Today there’s something I want to get off my chest relative to religion. I want to talk about those people who follow any particular religious path that seems to dictate that those who are on that path are right and anyone else is wrong. It’s a massive trigger for me when someone comes along and is all dogmatic about what they believe. It really gets to me when someone takes it upon themselves to get all preachy when we’re having an open minded discussion. For that reason, today I’m going to really go into my shadow relative to this feeling and express my darkest feelings on the subject.
Before I begin I’d just like to express what the shadow is. Our shadow is the part of us that is triggered when a subconscious/underlying belief is challenged. The shadow is closely linked into the ego and as such it knows no logic or morality. The shadow knows no right or wrong, good or bad, it just is. And for that particular trait I admire it as I’ve always had an issue with approval. Perhaps that will come up here today, perhaps it’s one for another time. We shall see! Okay, so here goes…
How My Religious Resistance To Religion Looks
In order to really get some answers here I’m going to use what happened to me today that triggered me as an example… A while back I posted an image on Facebook which has the PhilosoRapter on it and reads, “If God is all knowing and all loving… How can God be judgemental?” A point that I still use to this day to shut religious people up when they are rabbiting on about God’s ‘true way’. “If he’s all loving, he wouldn’t have a true way, would he?”
I posted that image a while back. Myself and a close friend of mine had been discussing – open mindedly – the ideas that the image put forth. The last messages we sent to each other on the subject were yesterday. I was enjoying the conversation a lot. It was intellectually stimulating which is a form of conversation I feel lost and frustrated without. So you can imagine my frustration when another friend of mine (recently converted to Mormonism) commented on the image. He was talking about judgement, mercy, justice and atonement as if they were the concepts held most dearly by a supposedly all-knowing being.
Here’s where I’ll really get into the shadow. This Mormon guy was spouting all sorts of crap about how mercy and justice are mutually exclusive. I thought about this and I suppose when we consider ‘justice’ to be something that must be exacted by a third party in order to level the playing-field sufficiently for the aforementioned third party to feel okay with the past. (If ‘justice’ exacted by the ‘victim’ it’s revenge and is frowned upon, weird). When it is considered that justice is punishment for crime – as opposed to the making of amends – then I suppose mercy and justice are mutually exclusive, yeah. Of course they are. But when justice is defined by those parameters someone ends up assuming moral superiority and thus you end up with those who think they are right. As a by-product of this you will end up with the ones who think they are right going on an ego-crusade damning everyone else who doesn’t believe as they do. Fucks me off.
The next thing that really triggered me – which was cleverly done if it was intentional – was that he said if I was just to read all the scriptures – not just the Bible – then I would have questions like this one answered. He then went on to say that if I don’t take the time to read it then I’ll never know. That’s a new one, most of the time for the religious folk, getting me to spend five minutes listening to their dogma relative to the bible is an achievement on their part.
Shadow: Hold on a fucking minute! Do you really think this whole thing about God being all-loving and somehow judgemental is actually a genuine question? Like fuck it is! It’s a tool I use to poke holes in the theology that is riddled with patriarchy, egomaniacal ramblings and so much dogma you could drown rational thought in it inside a second! Plus, if I was going to read any of the scriptures the book of Mormon would be last on my list to tell the truth. And if I did want to read any religious books I’m pretty sure the reason I’d be reading them wouldn’t be to have my questions answered – that’s how people get brainwashed… If I did read any scriptures I’d be reading them to better understand why people do what they do. That’s my main reason for doing most things that have anything to do with others. Better understanding, and thus more empathy.
The thing that triggered me most, I think, out of this whole exchange was the statement, and I quote, “God loves us through Jesus Christ.”
Shadow: I’m sorry, but what the fucking- WHAT?! Hahahah! You mean to tell me that within your paradigm… God – who we’ve already established has not been honest with us and claims to be more intellectually superior than he really is – made a son, plonked him on Earth so he’d be able to spread some pretty fucking sound teachings only to get outcast and treated as a mental case which would eventually lead to him dying so that God could guilt-manipulate us into doing things ‘his way.’ Sorry, but that doesn’t sound right at ALL to me! And I’m sure anyone who’s religious and is still reading this would now consider me to be deceived by the devil/possessed by a demon, I’ve heard it all before… Any time anyone challenges your dogma you revert to other-worldly ghouls as a scapegoat.
This Mormon guy claims someone ‘needed to take the blame, and that was Jesus when he performed the atonement.’ Confusing.
Within our species a lot of emotionally evolved humans are starting to understand that blame is pointless. People are staring to see that throwing blame around any room is enough to create distance between even the closest of friends. And yet the all-knowing God hasn’t figured this out yet? According to the numerous groups that claim to be ‘God’s true children’, following ‘God’s true way’, this God fellow is still casting blame!
This sort of dogma and doctrine is an insult to intelligence, in my honest opinion!
