Insecurity Buried Under Religious Trust
The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, and a hell of heaven
-- John Milton
A Universal Need For Security
I am not a mental health provider, and even if I was, I would not fuss over the ways that an insecure person is finding something like a version of inner peace. Whatever works, as long as it doesn't harm self or others -- could be a universal advice given to such folks.
Having said that, I have no intention to mock or in any way belittle religious folks in their quest to find their comfort zone in their faith. But rather, for a few of those with minds open ajar I will suggest that the true motivation for it might -- just might -- stem from their deep-seated insecurity.
While thinking now about people's different ways of attaining that feeling of trust, something possibly relating to religiousness comes to mind.
I am not a pet person, although I love all cute looking animals. As far as I care, spiders, crocs and snakes needn't exist at all. So, once I asked a friend about his obvious affectionate attachment to his big dog.
Namely, I wanted to know what exactly he feels about that boxer whose face I would not include in those mentioned cute looking animals. He said something like: "Since you don't own a dog, you can't know that feeling, when you come home from work and someone welcomes you with such a pure love, which you can't find in people who love you, because of their normal moods and stress."
Well, I didn't want to spoil our friendship by revealing to him my somewhat cynical stand about dog's love and loyalty. Namely, I think it's because the owner is the source of dog's survival needs, while a stray dog on the street won't show any of that affection and love to any of those human passers-by.
Anyhow, I could empathize with my friend, seeing that emotional co-dependence between him and that animal. And that was not the first proof for me that people look for just about any available means to sedate their existential insecurities, and possibly to fill the void in their heart with an absolute trust.
It has always seemed that a fear of judgement is the mark of guilt, and the burden of insecurity.
-- Criss Jami
Nothing to Mock
Such is probably this religious need -- at least in many people, not necessarily all -- which I am going to examine a bit. And I am perfectly aware how a deeply religious person could tell me something of the similar of what my friend told me:
"If you don't have a God, you can't know".
Oh, by the way, no, I am not comparing a religious faith to one pertaining to a dog. It is also a pure coincidence that "god" spelled backwards is "dog", and the only similarity here is in man's looking for any means available to ease that lack of certainty missing in this unpredictable and potentially dangerous world of humans.
Also, that cynicism mentioned about dog's loyalty to its owner has no parallel in man's devotion to his God. What I have to say about it may sound cynical, because it's stripping the divine from the psychological -- but it's not disrespectful.
Actually, let me repeat my refrain from other of my articles touching this topic of religiousness: I do believe in my own version of universal intelligence, it's only that it doesn't include deities as they are presented in any organized religion.
In my case it's something intellectual, not attached to belief, trust, need for protection, that stuff. In other words, I don't pray, I try to tune into that higher self in my nature which may provide a better guidance than my everyday's level of mental functioning.
But that would be a theme for some other article. Suffice it to say that I don't "need" a god, I may just try to refine my concept about that unfathomable cosmic intelligence. Out of an intellectual fun -- not out of a necessity.
There is only one place I want to go and it's all those places I've never been.
-- Nikki Rowe
My Gypsy Mentality
So many times I heard: "You should believe in something." My instant response was "Why?" To make myself clear, I am not talking about that belief system which is a normal part of anyone's personality makeup and which helps us to maneuver through the complexities of living. Rather, about a belief pertaining to that "big picture" involving a deity.
In the course of my modest, but life-long juggling with all kinds of theories, doctrines, concepts and other intellectual challenges, I remember replacing some of them with a nonchalant ease, never allowing any to gain a weight of a "belief".
No matter how convincing a system of ideas might have sounded in my eager ears, or even how much enthusiasm I could invest in putting some of them in to practice -- I could drop them in a heartbeat, if a better intellectual delicacy happened to show up.
Some call it a "wide open mind", and I have no better word for it. It may be a part of my somewhat gypsy mentality of someone who went through two emigrations, some thousand books on human nature, a dozen different modalities, practices, and disciplines of self-molding -- along with almost two dozen places that I used to call
Now, not that I never heard from a religious person something like: "I feel sorry for your ever drifting soul never finding a restful place in a strong belief." It was easy for me to see where they were coming from -- they needed that anchor of an ultimate trust, something that I had no affinity for.
So, was I missing anything in my head, I mean, a gear or two of sanity -- for I just couldn't relate to that need for a celestial protection. I didn't need certainly, I was thriving -- and still am -- on the unknown into which I could dive with a spiritual nostalgia for the future, and its mysterious offers of new forms of experiencing, new mental challenges of outgrowing myself-of-the-last-year, with many new "a-ha" moments.
