Then I found an old comedy sketch by George Carlin on religion:
You can read the transcript here too. 🙂 Apologies for the bad words in the video.
When I think about all this, I get really tired of religion, even Buddhism. Professor Yao in his book points out that in Chinese culture there’s a difference between religion (dogma, superstition, etc) and the teachings of the sages.
I re-read the ending of Roger Zelazny’s science-fiction novel Isle of the Dead too. I still think about this quote often:
Even if they had been real gods, what did it matter? What was it to me? Here I was still, right where I was born a thousand or so years before, in the middle of the human condition—namely, rubbish and pain. If the gods were real, their only relationship with us was to use us to play their games. Screw them all. “That includes you too, Shimbo,” I said. “Don’t ever come to me again.” Why the hell should I look for order when there wasn’t any? Or if there was, it was an order that did not include me. I washed my hands in a puddle that had formed nearby. It felt good on my burnt finger. The water was real. So were the earth, air and fire. And that was all I cared to believe in. Let it go with the basics. Don’t get cute and sophisticated. Basics are things you can feel and buy.
But then the main character, Francis Sandow, thought about his past career creating planets:
I had hurled something into the pit. Where there had been darkness, I had hung my worlds. They were my answer. When I finally walked that Valley [of Death], they were would remain after me. Whatever the Bay claimed, I had made some replacements, to thumb my nose at it. I had done something, and I know how to do more.
So, a part of me still believes that the path of the sages that Professor Yao describes is still true, and that rather than just giving up, I should focus on the here and now:
Also, remember, Joe Pesci loves you! ;p