Obviously I’ve been thinking much about the lives and teachings of the great prophets, “gods”, and avatars of the great world religions. And, I have come to some conclusions. As children we are all natural scientists. We stumble onto a discovery, and then we investigate. We try different permutations, analyze the results, and create a new hypothesis. We wire our brain actively, and seek out that which is most true.

When I was University of Hawaii Rainbow Warrior mascot, I would go up into the stands and be with the people– shaking hands or flexing my fake muscles for the kids. The kids would always follow me around, I would let them punch me in the stomach (I had rock hard abs then…and a lot of padding from the suit) and I would play with them. The little kids were fascinated, the older kids…the more “mature” kids would often go out of their way to point out to me that they weren’t fooled. “Hey Warrior, you’re not real. You don’t fool me. That’s a suit. It’s fake. Those aren’t your real muscles.”

Of course the adults knew it wasn’t real, but didn’t mind, it was the fun of it. It seems that that is the way it is with religion. As a child intellectually, you hear these grand claims of mystic powers and life after death. You hear of miracles performed and power over death. Then, we reach a platitude of religious puberty, where we go out of our way to realize and vocalize the acknowledgment that “We aren’t fooled!” And we aren’t. We can use our intellectual powers to poke holes in every religion, belief system, and faith. But, no one tells you that afterwards comes sadness. You don’t have anything to believe in anymore.

When I was 8, the kids at school ridiculed me for still believing in Santa Claus. That night I went home and asked my mom. She came clean and told me that there wasn’t a Santa. I was FURIOUS!!! I screamed at her, “YOU LIED TO ME!!!” Then I asked about the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. I had found out the truth, but I was happier believing the lie.

I went through a pubescence, a 15 year time where I grew up, and exposed all the “childhood” beliefs to the light. I found most of them lacking. But, in the end, I was the poorer. Was there no hero? Where have you gone Joe Dimaggio? I was lost…and sad. Was my own personal happiness, my own personal pleasure gratification all that remained. Was it just about me getting my rocks off? The big house, the nice cars, the trophy wife or husband, the big name gallery representation?

And scary thought…what if I didn’t attain these things? Was life therefore meaningless? Or was I a failure???

So too with religion: Jesus, Buddha, Vishnu, Mohammad, etc. don’t matter. They are the child’s need for a figure that stands for a thing, just as Superman stands for “Truth, Justice, and the American Way”. Like the children I encountered as the mascot and their adult chaperones, a metamorphosis takes place as we attain a broader view. I now propagate the Santa lie as well. Santa when you believe in him, is the belief in something good. It is the belief that giving is better than receiving. It is the belief that we should love and be nice to someone despite what they do for us. No one ever gives Santa a thing, except wish lists and milk and cookies. It isn’t the personification of Santa that is important. It is what Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy represent. They represent selfless giving and unconditional love.

Even the bad kids get coal or sticks. šŸ™‚

I have examined the way Scaughdt has chosen. The way of the Peace Pilgrim. Jesus. Buddha. Etc. It seems that people want their Santa Clauses though. They build shrines and votives, why does every church have a cross in it? Why do all Buddhists pray to graven images of Buddha? I ask you, find me a single verse in the bible where Jesus says, “Worship Me.” Buddha was about the middle road, neither asceticism nor indulgence. All that remains is one concept.

I will follow my own “religion”. I am not following the paths laid out by Jesus, the Peace Pilgrim, Buddha, Scaughdt or Santa Claus. My religion is this:

It all begins with gratitude. Be kind…Help…Love.