Thursday, November 22, 2007

My Heathen Intuition

On my last post there was a comment suggesting that most cyclists are atheists because they are out riding their bikes on Sunday instead of going to church. I get the feeling that the writer’s tongue was firmly in the cheek when the comment was made.

I do not subscribe to any particular religion but I am definitely not an atheist; I am more a devout heathen.

The Native Americans were called heathens by the early European settlers, but after making friends with several Native Americans, and from what I have learned, I believe those heathens were probably closer to their Maker than many of the early white settlers.

I find it very interesting that the spiritual beliefs of the Native American have a common thread with the Australian Aborigine, with the Celtic and ancient British people, and those of primitive tribes that exist today in various parts of the world.

Their beliefs are all closely tied with nature and they all see themselves as a part of nature rather than separate from it, or somehow above it. I find it even more amazing when I consider that these many and various cultures existed at different times in history, in different parts of the globe, and many do not have a written language.

They obviously did not learn these beliefs from other cultures. These beliefs are intuitive rather than learned, in the same way a swallow or a salmon are not taught how to find their way back to the place of their birth, but travel by instinct.

I think the problem humankind has, is that he is too intelligent for his own good. He thinks too much and reads too much second hand information, rather than following his own intuition. I find there is so much psycho-babble on the whole subject of spirituality, that it becomes almost a religion in and of itself. People quote lines from various books, like quoting text from the Bible.

I have also never had the desire to convert to a different religion. I look at another country that is predominantly of a different faith, and I ask myself. Do the people of that country have any less day-to-day problems than we do; are they happier or more content with their lives? I can't see a huge difference, so I ask myself why bother swapping one set of rules to live by, for another.

I believe this much: There is one creative source in this Universe. When I see images from Iraq on TV, I see palm trees. They look exactly the same as palm trees right here in South Carolina, so I find it logical to believe they came from the same source. I ask myself why are people killing each other over a different set of religious beliefs.

This heathen will not be in church this Thanksgiving Day; I will be out riding my bike. My bike is a machine that becomes an extension of my body, and while I am riding, I am definitely connected to the road I am riding on. I am connected to the terrain, the wind and the elements. If everything I can see, smell, and touch came from one creative source, then just maybe I will connect with this same creative source.

I also find it reasonable to believe that I came from this same creative source. I will therefore be connecting with my Maker as I ride, and giving thanks for the many blessings in my life. Some may criticize this heathen cyclist; however, I will not criticize another if they prefer to go to church.

I am not trying to convert anyone to a different belief for this simple reason. The beliefs I have is what was left when I dropped all other beliefs, and allowed my intuition to take over. Neither I nor anyone else has control over another's intuition, so I cannot convert or teach anyone anything.


Tim said...

May the Flying Spaghetti Monster bless you, my son.

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope your ride is a sweet one.

Anonymous said...


This one is right on the money. I too will get out for a ride today, and be very thankful for it!

Chris Sauer said...

Dave, I'm totally with you on your conclusion, but I think you fall into the Euro ethnocentric trap when you use the words 'primitive' and 'intuitive' to describe the belief systems of indigenous folks. Nothing primitive at all about what they believe; maybe just our understanding of it. There's also no reason to think that it was 'intuitive' if you mean 'without reason or thought' anymore than our culture's beliefs are. There's also no reason to believe that these ideas and beliefs weren't shared between peoples over the centuries as they migrated and traded.

After working in the Navajo Nation and being adopted by a Hopi family on Second Mesa, my deeply engrained ideas of my own culture's 'reason' and 'rationality' were turned over. Anyway, great blog and thanks for your thoughts on Turkey Day.

Bonne route!

Anonymous said...


Why couldn't you just say that back in the fifties, when a lot of people worked 6-1/2 days a week, Sunday was the only time you could go for a full day's ride?

WestfieldWanderer said...

As "Anonymous" states: Right on the money, Dave.

I've seen myself more as "Pagan" (a much derided term amongst so-called "Christians", but the ethos is similar to your description of "Heathen" (also much derided). The sensation of "one-ness" with our surroundings whilst cycling also struck a chord.

Well stated blog.

Anonymous said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Dave. I just finished my Thanksgiving ride in San Franciso and simply marveled at the scenery as I rode along the Embarcadero and below the Golden Gate Bridge. As you, I am not much of a church goer, but I do believe in leading my life through the Golden Rule. Ummm...unless I get cut off, that is....then all bets are off.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the post- I won't be in a big fancy church but I do believe in and will be reading the good book. Thanks for not bashing on and hating something that doesn't follow your own set of beliefs

Anonymous said...

Dave, I met one of my riding buddies through the church he and I attend (we ride on Saturdays!). We recently had a conversation while on one of our rides about that feeling of oneness or connectedness you get while riding that you described in your post.

That feeling is the reason I ride. Great post.

Brainwise said...

Excellent post. May the road ever beckon you on, may the wind always be favorable, and may your bike always get you home.

Unknown said...

nice & thoughtful post dave.

thanks for the holiday read.

Anonymous said...

dave-pal, with due respect, I am afraid your heathen intuition is both right and wrong at the same time. I will elaborate on this at a later time. I appreciate your intelligent writing.


VintageSpin said...

Your last sentence succinctly sums up the entire knowledge base of humanity. It is only when we know nothing that we can learn anything; I always say “Prepare for anything and expect nothing”.
I got more spirituality out of you Prodigal Child than the religious publications I was indoctrinated with for years.
Too many religions are all too willing to “teach” it adherents, expecting them to suffer in order to be experience “salvation”.
That is where riding a bike comes in: it teaches without pretensions. You do the work, you feel and experience the rewards: a balance of being, developing your intuition, all without claiming some exclusive path to truth.
It is as individual as whoever is on the bike. And I know words fail when describing things we believe, such as intuition. Therefore that can’t be passed on through words, only experience. Yet I can read words and experience the meanings they have to me as shared by the author.
And that is the same with the existence of God, who is what he is, more experienced than known.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting others know that there are other heathens out there. I have always told my friends that I am a heathen, so it was a breath of fresh air to hear an intelligent commentary on your reasoning. I concur in all ways with what has been said in your initial blog regarding the devout heathen. The only religion that has sparked my interest has been Buddhism in its pursuit of the enlightened state of Nirvana. I have much to learn of the American Indian as I grew up near Washington, D.C. and not much was mentioned of them. Moving to the Mid-West has exposed to more knowledge of their ways of respecting the earth. It is too bad that they have virtually been destroyed as a culture. A recent documentary on the Ioway Indians brought together more members of their tribe since the 1800's. Thanks again for your thoughts.