Religious differences – understanding built on inquiry



You can approach a difference of opinion on religious matters, especially with your family or the family of your significant other, in one of two ways: apologetically or unapologetically. If you are apologetic, you come across as weak, as someone who actually knows what is right but who still chooses not to live according to these principles and convictions (perhaps because you are weak and spineless). In the case of an obdurate attitude you easily come across as arrogant and even as looking down on someone because you know what that person believes, but for you it is not “that simple”.


I have a strong suspicion that I sometimes create the impression that I know things that other people do not know; that I have secret knowledge that will pull the carpet from under another person’s feet; that I do not share things with people because I feel sorry for them, and because I do not want to be the cause of their existential angst.

The truth is that where many people’s beliefs and general worldview consist of statements, mine consist of a few statements, and many more questions.

Many people will respond to this by saying that it must be awful to walk around with so many questions to which you do not have answers. (And in their own minds they think how awful it would be for them to live with so much uncertainty.)

My response is that my mind is much more at ease with questions and honest inquiry and with saying, “I don’t know” than with statements about which I am uncertain but which I feel I need to defend for the sake of membership to a specific group or community. I also know by now that I do not need answers to all my questions to be able to function on a daily basis, or to be who I want to be, or to contribute constructively to the community in whose midst I live out my existence, or to pursue good values.

My understanding of life is sustainable, because it is built on critical inquiry rather than on statements that one is expected to simply accept but that have changed over the centuries. A steady understanding, rather than one built on sand now blowing this way and tomorrow or in 500 years blowing in a completely different direction.


Social appearances are always, to a greater or lesser extent, dishonest.


from the light of circles where the swords are dancing/a fresh desert again break forth … first two lines of a poem that appeared in my notebook in a dream.

The rest of the dream: It was evening, [N.] was at a coffee shop, and I was at a deep fried or noodle stall. When I went back to the coffee shop, Dan and Mireille [two people I met in Korea], and two other people were sitting with [N.] who I then took by the hand to “save” her.

She then told me Dan introduced himself as “Name is Jim, surname Morrison.”

One of the other people then came over to where we were waiting for our fried dumplings and chatted with us in Afrikaans. The guy responded with, “No, I don’t think so” when I said maybe the cave where he had been in Africa was the “Skull Cave”. He said he did not really follow the “Phantom” in the Sunday papers, did I?