California Catholic Daily reporter, Mary Rose, visits a California college each week and asks students about God, good, and evil. Interview with Alan, who is studying mechanical engineering, in the Caroline Page Garden at Monterey Peninsula College on January 28, 2020.
Do you consider yourself religious?
Alan: Yes and no. Religion is being and also not being. Christianity or Buddhism or any of that stuff is only representations of life and let’s say the Tao is life. Everything, even information, can be transmuted into other ideas. I’m actually a Catholic. I was baptized as a Catholic. I never had faith. Well, my parents never forced the faith onto me. I went to a Christian high school so I could figure that stuff out and get that kind of idea. I used to be in a chapel team playing guitar. I kind of walked away from that.
Are you just looking into the Tao or do you believe it?
Alan: Let’s say I believe that. I guess I’m in tune with the world then. Kind of like you sitting here, the world, by me searching for it, is giving me answers. This is a really recent thing, everything is just clicking basically.
Do you believe there’s objective right and wrong?
Alan: I believe that right and wrong is just whatever is morally acceptable in society. It doesn’t matter. It’s all about your opinion and how you would like it.
What about a school shooting? Do you think it’s OK because it’s the shooter’s opinion?
Alan: No, I don’t think so. But maybe sometimes things have to happen, like the Bubonic plague. Yeah, that is very bad. Hundreds and millions of people died. But because of that, the Westerners have a better immune system. And when they went to colonize America, when they brought their stronger immune system, they sadly killed off all the Native Americans because they didn’t have as strong an immune system. But now we are the children or the byproducts of that, and because of that, now we have a better immune system. We are more educated and maybe more colonized because of it. So maybe in that current present, all that pain and suffering isn’t really worth it. But in the larger picture, it might be.
Are you putting natural disasters and diseases on the same plane with deliberately manmade destruction?
Alan: I think I think bacteria has a consciousness. I think that all animals have consciousness and they might be in tune with something else, something greater than you and me, maybe than what our representations of God are.
How did you come to search for the Tao?
Alan: My dad’s an electrician and so he goes to random people’s houses to put in lights or light fixtures. And there’s this one guy, named Greg, and I started talking to him and he’s been leading me in this path. This morning, I actually talked to him. I have class and then I go there. I just came back.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
Alan: Yeah, I guess I do. Compound interest of time. Let’s say you got this interview. You can post that online and now let’s say I get shot. I’m dead. But you still got all my memories and all my thoughts. And technically, whatever is left, that is my: after my life. It’s what everyone else thinks about you, or whatever your thoughts and ideas were. I could also say, let’s say mushrooms and fungus, because that’s been on Earth for 250 million years. What if that is the afterlife and we just turn back into fungus and that is just consciousness? I’m just putting hypotheticals because that’s the only thing I can really do while talking.
Do you have a theory about where the world came from?
Alan: I guess it just came into existence or it’s not even here. It’s like a duality. What we search for, we find. Like my thoughts are just coming out piece by piece. So now is gone. Now is gone. So there’s just these little parts that make a whole, see?
Does that then mean that material things don’t exist?
Alan: They do exist because they exist through compound time. Just like how this phone 10 years ago was a flip phone. And then 10 years before that was a phone that was connected to the wall. The compound interest of time makes objects. I guess. I don’t know. But it’s a really interesting concept. Or all objects are just light producing things.
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It seems Alan believes in pantheism and reincarnation somewhat. One of his misconceptions is that European diseases killed off all native Americans. They are still here, but many or most are intermixed with the other races now.
I do agree with him on one thing. I believe there is such a thing as genetical recall — where some of the memories of our ancestors are in our genes. I do not think it goes back very far, though.
Genetic recall is absurd. Please explain how a person’s memory can be genetically encoded in a gamete, preserved in the production of a zygote, and then develop into a “memory” in the neurons of progeny.
I do not know whether it is genetic or spiritual but there is a phenomenon where something in you opens up during travel to a place where your ancestors lived or doing an activity that they did and you feel an opening in your soul that connects you with those who came before.
Please at least give your title, so people can determine if you have any expertise in this field at all.
One question: why are there some people who have certain talents when they have not even been taught them such as some musical geniuses? I know they are gifts from God, but what causes them.? Please explain there causes?
Correction: “their causes”.
Alan, as a baptized Catholic, you may have a spiritual “wokeness” that the person teaching you Taoism may not have. When you were baptized, the Supreme Being took up residence in your soul in a special way. You became a member of the Body of Christ. Christ is the Word of God. “In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” John 1:1 You are a part of Him as a drop of water is a part of the ocean. One of the best spiritual exercises is to sit calmly for 5 minutes each day (longer if you wish) having no agenda except to sit with God in your baptized soul.
In my experience, it is rare to find someone who is at a spiritual level in Christianity as your teacher in Toaism may be. But they are out there. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring you into contact with someone. Christianity and Catholicism is a deeply spiritual religion but not all of its adherents are deeply spiritual. Many have been caught up in materialism, consumerism and a quest for political power.
The best place to find spiritual answers is the place that you began. Catholic priests love it when someone is interested in deeper spiritual things rather than just “Do I have to go to Mass on Sunday if I went to a wedding on Saturday?” “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7
“A Prayer to the Holy Spirit” by Cardinal Mercier might be a good place for Alan to start, or even a litany to the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost).
I never knew it, but one of the gods of the Tao is a dragon. I always thought the Tao was similar to Confucian thought, but it seems it is not.
I take that back as some Confucians do use the dragon as a godlike symbol.
There is a story about a Chinese woman who kills an evil dragon. It was a children’s book, but I cannot find the story on line now, so evidently the dragon is not always a good creature in Chinese lore.
I found a Chinese story called “Little Red and the Dragon” where the younger son ends up saving his older sister who had been kidnapped by a dragon, though. It is not the same story that was in the book I had. I think a lot of these stories are remembrances of the supposed flying creatures such as pterodactyls. As the son of Michael O’ Brien the author said when he first saw a reconstruction of a dinosaur, “He eat me.”