The whole purpose of writing this book was to function as a beacon for those who have been in any sort of similar situation. I remember my father showing me a picture of a lighthouse when I was a child. “You see that light coming out, that’s you, a beacon light. That’s what your name means.” And when I think about it, the purpose of a lighthouse is simply to say “Hey, I’m here, you’re there, this is where we are.” The lighthouse, being an inanimate object, doesn’t know what else is out there, it doesn’t know what ships might pass, or who’s on them. The lighthouse just sits there and does what it was built to do.
When my father told me this, it stuck with me and grew with me. Like it was something that I felt I needed to live up to. Over the past decade, more meaning came with this thought, and the act of helping others couldn’t be more appropriate.
I’ve always had a loud mouth, somewhat random at times, but honest none-the-less. Sometimes my words of honesty were clearly there to offer some form of beacon to open ears, but many times those words were, and still are a beacon for myself. So in that sense, this book is also a beacon for me as well; a way to take a large portion of my life, or my whole life, lay it out, and use as a recipe for the strongest medicine I’ve made thus far. Any effort to heal others will also heal ourselves.
People have mentioned to me that they wonder what it takes to make someone turn over to the dark side. What makes someone stay a benevolent person when they have been chewed up by the wolves so many times; and I’m not sure I will ever have an answer for that. All I know is that I desire a healthy future. One that’s filled with selfless compassion and never-ending growth in wisdom. Perhaps in some cases, some people need to learn a process that provides the things they don’t really want in life, until they can learn the other steps to gain access to what they really desire.
In terms of me satisfying my material wants and desires, be it from nice cars/clothes to sexual encounters, drugs and religion, those all have pretty easy solutions to problems. They really don’t matter; none of them. But to satisfy that burning desire to have a presence in this world, to feel my direction, and to know that I’m applying my purpose; nothing could mean more to me in life.
What I’m about to say is very controversial, however I believe it to be true; Organized religion is a bad thing. For all people, for all nations, and even though there are moments when people are brought together over it, or the times that mends holes in social fabric, in the end, organized religion is something that human kind needs to move past.
It’s not only the deaths caused by religion, but the encouragement of separation between nations. Religion produces prejudice, racism, breeds closed-mindedness, and at the same time, those of us in some faiths believe we have the permission to use this Earth for what we want, simply because God told us we could.
Religion plays into our egos. My God becomes better than your god, and because of that, I will dismiss anything you say. Because if your God is not mine, than what could you possibly be when compared to me? Just as religion plays with our egos, religion is material. Not only because some of us go to church with the idea of comparing clothing, but because we pay into the religion; hoping to buy an afterlife filled with riches. Nothing concerning organized religion is needed for human evolution, other than its absence.
It takes a big step for me to talk about this publicly. I risk offending many people. And although I mean no offense, I sincerely mean what I say about religion. It took me the better part of a decade to know how to put it into text. But the truth is, I’ve seen some of the darkest moments that religion has to offer. And because of the environment that I grew up in and then stepped out of, I can see past much of the blind faith that people express about their own religion. Circular reasoning is just that, and it doesn’t do anyone any good, except for the people collecting the money trays.
Organized religion can also be a very sad story for some people, especially when you take someone who was as hard working and loving as my father. I feel that my adult life was spent watching his brain turn to mush, as he neglected logic and believed what he was told as truth. I want to believe that he woke up towards the end, but me and everyone else in the House of Yahweh knows that my father always did what he was told. But maybe he saw further proof of the inhumane actions towards women and children. Maybe he felt guilty that he too, denied Elder Yedidyah’s actions of child molestation. Maybe he woke up, and couldn’t handle the evil. Maybe he woke up and said, I can’t take it anymore. I suppose this would make sense why he hung himself on someone else’s property. But I will never know. I will only know that David Heimerman’s and Bill Hawkin’s only concern with my father was money, and that’s it.
I write these words while looking down through a clear sky toward the Mediterranean. I just left Morocco, and today is the last day of Ramadan. I just spent a month in an Arabic country, during the most religious time. I will gladly say from my first hand experience, that my preconceived notions are true. Muslims, Christians, Jews, they’re more or less all the same. Just different clothes more or less. I was called a Jew in the streets of Fez by a Muslim. I’ve heard Christians persecute Jews and Muslims, I’ve heard Jews do the same. I’ve seen kind acts by all, but most importantly to me, they have all demonstrated that they would be no different with, or without their religion. I’ve been swindled financially by some from every group. I’ve been given care and kindness by some from every group as well. They are all the same people. We are all the same people. And when we think otherwise, it’s because our own ego has gotten in the way.
I have to admit that being in Morocco for Ramadan was a flashback for me. Seeing the women in their burkas, seeing the prayer sessions daily, the fasting; it all reminded me of my past. And then I got to see how they treat tourists, and for the most part, I was treated like a bag of money, where if the right buttons were pushed, they would get some. I also was able to hear some religious jargon as well. “Who wrote the Koran?” I asked. “Allah wrote the Koran.” “I know, but who actually wrote it?” I asked “Allah speaks through his chosen people.”
I don’t engage in deep religious debates anymore with religious people. It’s how I show them respect for what they believe. I don’t care to point out the hypocrisies or illogical forms of reason. As much as I do believe and know that religion isn’t a good thing, I don’t need to butt into people’s lives with these thoughts. What I do believe I need to do, is find compassionate ways to interact with all people. If they can see me in my own light, then maybe that can help them find their own.
This book as well as my spiritual path in life is about turning poison into medicine. I wish I can say that I’ve done that with everything in my life that has bothered me, but I’m confident to say that I’m on that path. My father dying the way he did was life changing. As I go through and re-write the pages of this book, perhaps I will get closer to describing what it actually felt like to go through the process of his burial. Nothing in my life has come close to such pain. But within that pain; because of the path my father, friends and mentors have guided me on, I was still able to find and practice honesty and compassion towards those who provided such great darkness. The house of Yahweh would say sometimes “Under times of most stress, do we find our true character.” And if that is true, then my independence from religion still somehow allows me to be a kind and loving person who wants nothing more in this world than for every other individual to discover their own power as a human being through self-honesty and self-compassion.
My father left his family. And although he did this many years ago, we watched him through a haze as some people watched me through a haze, wondering if I would ever step out. Now that my father has left this world, he cut the tie between his family and the religious organization we watched tear him apart, slowly over time. And for me, dealing with this cult from start to finish reminds of a moment where I carelessly tore a piece of dangling flesh off my body; it hurt the most toward the very end. And when it was off, I bled, but eventually I healed. Except with my father, that pain was felt through my whole body, and I’m not afraid to know that the pain will still show up here and there, as I continue through this walk in life. A pain like this is something that proves to me that my father’s love was real, that my honesty in those moments when I dealt with his death; where real. And ultimately, that everything that I have been dedicating my life to [since I had that conversation with my father that gave me closure before he died] is real. And as a friend once told me, “How else could I know I’m alive?” I do indeed believe, believe it to be true; the more we feel our emotions and are honest with them as much as we can be, the more we live, and the more we have to share with others.
By no means am I happy how this book ended. But I can say that I’m very happy for me, my father and my family to be done with the House of Yahweh.
It’s over, and for once in my life I finally feel like I can start something new.