I recently came across http://www.bravenewtraveler.com , and the editor/creator had a post that really made me think… It was titled “20 Questions for Every Spiritual Seeker”, and since I put myself in that category, I was intrigued to participate in answering the questions that originally came from the documentary “One”. The editor encouraged readers and participants to answer these questions and post them on a blog or other public site, so that he and other viewers might read each others’ responses. This is what I am doing now. Feel free to copy and repaste your own answers and thoughts!

20 Questions For Every Spiritual Seeker

1. Why is there poverty and suffering in the world?

— Poverty and suffering exist because of ignorance, selfishness, greed, and evil. If people fostered their curiosity and came out of their laziness, ignorance would be eradicated; if said people allowed compassion to overrule idleness and self-interest, selfishness would give way to generosity; if those that hoard would share, debt and interest-free, greed would turn to abundance; and if we all recognized ourselves in others, evil would be quenched by kindness.

2. What is the relationship between science and religion?

— Science vs. Religion is a battle that only persists because of the mind-control religion somehow still perpetuates. Religions made up personalized stories to explain natural wonders and discoveries, like galaxies, oceans, canyons, and fossils. Science is simply inquisitive minds exploring more than theory and myth.

3. Why are so many people depressed?

— Depression only exists if the depressed allows it to. Not that it is easy to be rid of, but simple. Depression is a symptom of a lack of different perspective. I answer this delicately, for I have been in the wells of depression myself, but I eventually realized that I had the power to overcome it all along. It was simply a matter of perspective. It takes time to nurture and strengthen, but perspective is everything. I think many people are still depressed because they have not discovered this self-liberation, and would rather wallow in their minds and emotions, or passively wait for someone or something to fix them.

4. What are we all so afraid of?

— I believe we are ultimately afraid of death. But less ultimately, we are afraid of not being enough; not being good enough, talented enough, loved enough, accepted enough, successful enough. Some of us are afraid of being too much, of being too brilliant, of being too “special”. For then the world will berate you for not being at their level of stupidity, and they will accuse you of thinking too highly of yourself. They will try their best to crush you into submission and into insecurity. Back to death, we are afraid of not having enough time to rectify our shortcomings, or prove ourselves to those we need validation from, whether it’s one’s parents, sibling, mate, competitor, friend, or our own selves. We are afraid of the afterlife, we are afraid that the religious are right, that there is a Heaven and Hell. We are afraid there is nothing.

5. When is war justifiable?

— The more I learn about war, the less I find I understand. Going to war is never justifiable. Self-defense, however, I believe can be a necessary and instinctive reaction. On a personal level–someone beating me, for example–I would retaliate just to get them to stop harming me. On a global level, hatred and greed are the only reasons I can deduce on why human beings slaughter each other. It’s all about money, anyway, and if not money, than another form of greed. Power.

6. How would God want us to respond to aggression and terrorism?

— I don’t believe in a God that created us and is watching us live out our free will in its many destructive forms, choosing at his whim to grant some prayers and not others. I believe if there is a supernatural, that it resides within all of us already, and that we don’t have to wait for a so-called divine being to enlighten us or guide us. We have only to choose to enlighten ourselves, and in doing that, aggression and terrorism wouldn’t exist.

7. How does one obtain true peace?

— True peace comes from the acceptance of what is. Very simple, although it can be very difficult, but when achieved it is the most delightful place. The obstructions to peace are dissatisfaction, desperation, stubbornness, intolerance, pride, and fear. Consciously choose to release the hold these have on you, and you will find peace.

8. What does it mean to live in the present moment?

— I find that I am not living in the present moment when I am controlled by fear. Surely there is a time and place to make at-hand decisions with the future in mind… Career changes, marriage proposals, etc. But do not plan these things out of fear. Again, I find that simple, nonjudgmental acceptance of what is, now, makes living in the present moment delightful. To not worry, or project our fear-based visions into the future. To not dwell in the past, replaying what was, drowning in nostalgia so that we miss out on the memories to be made today.

9. What is our greatest distraction?

— Perhaps cliche, but efficiently summed up, our greatest distraction comes in the form of the classic Seven Deadly Sins. Lust–how many of us have been distracted by this? Gluttony and greed. Sloth, which is ignorance, laziness, or the passive aggressive contribution to destruction. Wrath, which can stem from Envy. And then there’s Pride. These all can distract us from what really matters in life, and that in itself is its own question to be answered individually.

10. Is current religion serving its purpose?

— If its purpose is to sustain control, narrow-mindedness, fear, guilt, intolerance, and murder, then yes, it is serving its purpose. If its purpose is to promote kindness, compassion, peace, inspiration, ingenuity, love, and happiness, I see it failing. If individuals have these qualities, I do not believe religion is what instilled them, for there are many that share these that are not religious at all. The negative things seem to be very religion-driven throughout history, whether you consider the Holocaust of Jews or the shame that drives a person to self-mutilation. This is my observation.

11. What happens to you after you die?

— I think we’re all in for a big surprise when we die. But who knows if we’ll be conscious to even form that thought when it happens?

12. Describe heaven and how to get there.

— I gave up on the idea of Heaven long ago. I didn’t believe in the idea of Hell, so I couldn’t believe in the idea of Heaven. How could a God send one’s soul to a place to burn for eternity if they didn’t accept Jesus as their Savior, when so many people will never even get the chance to hear Jesus’ name? It didn’t seem fair or logical, so when I was about nine, I gave up on the notion of Heaven and Hell altogether.

13. What is the meaning of life?

— If you discovered the meaning of life, would it make you any happier? You’d still be here. It doesn’t matter, it is irrelevant. Make the most of what is now, without stressing over the reasons, as if knowing would pacify you.

14. Describe God.

— The word “God” causes a very allergic reaction within my being. “God” means something different to everyone–my grandparents’ God doesn’t listen to worship music that has drums. My parents’ God made people bark like dogs and speak in tongues. My friend’s God believes gay people are going to hell, while my neighbor’s God loves straight, gay, and transgendered alike. Therefore, I believe there is no “God”; it’s only an idea we create in our minds to give us a sense of rationale, an excuse for the way we live our lives and treat others.

15. What is the greatest quality humans possess?

— Intelligence is our most valuable quality. Humans possess the capacity to change, to decide, to create, to love, to dream. This all stems from our intelligence.

16. What is it that prevents people from living to their full potential?

— Fear.

17. Nonverbally, by motion or gesture only, act out what you believe to be the current condition of the world.

— Well, I’d hold up both my hands and steadily bring them down into fists. Then I would slowly raise a pinky.

18. What is your one wish for the world?

— I wish for each person to find acceptance of self, which would lead to the acceptance of others; after acceptance comes the ability to love. I wish for everyone to discover peace within themselves, for a global awakening of consciousness.

19. What is wisdom and how do we gain it?

— Wisdom is the ability to recognize one’s own motives; to have the honesty to sort the healthy ones from the unhealthy; and the courage to act accordingly. We gain wisdom through humility, through the quieting of the mind. Only when we take the time and conscious effort to watch what is going on within ourselves, to see all our hidden motivations and fears and indignant justifications, will we be able to let it all go and simply be. Wisdom is being.

20. Are we all one?

— I like to think so…