PerBiblion: Your personal bible
Write your own bible to combine the benefits of storytelling your life and passing on your history and beliefs to your offspring.
How it all started
The idea started all the way back in 2004. Back then, I described it as following:
A bible is nothing more than a book, if you look at the origin of the word. According to Merriam-Webster the obsolete meaning of bible is book. In light of most religions, I could say the meaning is an obsolete book. After all, any bible in its religious meaning is a mere manual for survival in society. The current Bible is, therefore, a handbook for society 2000 years ago. What use is it to an African man, since this bible cannot tell him how to find water? And what use is it to us, if at the time of writing camels were considered more valuable than female humans? Although baptized and confirmed a Catholic, I cannot burden my offspring with a religion I do not believe in, although they will be told some of the nice stories within it. So I decided to write my own little manual to society, my personal bible for today, PerBiblion.
I started out writing it in Esperanto and then in English, I remember, but soon gave up on that. It is hard enough to write something that pretentious, so I could do without the extra difficulties of writing in a foreign or even unnatural language. I then continued in Dutch and wrote several chapters on the origin of the universe and earth. I think I was interested in the Taoist concept of nothing and oneness, without having read anything on Taoism. Probably it came from my background in physics where you have particles and anti-particles annihilating and vibrations in vacuum. You can read the first chapters writtein in 2004 in this document.
Reading it back is funny. Instead of verses I use simple line numbering. I used pompous language to make it sound like a religious text, completely missing my own point to make it relevant to people now. Needless to say, the project went silent a few months later.
Reboot of the concept
In the last few years, I have read many books on self-development, psychology, and religion. From Jungian theories on personality and sub-selves to Taoism, Zen, Highly Sensitive People, Integral Theory by Ken Wilber, courses on Happiness, psychological biases and what not, I read it. This in some ways, changed or strengthened some of the beliefs that I hold, or showed me how others view the same thing. I started to think back to my personal bible project and the itch returned.
Now I'm starting to think about trying to come up with an integral way of describing myself to myself and to others. We all do it in fragmented ways: by listing our pet peeves and favorite tv shows in our online profliles, to your Myers-Briggs personality type or by the religion/sports club/nationality you 'belong' to, or by the art you create or by the abusive behavior of your parents, or whatever else. None of these things truly define us but they are conscious or unconscious pointers to the absolute truth of what you are. My goals is to create a manual about ourselves, for ourselves and maybe to the next generation.
When I just met my wife 13 years ago, I was already toying with the idea. She is Jewish (not religious) but intended to pass on some of the traditions to our children if we would ever have them (we have two now). I was distressed because I had nothing to balance that with. I'm raised a Catholic but at that time identified as an atheist. I didn't want to pass on the bible to my children. Of course I could raise my children with my own understanding of the world; but what actually would that entail? I started to dig a bit into the different stories in the bible and other religious texts. Most of it is about passing on a idea of what it is to be part of that religion or people. It contains information about how the world works, where it came from, what ethical views you should have, what the origin of the culture is, but also poetry, songs and expression of ideas through feelings up to revelations from the spirit realm. So then I wondered about writing my own bible but I never got around to it.
Another story is when my grandfather died a few years ago. He had alienated himself by picking fights with everyone who loved him. Long before he passed away, my wife and I had given him a book with questions about his life and views. We received it back some time before he died. When at the funeral nobody wanted to speak, I decided to let him speak himself by taking excerpts from the book he filled in. We managed to turn it into a story which explained a lot about why he acted the way he did and what his side on matters was without insulting anyone. After the funeral many bittered relatives were amazed by the story, relieved but also saddened to only hear all of this now. To me it would be nice if I don't have to wait until I die before being able to tell my story.
I've read and experienced with a lot of psychological theories, spiritual practices, I have a PhD in science. There are so many sides to a person and so many ways to explore and describe yourself, and I am seeking a way to combine all that.
In addition to writing my own bible, I decided to write a manual for writing your own bible first, or simultaneaously with writing my own bible. In this way, I am researching what it should contain, write my own bible and maybe inspire others as well.
The New Table of Contents
Right now, I am thinking of including the following sections:
- Origin story of the world around us, our physical reality. But also the creation of our inner reality, something about the self and our godliness with a hint of the fundaments of our universe. It can be spiritual without getting in the way of or harming the laws of physics.
- Origin story of yourself and your family. It contains a description of your cultural identity but also family issues that are passed down for generations. It might help to break the cycle.
- Hero's journey. Your own life story told using archetypes and storytelling techniques. Ultimately describe how you want to be known and known for.
- Rules and beliefs. Here you describe the fundamental rules of society that you belief in. You can write it as a pamphlet to your own political party or idealistic movement.
- Symbols and rituals. Symbols are the keys and link to our unconscious. They can be old or new. Rituals connect our beliefs to our actions and use the symbols.
- Art and other creative products that show a glimpse into your world. This can be songs, drawings, music, stories or poetry.
- Revelations in the form of dream analysis or random thoughts. They are products of your unconscious that you don't yet fully understand.
The goals of writing your own bible can be summarized as:
- Discovering your identiy based on your personal background, and not from a standardized cultural background.
- Establishing a world view for your self and your children.
- Insight into your own life, your wounds, your shadow, helping your individuation process.
- A path towards some form of happiness, by acknowledging the dark side of yourself as well as a spiritual side, compassion and gratitude.
- For society: expansion of global awareness? (yeah right)
In full production, off and on.