The second cornerstone is my belief that all that we do is guided by an overall plan. Now this is a huge concept by itself and deserves more than one post (and probably several) to cover it. So, to summarize the points that I'll later discuss, I'll try to illustrate in short form, what lead me to this conclusion.
Is there a god? Damned if I know. It doesn't seem to me that any religion has truly proven this satisfactorily. So, are we back to taking it on Faith? I sure hope not.
At an early age, I believed in the God we see illustrated throughout the Christian religion. You know, the one with the white hair and beard (reminiscent of a sinister Santa) who's depicted smashing the stone tablets of the 10 Commandments, or ordering Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. That God seemed pretty angry to me most of the time and I had a hard time reconciling Him to the loving god we were being asked to worship. That God seemed rather mean - He kept promising the Israelites He'd lead them to the Promised Land - and then constantly tested their faith (and patience) by changing His mind. I could almost understand why they built the golden calf to worship while they waited for Moses to return with the Rules of the Road. Then after testing God's patience and enduring a couple of His temper tantrums, the people finally settled down to roaming around the desert for 40 years until He showed them their destination. I mean, have you seen what the lands in the Middle East look like? Sheesh.
There are countless stories about God's testing of His people and also a few about His love. But overall, I didn't think He was all that benevolent and it was probably a good idea to be a little afraid of Him.
Now Jesus, on the other hand, was the kind of god I could almost believe in. I paid very close attention to the books of the New Testatment. First of all, they were written in language that was easier to understand, and secondly, Jesus was a pretty decent guy, who was betrayed by his closest friends and pretty much shafted by his own father. This wasn't too hard to identify with! But once he was crucified and rose into Heaven, everything got sort of convoluted. Now there was the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost...and to this day, I'm still not sure who's in charge.
Through my various readings, I discovered that there were other holy men, such as Buddha and Mohammed who had also brought gospels to the world and who had their own legions of followers. Not to mention dozens of other gods who had been worshipped and revered throughout the ages.
How could we know for sure which One was the right One? I mean seriously, how could you choose?
This particular question plagued me for a very long time, but in the beginning, I asked myself just a few questions - Why would God bother to micro-manage us so closely that He wanted to know about each and every thing that each and every one of us did each and every day? Why was He so mean to the many and so good to the few? And what was going to happen to all the people who worshipped in other religions, so didn't even have a chance of getting to Heaven?
At this point, I could have turned to athesism, become an agnostic, or taken it all on Faith (as they had asked me to in Confirmation classes). Instead, I began to lean towards the concept of reincarnation and the idea that there was a greater plan for each of us - a tapestry, if you will, that we weave together, singly and in groups, into a pattern that's recognizable but not necessarily symmetrical. A tapestry that has a specific design, but that can be embelished a little without losing the overall pattern. That there is a plan for all of us, but at any given point in time, we can change it with free will.
I know that at this point, I haven't proven the concept or even expanded on it enough to convince anyone that the plan exists. I'll try to do that in future posts - all I want to do here is put in place the second cornerstone of my belief system, that is, establish the underpinnings that will carry all of the rest of it. So, to summarize my last post and this one, I believe there is life after this world and that we are all part of a greater plan.