Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 5.36.22 PMFor the few I’ve told of spiritual experience, I am often queried about the grand design of the universe, even of the maker himself and the spiritual design of life.

From a space perspective, is it likely that extraterrestrial intelligences or multidimensional beings traveled across interstellar space to leave a crop circle in Jim Bob’s cornfield in nowhere Kansas? Why haven’t these interstellar life forms landed in downtown New York? I have no clue. Maybe these distant travelers wanted to save the city a huge traffic jam.

The more plausible explanation is that traveling the universe is not for the faint of heart. The real universe you see at night is 250 times bigger than Hubble Telescope’s visual capability, spanning some 14.0 billion parsecs (about 45.7 billion light years). Some stars you’ll see tonight require about 45 billion light years to get here. Thus, what you see tonight is actually a snapshot of life an infinity long ago.

For someone to say I was personally created by an all-loving God seems hard to understand, for certainly, I am not one whose life seems all that valuable. Evolutionist Neil deGrasse Tyson indicated that any notions of creationism and intelligent design ignore a fundamental and important problem—the fact that the universe, and most of the things in it, would never have been designed. No engineer would design things this way. As Tyson explains:

“Star formation is completely inefficient. Most places in the universe will kill life instantly—instantly! People say “Oh, the forces of nature are just right for life.” Excuse me. Just look at the volume of the universe where you can’t live. You will die instantly. That is not what I call the Garden of Eden, alright. … We’re on a collision course with the Andromeda galaxy—gone is this beautiful spiral that we have. And of course we’re on a one-way, expanding universe as we wind down to oblivion, as the temperature of the universe approaches absolute zero.”

The inner solar system is a shooting gallery. Multi-cellular life evolved over 3.5 billion years! Empirically, that design strategy sucks. 99% of all life that ever lived is now extinct. The earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, and one of Darwin’s favorites, lightning strikes has taken its toll. “None of this,” Tyson explains, “is any sign that there is a benevolent anything out there.”

If you somehow can explain that, then consider all the natural diseases, including leukemia, hemophilia, sickle cell anemia, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, ALS and etc., etc., etc. The list goes on and on. Taken as a whole, the universe is against mankind.

But can there be a spiritual force?

If you are into an apparition only mentality, in 1996 a Tennessee baker charged five bucks a head to come see the “nun bun” till he got a cease-and-desist from Mother Teresa’s lawyer. Mother Mary has appeared on tree bark, the side of a glass window in San Paulo, a cheese sandwich, a building in Clearwater, Florida and countless other places.

As a Buddhist, Buddhism begins and ends in practice, not belief and doctrine. To practice Buddhist spirituality, one need not subscribe to a particular set of creedal statements. It is not necessary to believe in God or to deny the God’s existence. Buddhism does not ask those who would take its path to reject prior faith commitments or to adopt new ones. For living the holy life, says Buddhism, holding particular beliefs is not paramount. Clearly, noble persons have held all sorts of beliefs; saints have been Christian and Jewish, Muslim and Hindu, atheist and humanist. Buddhists, therefore, have no quarrel with other religions and philosophies on doctrinal and creedal issues. Because they understand the goal of the holy life to be freedom from suffering and the cultivation of compassion, Buddhists acknowledge that other perspectives and practices can genuinely mediate salvation.

However, in the wake of my spiritual experiences, while all of the above may be rationally correct, every one of us must confront the logical fallacy of claiming that any spiritual experience is impossible. While I am unwilling to give complete credence to every report, I could never found my theology upon any one single event.

So do I believe in a spiritual side of life? As Elisabeth Kubler-Ross stated:

Our concern must be to live while we’re alive…to release our inner selves from the spiritual death that comes with living behind a facade designed to conform to external definitions of who and what we are.

Maybe there are no mistakes in life; all events are blessings given for our edification — our learning.”