Brad Warner – Questioning what is sacred

Nothing is sacred. Doubt – in everything – is absolutely essential. Everything, no matter how great, how fundamental, how beautiful or important it is, must be questioned.

It’s only when people believe that their beliefs are above questioning, that their beliefs alone are beyond all doubt, that they can be as truly horrible as we all know they can be. Belief is the force behind every evil mankind has ever done. You can’t find one truly evil act in human history that was not based on belief – and the stronger their belief, the more evil human beings can be.

Here’s one of my beliefs: Everything is sacred. Every blade of grass, every cockroach, every speck of dust, every flower, every pool of mud outside a graffiti-splattered warehouse is God. Everything is a worthy object of worship. If you can’t bow down before that putrefying roadkill on I-76, you have no business worshiping leatherbound tomes and marble icons surrounded by stained glass.

And here’s one more: Everything is profane. “Saving the planet” is a waste of time and preserving the environment is a waste of energy. Flower stink and birdsong is irritating noise.

On the other hand, nothing is sacred and nothing is profane. Not even your sorry ass. If we hold anything sacred above anything else – ever – we’re riding along in the fastlane to hell. And by anything, I mean anything – our family, our friends, our country, our God. We cannot hold any of that stuff any more sacred than anything else we encounter in our lives or we’re doomed. I’m not just going for dramatic elocution here. The act of regarding anything at all as more worthy of respect than anything else is the first step down the short and slippery path to the utter annihilation of all mankind.

And what happens if we follow that dangerous path to the end? We’ve had numerous hints that ought to give us a clue. They linger darkly on in our collective memories: the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, The Final Solution, “9-11”. We might even be able to rattle off the dates of these awful events – but the lesson, we haven’t yet absorbed. And until we really learn it, kids will keep getting new dates to memorize for history class.

When you hold something sacred, you try to hold that thing apart from the rest of the universe. But this really can’t be done. Nothing can be separated from everything else. Red is only red because it’s not green or yellow or blue. Heavy metal is heavy because it’s not polka. Nothing in the universe has any inherent existence apart from everything else. Good is only good when contrasted with evil. You are only you because you’re not everyone else. But this kind of separateness isn’t really how the universe works.

You cannot possibly honor God if you can’t honor every last one of God’s manifestations. Killing someone in the name of God is ridiculous. If we do that, we are killing God and killing truth.

Brad Warner – Hardcore Zen: Punk rock, monster movies & the truth about reality