Where My Resistance Came From
While I was growing into a teenager I was surrounded for a fair amount of time by several groups of very disparate people. My Dad who is very open minded and who wasn’t brought up with any real religious indoctrination. My Dad’s parents – my Gran and Pap – whom I lived with for a number of years. My Gran and Pop hold a lot of the ‘old time’ values while being generously open minded about pretty much everything. My Dad, Gran & Pop is where I get my open-mindedness from I feel. There was also a time when my Dad was in a destructive relationship with a woman who I am not reserving the judgement to say, in my honest opinion, is inexplicably evil. (I say inexplicably because I don’t really feel like I have enough information about her upbringing to pin-point exactly why she is so evil. But rest assured she is one twisted human being). This woman is the mother of one of my sisters and she was brought up in the shame and guilt culture of Catholicism. Which, I would imagine, is the cause of at least one element of her self-estranged persona. Again the whole ordeal with her, my Dad and my sister is another one for another time!
On the other side of the family I have my Mum’s parents who are Jehovah’s Witnesses. My uncle, auntie and one of my cousins on that side of the family are too. And my Mum’s parents – my Nan and Pap – are doing their damnedest to spread their religious opinions through-out the family like an irritating rash. Don’t get me wrong, as people I fucking love my Nan and Pap and my cousin to pieces – I just really don’t like their religion. I always say I love them until they start talking about their religion.
Now, my Mum and her brother were both brought up in the Jehovah’s Witness religion and at the age of 16 (I think) my Mum met my Dad. They fell in love and made plans to live a life together. Of course my Nan and Pap, based on their religious opinions, felt that was an inappropriate course of action and did everything they could to put a stop to it, short of actual physical conflict. I’ll go into the rest of this story another time as it’s besides the point for this particular blog. The important parts for now are that my Mum chose to leave the religion to be with my Dad, as a result my Mum’s side of the family were instructed by the elders of their religion to withhold contact from my Mum for about two years – probably as a ploy to get her to come running back to them and inadvertently to their religion. It didn’t work. My Mum was wiser than that.
While I was growing up I was taught open-mindedness by my Dad, Gran, Pop and Mum. And so whenever I saw my Nan and Pap I would feel pretty frustrated when they would bark on about “our lord Jehovah,” over meal times when they did their little prayers, or when they would preach about how they were going to a paradise land and anyone who has turned their back on ‘the truth’ would not get to go to the paradise land and thus would essentially be annihilated by the wrath of an all-loving God. (There’s that contradiction again). As you can imagine them talking about these things would upset my Mum as she had left the religion and has since had to deal with layer after layer of incredibly destructive belief and thought patterns that she had had programmed into her by the brainwashing she underwent while growing up.
It would piss me off no end that pretty much every time I went to see my Nan and Pap I would come away with a little magazine (you know the one’s, ‘Watchtower’ or ‘Awake’) and a sack full of applied guilt. Just what the doctor ordered for one open-mind, eh? “We can’t have him thinking and stuff!” Still, to this day it annoys me so much that when all I want is to see my loving Nan and Pap, 6 out of 10 times, I end up getting submerged in religious brainwashing exercises and I come away with a feeling of disdain, bitterness and some poorly disguised brainwashing media. And honestly, I’m walking on egg-shells in conversation with them because the beliefs I have developed and the ideas I entertain within my consciousness are so different in nature from theirs. The beliefs I hold encourage freedom and the limitless exploration of the universe, of consciousness and of myself. So every other thing I say is a potential trigger for them and will most likely result in a lecture on backwards theology and a masterclass… ‘Closed-Circuit Thinking 101’
I’m sure you can see where my resistance comes from, being someone who craves intellectually stimulating conversation when the go-to response for most religious people is one of backhanded disapproval coupled with an attempt at ‘reigning in’ my “outlandish notions” of happiness, bliss and self-discovery. This is why when I was having this conversation with this Mormon chappy earlier on I was trigger in the way that I was. It was a throw-back to every other conversation I had with my Nan and Pap while growing up.
The Positive Intention
As the fantastic Spiritual Luminary Teal Scott has shared recently, when we try to change an aspect of ourselves that we don’t like we are essentially creating a reality in which two aspects of ourselves are at war with (in resistance to) one another. In this scenario the only things that can really happen are anger, frustration, resentment of ourselves, sadness and so on. It’s for this reason that with this particular shadow I have chosen to go about the internal alchemy in a different way to how I most often go about it. Usually I will actively transform the destructive trait into something more positive and constructive. But this time instead of doing that, I will seek the positive intention behind my actions when I am triggered in order to better understand why I act the way I do when I revert to this reaction.
The way to root out this positive intention is to question what I am really hoping to achieve when I act the way I do after being triggered. Now, on the surface it seems like I’m doing just the same as any religious person in question – in that I am challenging their point of view and then presenting my own. That is what they would have you believe they are doing. Of course, we all know that often the religious person in this situation does more than present their own beliefs, they use various emotional blackmail tactics to win you over. That is not something I am doing, and so we can rule out the possibility that I am trying to get others to believe as I do from a place of assumed moral superiority.
