As most of you already know, I have high functioning autism. In some ways, this is a blessing, and in others, a curse. I see the world in black and white. There is no grey. There is no maybe. There is no “kinda sorta”. Things are, or they are not one way or the other. Logic is my guiding principle. If it makes no common sense, and has no logic, it is stupid and should be given no further thought. For this very reason, I’m often viewed as an asshole. I don’t pad the truth. I don’t engage in socially pandering methodology. It is, after all, illogical to be offended by the truth. I don’t make the truth, it simply exists. To get upset because I reveal it, is ridiculous. I have very few “feelings” or “emotions”. I am either content, or malcontent. I don’t “feel” love the way others seem to. I feel a close connection or bond for familial reasons, and defend what is mine, but it isn’t a deep seated emotion. It’s just a logical reaction of protecting what I have worked for. I have often wished that I could feel, mainly because the only real feeling I ever have, whether I am content or malcontent, is emptiness. I feel nothing. I am cognizant of that lack of feeling, and it makes me desire feeling.
With that being said, there is one area (yes only one) of my life and cognitive reasoning that troubles me, and that I DO consider to be a grey area. That area, is religion. There are a number of reasons why. Mainly, the idea that if there is a creation, there must be a creator. But the fact is that other than the creation itself, no sign of the creator exists. When I see a painting, I can meet the creator, or visit his/her grave. It’s tangible. But the idea of an unseen and unknown divinity being the creator of things that are seen and are known is difficult to grasp with any form of logic. Add to that all of the whackos that claim to have received a personal revelation from the Divine, and formed their own religions which to this day constantly go to war with one another and kill in the name of their god. And then look at all of the ancient inspired scriptures from the Torah, the Vedas,the Upanashads, the Bhagavad Ghita, the Sutras, the Tao Te Ching, the remnants of the Sumerian and Akkadian tablets, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, and more recently the Bible and the Quran. So many “truths” given to the hand of man by the “divine”. And yet, the adherents make great claims of belief, but don’t live by the words they claim to hold above all.
Of greatest importance however; of all of the reasons I can come up with, is that I have been legally dead multiple times, and each time, there was nothing. There was no tunnel with light. There were no family members greeting me. There was no angelic music. There was no demon trying to pull me down. There were no visions of heaven or of hell. There was just nothing. I ceased to exist. Until I was revived, my personhood was gone. My hopes, dreams, aspirations, my consciousness… all of it was completely gone. This was the absolute biggest blow to any faith I may have had. The faith that existed only because my father hammered it into my over and over as a child. The faith that was only going through the motions to begin with. The faith that had no roots because I cannot believe anything that isn’t based in logic – anything that isn’t tangible – anything that cannot be proven. To me, the experience was, if anything; proof that there was nothing after death whatsoever. As a result, I lost my faith. This isn’t to say that I became a bad person and “sinned” in every way imaginable. In fact, I didn’t change at all. I simply ceased praying and attending religious services.
Over the years I have drifted back and forth, unable to really find myself or faith or belief at all. I have prayed at great length asking for feeling. For something, anything that would allow my faith to increase. I have prayed for belief. I have prayed for trust. I have received none of those things. So I pray, I attend religious services. To what end, I don’t know. Maybe just to be a good example to my children. Perhaps because it’s the only time I am around other people. Perhaps because a part of me that is unknown to my mind believes, and takes me. What makes it worse, is that they tell me that just going through the actions is worthless. Without belief, and without love for G-d etc. I am just a phony that has no chance of redemption. But for me, actions are all I have. I simply cannot feel, I cannot love something that I have no knowledge of existing. It’s bad enough that I cannot feel, not even for my closest family. But add to that a requirement to LOVE an unknown divinity in order to merit the world to come, and I suppose I’m as good as lost. I’ve heard a lot of people say “I wish I didn’t feel” after they break up with their significant others… well I’m here to tell you, being without feeling isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
In fact, being without feeling is EXHAUSTING! To even be able to interact effectively with other humans, you need those feelings. I have to take my social cues from the actions, gestures and expressions of others. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I don’t. Pretending to be interested in stories… pretending to find things humorous and faking laughs, making sure your expression is appropriate for the topic at hand, maintaining eye contact… it leaves me so drained that I can only handle an hour or two of any social interaction. I don’t know why G-d (assuming there is one) chose to make me like this, but I refuse to believe that someone referred to as “Compassionate and Gracious, Slow to anger and Abundant in Kindness and Truth, Preserver of kindness for thousands of generations, Forgiver of iniquity, willful sin, and error, and Who Cleanses” could hold it against me for not being able to do what He created me not to be able to do. This thought, and this thought alone is the only reason that I continue to pray and attend religious services.