In the wake more terrorist attacks in Brussels, the din calling for more blood and vengeance is hard to countenance.
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|Sculpture: "Fundamentalism" by Jens Galschiot|
That Old Time Hand-Me-Down Religion
Man is the only animal that has the True Religion – several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself, and cuts his throat if his ideology isn’t straight.
-- Mark Twain
What I find interesting about “holy rollers” is that it always comes down to this: I’m going to hell in a hand basket for daring to challenge their beliefs. Recently, someone actually commented that, for my sake, I had better be right, because (presumably) God is gonna have his vengeance on my blaspheming ass! It has been my experience that “true believers”(and I include radical atheists in this group) are more interested in defending dogma rather than actually living. If you’re a Christian and you find glee in the fact that your God will sentence me to a hereafter of eternal damnation, then what kind of person are you?
Beliefs can be a ma’fucca sometimes… SMDH
As a matter of habit, I do a “belief spring cleaning” at least once a year. What I mean is that I regularly taken an inventory of my beliefs and dump the ones that have no real foundation. Now, this is no easy feat. Over the years, I have had to throw away some really cherished beliefs.
One such belief was my belief in me! I used to believe that “Eddie” existed, but when I sat down to look for “Eddie,” I couldn’t find him. What I found instead, when I looked closely while suspending my belief, was an on-going process – a series of beliefs –which I managed to cobble together to create this entity we’ve all agreed to call “Eddie” (and some other choice names). In fact, what I found was an amalgam of defense mechanisms, beliefs, fears, and personality quirks, that if you ran it really fast, looked like what I perceive as my personality -- or “Eddie.” It’s a lot like a film. A film gives the viewer the illusion of movement and substance because the individual frames move at a very fast rate through the projector.
But when I sat down and slowed down, suspended my belief system, what I saw wasn’t “Eddie,” but a bunch of different components that added up to what I call “Eddie.” At first that was a fucked up revelation. How could it be that I don’t exist?! I must be going insane, I thought to myself, so I began to do some research. After all, I was very much attached to the “Eddie” I had created.
But nowhere could I find the basis of Eddie. The brain/ mind has no specific function that creates “Eddie.” There’s no central processing area in the brain responsible for “Eddie.” It’s all made up! At first, this was a very scary revelation. I mean, how will “Eddie” go to heaven if there is no “Eddie”? But then, upon further reflection, I realized that this kinda/ sorta liberated me. I mean, if “Eddie” was something I made up as a way to cope with life, then that meant I didn’t have to defend myself as much. “Eddie” was a story I made up in order to explain shit, but it wasn’t really who I was. Sure, I use “Eddie” for stuff like paying the rent, crossing the street, and trying to get into your pants, but “Eddie” is still just a story, a movie I made up.
And that’s how I lost “Eddie.” Or my belief in it.
Another belief I lost early on was the hand-me-down belief in a patriarchal God that lived in the sky somewhere and who either punished or rewarded according to behavior. That one was a lot easier than losing “Eddie.” I realized very early on that belief in a Divine Hierarchy that needed to be prayed to in order to curry favor was pretty much juvenile. And that shit about the world being created in seven days? Yeah right! And why God gotta be a man?! What’s up with that? What I came to experience and realize was that we’re all partly composed of the stardust ( the Divine Spark?), that God isn’t somewhere out there, but here inside of me (and everyone else). And some day, even that belief will be discarded.
Any hand-me-down belief system is a subtle appeal to your deepest fears and longings. It’s like a parasite that wraps itself around your mind – almost like a demonic possession. And this is why fundamentalism is so dangerous. Facts or logic will only make true believers hold on tighter to their beliefs. Borrowed and deeply held belief systems came make you strap on a bomb and make the ultimate sacrifice.
Don’t get me wrong, most belief systems contain important truths, questions, and sometimes even answers. Yet, at a very deep level, they are not your truths, questions, or answers. An unquestioned belief system is like eating cotton candy, it only masks the real hunger we have for spiritual fulfillment. This basic human hunger can only be satisfied by our own efforts, by the planting and cultivation of our questions, by the harvesting of our own answers, and by coming to our own truths. Only then will you learn to live consciously, mindfully, and truly become alive. Blind faith, on the other hand, is, well, blind.
Hand-me-down beliefs are a lot like easy spiritual junk-food handouts offered to us by outdated belief systems and thought constellations that keep us spiritually dependent, rendering us incapable of fending for ourselves, incapable of becoming who we really are. If we, in our thirst for spirituality, agree to drink the Kool-Aid of guilt, shame, and fear, we will live as zombies – dead from the neck up.
The way I see it, most belief systems are the rotted remains of what one person did in deliberation and mindfulness for themselves. Will you be content to live on the rotted meat of their long-lost labors?
The unexamined life is a second-hand life. It is second hand because it is dependent on other things for meaning. Take away the hand-me-down beliefs and what do you have? A life lived consciously and with intention is meaningful because it is the examination and personal exploration that gives it meaning and grants dignity. Do you really believe in or want off-the-shelf, one-size fits-all truths, or are you going to find your own? The choice has always been ours. The crisis we face today is rooted in this very question.
My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…