It is said that the difference between religion and spirituality is that religion is belief in someone else’s experience and spirituality is having your own. In this vein, the difference between my beliefs and those provided by religions is that I have not just read a book and said, “This is the truth.” I have come to various notions myself, found spiritual philosophies that back them up and taken it upon myself to explore these concepts and ‘road-test’ them in a sense. I have then looked into various other ideas within the belief structures that others claim to have proven appear to work in life and I have tested those out too.
I spent a number of years exploring Taoism and I learned that everything is one consciousness playfully experiencing itself in order to know itself. From Taoism I also learned the value of letting go and allowing the ebb and flow of the universe to guide you in your pursuits. I studied Buddhism and learned the value of empathy and compassion. Buddhism also taught me the benefits of meditation and reinforced my beliefs in the value of open-mindedness. I studied New Age philosophies and learned that we are powerful creators which, while being one with the Tao, are able to manifest/attract any and all things into our experience. I studied the Hopi and Mayan philsophies, along with other ancient philosophies, which helped me to develop and cultivate a deep love and respect for our planet or Mother Earth/Gaia as it/she has been called, as well as a deep love and respect for the universe at large, or Father Sky as it is sometimes called!
I feel the result I am seeking in these social and conversational situations is to have my voice heard and treated as an equally valid point-of-view, while simultaneously seeking to have it considered as a plausible explanation of the issue at hand. Honestly, in reading back over my response to the Mormon character I was engaging with earlier today it seemed that I was annoyed and was trying to poke holes in his beliefs and philosophy. I’m not the sort of person who needs others to think as I do, but I am the sort of person who seeks approval. It is possible that I am seeking this approval by presenting rational ideas which challenge the status-quo of religious conduct in order to gain approval from finding a mutual understanding. This is sort of the only way I am generally willing to gain approval when discussing religious concepts as I am comfortable and adamant that I will not be submitting to the way of being which appears to be compulsory in most religious circles. Namely, egomaniacal superiority.
In understanding that I see tremendous value in experiencing the truths of the universe for oneself, I have seen why I would be so frustrated when others insist that their adopted beliefs are absolute, infallible facts. In holding the value of personal experience in high regard and having it coupled with the need for approval I have had as an underlying factor in all I have done for most of my life, I can see that what I desire from myself and others is open-mindedness. And the fruit of that open-mindedness is unconditional love. A sort of love that is not based on who believes what, but rather on a respect for the fact that each person can think or believe as he or she wishes to. A sort of love that results in people not attempting to mould others to suit their needs.
This is the sort of love I lacked from my Nan and Pap growing up, and so it’s only natural that I would have resistance to things which trigger me in the way that they do. It’s always ironic also that we crave to experience certain things, and yet we do things which prevent us from being able to experience them.
All in all, it has become clear that in having my own spiritual experiences I have seen the value in them, and that plus the need for approval I have developed through-out my childhood (which is something I will blog about soon) has generated a desire for open-minded conversation.
I seek the unconditional love which is the fruit of open-minded discussion. And so, naturally, when I am in conversation with someone who believes they are point-blank right I am triggered.
And so, from now on when I am triggered in conversations about religious ideals I will gear my responses towards the cultivation of unconditional love as opposed to righteousness instead of just reacting to what is said based on programmed responses.
Some Words Of Wisdom
Before I sign off today, I want to leave you with a little snippet of wisdom… When we are triggered, or in other words, when we react (reaction meaning to re-do an action that we have done in the past) we essentially revert to a younger, less wise, version of ourselves. This younger version of ourselves is ‘triggered’ when we feel the way that we felt when we first had an experience that made us feel that way… does that make sense?
So, for example, based on my previous blog… If I felt unworthy of love, then every time someone did something that made me feel unworthy of love I would have the younger version of myself come to life to protect me (it’s an ego protection mechanism). So when I feel anxious because I don’t know what’s going to happen I have to ask a lot of questions, because my belief that I’m not worthy of love is activated. In these scenarios I’m not looking for peace of mind, I’m looking for proof that my belief is valid.
It’s much the same in this scenario with resistance to religion, if I feel frustrated because someone is just spouting memorised doctrine I react by trying to poke holes in their theology because my belief that if we hold different values then I can’t be loved is activated. The belief “if we hold different values then I can’t be loved” is a belief that I developed when I was younger, and so when it’s activated or challenged it is the younger version of myself that seeks to defend it.
Look out for those moments where you seem to be acting less wise that you really are as it’s possible that in those moments you are having a deep belief triggered and a younger version of yourself is waking up to defend it. When you identify the belief, look for the positive intention behind it and orientate yourself towards achieving that feeling instead of defending the belief and you will immediately feel better and begin to quickly grow as a person! 😉
Thank you so much for being present with me during this!
If there is anything you’d like to hear more about (I know I sort of started a few threads throughout this blog) then please comment and let me know. If I feel like it’s something that some healing will come from then I will definitely write about it soon!
You’re amazing, wonderful, fantastic and me! 😉