Learning about Myths

I have to admit that I’ve been hearing for a long time about the importance of sacred myths, but honestly, it never did tickle my fancy.  My explanation to that is that having been a left-brained person all my life, I always wanted accuracy, exact results, formulas.

I was born with an ability to do calculus, physics, computer programming, and the like. In addition, I grew up a fundamentalist Christian. What the latter did to me was create the illusion that there were perfect explanations for everything. The Bible was truth and inerrant. If something seemed untrue or illogical, an explanation was found, because the Bible was perfect.

Then, when for years I leaned toward atheism, I attacked the literal interpretation of the Bible. I still do. And because I’d been hurt so much by the said literal interpretation, I was adamantly against using the Bible any other way.

Yesterday, I was sitting at a metaphysics class, when I had a revelation of sorts. I realized that myths don’t have to be perfect to be helpful. Shakespeare’s plays are neither perfect nor literally true. But there is wisdom to be gained by reading his plays. If we were to examine all the myths and fiction ever created, we will find inconsistencies, errors, and even less than praiseworthy lessons.

The beauty of myths is that we can use them to help  ourselves. Because we are not claiming that they’re divinely inspired, or literally true, or that if we don’t believe them we’ll go to hell, we can learn from the good and throw away the rest.

When it comes to the divine or the unexplained, we really don’t know. At least I don’t know. I have the feeling that there is something out there bigger than me–the universe. But I have no idea what it looks like, where it came from, or where it’s going. I have no concrete explanations.

I know, however, that I can feel something when I experience nature. I know that certain music stirs feelings in me. I know that miraculous healing does happen (much less often than some claim). I know that psychic phenomena is real (some accounts are anyway).

But more than anything, I know that I feel good when I get in touch with my inner self. I know that I love to be on my own feeling the reality of me, of the awesome human being I am. And  myths help me get in touch with that mystic part of me that I love to experience.

So, sitting at that class yesterday– prompted by nothing the speaker said–I made a realization and a decision: myths like the Bible have glimpses of truth. The book is highly imperfect. It was written by people, and it represents ancient thought. But some parts of it point to that mysticism that being human is all about.

Am I going to read the Bible everyday from now on and make it “My Daily Bread?” Unlikely. There is way too much good material out there. I wouldn’t want to focus on one book and miss out on the rest. All I’m saying is that I will no longer wince and reach out for the closest exit when someone cites a Bible verse. Instead, I will learn whatever is worth and will go on with my life.

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My sister’s dream

I think in my heart of hearts I have always been a spiritualist. For the life of me, I have never been able to put behind me certain events that I’ve observed throughout my life. None of those episodes had anything to do with the Bible or with experiences in the Christian church, mind you. In church I mostly experienced the pettiness that some humans can show.

Psychic phenomena is one of those things that intrigues me. While I do realize that most psychics are fake, especially the public figures, there are instances of the phenomenon that I can’t sweep under the rug. I just can’t. I’m convinced that we are all connected in some fashion, to each other, to nature, and to all living creatures.

It was raining hard one night, when my sister, sleeping in a bed next to mine, woke up screaming at about 1 am. She yelled, “Don’t, don’t. Do not step on the ground. It’s full of mud. There is mud everywhere.”

Being more asleep than awake, I returned to my slumber. In the morning, when I woke her up to get ready for school, she said she was ill.

“I have a fever. I don’t feel well at all.”

“But you were OK last night. Do you have a cold?”

“No, it started when I had that nightmare in the middle of the night.”

Then my brother said that school was cancelled.

“Why?”

“Apparently there was a mudslide in the west side, at about 1 am. Hundreds of people are dead, buried in mud.”

My sister and I looked at each other. But we didn’t talk about it. It was too scary for our teenage minds to process. Her fever had gone away by midday. She was fine.

In my homeland, the poor often live on the hillsides, in cardboard made little “houses,” with very little protection from the elements. It is hard to forget an event that took so many lives in an instant.