident in my hometown. This guy was one of the best. He was so genuine, so caring, such a gentleman, and I can actually feel a void where he once was even though I haven’t seen him in at least two years. I have studied Buddhism in the past, and while I’m not what I would call a Buddhist, per se, I find certain comfort in knowing this guy had bundles of good Karma to burn in the next life. When someone you care about dies, it’s never easy, but trusting that they have better days ahead because they lived such a good life can make your own transition from life “with” to life “without” a little gentler. It’s better, at least, than crying uncontrollably and asking the universe to explain its stupid randomness, never to hear a response.
I’ve struggled in the past with religion, faith and God, but I’ve found a balance of my own design that works for me despite being singularly mine. J was Catholic all his life until his Mother died six years ago. I watched as his faith became something loathsome and he transitioned to what can only be described as anti-theism. His anger has naturally softened, but he continues to reject the church, which is fine with me because I’m an atheist through and through. My parents both left their respective churches when they were young and then basically left God and religion out of my life as I grew up. I was curious about God because I had many friends who went to church twice a week and it was never mentioned in my house except as a prayer before supper at Thanksgiving & Christmas.
As a teenager the suggestion of there being no God was presented to me by my brother, who’d already decided he didn’t believe, and the boy I fell in love with at fourteen who was a recovering Mormon. Most of my friends had some sort of religious background and generally believed in God, so I was on my own to figure out what I believed. I never quite got there with God, never quite bought the whole thing, but I was particularly disturbed by the hatred people justified through their religions. I just love people, all people, and I don’t understand hatred or oppression for any reason, let alone because of religion which “preaches” love one another. So that sealed the deal for me and I’ve rejected all religion ever since. As I said, I’ve studied Buddhism and lean toward that philosophy of life, but it’s not a religion; it doesn’t dictate how one should live, but merely explains how one’s actions impact the world around them and creates a butterfly effect that echoes into their own future. Do good, get good; do bad, get bad. It’s cause and effect, just like science, and I’m a science person.
I don’t believe my friend is in some paradise, but rather reaping in his next life what he sewed while I knew him. That gives me comfort when I think of other friends & loved ones who have died and when I think about the lovely man who died on Monday. It’s not fair and it never will be, but now some other lucky people get to enjoy his kindness & beauty and that’s okay. Painful, but okay.