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Religion is the opiate of the people

Updated on December 5, 2013

Trees of life

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Not self medication but self preservation.

Opiates are not bad in themselves. Religion is not bad in the abstract. Both are used to help us through hard times and rough patches. Both opiates and religion can be administered in such a way as to bring peace and well being. And yes both opiates and religion can be abused and misused to such an extreme as to cause death.

At first sight that sounds like how it was first used, derogatorily. But after a lengthy illness where opiates were used to dull the pain I was suffering, I have a new perspective. Clearly opiates taken under the advice and supervision and prescription are good things. Of course what makes the news is addiction and harm coming from wrongful abuse of opiates. And if you think about it, what generally makes the news on religion is some type of abhorrent behavior of a zealot or a profoundly sick individual.

Same tree different season

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Much good for many people

What we too often skip over are the masses. The masses that are made well or kept from illness because of a spiritualism that comes from a religion. If we call that the opiate of the people so be it. Inoculation and vaccination are not bad concepts. They have saved untold millions. As have religions.

In other words, both have amazingly similar attributes. Both can be addictive. And for sure both can do great good.

Now assume that we all have some malady. Assume that we all have some spiritual insufficiency at the least. Clearly relieving the pain caused by lack of a moral and spiritual life is a good thing. So we can apply the salve to it. It just happens that the best cure for most spiritual illness is religion. Of course it is not the religion itself but the path we find when we apply religion to our broken bodies. Like any good antibiotic it is not the antibiotic that cures the body, it just helps us fight the disease.

Religion is like that, it does not cure the ills of the world but it helps to put us in a place wherein the Spirit and body can heal themselves. As for me, I like just a little of that old time religion to help me get well.

Listen to yourself not the drug or religion

Think of a large glass of organic only type of red grape wine.

This is a very good thing for you to have with or around a healthy meal. However two glasses is pushing it and 3 is not so good for you. Think of a religion that preaches love and understanding and a devotion to the spiritual. That is for sure good for you once a week. And it should have a healthy influence on your body and soul. Now assume you miss work to go to a religious service and you do it so often you lose your job and eventually your home. That would not be good.

Are you addicted?

Are you in real control?

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Bad names for good ideas

No good scam artist ever operates on total lies. That is just stupid and does not work well. He weaves in the truth and he makes the hook tasty enough that you bite in and get hooked. Sorry to say the same is true of the wine, the opiates and religion.

However this holds true without the scam artist also. Another way to say that is if you get hooked on something good and have a good fisherman hooking you, he will just reel you in and remove the hook and set you free again. (we call this catch and release in fishing). The same is true for a good preacher, doctor and bartender. They will hook you just enough and then set you free to go back on your own.

A Happy balance is reached when:

We keep ourselves intact. We use the notion of losing yourself to God or of losing yourself in your medication. And that is a good thing I suppose, I know I like to do it frequently. But I keep myself also. If we let a drug or medication or religion take us completely we lose tough with our selves and then we are mere leaves blowing in the wind without anchor.

Notice above I used lost in “medication” and “God”. There is a huge difference between these two words and “obliteration and religion”. I hope that that concept is now evident.

We are all blessed to have the freedom to take both religions and opiates. But like any good thing it generally takes a good and true administer of such things to make them remain positive and not destructive. It really takes two good leaders. It takes another and it takes you leading yourself where you want to be and who you want to be. Never give up that leader within you and these things will work out well.

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    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I have never really shaken hands with God. But I know love. And to me that is God.

    • profile image

      dragonflycolor 3 years ago

      This is an interesting take on the purpose of religion. Many people are skeptical, if not hateful, of those who believe in their higher power, and it can be very disheartening when it gets out of control. Thank you for this different perspective!

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you for that thoughtful comment. It is always a pleasure to have you visit.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 3 years ago from Philippines

      I like the new twist you gave to the saying of Karl Marx. He intended it to further communism, which was against all religions and where everyone was supposed to help each other so no one would be poor. Instead, everyone was poor together.

      By taking the phrase out of the context and viewing it objectively, we come to see that too much of anything is not good. The same could be said of faith. But at the same time, we need faith just as much as we need opiates, medication for healing purposes. We need faith for the wealth and wellbeing of our spirit.

      Thank you very much for this:)

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Heartwort. I suppose the wisdom to know which is which is a big key to life. Thank you much.

    • heartwort profile image

      heartwort 3 years ago from Virginia

      Moderation if not abstinence is usually wise with anything potentially harmful. Nice analogy.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Denise, those are wise words indeed.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      This is an interesting way of looking at things. Christ used the terms, "physician" and "healer" for himself. He said that the well do not need a physician, but those that are sick. He showed us a way that is like no other, yet reminded us that the way was straight and narrow, and that there would be only few who would find it. Whether we consider religion a mere way to pass the time, or an inoculation of healing balm will ultimately determine our destiny.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Gypsy I hope you are getting some great weather up there in the Sierra's. Us desert folk are loving the rain. Thanks for bringing some sunshine my way.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Hi Electro, I tried really hard in meditation to get outside myself and I am good at it. I love visualization meditation --- oh the places I have been!! What release and relaxation. But it is real hard to keep that space when I return to me. My wife calls my practice Medicitation.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Wow! Let me read this four times and get back to you Harishprasad. Very direct great comment. Thanks

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 3 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Excellent hub with lots of food for thought.

    • Electro-Denizen profile image

      Charles 3 years ago from Wales, UK

      There is generally truth that happens through opiate, which is why it feels so good... In fact, anything that suspends the mind for an instant allows that opiate to flow in :-)) It's a shame people for the most part don't realize what's really happening to them, when their belief, or preferred activity/opiate, takes them out of themselves for an instant. And that subtle something that feels good, is real, is non-corporeal, and is not restricted to one's preferred addiction...

    • Harishprasad profile image

      Harish Mamgain 3 years ago from India

      What is a happy balance ? It is not a mix of good and bad nor is it a combination of religion or atheism. It is not also union of half-worldly and half-godly. A guy who is crystal clear in thought,action and speech is a really balanced person. If one eats too much or sleeps too less, works too hard or just sits idle cannot be a balanced person throughout his life. Words spread by you are very elusive and to catch them in their pure forms is just a hard task. When I ponder over them again and again, I deduce that excess of everything is just not conducive for our physical and mental health. Really a very thoughtful content and prone to evoking a real awakening.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Bill, I will put in a tribute to you. This is a total rewrite.

      You and HP are really teaching me. Artistry with Words is where I only read and learn and leave the speaking to others.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Loved the title and the truths in the article. Well done as always my friend; much food for thought.