My memory of my parents when I was young is so alive. My father painted and wrote poetry. My mother taught me dancing. Both of them were agnostic, and never taught me religion. Now divorced, they each live in quiet desperation, unwilling to take chances. For me they have died and are just shells of fear. This makes me sad, because once they flowed with juice. What has happened to them?
It is a complicated question. In the first place, you do not know the meaning of agnosticism. Just not to teach you religion is not agnosticism. Just not to believe in religion is not agnosticism. If you call it agnosticism, you will have to use the word negative; it is negative agnosticism.
The positive agnostic is a seeker, and he goes on seeking, risking everything to find the truth, the life.
It is so easy to be a negative agnostic; not much intelligence is needed for that. All religions are so full of rubbish that any man of average intelligence can see it. And seeing it, he becomes non-religious. Your parents must have been of the same kind. Religions were wrong – that was their intellectual standpoint. But they never tried to fill the vacuum that religion was occupying. They threw the baby out with the bath water.
To be an agnostic means tremendous search. You have not to believe, and you have not to disbelieve either. The negative agnostic disbelieves; and there is not much difference between belief and disbelief. The religious person believes in God, the irreligious person does not believe in God, but their beliefs and their disbeliefs are only mental games. Neither of them has searched, meditated, gone deeper into his own center. To be an agnostic needs tremendous courage, immense energy and patience.
And when the agnostic comes to the center of his being, certainly he finds there is no God, because the moment you know your center, you have known the center of the whole existence. On the periphery we are separate, but our separation is only at the circumference. As you go on moving towards your own self, you are coming closer and closer to other people’s selves. Ultimately when you reach to the center, you are amazed: there is no God, but there is tremendous beauty, incalculable silence.
If their agnosticism were what I am defining it to be, they would not have been in desperation. The agnostic can never live in desperation. Either he is involved in the great search of what it is all about…. He has no energy for desperation, he is pouring his whole effort into one single dimension: he wants to know.
The agnostic is not the end of the search.
It is just the beginning.
The agnostic cannot say there is no God, there is no heaven, no hell. That is what the atheist goes on doing. Perhaps your parents were atheists. The atheists are bound to come someday to deep despair. As death comes close by, they start trembling. They have not believed in God, they have disbelieved in religion. It was good when they were young, but before death almost all atheists become theists, they start believing. A simple arithmetic….