Don’t get me started on religion, Alex! Okay – too late…
I am somewhat religious. I love a nice big celebration like Christmas Eve in a huge church with a gigantic choir…moves me to tears. I like the energy of a community united in purpose: goodwill toward all people. But really, I consider myself a spiritual seeker without any religious affiliations. Don’t go to church anymore, except the occasional ‘new thought’ joint like Unity or Religious Science.
I don’t like dogma, rules, and prescribed ways of living according to…um…whom, actually?
Don’t say God!
If my God is like some human vision of a wrathful old guy, I need to get rid of that chicken-shit god and get myself a bigger GOD! If God is not the most benevolent, mysteriously forgiving, and generously rewarding force in my life – I’m ready for the compost heap, 6 feet under…now!
Now, why am I babbling about religion? Because it changed everything in my life, especially during my formative years. Mainly it taught me to be afraid. See where I’m going with this?
I’m not bashing religion. I’m trying to forgive those who (without asking God first) brainwashed me into a man with severe limitations. I believe they did the best they could, though…
But first, they told me that I’m a child of God, created in His likeness. And then, they told me…
- If I touch this divine body in certain places – I commit a sin.
- If I don’t come to church every Sunday – I commit a sin.
- If I follow my yearning heart and engage in a loving, physical (and spiritual) activity with another human being, outside of marriage – I commit a sin.
- If I learn from folks of a different faith – I commit a sin.
- If I miss to confess my sins – I commit a sin.
- If I keep sinning away like this…I will go to hell.
I believed them with all my heart. And I kept sinning, of course – wouldn’t you? What happened…I lost my self-esteem because I was a worthless sinner. And since there was no way for me to catch up on my redemption – I gave up. The pain remained, I was scared shipless, and I began to drink myself into oblivion. (Not with water – I’m sure you suspected that…)
That’s just the way it is, they said. Who were “they”?
Many years later I found out that “they” were human beings just like you and I who created these rules to oppress us…to keep us in fear, and thus in line with their interests. They even took text passages out of the original Scriptures because those endangered their power status. CEO’s and lobbyists of the Middle Ages, so to speak. In robes – why not?
That’s not the way it is!
Guess what? When 20 years later a friend handed me a Native-American spiritual book on a God who loves everything because that’s all He is – about reincarnation (“lost” Scriptures) and sin redefined as ‘mistake’…I was done drinking! I had lost my fear of death and eternal damnation.
After decades of fear and self-destruction, a simple change of thought completely recreated my life for the better.
I went to AA and therapy, attended self-help seminars, participated in spiritual workshops, did some yoga, freestyle dancing, meditation groups…and everywhere I went there were people working through their fears. Fears that someone had installed in our operating systems right after we’d entered this world – armed with unbridled enthusiasm, courage, and creativity.
Who gave us our fears, and under what authority?
Fears are thoughts and thoughts can be changed. However, we need to take actions to change our thinking – actions of courage! We must face our critics, once and for all…
If someone or something or our own mind tells us -
- You’re not talented enough
- You’re too stupid
- You will fail
- You are fat/ugly/too thin
- You were never a writer… why now?
- Don’t speak your mind – it’s safer that way
- Who’s going to be interested in what you have to say?
…we reply: “Thank you! Is there anything else?” And then we affirm the opposite, positive version of these statements for us. We know that the power of thought will create our destiny, and the thoughts for our destiny are within us – nowhere else. We also know that our thoughts for someone else will create our destiny – not theirs! Pity our critics…
No more fear! We’ve got to make a difference in this world…not by being different from anyone else – that’s too easy: grow/shave our hair, tattoo our butts, rip a few holes in our jeans…
In order to make a difference in this world, we’ve got to be different from our old, useless fears!
Who gave you your fears?
Which are useful keepers?
What are you going to do about the rest?