To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state amidst the normal chaos of hectic life.
-- Jill Bolte Taylor
Voluntarily Stuck in a Belief
All my life, one way or another I have been exposed to the influences of religion, so it's only fair if I also express my own views -- even though not on a mission to convert anybody.
I really see these symptoms of a deep seated insecurity in many -- not all -- of those religious folks that I have been in contact with. Can't help seeing them a kind of going in circles while gravitating around that one system of ideas which are not even of their own make, but picked up in a blind trust from other humans.
Not from some celestial entities appearing in their living room to replace their TV football event with some prophetic words that would make them instantly fall on their religious knees.
Scholars of some impressive credentials must have been looking for a connection before me, so I am far from playing a smart-ass here; just expressing my own curiosity in the matter. I am not even sure how exactly are religious folks succeeding to derive some security and certainty in their religious teachings.
For, when observed from my perspective of logicalness, nothing is certain and secure about that belief -- while it keeps bouncing off the imperfect humanness like an idea of building a skyscraper on a soft swamp terrain.
No wonder that folks have to continue reading their Good Book over and over. Imagine, if it was one of their school textbooks, and they needed to read it so much, they would be pronounced as "students with special needs".
That material is not so much of intellectual character, but each reading is providing a new dose of its sedating effect. Even that aroma in church is helping with burnt frankincense oil which is known to be a mild tranquilizer.
That basic question remains: how much of the religious belief is something "believable", and how much is merely an emotional crutch and a "divine version" of a stress management. Thus, when somebody would approach to me with intention to convert me into a believer -- which has happened a number of times -- what do they have in mind: my feeling better or a doctrine to live by?
Well, that's where such attempts, no matter how noble, had to fail. Namely, I know many ways of making myself feel better, and none of them comes from a bottle, or a pack, or a tiny plastic bag, and not even from the fridge.
As for a doctrine to live by, my mind is loaded with ideas of all kinds that serve me just fine in keeping me a decent human being.Like, I don't need a book to tell me not to kill, steal, or mess around with my friend's wife -- all the way down to the tenth of those commandments.
My mom told me what was not to be done -- and then I grew up and did what was to be done.
You save yourself, or you remain unsaved.
-- Alice Sebold
Life -- A Gift to Cherish and Protect
Here I go with another reminder that I don't care what people choose to believe in. I don't care if they don't allow their kids to get a blood transfusion, or they don't use any birth control, or their wives have to drag heavy bags while they are proudly walking empty-handed some feet ahead of them.
I don't even care if some god-loving folks, half the globe away, use their kids as human shelters while shooting over their shoulders. Those hard core atheists may call it any names they choose, but I am too busy being a happy camper, not trying to live other people's lives and think for them.
In my humor-loving mind, I tend to compare that religious counting on mercy of their celestial fatherly figure to protect them -- in a similar way that I see voters counting on their political fatherly figure to give them a protection.
You know, in my playful mind I am envisioning both as sharing a symptom of a need for a protective father's hand, after childhood is over and they get hit by the news of being on their own -- feeling somewhat like "mental orphans of adulthood".
So that each is hoping for fatherly intervention in their insecurities, placing their faith into merciful hands of their respective new Daddies. Neither seems to be getting how those daddies don't really have them included in their agendas.
Imagine that unfathomable universal intelligence that created, and is still creating, countless macrocosms and microcosms, as really caring about our petty insecurities which we should take care of by themselves.
Or, imagine those political hopefuls finally getting that taste of power, as if they are really caring about anything but their careerism. So each side of followers is thinking: "Our daddy loves us -- because we love Him, because we elected him over other candidates, and other available gods."
Both are believing that love automatically goes both ways, and that makes them feel protected. Well, if it does, who am I to argue, I just fail to see it with all disasters, pandemics, wars, injustices, etc going on.
Now, for a moment thinking of my somewhat turbulent childhood and adolescence, and not really an adulthood free of trouble -- I should be a perfect candidate to even apply for a church's janitor, to be closer to the Maker.
But, why can I feel this love, this calm, and harmony, and tolerance...and why do I feel so much "at home" in this world so torn apart by animalistic antagonism of all sorts? I don't know for sure, but that might have something to do with my long-ago resolve to "row my boat, and not allow anyone to rock it".
Looking inside I see that deep sense of responsibility for my emotional states and well being, for my relationships with others -- everything. It's like grabbing the care for my life off God's hands.
He gave me life, it's a present, and it's up to me now to take care of that present -- with appreciation, love, and determination to protect it as best as I can.
© 2020 Vladimir Karas